Eat! (Part 1 of 5)

It has been over two weeks since I last posted, so sorry for the delay in sending this, hopefully it’s been worth the wait.

Today we are talking about ‘Eat’ as promised. Dr Chattergee gives these 5 interventions in his book ‘The 4 Pillar Plan‘ and I will delve into these further here (I would mention at this point that this is a really brief guide, simplified to how I am using the plan, you need to read or listen to the book yourself to get the best benefits to you, a link to the book is here).

This is quite a big chapter and I want to get as much information as I can down for you, so I’ve split this one into 5 sections for each intervention.

Most of us think that to be healthy we need to stick to a certain diet to make us a certain weight. We should eat low fat and low carbs, we should eat 5 a day or follow a ‘celebrity trend’ as they did really well on it. What we should remember is that food is different for all of us. I have never believed in dieting, I think it gives us a bad body image, not lost anything this week? then we are useless, we can’t do anything right, we might as well eat that cream cake as what’s the point.

Our bodies don’t just lose weight when we eat well and move more, we put on muscle mass, we remove inches, we change things inside us for the better that matter so much more than how much we weigh. No diet is a one-size-fits-all solution and some diets are great for a few weeks, you lose loads of weight and then go back to how you were eating before and put it all back on, plus some, which is why I REALLY don’t like diets and weight programmes.

Anyway, that’s my rant over, haha, back to writing about what I found from this book.

Elimination Diets

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While not part of the 5 interventions, I have found the advice at the beginning of this chapter life changing.

Your doctor may require hard evidence that certain foods are causing your issues before asking you to cut it out – but if you knew that, you wouldn’t need to see them would you? It is hard to prove, even with blood tests, as to what the problem is, so be persistent here. A well-managed elimination diet is free and harmless, so really worth pursuing and you need to get your doctor on board to help you with this and get the advice you need to pursue it thoroughly.

I have suffered for years with severe heartburn and a phlegmy cough which has caused me to lose my voice and have to stop singing. I have cut down bread, pasta and lactose since reading this book and it has helped so much. Bread and pasta cause so much bloating in me that I feel sluggish and awful. The heartburn and cough has cleared up so much since I have cut out lactose and my migraines have been fewer too. I’m not completely there with my eating, but these small changes have already made so much difference.

NOTE: DO NOT USE GLUTEN-FREE PRODUCTS! these contain added sugars and are highly processed, try wholefoods instead!

1. De-normalize Sugar!

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There is sugar in so much of our food. The first thing to do is to remove all sugars from your life as much as possible and when shopping, READ THE LABELS ON YOUR FOOD – so much food has hidden sugars in it.

If you are having a treat of a doughnut or some other tasty sweets or cakes, that is fine, but if unbeknown to you, you’ve already eaten so much sugar through processed foods that day, then that treat becomes a ticking time bomb. Don’t allow your treats to be taken away from you, enjoy them with the comfort that it is the only sugar you have had and that you deserve it, no-guilt treats are always the best.

So many ‘Healthy’ foods are full of sugar – take a pack of sliced roast chicken breasts from the chiller that contain sugar! Why? A healthy food is suddenly sugar-laden, no wonder we are struggling.

Always make sure you read your labels!

This is why it is so important to read EVERYTHING that you buy. Stay away whenever possible from processed packed foods, cook your own chicken breasts and slice them up rather than buying a pre-sliced pack (you can freeze the spare slices for later in the week), prepare your own lunches instead of buying sandwiches from the chiller. Remove convenience foods from your life and make your own convenience.

Sugar has been proved to light up the brain in the same way as it does for people who are addictive to drugs. Some clues that you are addicted to sugar are:

  • Feeling the need to eat every 2 hours or so.
  • Concentration dropping mid-morning.
  • Experiencing an afternoon slump.
  • Feeling hungry or Irritability between meals.
  • Feeling shaky or dizzy.
  • Experiencing a huge boost in energy or fatigue after eating a meal.
  • Over-reliance on caffeine or sugar to keep you going.
  • Craving for sweet food or snacks between meals.
  • Feeling lightheaded if you’re late for a meal.

If you start your day on a sugar high from foods that either process in your body to sugar stores or have a high sugar content (white breads, bagels, cereals, etc.), you get a buzzy high and then crash 2-3 hours later, you are riding the sugar rollercoaster.

Risks from staying on this rollercoaster including damaging your health and worst case, diabetes. Your body is used to having controlled blood sugars, so too much highly processed foods which are high in sugars can really screw up these processes.

Diabetics usually have a low tolerance of carbohydrates, particularly refined carbohydrates. Dr Chattergee suggests reducing refined and processed carbohydrates such as breads and pastas, including white potatoes. He also suggests removing starchy vegetables such as parsnips, sweet potatoes and carrots for a short while to assist, but these can be re-introduced at a later date as they are beneficial.

IMPORTANT: You should consult your doctor before making any significant changes, as obviously they will know your history & medication and can advise you personally.

Did you know that there are thought to be 1 in 3 people known as ‘Pre-Diabetic’? These people have passed the Diabetic test but are
already insulin resistant to a degree and are slowly being poisoned without even knowing it! This can make us hold on to excess fat and can make us heavier and can cause obesity, raised cholesterol, increased breast cancer risk and excess testosterone in women (the main cause of polycystic ovaries).

This isn’t the ONLY cause of Obesity or any of the other symptoms mentioned, it is a contributing factor and all aspects of health should be looked at.

So how do I lower my sugar intake?

Stopping cold turkey is a great way to immediately cut out sugars, but can cause headaches and other flu-like ailments so be careful. However, after 10 days you will really begin to feel the benefits. Or you can do it slowly – stop taking sugar in your tea, check your labels (glucose, glucose syrup, fructose, dextrose, cane sugar, rice syrup, etc., are all forms of sugar). Natural forms of sugar should also be avoided for the short term while you re-train your body so avoid honey and similar natural sugars.

Clear out any temptation from your home – that pack of choccy biscuits will just tempt you to stray or that pack of sugary cereal you usually have. Maybe try boxing them up and giving to your local food bank so they don’t go to waste if they are unopened and in date.

Other strategies that he recommends are:

  • Try to avoid social gatherings for the first two weeks – these make it hard to avoid temptation.
  • Keep healthy snacks at home, in the car and at work – hummus & nut butter with celery and carrots, fruit, olives, etc., (I can’t eat nuts and really don’t like hummus, so I stick to carrot sticks, fruit, etc., and chop them up myself) You could also try boiled eggs.
  • Remove artificial sweeteners – this will hinder you progress by maintaining a sense of what sweetness really is, to retrain your taste buds, remove this completely.
  • Include some protein in every meal, such as meat, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds. Protein keeps you fuller for longer and helps reduce the sugar cravings.
  • Be prepared, always have something with you – Tinned fish like wild salmon, nuts, seeds, etc., can help remove the temptations or stop the hunger.

If you still suffer from cravings, you could:

  • Drink 2 large glasses of water – this also helps fill you up (sparkling water is supposed to be good for this).
  • Do some deep breathing, such as Dr Chattergee’s 3-4-5 breathing as discussed in the RELAX post here to get yourself through the craving.
  • Distract yourself with a complex task.
  • Have a healthy snack.
  • If you are really struggling, have a very small portion of 90% (preferably 100%) dark chocolate.

I am working on quite a few of these great ideas but have only started recently now that Christmas is over, as I did go backwards for a bit – we had so much left over! I am definitely trying to eliminate more dairy (mainly lactose) from my diet as this has helped my cough so much and I can sing again.

I am also planning my meals that I cook from scratch (I am using the Batch Lady method that I spoke about here for a lot of it), I am taking things into work with me, including apples and other fruits so I always have a snack if I am hungry and I am drinking much more water.

So I hope this gives you some ideas on food and how it affects us. I cannot recommend this book enough as it really makes you think about your WHOLE wellbeing rather than just one aspect.

Wishing you all a healthy and happy new year, until next time,

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