Have you ever been curious to find out how slim, healthy people stay slim and healthy? Aoibheann McNamara shows us how it’s done.
I have done it all. Week long fasting, colonics, food combining, ayurvedic analysis, chewing techniques, eating for blood types, high level vitamin supplements, liver flushes. You name it, I have tried it. I have now incorporated all of these to create a way of eating that works for me and which I feel is encapsulated in two simple words, ‘eat light’.
I try to stick by a few self made rules in order to stay healthy, which is more important to me than being slim. This is my eating and exercise plan and I hope that it is of interest to readers looking to change their eating habits. I can still get as tired as we all are at times, but I have alot more energy with this plan. In no particular order here is what works for me:
Know your Ayurvedic type.
I am Pitta Vatta which means I need to eat little and often. If you are Pitta and don’t realise it you may be eating three square meals a day and may need four smaller ones. Ayurveda is a system native to India and I had this analysis done while traveling there but it is available in Ireland too. It is an interesting tool as everyone is different so one way of eating will suit one person and not another. It is important to bear in mind that this is why these bestselling diets rarely work and why it is important to adapt your diet to your own particular needs and lifestyles.
Everything I eat is organic or else full of good energy. I shop small and local McCambridges and the Saturday market over Tesco and I feel this helps everything including the end product. You should buy nothing that your grandmother wouldn’t recognise so avoid anything packaged or processed in a supermarket. Food should be clean with no additives. I eat fresh natural yogurt like Glenisk, homemade breads, fruit, vegetables, artisan cheeses, organic pasta, lentils, and freshly juiced juices. Basically simple and clean and food you make can yourself. No prepackaged dinners from M&S or made up cheesecakes full of preservatives. A better alternative is to have a few squares of pure dark chocolate. An excellent book on all this is ‘Food Rules – An eaters Manual’ by Michael Pollan.
Drink lots of water.
Try to drink at least six large glasses of water a day or herbal teas high in anti oxidants. Water is an excellent laxative, gives energy, keeps skin clear and is essential for good health. In terms of fluids with food, it’s a no no. Try to drink between meals and not at meals. I break this rule with wine as I actually find wine can help digestion but I drink very little. Never eat after 6pm if you can help it. The food sits in your stomach all night and is extremely bad for you. I always feel heavy after a night out with a late dinner. Eat your biggest meal in the morning; breakfast should be with protein, lots of fruit and positive carbohydrates. Lunch again should be large with key primary or vegetable proteins and then a light meal at night. Below is a menu that works for me.
Food combining means many things but the key is not to eat proteins with carbohydrates which can be difficult in our culture. At least try to avoid the bad white carbohydrates in favor of better carbs like brown rice. Carbohydrates are very important but we can limit their heaviness by having oatcakes instead of pan bread and good organic porridge over processed cereals in the morning. Select your carbs well and you will see a big difference in terms of energy, wellness and if you’re looking for weight loss this is the single most important thing to watch. Simple things like choosing a chocolate mousse over a chocolate cake at the end of your meal is a much lighter choice. I rarely eat cakes and biscuits but will have a few squares of organic dark chocolate every day with a soya yogurt or some fruit as a treat and these small things I find make a big difference.
Eat mainly vegetarian.
I eat meat twice a week at the very most, all other meals are vegetarian. This is good for the animal population, for my health and for the cost of my food for the week. There seems to be a perception that if you don’t have meat in your meal it is not a proper meal. This is not true. Eating fish and vegetarian options are less heavy and much better for you than red meat so you feel better, highlighting my basic core principal ‘Eat Light’.
Exercise should be a part of your life plan not something you have to do. I exercise in some form or another five times a week and am training for the Icelandic marathon in August. That involves 3-4 jogs of 6 miles at a time and building up every week. The wellness you feel when you exercise at that level is fantastic and helps you emotionally, physically and professionally. Exercise is a key component in being well. In Galway we have the prom, amazing yoga centers, endless nature and the sea. I say get out this summer and jog the prom and jump in the sea for a swim and see how amazing you can feel.
Eat fruit and vegetables.
At least 5 of each a day – I try to get most of them in a fresh hard core organic juice because I find plodding though a salad a bit difficult. Increase you fruit and vegetable intake and you will see a difference in your skin, energy and wellness. It will also affect your bowel movements. A healthy bowel is a healthy body and when the food passes through with ease it shows a balanced diet. On this point, regular colonics or home-administered enemas can be great.
Most women in America consider the vitamin box as important as the skin care range. I encountered a beautiful Iranian woman in India clutching a green magma powder. We got chatting and she gave me a list of all that she was taking and information on the all important green powder, Dr Hagiwara Barley grass powder which detoxifies and alkalises the body. Right now I am taking amino acid, magnesium, zinc, fish oils, rhodiola, spirulina, echinechea, source of life multivitamin and of course a daily dose of green magma which I solely attribute to my lack of tiredness which I had since the birth of my child. What vitamins you take is up to you. Ask the wonderful team at Evergreen for a few suggestions and you will have added energy and vitality.
Try to avoid wheat and dairy.
Not a total ban but a lot of people are lactose and wheat intolerant and don’t know it. Soya and rice products are a great substitute. The body does not need all this and finds it hard to digest. Give your body a rest for a while and see how much better you feel and how much more energy you can have.
Eating during pregnancy.
This is not an opportunity to make your way through the whole repertoire of McVitties biscuits. If the food is not good food it will need to be worked off at some stage. This is the time in your life as a woman where you should eat the best and most nutritious food available. I followed the Indian doctor Gowri Motha ‘The gentle Birth Method’ and the chapters on food I found the most beneficial. I would encourage anyone who is pregnant to get the book and adhere to her sound practices. This is a time to nourish yourself and your baby. Lots of light high energy, high protein foods, fresh juices, fruit and vegetables. I know it is hard but it will stand to you in every way and especially make the birth easier and also the post partum recovery better. In terms of exercise try to keep this up even just a simple walk of the prom as the fresh air is so important.
Finally, food is a great joy and a great gift so enjoy it! Eat good quality products created and produced with integrity and feeling from local wholesome suppliers – their energy will give you energy and we all need energy. We are ideally positioned in Galway to have an optimum life and wellness through the surrounding natural beauty. Let us take advantage of that and commit to a wonderful exercise plan for the summer that will have us looking and feeling the best we have in years. The practices that we adopt today will help us in the future, not just for a longer life but a healthier and in turn happier life.
Everything is interconnected and wellness is something we can all feel. Choose your foods wisely and look at portion sizes, eat less and train your stomach to eat smaller. We all eat too much and we don’t need it all. Adopt a daily food practice that is ecological, ethical and beneficial to all. Most of all cherish food and like the French women do, eat sensibly six days of the week but then go for it on the seventh with the finest and the best and savoir every mouthful of that fillet mignon. Balance in your approach to your eating plan is as important as any other component. We have only one run at life and we should be at our optimum weight and fitness. We owe this to ourselves and if we are lucky enough to have children, to our children too.
Menu Plan: A Typical Day for Aoibheann
Hot lemon and ginger first thing with 10 vitamin supplements
Homemade granola, lots of blueberries or fruit and natural soya yogurt
Mid morning 10am
Health bar and herbal tea
Goats cheese salad with small bowl of vegetable soup healthy brown soda bread
Soya fruit yogurt
Hummus with oat cakes and organic apple
Green and black organic chocolate as a treat
I always have an organic vegetable juice with spirulina
Lots of water and 8 green magma tablets for extra energy
Drink very little alcohol max 3 glasses wine a week