Hello and thank you for taking the time to read my blog. My name is Sonal and I am a practicing GP in a busy inner city practice. I live with my husband and two small children, juggling family, work and life.
I’ve had a life changing year, my whole world has been turned upside down, forcing me down a path of self discovery. I was on maternity leave when I was unexpectedly diagnosed with a large pleomorphic adenoma (a benign tumour) in my mouth. I was used to seeing sick people and managing illness but it’s all very different when you are on the other side.
I needed to have urgent surgery to remove the tumour and ended up with some post-operative complications, which stopped me eating and talking normally. This stopped me working and doing all the things that I enjoyed. One of the worst things was not being able to eat the things I wanted. I love my food! So being restricted to a soft/pureed diet was really difficult. For me food reflects the way I feel, eating out to celebrate special occasions, cooking for family time and coffee with lots of cake for pick me ups. I now needed new ways to find joy. I also became very aware of what I putting into my body. For me food stopped being about pleasure and more about the fuel I was giving myself.
What a revelation this was. As a GP I thought I had an understanding of nutrition and how the body works, and if I’m being totally honest I thought mindfulness and meditation was all a little bit out there and a little bit hippy. But my journey started after talking to friends. As is sometimes needed, they gave me a kick up the backside. You need to stop ruminating about ‘the what if’s’ and think about the ‘now’, they said. A friend pointed me in the direction of some coaching podcasts and felt as though something in my life changed.
A whole new world suddenly opened up; I started reading about overcoming adversity and accepting change. I started practising meditation techniques and learnt about mindfulness. I began to really think what I was eating, for once I really read the labels on the packets and started changing the way I cooked for myself and my family. I then started really learning about nutrition and why we need to eat certain things, what effect does it have on our bodies and what simple changes can be made to improve our physical and mental wellbeing.
What I found out really surprised me. We are living in an amazing era, with huge changes running through our society. The things we were told about diet and lifestyle are no longer true. Everywhere we look, we are surrounded by people who are overweight and morbidly obese. Worse still we regularly read statistics that one in three children are either overweight or obese. This is just not acceptable, if we stay like this what will the future hold for us and our children.
Talking to family, friends and patients one of the biggest problems people face is understanding the facts. Each week there is a new headline stating what you should and shouldn’t eat. There is also an abundance of cooking shows and cookery books advising how to eat healthy. Finally walking through a supermarket aisle on a budget with the family in tow, it can be a real challenge to navigate through all the ‘low fat’, or ‘no added sugar’ foods.
So I would like to guide you through the basics. I hope to explain what the different components of food are made of and using the latest evidence explain what is essential and what should be avoided. I’m also going to try and explain studies and research that has published to allow you to make you informed educated decisions. Hopefully I will also try to show examples of how we are making changes of this at home. Finally I want to share my new found love of meditation and mindfulness practice and how we can incorporate this into our lives. We are going to be on this planet a long time, so why not make our stay on this earth healthy and happy.