Wednesday, 24 June 2015
Eat. Nourish. Glow - A Review
I picked up this book from our local library the other day and within a few days I had read it in it's entirety. I thought there may be bloggers out there who might be interested, so I'm doing an individual review. I apologise in advance for the length of this post, but that is solely due to the book being so interesting and informative.
It's written by Amelia Freer, a nutritional therapist and healthy eating expert and offers '10 easy steps to lose weight, look younger and feel healthier', certainly things I would be quite happy to achieve.
I really enjoyed this book. I liked the fact that the author admits to having had a terrible diet in the past, eating lots of carbs, sugar, etc. and feeling awful for it. This made her seem a lot more human. Sometimes it seems like healthy eating experts must have sprung from the womb eating healthy food and it's hard to imagine yourself ever getting to a healthier place, especially if like me you are attempting it much later in life.
In this book, Freer suggests that you might like to eliminate several elements from your diet, the main one being sugar, as she considers it to be one of the least nutritional foods and one of the most addictive substances. She admits openly to being a fierce critic of sugar and how it has been used in food processing, being added to many processed foods to add flavour with no consideration of it's consequences for our health.
She goes on to explain what is wrong with eating it and how you can give it up, save for eating small amounts of natural sugars, which she does with all of the items she suggests you avoid.
The second item is gluten. Now I have in the past tried to avoid gluten in some products and have found this beneficial in terms of reducing bloating, gas, etc., but the thought of giving up gluten altogether, I'm not sure I could do this. She does give some very interesting ideas and recipes to help you give up gluten and one section of her book does list gluten free alternatives, which is very helpful.
Third on the list is alcohol, save for an occasional glass of wine or white spirit such as vodka/gin, largely because of the volume of sugar it contains and it's effect on liver health.
The fourth item is dairy, but she does concede that if you are okay with dairy products and don't have any adverse effect from using them, then by all means carry on, but at least stick to organic products. She suggests that the calcium you get from dairy can be found in other foods, but I myself feel I prefer to carry on consuming dairy for now, but may reduce consumption in some areas.
Finally, she suggests giving up caffeine (in excess) due to what can be incredibly negative effects on the body. She suggests one or two cups per day, taken with coconut butter instead of milk, prevents the insulin high that can set us off on a blood sugar rollercoaster all day.
It is this idea of a blood sugar rollercoaster, which is the main thing that resonated with me from this book and the suggestions that Freer offers to avoid this. She suggests that many people (of which I am one) often start the day with carbs for breakfast, either in the form of sugary cereals or toast and tea with sugar. This sets off a blood sugar rollercoaster which has them craving sugar and carbs at regular intervals throughout the day leading to excessive snacking and weight gain. This is me in a nutshell. I always eat crumpets for breakfast with tea and two sugars and although I am loathe to give this up, I know that it is setting me up for failure in maintaining a healthy weight.
Freer also supports the idea of giving up snacking, which seems to contradict what several other authors advise, but instead suggests that when you reach for a snack you should alternatively ask yourself are you bored, thirsty, being sociable or just eating to suppress an emotion. Instead, make sure you eat proper meals that contain fat, protein and plants, as meals that are made up mainly or purely from carbs will play havoc with your blood sugar levels and leave you reaching for a snack within the hour.
Throughout the book, Freer stresses the importance of fats, good healthy fats, such as oily fish, avocados, nuts, seeds, certain oils and red meats and poultry. She purports that you should make good fats your friends and sugar your enemy.
Freer puts forward the idea that eating healthy fats and proteins with your breakfast is a far better way to start the day, as it avoids setting off this rollercoaster of cravings by the body, and she suggests a myriad ways of starting the day in a healthy way and giving yourself a chance at being the healthy person you want to be. This is one of several very important ideas that resonated with me from this book. I particularly liked the idea of eating chia seeds with almond milk and fruit and have found myself doing so several mornings per week in order to try to reduce my urge to snack all day.
Freer also suggests that it is useful to carry out a kitchen detox and rid your kitchen and your life of certain products that fall into the above categories and also consider the utensils and storage containers you use to store items i.e glass being preferable to plastics or tins, that can secrete toxins and chemicals into the food.
Whilst I haven't done this for all the products she suggests, I have disposed of some items that I am no longer happy to use and may do the same with a few more in the future. i.e. table salt, vegetable oil, balsamic vinegar. She also suggests a few utensils or gadgets that are essential to help you prepare healthy, happy food and gives a few tips on smart shopping and avoiding the lure of advertising and convenience food.
Finally, in addition to discussing the issue of what you eat, she also has chapters devoted to drinking (water preferably), supplements (she only suggests a couple for use without consulting a professional) and exercise or movement (essential) and how ensuring that you do or take sufficient of these is also vital in achieving better health.
In conclusion, I found this book highly informative on a whole raft of nutrition issues, well written, with comprehensive alternatives for the things she suggests you eliminate from your diet. She also uses examples of clients she has treated and these offer insights into behaviour and how you could change it. She doesn't suggest you give up everything all at once, but just one thing at a time until a healthier habit has formed around that item, so that it doesn't seem too overwhelming. To me this made absolute sense and is helping me to try to tackle one area of my diet at a time.
As a consequence, I would quite like to keep this book on my shelf for future reference as I change habits that I have had for many years. As it is a library book, it needs to go back, but I would however, definitely consider buying it to help keep me on track with living a healthier lifestyle.