By Guest Blogger: Gandha
I’m often asked about my diet, what I eat, what I don’t eat… The answer is simple: I (now) love eating. I eat often – usually 5 times a day – the only thing I strictly exclude from my diet is meat. I never had meat in my whole life, so for me, it’s easy to leave it out. Not knowing what it tastes like and being aware of where it comes from never made me desire to try it, ever.
I spent the first half of my life so far, with no interest in food. I ate to survive and found no pleasure in it. As a teenager, I started appreciating food and learning how to cook. I begun reading books about nutrition, learned plenty about food while preparing meals with my mum and helping out at my auntie’s vegetarian restaurant during high school summer breaks. I was lucky to be brought up eating healthy, freshly made, vegetarian food and to develop an interest in nutrition and educate myself about it. Only a few years ago, I started to integrate some fish in my diet and I now have it about 3 times a week. All other meals are vegan or vegetarian. For me eating healthy is a pleasure, not a pain. I often indulge in delicious desserts and the occasional drink… It is all about balance.
The “secret” to staying healthy and in good shape, is not about dieting or forcing yourself to eat what you don’t like or depriving yourself of what you love. It’s about discovering the pleasure of eating a balanced diet, full of fresh products, rich in nutrients and homemade, when possible. Eating healthy is a way to show love to your body, to appreciate it for what it does for you. If you treat your body with love, it will change for the better.
There are so many diets out there, and maybe you tried some of them in the past. Often people diet for a short-term goal, like the holidays or in preparation for a special occasion to gain back the weight quickly shortly after. Diets only really offer lasting results if they are a way to learn good habits and make them part of your lifestyle. Think more ‘long-term health’ and less ‘short-term diets’. Sometimes food and weight take up so much of our attention that it prevents us from living our lives to the fullest. Weight isn’t the most important thing! If we eat a variety of clean, unprocessed, nutritionally balanced food, everything falls into place of its own accord. The body knows how much it is supposed to weigh, but it needs the right food to reach that optimal number.
A few tips:
- Keep it whole: The food you eat should remain as close to how nature intended it to be. Eat it in the state it was found, or close enough to it.
- Unprocessed: This is about avoiding industrially manufactured food and often contain an endless list of ingredients. Avoid reduced fat products as they are highly processed and ultimately less healthy than their full-fat version.
- Organic and clean: Prefer organic products to avoid filling the body up with the toxins that come from pesticides. One of my favorite quotes from Louise Hay says: “Toxic bodies are fat, healthy bodies settle at the perfect weight” which I think sums it all.
- Seasonal: When choosing to eat according to the season, you eat fresher, more nutritious food that nourishes your body.
- Prefer vegetarian food: It doesn’t mean you can’t have a healthy diet if you eat fish and meat. Just try to reduce animal products. For example, could you start by making one of the main meals each day vegetarian?
- Freshly made: Try to prepare your food daily. Freshly made food, cooked with love, contains more prana, life force. Prana rich food nourishes the mind, the body, increases our physical energy and promotes positive thinking.
- Trust your body's signals: Ultimately your food choices should reflect your own needs, as different people react differently to the same food. The best way to judge whether something is good for you or not is to observe how you react to it. How do you feel after eating certain types of food? Do you feel energized or do your energy levels drop? Do you feel bloated if you eat certain types of food? How does your gut responds to what you eat? Learning to observe and trust the signals that the body sends us can be a life-changing discovery that guides you on the path of health.
Rather than starting the next seasonal diet, start to make small changes and step by step move towards a healthier lifestyle. Take pleasure in eating what's on your plate and remember to treat yourself too. It's all about finding your balance. Remember eating well is just one aspect of building a healthy lifestyle. Make sure you drink plenty of water and keep active!
Chickpea and Aubergine Salad - Serves 2 as a meal or 4 as a side
.1 small red onion
.2 medium size organic eggplants
.2x 400g tins of chickpeas drained and rinsed
.Juice and zest of 1 organic lemon
.100g of cherry tomatoes
.1 bunch of fresh parsley, washed and chopped
.Freshly ground black pepper
Wash and cut the eggplants into thin rounds and lay them on two non-stick baking trays, placing one round next to the other. In a small container, mix some olive oil with the juice of half lemon, some sea salt, pepper, and chili flakes and brush this on the eggplants. Place in the oven at 200C for 10 minutes or until golden. Once ready, set them aside in a large mixing bowl.
Lay the chickpeas on the baking tray and sprinkle them with some sea salt and a little olive oil. Place in the oven for 10/15 minutes, until golden. On another tray, lay the cherry tomatoes, sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in the oven for 10 minutes. When ready, remove them and add the chickpeas on the bowl with the aubergines. Set the tomatoes aside.
Mix the chopped parsley and sliced red onion with the aubergine and chickpeas and add the remaining lemon juice and the grated zest. Serve adding the roasted cherry tomatoes on top as the final decoration.
About the Author
Gandha Savio is an Italian yoga teacher living in London. Her yoga journey started as a child. Her parents, both yoga teachers, started taught her breathing techniques and meditation from a young age. Gandha's passion for health and wellbeing don't end with yoga. During her teenage years, Gandha developed a real interest in nutrition and she was often immersed in book reading and recipe experimenting. You can read more about Gandha on her Website and connect with her on Instagram.