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Rationing – the key to optimum health and happiness?

As a Nutritional Therapist I give a lot of thought to how and what we should eat. I say how because I think today our eating habits have far exceeded need and we are consuming in excess of what our bodies require.

I just went to a great talk entitled ‘Mood Foods and Smart Nutrients’, hosted by Jamie Richards, Sports Nutritionist and Mike from Wild Oats in Bristol. Although the talk was about nutrition, a great deal of time was spent talking about motivating the body to eat. That means focusing on the driving process the body experiences in order to arrive at the hunger state. Most of us eat when we’re not hungry and in too large a quantity, but the body is incredibly resourceful when it comes to utilising food and nutrients, if it is given the right kind, in the right quantities.

When the body is in fasting mode it actually starts to repair and rejuvenate. In my opinion (and the opinion of Jamie and Mike it would appear) this can be achieved by eating in moderation and with elongated periods of not eating throughout the day. I tend to eat 3 meals a day and rarely snack in between (other than the odd bit of dark chocolate which I’m delighted to hear Jamie also advocates!) This suits me fine – I also exercise regularly and don’t crave sweet foods, so my body is functioning in a healthy way. It would appear the more we eat and the more frequently we eat it, the less healthy we feel and the more impact it has on our mood, amongst other things. Conversely the more we move and the less frequently we eat, the healthier and happier and younger we look and feel – simple!

Many people are now doing the 5:2 intermittent day fasting, but unfortunately like any ‘fad diet’, most people do not have the knowledge to carry it out in the right way and select the right foods to support their bodies during the non fasting time. For me it’s not about adopting extreme nutritional approaches, it’s about incorporating elements of this into every day eating. When you look at some of the cultures in the world with high populations of centenarians, they all have very similar things in common, one of which is eating to about 80% of their capacity – why don’t we just do this for every meal we eat?

The WW2 diet exemplified elements of this, where certain foods were restricted and also the frequency at which people ate and the amount they ate. As a nation we also moved a lot more, which would in turn have had positive effects on our insulin levels and subsequent mood and energy.

If we look at how our ancestors ate through time, there is a common theme. I will talk about some of these soon, but now time for bed! Ooh nothing like a bit of suspense to end an evening!

Here’s a picture of my delicious breakfast before I go….

Breakfast