Eat to Live

Eat to Live.png

Like me, you may find losing weight difficult. Even when you are ‘in the zone’ and motivated to do it, you’re then baffled by the enormous amount of conflicting information out there about what you should be doing. Should I eat what I want but just in smaller quantities? Should I be counting calories? Should I be fasting? Is is normal to feel hungry all the time? Do I need to eat more protein? Am I supposed to be cutting out carbs? Should I eat three large meals and not snack in between, or eat more frequently but have tiny portions? Maybe my plate is too big? Perhaps the issue is eating at night? You get the idea. If you’re reading this I’m sure you’ve also attempted to answer most, if not all of these questions.

The good news is that Dr Joel Fuhrman answers all of these questions in his book ‘Eat to Live‘, which is designed for ‘fast and sustained weight loss’.  There are tons of diet books out there, I only read this one as I found it in a box when I moved; and put it on my bookshelf with a host of other books I had no real intention of reading. I have no idea where it came from or why I was drawn to read it when I did, but I’m glad I was. Let me give you three reasons why I enjoyed it and would recommend it to you:

  1. It’s not just a ‘get thin quick’ book, the focus is very much about nutritional information, education and promoting long term health
  2. Fuhrman condemns fad diets and explores a number of popular fads, giving his professional critique of them
  3. Facts, figures and explanations are provided, which give you the sense that Fuhrman has conducted extensive research before making his conclusions, rather than just presenting theories without the scientific evidence to back them up.

I’d like to think I’m reasonable intelligent, well educated and generally pretty socially aware, so if you’d asked me a month ago about nutrition I would have confidently told you what I ‘knew’. But it turns out there were some pretty significant things that I didn’t know and perhaps you don’t either. For instance:

  • Where do we get most of our protein from? Milk, cheese and meat right? Wrong.
  • If I need more fibre what should I be eating? Cereal, porridge and bread? Wrong.
  • What should my diet mainly consist of? A fairly even balance of carbs (bread/pasta/potatoes/rice), meat, fish and vegetables. Wrong again!

Fuhrman argues that the majority of our diet (yes most of what we eat) should be greens. We need fresh salad, raw vegetables & fruit (whole, not blended) and cooked vegetables, every day – and plenty of them! He suggests we avoid added sugar and salt, cut animal products out completely, or at least cut them down to a couple of servings per week max, and recommends we avoid refined carbohydrates altogether (white bread, pasta, cakes). We should also eat plenty of varieties of beans and a small amount of nuts and seeds daily.

There is so much I could pull from this book to tell you about but instead, I’ll just give you a few snippets and encourage you to get a copy yourself.

Fuhrman uses the equation Health = Nutrients/Calories to summarise how we should be eating, which sounds fancy, but essentially just translates to mean we should ensure everything we eat (all the calories we consume) are nutrient rich. If you’re consuming food with low – or no nutritional value, you’re consuming ’empty calories’. You’ll still be consuming calories, which can be used as energy, but the body is getting little or no benefit from them. Those consuming calories with a high nutrient content will be healthier. Period.

Fuhrman talks about the American diet (which I assume we can now broadly term the ‘Western diet’, as we all eat similarly) and how this is killing us. I mean literally killing us. He believes we need to prioritise prevention of the major diseases, rather than managing them or focusing on trying to cure them; and argues that most diseases like cancer and heart disease can be avoided it our diets are exceptionally good. The nutrients we get from fruits and vegetables keep us healthy. He’s not suggesting scoffing a load of salad is going to cure someone of cancer, but that if, over a long period of time (decades perhaps), you consistently eat healthfully, you can greatly improve your chances of avoiding these diseases (and various other ailments) from developing. Our bodies are clever, if we give them proper fuel they can use it effectively.

This isn’t about cramming in more fruit and veg around what we’re currently eating, or just removing elements of our diet like fried bacon and cakes. This is about replacing the majority of the things we currently eat with raw fruits and vegetables, salads and cooked vegetables. Having a token banana with your breakfast each day or choosing a salad over a pizza once a week is not what he’s recommending; it’s simple not significant enough, please be clear about this.

Twofold approach to sustained health
There are two main elements to consider:

  1. Understanding the incredible benefits of eating the right things and the dangers of not eating them
  2.  Understanding the significant repercussions of eating the wrong things.

Cancer
Apparently carcinogenesis (the development of cancer) involves ‘an accumulation of mutations or damage to our DNA‘, which happens over a long period of time. According to Fuhrman plant-derived nutrients can help to prevent (and sometimes even reverse) cell damage. When we’re consistently eating nutrient-rich food, our bodies have the ability to repair cell damage and our immune system is able to fight disease in general. He believes our bodies would do this naturally however they aren’t able to now because as a society, we’re simply not eating enough nutrient-rich food; and in turn we’re all getting increasingly sick as a result.

Assuming he’s right, it’s worrying to think that we all tend to say things like “It’s not that healthy but I’ll just eat one or two” or “It’s probably bad for me but I enjoy it” not really considering what we mean by ‘not that healthy’ or ‘bad’ and failing to truly understand the impact of this. If every time we hear or say ‘not that healthy’ we become accustomed to attributing that statement to a greater risk of cancer, heart attack or premature aging, perhaps it will seem less meaningless and trivial – and may help us change our patterns of behaviour.

If this is all true, why aren’t we told this?

Fuhrman gives some plausible suggestions as to why he believes why the government, health organisations etc. provide us with unhelpful and misleading information, for example the government and our schools promote a wildly inaccurate food pyramid, which encourages a high consumption of processed carbohydrates and animal products.  Fuhrman believes the government isn’t truthful with us as it’s under pressure to support the food production industry (e.g. dairy farmers) and that health organisations have the perception that encouraging people to eat significantly more fruit and vegetables and less processed food is unrealistic, it believes the public won’t take on board the recommendations and therefore this is why only very subtle changes are advocated.

I would encourage you to read the book, worse case scenario you’ve just read a book, best case scenario, you may improve your understanding of nutrition, lose weight from his recommendations and transform your health for good.

There are a number recipes in Fuhrman’s book, personally I think you could follow his ‘rules’ for eating and come up with more creative options than he has. I think it would just be a case of taking some time to adjust to the changes and becoming familiar with what you can eat, then finding more inventive combinations to create interesting meals. Even if you don’t follow everything he advocates to the letter, the more you do to improve your diet, the more health benefits you can expect to enjoy. I have already started to implement some significant changes and I feel great.

Recipes to Kick-Start Your Year

Like most people, January comes around and I start thinking about how I can improve various areas of my life. One of which is my health. I’m now coming out the other side of a challenging ‘dry January’. I’ve cut out the booze, been eating less sugar and made an impulse purchase a few days ago, buying Joe Wicks’ ‘Lean in 15’ cookery book.

Lean in 15 contains some simple, quick and healthy recipes, as well as some HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts and nutritional information. Some of the recipes are quite similar to each other and rather predictable: chicken stir-fry, prawn and noodle stir-fry, beef stir-fry, teriyaki chicken stir-fry, Singapore noodles, duck noodles, chicken fried rice and curry fried rice), dishes you’d find in many cookery books (and ones you’re likely to have eaten/made previously if you enjoy Asian food). However, they do all appear to be pretty straightforward and speedy to prepare and there are enough options for those looking for some healthy and hurried meal solutions, in an otherwise gloomy new-routine-setting kind of a month.

Some of the more interesting and original looking recipes within the book include turkey meatballs with feta, coconut and cashew Daal and beetroot protein brownies.

I thought I’d share a couple of the recipes I’ve made this week. The first is the tortilla pizza. Surprisingly tasty, despite containing absolutely no cheese! The recipe suggests you make two pizzas but I actually found that one, with some salad, was sufficient to fill me up. The second is the BBQ chicken wrap. This wasn’t quite as enjoyable as the pizza, but nice enough and definitely something I’d make again.

I’m planning to try out a few more of the recipes in the next couple of weeks, let’s hope they’re as successful as these first couple!

Detox Smoothies!

 

Nutribullet

Last week I decided to start a detox so, with a huge heap of enthusiasm I raided the supermarket, coming home with a host of different fruits and vegetables, as well as some smoothie fillers like flaxseed, chia seeds and unsweetened almond milk. By Monday lunchtime I was armed with my Nutribullet as well as my fresh, frozen and organic ingredients.

Initially the plan was to make three different homemade smoothies per day as meal replacements for the week… however by day two, I was hungry and feeling a little dizzy! I quickly revised the plan to include some solid foods like scrambled egg on toast and a chicken salad but largely avoided meat, dairy and refined sugar, had absolutely no alcohol, drank plenty of water and tried wherever possible to stick to consuming my fresh fruit and veg smoothies.

I had a successful week and after the initial two days of headaches (presumably from sugar withdrawal) came out the other side feeling refreshed, with bundles of energy – so much so that I have decided to continue my detox this week, be it in a slightly more relaxed regime.

I want to share some of the smoothie recipes I discovered and if I come across some more that I think are worth sharing, I’ll post these for you too. The kale and pineapple recipe is one I came up with myself yesterday and all the ingredients can be seen in the above photo. I’m trying to make smoothies with more veg than fruit to limit my sugar consumption as that’s really important, as well as getting all those good vitamins and minerals from the natural produce. Enjoy!

Spinach, Banana and Berries
Handful of spinach
1/4 of an avacado
1 banana
5 strawberries
5 raspberries
2 heaped tablespoons of natural yogurt
Teaspoon of flaxeed
Drop of water

Banana, Spinach and Pineapple
1 banana
Handful of spinach
5 pieces of pineapple
Drop of coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon of chia seeds
Drop of water
Ice

Kale and Pineapple
Generous handful of kale
2 rings of fresh pineapple/10 pieces of frozen pineapple
A few fresh mint leaves
Teaspoon of flaxseed
Drop of soya milk
Ice

Blueberry and Kale Kick
Handful of blueberries
1/4 of a mango
Generous handful of kale
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1/4 of an avacado
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon of flaxeed
Drop of coconut water
Ice

Rabbit Food Smoothie
2 stalks of celery
2 carrots
1 peeled apple
Squeeze of fresh lemon
Drop of water
Ice

Lettuce, Grape and Peach
Half an iceberg lettuce
10 green seedless grapes
A few pieces of frozen peach
Squeeze of fresh lime
Teaspoon of flaxeed
Drop of water
Ice

Hangover Cure
2 carrots
1 apple
Thumb of fresh ginger
Water and ice

*Please note that I am not a qualified dietitian, nutritionist or doctor.

For more information and smoothie recipes, check out Nutritionist Becky Griffiths’ blog.