The nourished life
It’s not just what you eat, but how you eat. Lesh Karan, holistic food coach and The Mindful Foodie blogger, shares her insights into eating well and living well to nourish your body, mind and soul.
How did The Mindful Foodie come about?
It started as a hobby blog. In 2009 I was diagnosed with a women’s health condition called endometriosis. Soon after I saw a naturopath and she gave me a book about healing through nutrition, and that opened my eyes to what real whole food is. I started making a lot of my own food from scratch and avoiding processed foods, and so The Mindful Foodie started because I wanted to share the recipes that I was making with other people.
The name The Mindful Foodie originally came from the idea of being mindful of what you eat and knowing where your food comes from. It’s obviously grown a lot since then, so that the mindfulness aspect is about not just what you eat but how you eat, and how you live in this world.
What was your background before you started blogging and coaching?
I trained as a pharmacist and I worked as a pharmacist for about three years, then I went into medical writing for pharmaceutical companies. Then I was diagnosed with my health condition and I started doing my blog. For a while I was still doing freelance medical writing as well, but I was enjoying this writing more.
What is the role of a holistic food coach?
The term is one I made up. It comes from holistic health coaching, which I did a certificate in. It’s about looking at food holistically. So if someone comes to me and says they’re not eating well, I can look at ways to substitute things and suggest what to eat, but then the behaviors also come into play. People are used to shopping where they shop, and eating in certain ways, so habits and patterns need to be taken into account. Holistic coaching is looking at people’s habits and behaviours in their daily lives – if you’re stressed, or not getting enough sleep, or you're eating in front of the TV. Then you can give them a realistic step forwards. It would be easy to say “eat this”, but it’s how to do it that’s the hard part.
How do you go about creating your recipes?
It’s what I eat at home. I rarely follow recipes and when I do I change things around, so I learn by cooking and thinking about what I want to eat, and what new things I want to try. I use my Indian influence at times and use different spices and flavours to create something different.
Something I talk about in my book and in my coaching is what you need in a meal to make it complete – to give you the balance of nutrients you need to feel full. When I create my recipes, I look at it and say, “Is there a carb in here? Are there good fats, protein, veggies?” If it doesn’t have all of that, then I’ll suggest a serving with something else to make it a complete meal. Then the next part is how to make it delicious, what flavours I’ll use to make it taste good.
What are your favourite foods or ingredients to use?
I use quinoa a lot. I love avocado, I love eggs – you can make an egg and quinoa salad really quickly and you’ll have a filling and delicious meal. Other than that I would say spices and herbs.
What can readers expect from your ebook, Nourished?
Nourished is kind of like a teaching book, or a mini version of my website. It’s got 93 recipes and it’s mostly vegetarian and mostly gluten free – but nearly every recipe has tips on how to make it your own and add meat if you want to, or add different flavours.
There’s also a section on my coaching and teaching – how to be a smarter cook, how to prep something and have it in your fridge to so you can have it there ready. There’s a section about how to make a complete meal, like I was talking about before, and that section also talks about mindfulness, because without that you don’t have a complete meal – if you haven’t paid attention then you won’t feel full mentally.
Then there’s a part about nourishing your soul. It’s about how important it is to do things that make you happy as a human being, to get enough sleep and have good people in your life. So it’s a book about ways to nourish your life.
What are some small steps people could take towards a more healthy and positive lifestyle?
1. Try to sit at the dinner table to eat instead of in front of the TV. That can be hard for some people if they’re used to always eating with the TV on, so maybe then a good compromise could be sitting on the couch like you’re used to, but turn the TV off, have the phone on silent or in another room, and pay attention to what you’re eating.
2. Another little step if you’re eating mostly takeaway or relying a lot on packaged food to make your meals, try to make one meal entirely from scratch. It could be something simple – maybe a stir fry with garlic and chili, veggies and meat, and brown rice or quinoa.
3. Don't pay attention to the health claims on the packet. Read the ingredients list to see what's really in it.