Way back in what seems like the mists of time but was actually only the end of October, I decided I needed to start being healthier. Over the course of the previous year, I had slowly being putting on weight – about half a stone so not a lot but enough to notice. Worse, I was feeling sluggish and tired all the time.
I was talking (o.k., moaning) to a colleague at work who said she had recently made quite a lot of changes to her diet for the same reason and she was feeling much better as a result. She recommended a couple of books, one of which was Ear, Nourish, Glow, which I found at the local library so thought I would give a go.
Freer is a nutritional therapist who has worked with a number of famous people, helping them lose weight and look good – the type of changes the press love to report on. The idea she lays out at the beginning is everybody is different and responds differently to food and being healthy is not about dieting but about changing your diet, slowly and steadily getting rid of things that make you feel, basically, like crap. These things end up being almost everything I would say I loved – sugar, bread, pasta, dairy and alcohol – and are replaced with fruits, veggies, natural grains. As a result, you will lose weight but, more importantly, you will glow from all the good things you are eating.
To get to the glow, there are 10 easy steps – or supposedly easy. I can’t say I found them that particularly and, if I’m honest, by chapter 10 I had pretty much lost the will to live because whilst Freer starts off saying it’s up to you what you change in your diet (based on a food diary you keep in the first two weeks), she basically ends up telling you everything is bad.
To follow her simple 10 steps, you need to cut out gluten, alcohol (other than good quality red wine), salt (unless it’s pink Himalayan salt), dairy and – most importantly – sugar. Sugar, according to Freer, is evil and the worst thing you could consume. She might be right here, given what is in the press, and I don’t necessarily disagree with her on processed sugar but she also doesn’t seem to like natural sugar in things like fruit.
The problem is that to do what she asks you basically have to throw out everything in your kitchen and restock it with things I’m not sure the average person could afford on a weekly food shop. Cans need to be replaced with food stored in glass wherever possible for example and juices should be blended in a Vitamix which runs at several hundred pounds. You could use another juicer (as long as it’s cold press) but you get the feeling that – if you do – you are failing. I am sure that wasn’t Freer’s intention but it’s how it came across because the messages kept being repeated so it started to sound like dogma.
What also kept being repeated was basically the same dozen or so recipes – meaning the book became (for me) a bit of a boring lecture on what not to do vs. what to do to feel better. Saying that, and almost despite it, I did find that after reading the book my diet improved. That was down to the food diary I kept in the beginning and which I found really useful. It told me what I already knew – I eat too much rubbish when I’m travelling for work and snack too much when I work from home – but made me focus and think twice when I was about to buy a bag of crisps as part of a meal deal.
Since reading the book, I have paid much more attention to what I eat and my diet has changed. However, I haven’t cut out things that I don’t think have a negative impact on me – like dairy – because life is basically too short to not enjoy what I eat. As a result, though, I have probably reduced the bad fats and definitely the sugar in my diet, and I have lost weight – 4lbs so far which I’m chuffed with. I could probably have done I without the book though – or at least chapters 2 through 10 – so overall, I have to say, the book wasn’t for me and it’s not one I can recommend.