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Image by Annie Spratt


Food Fabulous

Notes from midlife

How to eat what you want and stay slim

Anyone else here going through the hideous process of online dating? I’m told it should be fun, but more frequently it’s excruciating. Particularly tricky when someone asks me what I do. I tend to hold them off with ‘I’m a coach’ (not untrue) for as long as possible because ‘nutritionist’ has people feel you’re the kind of person who is going to suck all the joy out of their life, make them eat vegetables and stop them drinking beer. (All of which are untrue, I point out for the benefit of men over 45 who look like either Hugh Jackman or Zack Effron).

So, I was chatting to a guy who I met online a few days ago. I mentioned that one of the things that I saw in my future was writing a book. This lead to suggestions about what my book could be called… ‘The Funny Nutritionist’ … ‘The Adventures of Flora the Good Bacteria’. (Well, he is scientist, but don’t worry, he did NOT get the job of being my copywriter…).

My suggestion has more legs, ‘Shut Up and Eat the Damn Cake!’ You’ll see why when you read on.

But seriously, people discovering that I am a nutritionist beings up the question of ‘what should we be eating for health and happiness?’ As a nutritional therapist and health coach, I can answer that easily for you right now. Eat in a way that balances your blood sugar 80% of the time, focussing on whole foods like fish, meat, lentils and pulses, lots of veg and salad, a little fruit, and smaller amounts of rice, potatoes and pasta. BUT (and it is a big but) for any healthy lifestyle plan to work in the long term, it has to be sustainable, and that means not only easy to follow but enjoyable. And the truth is, cutting out entire food groups and never having the scope for a glass of wine or a piece of birthday cake is a recipe for disaster.

The sad truth is that we have fallen out of love with real food, and we no longer trust ourselves to know what to eat any more.

But there is something else going on, too. We are so time-poor that rewarding ourselves with treat foods like cake and biscuits is the easiest way to show ourselves we care. My experience in running a nutrition clinic is that so little of why we eat what we eat has to do with nourishing our body. The far greater part is to do with how we feel about ourselves and about life in general. Eating half a packet of chocolate biscuits is much easier than figuring out – not to mention getting – what we really need, which might be a way to de-stress, feel loved, get attention, kick back our heels and even sleep. We are almost completely out of touch with our own bodies.

When I’m working with clients, we focus a great deal of lifestyle and mindset because it is a critical factor in deciding whether we make healthy food choices. Simple fact: if you feel stressed or miserable, the chocolate biscuits are always going to win – unless you have a plan in place for dealing with those things.

Pepper this with a heavy dose of guilt – because many people know what they should be eating (and don’t get me started on ‘should’) – and it’s easy to end up making food decisions based a crazily-long list of rationale. Eat the dam chocolate cake and move on! Choose the cake. Then stop the conversation you’re having in your head about it. Eating a slice of cake is not the end of the world. Do not get all ‘what the heck, I might as well eat the whole damn thing’.

My passion is to spread the word that eating real food to nourish the body and soul is both desirable and achievable. And you can have cake. Really you can. Just not as often as you might be doing now. Find other ways to feel what you need to feel. Consider ways to polish your self-care. I guarantee you are not doing enough. Just as relationship gurus advocate not looking to another person for happiness, the chocolate biscuits won’t make you happy either and you know that. Enjoy the theatre and magic of cooking and eating foods you love and that love you back. Then read a book, go on a long walk via a country pub, swim, dance, sing… Whatever floats your boat.

Want to know the secret to having it all (and still losing weight)? Check out my website here.


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