Guest blog : A Summer Holiday in Andalucia, and an Introduction to Plant Based Eating….

I’ve been pescatarian most of my adult life, but still ate dairy and fish. I’ve also at various times pursued different forms of healthy exercise, hillwalking, gyms and gym classes. I also cycled to and from work for a number of years. However, five years ago I became a taxi driver. I don’t need to tell you the irregular hours and convenience food diet of that profession will play havoc with even the strongest of constitutions, and I was no exception. In the space of four years I went from a relatively healthy 14st 7lbs (I’m 5’ 9”) to almost tipping the scales at a shocking 19st. And I still kept eating the cheese and crackers! As per usual I knew I had to do something about it but just never got around to it.

A marvellous opportunity presented itself, however. I’ve known Falda’s mother Susan since we were both in our twenties, and when she told me she was going to spend the summer in Spain this was too good a chance to miss. I arranged three weeks off, booked my flights and packed a bag, pitching up at Susan’s in early July. The area she was staying was well off the tourist track, in a predominantly olive growing region of southern Spain. It was hot, hilly and sunny with not many people. I fell in love with it from day one.

Susan had already been in situ for six weeks. A long distance runner with an interest in all things healthy, she’d spent her time out in the olive groves. Always fit, her daily runs up and down what seemed impossibly steep hills in even more impossibly hot conditions meant she was thriving. I made up my mind I would do the same.

There would be one major difference to my previous health campaigns, however. Like Falda, Susan pursues a wholly Plant Based Diet and I agreed that I would do the same for these three weeks.

Susan is not a treat sort of person in the normal sense of the word. A treat to her is avocado on toast as opposed to a squidgy cake, lump of cheese or chocolate bar. Her main meal each day is a massive bean salad packed with every nutrient the body requires, drizzled in a balsamic, mustard and lemon dressing. She goes for deep red, orange and green colours just to ensure she isn’t missing any important nutrients.

She believes that if your body is stuffed with plants, beans and nuts your cells, and most importantly your brain cells, will properly regulate your appetite and food consumption. You won’t crave sugary nonsense that plays havoc with insulin levels and you won’t have access to bad cholesterol from fatty dairy products or hormone and antibiotic filled meats and fish.

And it was pretty obvious from the start that she was going to explain why all these things were good for me as well, over every meal! I now have a great grounding in plant based nutrition, where to get my protein (lots of leafy and green veg and nuts) and why eating any other way is not sustainable, unnecessarily cruel and environmental unfriendly. I knew most of that already, but it was good to discuss it in depth over some really tasty meals!

For three weeks Susan’s cooking and imagination treated me to an entirely plant based diet. It was delicious, with the advantage that, as you can eat as much as you want of this diet, I was never hungry (though maybe a bit grumpy for the first few days!). I walked in the hills each day, drank loads of water and soaked up lots of warm, healthy sun. The mileages increased, as did the hills I took on. My final hike was a fourteen mile circuit in the hills and tracks surrounding the village where we were staying.

And the added bonus? I knew following Susan’s guidance and dietary advice I was becoming healthier and losing weight. I could feel it every day. But both of us were unprepared for how much weight. In three weeks of plant based eating I lost an amazing 10 kilos, just over 22 lbs in old money!

As I said at the start of this blog, I have been Pescatarian for most of my adult life. With the completely plant based, nutrient dense and entirely satisfying menu of foods I ate in Spain, however, I am now committed to the new healthier lifestyle plant based eating offers.

Now all I have to do is stick to this way of eating. It’s not a chore. The cooking is easy, cheap and very fulfilling. I feel absolutely great, motivated, with more energy and a sunnier outlook. I love it and will keep you updated periodically with my progress.

If you need a kick start to better health let us know!

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