Lose Weight and Get Well

By Nutritionist Barbara Bourke

A holistic health program needs to include many factors in order to achieve and maintain health in body, mind and spirit.We need to take into consideration our lifestyle, dietary habits and genetics, a change in diet is often not enough to lead us back into lasting health or lose those extra pounds. We might lose a few kilos, but they will creep back on as soon as we stop the diet and go back to our old unhealthy habits. Therefore, we have to look at the whole picture.The food we buy in the supermarket is often too processed and we cannot call it “whole food” anymore. The water we drink is of full of chemicals, the air is polluted and we often don’t have enough time for exercise and relaxation. 

However, let’s concentrate on our food first.

Foods can either be helpful or harmful to our body. We need to eat the right kind in order to keep our body working efficiently; foods that will not clog up the system, but rather help to keep it clean. The type of food we eat is very important in the process. We cannot expect to have a healthy, un-congested and well-run machine if we keep it fuelled up with the wrong foods, which pollute the system.

A diet conducive to health must have a balance of alkaline and acid foods: 40% acid foods to 60% alkaline foods is a good ratio to keep the energy high and the body clean. Most people’s diets consist of too much acid forming food. All foods that stress the digestive system and give little value in return should also be avoided. Whenever possible, eat your fruit and vegetables in a raw state. Cooking destroys many valuable minerals, vitamins and enzymes. However steam-cooked vegetables are more easily digested and a combination of both raw and steam-cooked is recommended.

We know minerals, vitamins and many other nutrients are important for health and wellbeing, but we don’t always consider the need for enzymes. Enzymes are proteins catalyzing and speeding up chemical processes. Those are produced by different glands within our body. We need metabolic enzymes to run our body and digestive enzymes for breaking down and digesting our food. Raw foods are beaming with enzymes but how much health giving raw foods are we eating these days? Heating over 40 degrees will kill the action of enzymes. Poor food choices, not enough raw foods, the preparation and processing of our food all adds up to a exhaustion of enzymes. 

If we are not getting the needed enzymes from our diet the glands have to produce them, meaning more work for a stressed glandular system, working overtime manufacturing the missing enzymes. In time, those glands become stressed and the enzyme production is weakened. Diminished enzyme production will interfere with the many metabolic and digestive processes within our body. Food we eat will not be fully broken down; assimilated and eliminated, resulting in nutritional deficiencies, as well as accumulation of those undigested waste products, causing intoxication of the whole system.


Remember - You are what you eat, you are what you assimilate, you are what you eliminate.


Frying our food should be at the bottom of our list. By eating food fried in oil, we are creating free radicals in our bodies, which destroy our healthy cells, contributing to our aging process. Enzyme-rich foods on the other hand help to regenerate our cells. Coconut oil consists of medium chain fatty acids, which are easily used in the body for energy, rather than storing it in the fat cells. Cooking with coconut oil is healthier and it is a misconception that it will increase cholesterol levels. This stems form the old way of coconut oil processing which produced a hydrogenated product. Coconut oil does not get oxidized as easily as other oils do. Extra virgin olive oil (a monounsaturated oil), or extra virgin olive oil spray is also recommended, Flaxseed oil should only be used as a salad dressing. As a guideline only fry, if you must, for a short time and only use coconut or maybe olive oil, never any of the supermarkets highly refined polyunsaturated oils.


Healthy nutrition starts with you. It is up to you to look at labels of packaged foods and decide for the healthier alternative. It may take a bit of time to become accustomed to unfamiliar foods and working with new recipes. Eat a variety of different foods so your body will get all the needed nutrients. Whenever possible eat organically grown foods, as they have a higher vitamin and mineral content are tastier and contain less harmful chemicals. Free-range eggs, chicken and meat, which have not been injected with hormones and other chemicals, are of course to be preferred.

As digestion starts in the mouth, it is important to chew the food properly. The enzyme amylase, in the saliva, starts the digestion of carbohydrate, therefore make sure the food is properly chewed and mixed with the saliva. Don’t eat unless you’re hungry. Every mouthful of food in excess of your requirements acts as a poison to the system. Stop eating before you are totally satisfied, because it takes some time for your stomach to receive the signal of fullness from your brain. This is one more reason for you to eat your food slowly.

If you like to lose some extra kilos you would eat most of your concentrated starchy carbohydrates at breakfast and only very little at midday. On a natural healthy diet, breakfast can easily be constructed around yoghurts, grains, fruit or cottage cheese. Herbal teas are always preferable to coffee or tea. Do not avoid butter, eggs or meat, just use them wisely. You need both saturated and unsaturated fats in your diet. The smallest meal should be the evening meal. Firstly, your digestive powers are at their lowest level at this time. Secondly, you are sitting down and relaxing and not burning the calories as effectively as during the day. Therefore a considerable amount of the food eaten at this time will be stored as fat in the body. Try not to eat late meals. Eat at least two hours before bedtime.


For a holistic approach to healthy, it is very important to get a certain amount of exercise. Exercise is not only beneficial to the cardiovascular system, but it also promotes lymphatic flow, which, in turn, will help eliminate toxins from the body. Aerobics are great for cardiovascular fitness and fat burning. Weight-baring exercise will keep your muscles and bones strong. Muscles tissue is denser and burns more energy than fat tissue this is another reason to include weight baring exercises in your program.

Therefore starting an exercise routine has its benefits in health, weight-loss and wellbeing.


The need for rest and relaxation is a given, meditation, yoga tai chi and other mental and physical relaxation methods  should be part of any health and wellbeing program.  It is a fact that stress can lead to weight gain, and ill health. When we are stressed and overwhelmed we often reach for comfort foods and those are seldom healthy. Include laughter, dancing singing, or anything what makes you happy. The other side of feeling happy is feeling depressed and sad and again we are tempted to reach for our favorite comfort foods.

In conjunction with the right foods, physical, mental and emotional exercises we may need the addition of certain nutritional supplements, that will adjust any malfunction and restore balance to our bodies.