I love food. I really love food.
If I am going to treat someone for a disease, I treat them the way I would like to be treated.
So I do!
If we eat food, we are eating macronutrients and micronutrients, which are all needed in certain different proportions, according to the disorder being treated.
Diet food can be fun
However, placing a plate of food in front of you that resembles little more than ‘very nutritious food’ can be both sad and unmotivating. In fact, I believe that it’s just rude to food!
Picture a plate of steamed hake with lemon juice and pepper, boiled broccoli, brown rice and an apple. Nutritionally, it would be very, very healthy, balanced and would lead to weight loss, lowered cholesterol and blood sugar control.
But it would probably also lead to craving, fantasies of binging and possibly even full-blown emotional decline if continued indefinitely!!
It’s clinical and depressing!!
Now, think 9 ½ weeks (yes, the fridge part); Babbette’s Feast; Christmas dinner; a kid’s birthday party; Shabbat dinner and wedding feasts…..every one of those instances incorporated food in a way that it was MEANT to be incorporated in our lives:
Sexiness and sensuality
Love, togetherness, sharing
Indulgence, deserving, “I deserve this!”,
Giving and taking; a sense of “I am loved because this has been done for me”
A deep sense of culture and belonging; safety and security
Celebration, happiness and pure joy!
Working with your impulses, not against
How can eating for health possibly ignore such pivotal aspects of food and eating? Well, they can, and do. But this is precisely why people ‘go on diet’ (such a bad phrase), and then cannot sustain it for the long-term….
Then, what follows saddens me intensely: a low self-esteem and honest belief that the ‘dieter’ is ‘useless’ and ‘weak’ and can’t seem to follow things through to the end….
This could not be further from the truth! Your body is NOT supposed to continue like this! If it was supposed to, there wouldn’t be such massive effects in the body relating to the eating of food! Let me tell you just some of the physical effects that eating has on your body, then you can tell me if it is natural to not satisfy these all the time:
When we smell good food, our gastric juices start to work – it prepares for that food before you’ve even started, and if not utilised by food, it can cause ulcers, inflammation and nausea as well as Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
When we see/smell yummy foods, our saliva starts flowing harder (yes, drooling is both natural and encouraged in this diet!) and this contains a multitude of useful enzymes that need to be used!
Many of our other thoughts are suppressed when we smell/see good food – illustrating that our whole bodies are gearing beautifully to eat!
When we chew (masticate), many other processes that relate to anxiety in the body slow down, and dopamine is released (a brain chemical associated strongly with contentment and reward). Yes, eating IS relaxing! But remember, food needs to enter your tummy; chewing chewing gum for focus and relaxation may produce short-term relief but leads to problems as in point 1.
When we eat proteins combined with carbohydrates, our brains produce more serotonin, that is a brain chemical that makes us feel calm, relaxed and ‘in control’ of our environment. This results in a deep sense of contentment and is very physiologically pleasant. And required. Regularly! On the contrary, when we have not eaten enough carbohydrates, our blood sugar levels plummet, and we lose optimum function of serotonin production. So, we feel anxious, panicky, very irritable, exhausted, moody and snappy. What’s more, we can suffer from headaches and migraines as well as light-headedness, shakiness and nausea. So, is it will power that makes you want to eat? Nope! Just a normal, appropriate sense of survival! Eat sufficient Low GI carbohydrates and you’ll never get to this stage! Yes, eating does control mood. It’s not in your imagination.
When we stimulate all of our taste buds in one meal, we are much more physically satisfied. The nerves emanating from our tongues end directly in the brain where our emotional centres are. This is why bangers and mash, or chocolate cake have such an overwhelming effect on our emotions! It is important to think of this when we plan a nice meal: we need to satisfy as many of the sensations as possible. A meal should have parts to it that are warm, cool, smooth, crispy, crunchy, fresh, rich, salty, sweet, sharp, sour, soft, chewy and ice cold. Quite a tall order, but this has already been taken care of with Mum’s traditional meal that you love so much: Lasagne, salad, ice cream with hot chocolate sauce and strawberries. Just reading that should have had a full-on physiological effect on you! Welcome to The X Diet!
Eating chocolate also releases many chemicals that affect our chemicals and brain hugely: it has caffeine, which is a stimulant and makes us feel awake, aware and focussed. Theobromine, that works similarly to codein to decrease pain, discomfort and muscular tension. It is said to lower blood pressure and has been shown to create a sense of wellbeing. What’s more, the chocolate contains sugar in it, which also increases the amount of serotonin produced in the brain. Yes, chocolate is not called ‘Food of the Gods’ for nothing! It really is a potent feel-good food! This is why we honestly NEED it when we are feeling down! I have recognised this necessity, and include cocoa and chocolate foods in a lot of the diet. We must eat, drink and be merry, for goodness’s sake!!
When we eat sufficient and balanced food, we also feel drowsy and relaxed enough to ‘come down’ after a long day of stress and anxiety, and knowing this, I place huge emphasis on the evening meal. It should be a big deal, and should be enjoyed in a carefully-prepared setting: friends/family, music, candlelight/soft lighting; appropriate table settings and crockery and cutlery, and a nice beverage to enjoy in happy and calm settings. We’ve all done the TV dinner, but this should be minimized for good health. Now that you know how emotional eating food can be, maybe this all makes more sense to you and you’ll feel more like starting to make the effort. It all contributes to culinary satisfaction, and health in the long term. You probably won’t overeat either, and will walk away from the table feeling happy, content and positive to continue with this new healthy lifestyle indefinitely!
Favourable food with the X Diet
In the X Diet, food is fun! Sugar is included in moderation, flavours are plentiful, exploring different cultures and cuisine is hugely encouraged, and eating old-fashioned family favourites is the best place to begin!
When people watch me eat meals, they often smile, saying that they haven’t seen anyone eat food with such passion as I do. I want you to feel the same. And you won’t unless the food really IS amazing.
So, enter the X Diet lifestyle, and enjoy creamy chicken a la kings with fluffy white rice, sweet, minted peas, cinnamon glazed carrots, salad with creamy rich dressings and banana custard with 100s and 1000’s! Oh, and be sure to prepare it in the kitchen with the radio on, and an ice-cold cola or half a glass of cabernet sauvignon at your left, and a big smile on your face as you bring passion and excitement back into your home……along with skinny thighs and controlled sugar levels.
Are you sure this food can still be Low GI and low fat?
It’s what I do. I take boring, sensible and academic principles and work them into fun, friendly and fabulous…..enjoy it.
No, I mean, really enjoy it!