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Trust Your Gut with Rhaya Jordan

No more restricting, fad dieting, binging, or sacrificing—it’s time to listen to your stomach when it’s calling for you.

No more restricting, fad dieting, binging, or sacrificing—it’s time to listen to your stomach when it’s calling for you. Rhaya Jordan is an avid proponent of eating intuitively, which means following your gut instead of pop culture trends. As one of the first people to introduce the first Bachelor of Science in Nutrition Therapy in the UK, Rhaya has spent over thirty years helping people redefine their relationship to food. As a nutritional consultant at Bamford, she can help you determine an individualized regimen that feels natural, delicious, and balanced.

Who said healthy food can’t taste good? Or that breakfast is mandatory? Or that you have to eat three meals a day? Your stomach is sending you messages every day. Rhaya Jordan is listening, and BWB is, too!

What is intuitive eating?

I recently had a gut infection – a gastric flu – for the first time in my life. It was a big shock as I’ve always had excellent digestion.Now that I am recalibrating myself, intuitive eating is such a brilliant tool. I look at food and ask myself the following questions: Will this feel good in my body?Is this something I would really like to eat?Will it sit easily with my digestion?

I’m convinced I’m recovering so quickly because I’m following my body instead of a rule book.The dietitians, Tribole and Resch, coined the phrase and wrote a beautiful book to explain intuitive eating in more detail.

Women are especially trained to be at war with their bodies and appetites.

While it sounds easy, it can be difficult to step back and trust our own bodies after years of following diets or self-inflicted food rules. Women are especially trained to be at war with their bodies and appetites: We should not eat heartily when we are hungry. We should choose food that is “healthy” even if we find it unappetizing.All these restrictions and rules detract from the simple joy of eating something delicious and satisfying.

Despite hunger being an ongoing problem throughout the world, there is also a growing stigma regarding what to eat even in areas of abundance. The irony is that our bodies are beautifully tuned pieces of machinery. Our health and weight will stabilize once we trust ourselves.

In your 30 years as a naturopath, nutritionist and herbalist, what have you been most surprised to learn? 

It took me a long time to realize that diets don’t work at all, and even high quality, nutritional foods still don’t suit everyone.If I were to have a bowl of beautiful organic oats for breakfast, I would likely get indigestion and also feel hungry all day. Are oats a good food?Absolutely!Our gut microbiomes love them. Oats contain a thick fiber called Beta-glucans, which soothes the gut and helps reduce cholesterol. But are they a good food for me?No.

It’s all about the individual—not the food rules or macronutrients. Personalized nutrition has never been more exciting as researchers continue to discover new things about genetic individuality in the human microbiome.I can’t wait to see where we are with all of this information in five years. For the moment, remember that you and your own experience with food comes first. Theory comes second.

Some of your favorite healthy restaurants in London? 

I love Asian food! Even though it’s not a health food restaurant as such, there is a wonderful Northern Thai restaurant near me in South London called Begging Bowl. It’s delicious, inventive and full of spice, which I love.

For a more formal dinner, The Dairy in Clapham is stunning.Though it’s not explicitly a health food restaurant, its seasonal menu is full of fermented foods and a homemade rooftop honey.

If I want something quick in town, Ella’s Café just behind Bond Street Station is brilliant. This organic spot offers plenty of vegetables and interesting stews.You can always find something filling without being bogged down with white flour and chemicals.

My beloved Daylesford always offers lovely organic lunch options and take-aways. I had a kale and sweet potato quiche from there today that was so good, I just might go back for a second piece!

Your go-to meals?

Many of my comfort foods are curries with coconut that I trace back to the early days of my marriage and time with little children.

My favorite snack of all time seems to be blueberries. I never get tired of them and will even buy them out of season. I also love nuts for a snack, but I am less loyal with them. Sometimes I enjoy cashews or almonds, but at the moment I love walnuts with dark chocolate.

My signature breakfast (brunch really) is a spicy frittata. I shred any vegetables I have and mix it with turmeric, mild chili, and scrambled eggs. It’s delicious, satisfying and never the same twice. It also helps me avoid food waste!

I’ve been with my partner for over 25 years and my mother-in-law grew up in Sri Lanka. Many of my comfort foods are curries with coconut that I trace back to the early days of my marriage and time with little children.

What improvements have you noticed as a result of your dietary lifestyle? 

This is difficult to answer because I have been working with food and health my entire adult life. I often forget that people at my age are usually on multiple medications, and are already dealing with poor health. I am rarely ill, I don’t have aches and pains unless I sit still too long, but that is true for my 22-year-old daughter too!

Being fairly well in general really helps me to love life, and I’m in a wonderful time in my life at the moment. I’m very rebellious about the aging process too – much of what we talk about as normal aging is just simply poor health.

What are three changes anyone can make as a first step towards a healthier diet?

Remember that the concept of three meals a day dates back to the industrial revolution. If that pattern doesn’t suit you, change it. I like to start with breakfast. This is the time when it is easiest for many to tune into themselves again. I’m not a breakfast person at all and I don’t really want to eat until about 11. Others wake up hungry, so they may feel well if they have breakfast. It’s the first step to eating intuitively.

Tune in, experiment, find what works for you, and do it—regardless of the current fad.

I’ve never met a client who didn’t already know a breakfast food or eating pattern that really suited them. So, do you want breakfast or do you make yourself eat it because you think you should? What is your favorite breakfast? Do you love porridge or eggs? What sets you up for the day? Tune in, experiment, find what works for you, and do it—regardless of the current fad.

I do have one caveat: if you skip breakfast, remember you might need something really substantial at about 11. Make sure you plan for that so you don’t find yourself skipping a proper meal and replacing it with tea and biscuits. Take two lunches to work instead!

Teresa Deely

Teresa Deely is graduating from Columbia University with majors in English and Creative Writing. She is a freelance writer and marketing assistant working for clients in the wellness, jewelry, creative, and sports industries. She believes that one’s skin is yet another canvas and vehicle for art, and has loved styling her hair and applying makeup from a young age. Spending much of her time in educating youth and leading enrichment programs for children, she is highly motivated in discovering new ways to care for herself and sharing them with others.

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