You Really Are What You Eat
It has been said that what goes in your mouth is more important than what comes out! Obesity is a growing problem in the UK, affecting 1 in every 4 adults, so food and drink are usually the first things we address when we want to improve our health and wellbeing. This article will hopefully inspire you with some of the approaches that I know work, with a basis in Ayurveda.
Dieting Doesn’t Work
Going on a diet is like going on holiday - it’s a short-term break from the norm to help you look and feel better. Diets make us feel great for 10-14 days, we get a dopamine hit from those early successes, and that ‘hit’ gets us returning to the same patterns of success and failure again and again. People say to me ‘Yes, but the XYZ Diet really works for me – I’ve done it 4 times and every time I reached my goal weight.’ That is not a success, and it isn’t healthy. Lifelong patterns of poor choices have to be broken (which may require counselling or psychotherapy to discover why you are overeating), and a commitment to permanent changes, in small steps, has to be made.
Contradictions – is red wine good for you, or not?
The media is full of ‘new’, and often contradictory, advice on food, and sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start. My background in nutrition is based in Ayurveda, a 4000-year-old Indian system from which all other medical systems are derived. In Ayurveda, good health is all about gut health (no, this isn’t a recent discovery) and if we work on that first, we will be well. Guilia Enders’ book ‘GUT’ examines this brilliantly in a modern context, but it’s the same principle – it’s all about your poo! I’ll spare you the detail here and invite you to watch her YouTube talk where she explains this latest science about our digestive system very clearly.
A Few Basic Principles from Ayurveda
Max out on fruit, salad, and vegetables, local and seasonal. Crowd the other/bad stuff out.vidual, the whole person. We are all different, we each have our own unique dosa, or body type, like our DNA and fingerprints, which explains why a ‘one-size fits all’ approach to losing weight frankly fits no-one. Here are some basic principles which will suit everyone and can be tried safely at home:
Our bodies love routine – stick to 3 meals a day and eat and sleep at the same time every day, as much as is realistically possible.
Max out on fruit, salad and vegetables, local and seasonal. Crowd the other/bad stuff out.
Eat your main meal at lunchtime and have a light early evening meal (I can hear the cries of “impossible!” from here, but it is achievable).
Don’t snack between meals, if you do, eat fruit only.
Get outdoors as early as you can every day – get into green and blue spaces.
Consider fasting – but do this under the guidance of a qualified practitioner.
Cut sugar out completely – this really is the big bad wolf of gut health.
Take a look at Jasmine Hemsley’s book on Ayurveda if this interests you, it’s really accessible and has some great recipes.
Whatever you decide to do, do it as an act of deep warm friendship towards yourself. Commit to it and stop the endless battle of trying to improve yourself – love yourself as you would another.
And one final tip: I gave up drinking alcohol in 2018 and lost 24lbs in the following year without making any other changes to my diet, and it has stayed off. Herein lies a whole other article, but it’s certainly worth pondering.