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Secrets of a Food Doctor

Fasting has become more mainstream in the last three years thanks to books like The Fast Diet.  New research suggests that fasting for 18 hours a day offers better results such as improved insulin sensitivity, lowered cholesterol and weight loss but of course eating only between 8am an 2pm, burning six per cent more calories that people eating between 8am and 8pm, is that much harder. I have tried fasting several times and although it gets easier over time, I find it very hard to do, especially as I work a lot from home with a kitchen just a few feet away from my desk.

I started practicing as a nutrition therapist in 1999 and that’s when I realised that the secret of staying slim and healthy is not just being aware of calories but also eating well. I live by my own 80:20 rule too. You need to follow healthy eating principles 80 per cent of the time, but 20 per cent of the time, you can relax and enjoy a treat. 

I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth but I love chocolate sometimes, and not that organic dark chocolate either. Give me purple Cadbury’s milk chocolate any day. I’m really fond of icecream too. I can’t eat anything containing gluten because I have ceoliac disease and although gluten free options are far better than they used to be, I rarely eat them.

On a good day, I wake up early, usually before 6, have a cup of coffee and some yogurt with nuts then head to the gym.  I usually do weights with some cardio, and although I’m aware that I should do more cardio, I struggle with it.  Afterwards I eat a couple of eggs, either boiled or scrambled, with more coffee, before starting work. 

I drink one a half litres of mineral water every day, and I no longer touch alcohol. I gave up and I don’t miss it actually. I still like coffee, particularly a double latte made with soya milk but limit it to before midday as I find that I am sensitive to caffeine these days, switching to green tea after lunch.

For a snack, I’ll have an apple and some nuts whilst lunch might be something simple like tuna salad.  I do cook quite a lot in the evenings. I am quite a creative cook, and I like things that are tasty but easy to prepare. I would never buy a ready meal, even if I was pushed for time. I am working from 8am to 6pm and life is pretty stressful, but there is always time to eat well.

My cholesterol levels are good now although I have an inherited tendency towards raised overall levels as well as increased LDL. I try and eat plenty of fibre, including at least 30g nuts a day as well as extra virgin olive oil

Ian Marber
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