In­tu­itive EAT­ING

As her new book of fam­ily recipes hits the shelves, di­eti­tian and foodie Na­dia Lim shares her thoughts on diet fads and how to eat for your best life

Good Health Choices - - Eat Smart -

On com­mon diet mis­takes

I think there’s a big mis­con­cep­tion that be­ing healthy of­ten means watch­ing calo­ries. Of course re­duc­ing your calo­rie in­take is go­ing to help you lose weight, but it’s not the be all and end all. The most im­por­tant thing is that you nour­ish your body with all the nutri­ents it needs. You’re never go­ing to lose weight un­til your body is feel­ing re­ally nour­ished and is in a good po­si­tion to start los­ing weight.

An­other mis­take is be­liev­ing some­one else who maybe has lots of let­ters be­hind their name is more qual­i­fied than you to tell you how to eat. I’m a big be­liever that there’s no one diet that fits all. Ev­ery­one’s so ge­net­i­cally var­ied that there isn’t one sin­gle diet that can fit ev­ery sin­gle hu­man be­ing. You look around the world, and there are pop­u­la­tions that eat a very high meat diet but they’re healthy, and then there are pop­u­la­tions that eat no meat and they’re healthy. So peo­ple rely on some­one else to tell them how to eat, when ac­tu­ally if they lis­ten to their body, they know best what suits them.

For ex­am­ple, I feel fine when I eat gluten so I don’t feel I need to cut it out to be healthy. So it’s just about lis­ten­ing to your body and its cues, and how it re­acts with dif­fer­ent foods and dif­fer­ent styles and ways of eat­ing, then do­ing what suits you best. I guess it’s be­ing a flex­i­tar­ian.

On liv­ing healthily

An ev­ery­day change you can make to be health­ier is to be in tune with how you feel en­ergy-wise; how your gut feels; what your bowel mo­tions are do­ing; how you feel – whether you feel stressed or anx­ious. Your mood of course is su­per, su­per-af­fected by all of those things, and of­ten peo­ple don’t re­alise it, in­clud­ing my­self some­times. So pay­ing at­ten­tion to those sig­nals is a key thing.

Most peo­ple need to get more greens into their diet, this isn’t news, most peo­ple know that. And you can do this in so many dif­fer­ent ways. You can have greens at breakfast when you have your poached or scram­bled eggs on toast: wilt some spinach in the pan af­ter you’ve done your eggs – it only takes 30 sec­onds – with a bit of olive oil, a lit­tle knob of but­ter. I have a green smoothie ev­ery day. I used to be a big scep­tic of green smooth­ies, be­cause I thought ‘how can it taste good?’, but they do taste de­li­cious if you pair them with the right things. I’ve got berries in mine, or­ange, le­mon, turmeric and gin­ger and you can’t re­ally taste the bit­ter­ness of the greens. It’s re­ally re­fresh­ing. Then at lunchtime and din­ner, al­ways have some kind of salad on the side, maybe some pick­led veg­eta­bles as well.

An­other tip would be try­ing to be more mind­ful and pay more at­ten­tion to how you’re eat­ing. Just ask your­self, when­ever you’ve got a piece of food in front of you, ‘Does it pro­vide lots of vi­ta­mins and min­er­als?’ If it does, great! In­stead of think­ing about ‘Is this high in calo­ries? Is this go­ing to make me fat?’ you should be think­ing ‘Is this go­ing to give me lots of use­ful nutri­ents?’

On our re­la­tion­ship with food

It’s re­ally im­por­tant to have a good re­la­tion­ship with food be­cause it’s prob­a­bly the main way the modern hu­man race stays con­nected with na­ture. There are not many other ways, in such an ur­ban world, that we’re ac­tu­ally con­nected with na­ture any­more. That re­lates to not just what you’ve got on your plate, but look­ing at the jour­ney of the food and think­ing about it be­fore it gets to your plate. I think if you un­der­stand and are mind­ful and in­ter­ested in the pro­cesses that go on be­hind your plate, how the food ac­tu­ally gets there, you learn to ap­pre­ci­ate it much more, be­cause na­ture has to put in a lot of ef­fort and time to grow ev­ery­thing for us to pro­duce all of this food.

On pop­u­lar diet trends

I think with most di­ets there is al­ways a bit of truth in them, but I wouldn’t take them as gospel.

For ex­am­ple, why do you have to go 100 per cent sugar free? Can’t I have a piece of pavlova at Christ­mas time? I don’t think that’s go­ing to kill me; it’s go­ing to make me re­ally happy and I’ll get to so­cialise and eat with ev­ery­one else, so I think that’s a pos­i­tive thing. So go­ing 100 per cent sugar free

I don’t think is nec­es­sary, but def­i­nitely lim­it­ing as much sugar as you can is a great thing. As for go­ing low-carb, some peo­ple do feel bet­ter hav­ing a

‘Trust your in­stincts be­cause no one per­son

is the same ge­net­i­cally, and there­fore no one

diet fits all’

slightly lower amount of car­bo­hy­drates, but I think it’s im­por­tant peo­ple re­alise and un­der­stand that car­bo­hy­drates aren’t evil. It’s not car­bo­hy­drates them­selves, it’s the type of carbs peo­ple of­ten eat that aren’t great for them and don’t make them feel great. Re­ally, re­ally highly pro­cessed car­bo­hy­drates or sim­ple sugar car­bo­hy­drates are gen­er­ally not go­ing to be that great for you in large quan­ti­ties, so yes, good idea to limit them. But if you’re talk­ing about car­bo­hy­drates like ku­mara and pota­toes them­selves, or car­rots and parsnips – they’re high in car­bo­hy­drates too, they’re fan­tas­tic for you, they pro­vide your body with so much nutri­tion. Why would na­ture pro­duce some­thing that wasn’t go­ing to be good for you? So I’m not anti-carb at all. It’s all about the amount that you eat and the type that you eat.

On her food phi­los­o­phy

The diet that I be­lieve in is called ‘nude food’. It’s not re­ally a diet, it’s more of a phi­los­o­phy. It’s based on three key prin­ci­ples. First, ig­nore all the fads and mar­ket­ing be­cause they’re just dis­trac­tions. The sec­ond key prin­ci­ple is eat real food, which is food that comes from the ground, the sea and the sky, and less out of the fac­to­ries, as much as you can. And then the third one is trust your in­stincts be­cause – as I men­tioned be­fore – no one per­son is the same ge­net­i­cally, and there­fore no one diet fits all. You’re your best guru to tell you how to eat bet­ter than any­one else.

On Let’s Eat

This is the first book that I have self­pub­lished. The book is a bit of an evo­lu­tion that re­flects the way our fam­ily now eats, be­cause now we’ve be­come a fam­ily of three, my cook­ing style has slightly changed again, as it does when you go through dif­fer­ent life stages. The meals and recipes in this book, Let’s Eat, are very much a re­flec­tion of our fam­ily ta­ble. So there are fam­ily recipes from our ta­ble that me, [hus­band] Car­los and [baby son] Bodhi eat a lot of and cook for our friends and fam­ily when they come around to visit, but also fam­ily recipes like my dad’s Malaysian chicken ren­dang.

Let’s Eat is out Septem­ber 7. To cel­e­brate the launch, Na­dia will be do­ing a na­tion­wide book tour. For more info, check out na­di­alim.com.

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