Think about your eating while eating!
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Writer and broadcaster Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall talks to Katie Wright about his holistic approach to health, and staying positive during a difficult year.
The River Cottage founder has enjoyed having more time to tend to his crops during the pandemic, and also took the opportunity to add three farm animals to the fold.
“During the beginning of the spring [last year], we decided to get some goats,” he says. “We got a nanny for milking and two wethers, which are castrated male goats.
“We reared the boys for meat and we got some lovely milk every day. We made goat kefir and we actually made some lovely goat’s cheese from the kefir, which was really delicious.”
Stirring up batches of gut-boosting fermented drinks like kefir and kombucha, Fearnley-Whittingstall is practising what he preaches in his latest book, Eat Better Forever, which sets out seven principles of a healthy diet, rather than offering a single quick-fix solution, as health gurus often do.
“Newspapers love to jump on a food story or a diet story or a food health thing, and it’s blown up into the new thing or the latest thing,” he says. “Sometimes those things are misleading.”
The author realises that adhering to seven tenets – which include eating a varied diet, as many whole foods as possible, feeding your gut and reducing refined carbs – may not be feasible for everyone, so suggests picking “the ones that you think make sense to you and are going to work for you. The whole point is not to pin everything on a single approach,” he adds.
The final chapter makes the case for mindful eating, something the 55-year-old admits he’s struggled with in the past.
“I’d be happily thinking about other things, while tucking into crisps or eating a sandwich on a shoot, or automatically popping the cork when I get home from work in the evening.
“I’ve learned to manage that by always being more thoughtful – well, not always, because goodness knows this is not about perfection. It’s about being in touch with your thinking about your eating, and therefore about the eating itself.”
Likewise, while the broadcaster has found that intermittent fasting (reducing one’s calorie intake on certain days) has helped him lose weight, he recognises it’s not for everyone.
“If I’m dashing about making a programme, or I’m on my feet all day, if I don’t have something to eat fairly soon in the morning I’m a bit stressed and a bit grumpy,” he says.
“Whereas I find I actually enjoy fasting a little bit when I’m having a quieter time. So I’ve been able to do that quite a bit recently.”
Eat Better Forever by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, published by Bloomsbury, is available now.