Nourishing the self through food
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” ~ Hippocrates, often referred to as “The Father of Medicine.”
The word nutrition to me often seems about something outside the self, about foods we take in and digest. Nothing really wrong with that.
But also to me, nutrition comes in so many different ways. It is about how we nourish and care for ourselves, how we care for our mind, body, spirit and soul. It is about thoughts and attitudes and lifestyle.
This page specifically focuses on the food aspect of nutrition, what it's to OK to eat and what not.
My background in nutrition
My real interest in the importance of right eating and food began almost 20 years ago when I was diagnosed with diabetes type2. Alas, much of the information and advice I have received, both then and even now, has been neither GOOD nor appropriate. At one point I was told I had to eat more carbohydrates. Intuitively I felt that was wrong. But I gave it a go only to find my blood glucose levels went haywire and I started having diabetic hypo attacks. I now conclude that NHS dieticians and doctors are not well informed on nutrition and have too narrow a focus on carbs, calories and exercise. Life is not that simple. In fact, such advice makes life more complicated and unhealthy.
My enquiry to all Scottish universities running medical degrees in 2015 revealed that most courses devote but a few hours over the years of a doctor’s training to nutrition. So how can we possibly give any credence to a doctor’s nutritional advice? Why all this cover-our-back advice from the media and vitamin suppliers always to consult a doctor before setting out on a particular nutritional regimen?
In 2014 my younger sister was diagnosed with lung cancer; a consultant ignorantly suggested she should fill herself with all things fattening, sugar laden, and carbohydrate driven. Turned out he had never even been trained in nutrition. The hospital fed her all the wrong things for both her body and her illness. And no one, absolutely no-one in the NHS could understand why we as a family were concerned. Yet it can arrange special diets for Muslims, Jews, Hindus et al but not special eating regimens for the different requirements for different health conditions. This is disgraceful.
So I researched high and low, worldwide, and studied not only what foods would be healthier and health inducing for a patient with cancer, but also which ingredients to use and those to avoid.
At the same time, I was struggling with my own health, so I did a course in diabetes and nutrition, I explored the latest research and findings in eating and health, I studied nutrition, I consulted with nutritionists (and dieticians!)
So this page distils my learning into basic principles for healthy eating. Any specific comments for specific health conditions are given in the relevant pages.
The purpose of these general recommendations are to enable you to effortlessly reach the right weight for you, create vibrant energy-filled health, and perhaps reverse certain medical conditions such as diabetes (I have practised on myself!) though no guarantees are given. It is based on low-carb and high fat diet principles but is not a diet per se, more a healthy eating lifestyle that aims to make you healthier and leaner, fitter and more joyous without starving yourself or working out complex formulae.
This will require you to be aware, to inform yourself, to be open, and to take radical action!
First, commit to health through healthy eating. You are what you eat!
Second - let go!
Let go – commit to letting go certain foods and ways of eating.
You cannot start a new eating regimen whilst still engaging in past, unhealthy eating habits.
Let go of the need to see instant results.
Let go of the following foods:-
Sugar: This is not just because it is the latest media fad; it is because it makes scientific sense, links to diabetes and obesity anad other health conditions.
Sugars add calories but with no nutrient benefit. Read here more reasons why sugar is bad for you.
Soft flavoured drinks, sweets, juices, sports drinks, chocolate (with the exception of an occasional piece of dark chocolate) cakes, buns, pastries, ice- ice cream, breakfast cereals, sweeteners.
Starch filled foods: beans, bread, French fries, legumes, lentils, muesli, pasta, porridge, potato chips, potatoes, rice, and so on. Wholegrain products are just less bad. Legumes, such as beans and lentils, are high in carbs. And vegetables grown underground eg carrots and potatoes.
Margarine and artifical butter immitations: pretend butter is packed with an unnaturally high amount of omega-6 fat. What we need is more omega-3! Pretend butter generally has no health benefits and is indeed linked to asthma, allergies and other inflammatory diseases.
Beer: it is filled with carbs which quickly enter the blood stream and spike glucose levels. It is filled with sugar. And dulls your decision m aking abilities.
Any product marked “low-fat!”
Keep fruit to a minimum, perhaps one piece a day. Fruit is very sweet and has lots of sugar. Eat once in a while. Have as a treat and ignore all this nonsense of “get your 5 a day!” Lots of fruit is particularly bad for people with a diabetes diagnoses or candidiasis.
Seriously avoid processed foods from packets, tins and jars – they are not fresh; they are mostly unnatural and made of chemicals and some ready made meals are pretend food made to look like the real McCoy!
Let go by throwing out
So following on from that, it’s time for some stock clearance. Decide a day when your new eating regimen will start.
Make way for D-Day.
Clear your fridge, freezer and store cupboard of all foods and drinks that are in the above “avoid” list and do not appear on the below “OK” list.
OK to bring in
The rule is simple. Eat all fresh food.
Eat some raw, don’t overcook or over boil.
Use olive oil, butter, or coconut oil for cooking. No other oils.
Is that too simple? Want it more complicated?
Eat as much as you like from the following list:-
Meat once to twice a week: Beef, pork, (unless on religious principles you believe pork to be unclean), game, chicken, etc. If possible ie if budget allows and it is available locally, choose organic or grass fed meat.
Fish and shellfish: All kinds especially fatty, oily fish such as salmon, mackerel or herring. No breading or battering. No fish from fish farms.
Eggs: preferably organic and cooked to choice - boiled, fried, omelettes, etc. Use butter, olive oil, or coconut oil only. Free-range us not as good as grass-fed chicken and pastured poultry
Natural fat, high-fat sauces: Avoid pre-bottled / tinned sauces and packet sauces. Make your own by using butter and cream for cooking. This will make your food taste better and make you feel more satisfied. Remember, coconut and olive oil are also good options.
Vegetables that grow above ground: All kinds of cabbage, such as cauliflower, broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts. Asparagus, courgettes, aubergine, olives, spinach, mushrooms, cucumber, lettuce, avocado, onions, peppers, tomatoes, and turnips. No carrots or potatoes! "Large, naked raw carrots are acceptable as food only to those who lie in hutches eagerly awaiting Easter. "~Fran Lebowitz
Dairy products: Choose full-fat options like real Scottish butter, cream (40% fat), sour cream, Greek/Turkish yogurt and high-fat cheeses. Full milk is fine, but in moderation.
Nuts: Walnuts, almonds, cashews and pistachios – but only a tiny handful at any one time.
Berries: In moderation. (Too much fruit = too much sugar.)
I have heard doctor often say that the above is unrealistic because it is expensive. I have found time after time that the above healthy eating regimen using fresh produce is in the long run much cheaper and less wasteful. It needs planning.
Water, keep hydrated, drink pure water regularly throughout the day
Coffee - max of five cups per day
Tea – especially herbal teas, green tea
Add a heaped teaspoon of butter to your coffee. Part of your low carb high fat diet.
Drink in moderation but note:-
Vodka has a potato base and potatoes are not on your allowed list
Alcohol, especially with mixers, has lots of sweeteners so is highly calorific and sugar laden.
So drink only on a special occasion and then moderately so.
Grow your own
As far as you can, grow your own vegetables and herbs. It assures you of fresh, organic produce, and is inexpensive.
Cook your own
Except for emergencies, bannish processed and pre-packaged foods and meals
Make time to cook - and enjoy the planning, the shopoping and the preparation and the cooking
Cook mindfully with Love
Be organised - put together recipes, ingredients, containers , utensils before starting
Intend in advance to make cooking a joy
Infuse your efforts with love
But share meals with family and friends
Bring back the tradition of eating at table
Prepare the table, even if eating solo
Make the setting and the arrangement of food on the table / plate appealing to the eye
Give thanks before eating - to all in the supply chain, including plants and animals
Give gratitude for your abiity to have / supply food
Bless the meal
Eat mondfully, chew well
Ok, I know, after a long, hard day at work, the last thing you want to do is ritual, to set the table with your favorite placemats, best bone china, romantic candles and a vase of fresh flowers. You need all your energy just to crash out on the sofa, flick the remote control, and heat up a ready meal. Right? But does that honour who you are? Is it kind to the body and soul? Is that self-respect? Or are you telling yourself you don't deserve?
Confucius, (551 – 479 BC,) a Chinese teacher, editor, politician, and philosopher, all those years ago, taught the value of doing “as if” rituals. By living your life “as if” it were different from what you presently feel or what you want to do, acting "as if" you owned a million dollars even if you presently don't, life actually becomes different.
Small rituals, like making dinner special, remind you that you're special, sitting down to dinner as if you were hosting someone really special does wonders for your self-esteem, reminds you that you deserve the very best. Fake it till you make it. Act as if. Playing pretend really strengthens your new neural pathways, your new direction in life.
And that’s it. Not complicated? And no tedious counting of calories and carbohydrates.
Doctors in the UK have little training in nutrition and lifestyle.
I contacted all Scottish University Medical Schools in 2015 and
discovered that some GPs are lucky if they get two hours nutritional
training in five years.
So how can we expect doctors, even if they had time, to discuss and
inform us in a knowledgable way, the pros and cons of good
nutrition and lifestyle?
See this short five minute clip with Dr Ranjan Chatterjee, doctor
and health campaigner.
We need politicians to influence a change in the present health
paradigm to one which trains and equips doctors to be able to
understand the importance of poor nutrition and its links to dis-ease
and to be able to discuss with patients the necessary changes needed in nutrition and movement in order to improve their health.
If it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don't. ~Michael Pollan
Eat plenty fresh vegetables
Eat fresh fruit sparingly
Dr. Ranjan Chatterjee