An East Lothian nutritionist and fitness expert has used a chronic illness to inspire her new business, which aims to bring good nutrition and exercise to people’s busy lives.

Dirleton-based Lorraine Cunningham, known to her friends as Lolly, launched her new company – Nutritious Lolly – in January this year. It aims to offer easy-to-follow actionable nutrition advice that fits around busy lifestyles.

But, her new company only came about after years of struggling with her own health. Lorraine had a stressful middle management role in a corporate environment which led to acute irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in her late twenties. The condition was so debilitating it became clear that she would have to make changes in her life to improve her health. Lorraine said “I had a really stressful role in my previous career and slowly but surely it started to get to the point that it was making me incredibly unwell. IBS is an acute illness and very quickly it can have a profound effect on your life. The shocking thing is that one in five people in the UK will suffer from it at some stage in their lives yet most people don’t like to talk about it, probably because of embarrassment. The traditional ways to treat IBS didn’t really work for me and, from my own research, I discovered quite quickly just how incredibly important good nutrition is, in not only improving conditions like IBS, but in maintaining your general health.

IBS and its related symptoms cost the NHS £1.2 billion in 2012-2013. Poor diet and stress are often cited as the main causes. The condition is most common in women aged between 20 and 30 although it can strike anyone at any time. Lorraine explains “I always tell people that your digestive system is sort of like the powerhouse of your body and if you don’t look after it, your health is going to suffer in all sorts of ways. That’s why good, easy-to-follow nutrition is the foundation for the Nutritious Lolly 6-Week Whole-Body Plan.

Lorraine has helped hundreds of people with health and nutrition over the years, including elite athletes like Scottish amateur boxing champion Iain Trotter, who has just signed his first professional contract. Iain credits Lorraine with much of his success. “My coach and I had to trust in Lolly that my weight would be spot on for every fight. I had more energy for training, better recovery and always felt I could go an extra round. I knew the importance of nutrition in my regime but some of the changes that Lolly made to my diet have made a huge difference.

It is success stories like this that inspired the launch of Lorraine’s new venture. The Nutritious Lolly 6-Week Whole-Body Plan is an online course that incorporates weekly fitness videos and easy-to-follow recipes. The key point to the plan is that good nutrition leads to healthy digestion, which is central for a healthy lifestyle, something that Lorraine says many people forget.