'Let medicine be thy food' are words of wisdom for me

Torbay Weekly

One of the most important bricks in my imaginary house of wellbeing is my diet. The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates allegedly stated: “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” I have learned that these words have so much wisdom in them.

Ten years ago a friend who is now a nutritionist got me thinking deeply about what I was putting into my body. That was at the start of the clean eating movement, and much of the advice was pretty extreme: quit sugar completely, only ever eat ‘good’ fats. A short trial made me feel lighter, my skin looked brighter, my mind was clearer, but for me sustaining that sort of extreme change is difficult.

Through my friend, I discovered a woman called Kris Carr, who was diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer in her thirties. By radically changing her diet, Kris is managing to live a healthy life with her illness. For me as for so many others, her story is inspiring.

She describes her kitchen as her pharmacy, an analogy I love. It helps me to imagine that everything I choose to purchase and keep in the fridge and store cupboard is somehow contributing to my good health or otherwise. Some foods harm, and some heal. Like anything in life, it’s all about getting the right balance. Through Kris Carr I discovered some delicious one pot recipes full of nutrients, non meat protein and vegetables. I now cook a batch of these regularly, and I try to keep a supply of them in the freezer.

My diet today is mainly plant based and non-processed. I have good days and bad days, and although I know that I feel much more well the morning after a day when I have been disciplined, I am also realistic, so I try to focus more on getting good foods in than being too strict with myself about leaving absolutely any potentially harmful ones out.

My day begins with a green smoothie. I blend leafy greens, high in many vitamins and minerals, with an assortment of other health-giving ingredients including ginger, banana and flaxseed. From a planetary wellbeing perspective, learning about where and how ingredients have been grown is important, and remember also that eating less meat is thought to be the one single thing that we could all do to help the environment, above reducing aeroplane travel.

Carbohydrates are fuel for brain and body, so as a rule I try to eat most of my daily intake for breakfast and lunch. If my mind is racing and I know I will struggle to sleep however, I find that eating a big bowl of pasta for dinner can really help to ground and prepare me for rest, like a hot air balloon that needs to take on weight to bring it back to earth. Caffeine is a known stimulant, so I try to avoid it after lunch time.

I advise everyone to think about what you’re feeding your body and mind, and what you might be able to add or subtract to improve your energy levels, the way your body feels, your mood, your sleep and your general sense of wellbeing.

You’ll find a world of information on this subject online or in your local library or bookshop. There’s a little more on the green section of my website: www.rose-coloured.com, and you can find out more about Kris Carr at www.kriscarr.com. Bon Appetit!