What is healthy eating?

Summer  is approaching and the bikini season is almost upon us.

This always leads to a flurry of weight loss enquiries in my practice.  There are many different approaches to losing weight and healthy eating but one thing I always recommend is that people become more knowledgeable about the quality of the food they eat .    Women are often very aware of the calorie content of every morsel but not necessarily the nutritional content.   In a world that is packed with new diets and new weight loss theories it can be difficult to know what a healthy choice looks like.  I don’t think you need to be a nutritionist to work out that foods with the highest nutritional content are the ones we need to eat most of the time.  I think it is also important to look beyond calories, fat and carbs and think about vitamins, minerals and amino acids.   I am not a nutritionist and am therefore wary of recommending particular diets or eating regimes but I do read a great deal about nutrition and the impact different types of  food have on the nervous system  and the body.  The biochemistry can be hard to get through but I think it is important to understand food in broader terms than calories.

There are interesting theories about the addictive nature of sugar and carbohydrate and whilst I realise that these theories are contested in some quarters, my experience strongly suggests that this is indeed the case.    My weight loss clients virtually always have cravings for sugar or other forms of carbohydrate.   People simply don’t become overweight on a diet of salmon and green vegetables and neither do people generally binge on salad.  Many over eaters feel in the grip of uncontrollable urges to eat the foods they know are causing the problem and I think there is evidence to suggest  that not all of these urges are purely psychological.  As a therapist I always consider the emotional factors in weight issues but I am increasingly coming to believe that cravings can have a physiological as well as psychological root.

Some books that have given me pause for thought are listed below.  Warning:  You might have to plough through some science but persevere (or just skip to the recommendations).

Gary Taubes; The Diet Delusion (Long and thorough)

Robert Lustig: Fat Chance.  The Bitter Truth About Sugar

David Gillespie: Sweet Poisobn  (written for the Australian market but the science works anywhere)

David Gillespie: Toxic Oil (ditto)

William Davis: Wheat Belly

David Kessler: The End of Overeating

Anything by John Briffa

Eating Less: Gillian Riley – an interesting take on facing  food addiction


Foodie Stuff – What I eat

I firmly believe that different eating styles work for different people.. I know from personal experience and observation of the efforts of friends and clients that bodies do not respond identically to the same foods.

I also shy away from rules. Flexibility is the key to success in positive eating (actually many things in life!) and there will always be times when a preferred food choice is not available. So relax.

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Sometimes a recipe is enough, sometimes you need a therapist

I have been emailing my stepdaughter in Australia about recipes.  She requested some of my “failsafe”, simple family favourites so I duly sent instructions out about what I do.  A slightly irate email came back as she had had disasters with her toffee banana ice-cream and the sour cream pastry.  She claims my recipes are not “foolproof” (her choice of words, not mine!).  It made me realise how difficult it can be to tell people what to do when you can’t see them, they can’t ask questions and you don’t know what they don’t know.

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Enjoying the summer

A few weeks ago whilst sipping a fine cappuccino in a coffee shop in Ditchling, West Sussex, we (husband and I) were entertained by a group of lady Morris dancers – and I know there are purists out there who think there is no such thing but these ladies jingled and clashed sticks so I think they count.    These ladies were doing a tea shop crawl (thus proving they are not the real thing) and had about another 19 to go.  Nice work!  Especially if you dance off the calories consumed. Continue reading