GP is seeing less patients ‘feeling rotten’ after writing health blog

GP inundated with patients wanting medicine as ‘an easy answer’ to weight problems and anxiety starts a blog telling them to buy vegetables at Aldi and start yoga

  • Dr Laura Coia believes patients are looking at medication as an ‘easy answer’ 
  • Her top patients in Scotland have fatigue, anxiety, depression and extra weight
  • The mother also arranges coffee mornings and lunch at Christmas for the lonely
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A GP inundated with patients ‘feeling rotten’ started a blog encouraging them to eat vegetables and do yoga on her blog.   

Dr Laura Coia, 40, found that she was bombarded with people wanting treatment for anxiety, fatigue and weight problems.

But she was reluctant to hand out prescriptions as an easy option, instead trying to promote small changes.

So the doctor, who has a surgery in Auchinairn, near Glasgow, decided to help by squeezing in blogging in her spare time.  

To tackle loneliness, she ensured that none of her patients spent Christmas Day alone by linking them up with hotels and restaurants offering free meals.

The mother-of-three said she has since seen her referrals rocket as locals with mental health problems rush to get the ‘Dr Coia’ touch. 

Dr Laura Coia, 40, found that she was inundated with people wanting the ‘easy option’ of medication for anxiety, fatigue and weight problems, so she started a blog to encourage healthy eating and exercise

Dr Coia has seen the number of her regular patients decrease, but her referrals go up, after encouraging small changes to patients ‘feeling rotten’

Dr Coia also makes sure her fellow GPs get a coffee break, and has ensured that none of her patients spend Christmas Day alone 

Dr Coia said: ‘At the moment I’m actually seeing more patients because word gets out that if you are having problems with your mental health or stress or if you are wanting advice on weight loss, go see Dr Coia.

‘What I have seen is that patients who I was seeing a lot of, I’m seeing less of them and it’s a much more positive consultation.

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Dr Coia said the top problems she sees are for fatigue, being overweight, anxiety and depression.

‘Just generally feeling rotten’, she said. ‘I see massive numbers of people with obesity and diabetes.’ 

Dr Coia said the top problems she sees are for fatigue, being overweight, anxiety and depression (pictured, a snip off her blog)


Nutritionist May Simpkin reveals foods that can help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety:

 1. Protein 

In the first instance, the feel-good neurotransmitters, serotonin and dopamine are both made up of amino acids, in other words, proteins.

2. B vitamins

If you are not eating enough B vitamins (or amino acids) you will not produce adequate levels of serotonin and dopamine. B vitamins are best taken as a complex and foods that are rich in B vitamins tend to provide a good spectrum, especially those in whole grains, spinach, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, quinoa, salmon, tofu, eggs and pecan nuts.

3. Healthy fats

The nerve cells in the body are made up of fat and a certain amount of good, ‘essential’ fats must come from the diet. Foods rich in good fats include oily fish, such as salmon, sardines and mackerel as well as avocado and walnuts.

4. Probiotic foods

Around 95 percent of serotonin is produced in the gut and your gut flora plays an essential role in ensuring a healthy digestive tract. Fermented foods like kimchi, miso, sauerkraut and pickles will provide the good bacteria and will help to contribute to a healthy digestive system. 

5. Avoid sugar

As well as improving digestive health, avoiding refined sugars will also contribute to a better mood. These sugars are quickly absorbed into the blood, providing a surge of energy.

However, this will soon be followed by an energy dip, as insulin is quickly released to remove the sugars from your blood.

This article was originally published by Healthista. 

Dr Coia said often people don’t understand there are alternatives to medicine which could have a big impact.

She said: ‘Often what people are looking for is an easy answer, to be prescribed something for their low mood or fatigue.

‘If someone comes in with mild anxiety and depression there is not a lot of evidence to show that antidepressants will help them. 

‘It’s just trying to get people to buy into it because the general public still want to come and see their GP.

‘They don’t understand there might be other people better equipped to help them. It sometimes takes three or four appointments to persuade them that that isn’t the answer and there’s a need to make some small changes to their lives.’

Dr Coia has recommended people go to a yoga class, which runs on a Monday in Auchinairn community centre for an hour and is free to attend.

She said: ‘The patients that I know that go, I’m now seeing less of them. I have a patient with fibromyalgia who goes to the yoga group and she said it had changed her life.

‘A simple blog could be to say to patients to go down to Aldi, see what is on the “Super Six” vegetables and challenge yourself to make something out of it.

‘It changes every week so you won’t just be eating the same vegetables every week. 

‘If the only change you do is eat more vegetables you are going to be doing something really good for your health.

The self-care advice does not just extend to patients – GPs at the practice meet for a coffee break every day for 20 minutes and there is also a walking group for staff.

She also organised a hugely successful coffee morning to tackle loneliness in the practice, which ended up lasting all day. 

‘We made list of patients who were vulnerable and phoned them. Everyone who was a patient that day was there and all the patients from the list came in,’ Dr Coia said.

‘It was so well received. One person was there for four hours, the girls went out and got her lunch. She was lonely and needed somewhere to go.’

The patients that Dr Coia sees that need to lose weight are, according to her, more mobile and having better relationship.

She said: ‘Their wellbeing is so much more improved that it’s not all about eating. 

‘We know that little changes are easy to make and easy to sustain and what we are saying to people is, don’t set yourself up for a fall.

‘Over the next year I’m hopeful I’ll see a difference.’ 

To read the blog visit


Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain, according to the NHS

• Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruit and vegetables count

• Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain

• 30 grams of fibre a day: This is the same as eating all of the following: 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, 2 whole-wheat cereal biscuits, 2 thick slices of wholemeal bread and large baked potato with the skin on

• Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks) choosing lower fat and lower sugar options

• Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily)

• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consuming in small amounts

• Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water a day

• Adults should have less than 6g of salt and 20g of saturated fat for women or 30g for men a day

Source: NHS Eatwell Guide 

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