Nutritional expert Eve Kalinik gives us realistic, meaningful advice on how to support a healthy lifestyle ahead of her new book launch
Words Sabrina Nunez
In her new book, Be Good to Your Gut: The Ultimate Guide to Gut Health, Eve Kalinik discloses the importance of the gut and how it factors into your overall health. The book comes with 80 recipes, including meal options and dessert items.
In our interview, Eve Kalinik reveals how the relationship between food and the way it’s consumed are integral to making an immediate impact on your overall health. Kalinik reveals that simple, mindful changes go a long way. Read on to see what other knowledge she shares…
How did you make the transition from a job that negatively impacted you health to turning around and being a nutritional expert? What are some tips for people looking to do this on a smaller, yet still impactful, scale?
It sounds cliched, but going through some personal issues was really the catalyst. More so that I was not really finding the answers or any resolution to what become a persistent and recurrent cycle. It was in this journey of sorts that made me explore other options, one of which was nutritional therapy, and I think it was this that had the most marked impact. Quite literally feeding my body the right kinds of nutrients and making fundamental lifestyle changes like reducing stress, supporting sleep and eating mindfully, the latter point is just as important as the food we eat after all, were all a part of this.
For me it is this aspect of HOW we eat that anyone can implement immediately without any cost whatsoever. Chewing, sitting and being present with our plate is one of the first habits that I encourage clients to take on board. Using mealtimes as pockets as recovery in the day rather than having fast and furious approach to our food. Better to chew a less than healthy meal properly than inhale a virtuous salad after all.
What is the inspiration for the book and how does it compare/contrast with other nutrition-based books on the market?
The gut itself is beyond inspiring. It’s an ecosystem in its own right with rolling landscapes and a bevy of species. When we begin to unpick just some of the many processes that it influences either directly or indirectly, it’s essential we consider the health of our gut and not just simply as a waste disposal unit for food.
My nutritional therapy practise is focused on gut health as it is such a passion of mine, so the book felt like a natural progression from that. I also wanted to create a book that combined scientific knowledge with the practical translation into food. Kind of science meets the plate in front of you. I think that’s what differentiates it from some of the other nutrition books.
What are some long-standing methods and foods to promote gut health and a positive relationship with food?
Firstly, we have to be engaged in what we are doing when we are eating as all the gut-boosting foods in the world won’t have an effect if you are not consciously sitting down appreciating and understanding the connection between you and your food. One of the most powerful habits you can get into is eating without distraction and having devices out of ear/eye shot whilst taking time over your meals.
In terms of foods then ancestrally speaking, fermented foods such as kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, miso and cultured dairy such as cheese and yogurt provide natural sources of beneficial bacteria. More recent research has focussed on prebiotic foods that essentially feed bacteria in the gut. These largely come from fibre so the more diversity you can have there the better as that creates a more diverse microbiome and a healthier gut. There are certain foods that are more potent in their prebiotic potential that includes onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus and bananas to name a few.
What are some dessert/sweet recommendations for those of us who want to eat healthier and are finding it difficult to kick the sugar?
Bananas are a great prebiotic food so not only do they help to support the growth of bacteria in the gut, but they nip a sugar craving in the bud quite easily, too, especially if you spread them with a bit of peanut butter. Stewed apples with cinnamon are also another gut-boosting sweet treat as the pectin in them also does a similar thing as bananas in terms of supporting our inner ecosystem.
However, I think that when it comes down to sugar cravings there is a huge emotional connection and that needs to be a significant part of understanding WHY you are craving them in the first place. Therefore, it’s not enough to just replace sugar with other sweet foods, whether they be “healthier” or not but to look a bit deeper. And then you should be able to enjoy sugar like any other food. I’m not a fan of vilifying ANY food or food group, including sugar.
What is the link between mental and physical relationship with food and how can we improve it?
This is a very complex relationship and without being vague, it can be entirely different for each of us, so then it’s about analysing how and why you might have developed certain patterns of behaviour towards food. I would suggest working with a specialised practitioner if you have got into a negative cycle where that’s concerned. It is almost always multi-factorial. But, it also comes back to the point that we should try and remove certain stigma around foods being ‘bad’ or ‘good’ as that inevitably creates a dysfunctional relationship with the way we approach our eating habits.
How can we get away from the ideas that food should be restrictive/punishing or rewarding?
If one adopts an all-inclusive approach to their food, then it hopefully starts to remove barriers and labels. If we say that something is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for us, then it automatically invokes certain associations with foods. Some of this is driven by misguided advice that is interpreted literally, so I would always encourage people to be critical in their thinking when they read any article about food or healthy eating and not take everything on face value.
Explain the concept of triggers and drivers in regards to imbalances? What are some examples?
Triggers are generally a one-off event that in relation to the gut could be picking up a gut infection for example. Drivers are more on going factors that could be stress, for instance.
How can you manage gut health and nutrition in the workplace/if you’re a busy person?
Try and have breakfast and supper at home so you are in an environment that is conducive to ‘rest & digest’. At lunchtime, avoid emailing and internet surfing whilst you are eating. If you can, create a bit of a domestic disco on a Sunday and prep some things to take into work for the week ahead. The time spent doing it can be fun and crucially, you are giving something back to yourself. I completely appreciate that we all have busy lives but creating that hour saves you tenfold back time and money wise.
How can we cut through the information that has given bad names to certain foods or food groups? How do you tell people these foods are okay, despite what they’ve already been told?
This really comes down to education about food itself and not dismissing food groups so in the case of dairy, traditionally-made cheese is one of the most bountiful sources of calcium, fat soluble vitamins and it contains natural bacteria as well as having a low lactose content, which some people attribute to intolerances. That type of cheese is very different to shrink wrapped slices or cheese that comes in tubes and if you do like that stuff, then that’s your choice, but just be aware that it’s a very different proposition and it’s not to disregard cheese or dairy as a food group altogether.
You’ve talked about eating with diversity – how can we break out of a rut in ways that are easy and exciting?
This is where the Internet has become a plethora of inspiration for recipes and such, although I guess it can also be a bit overwhelming. I would say farmers markets are great as you get great deals and they also tend to have what is growing seasonally, so then you can start with one veg per week, for example, and see what you can create from it.
Doing a tiny bit of prep and planning is also a great way of seeing how you can diversify across the week and save time and money, too. Simple dishes like soups and smoothies are an easy way to get diversity with veggies and fruits in particular, and you can pack them with flavour.
What is the correlation between a healthy gut and good skin? How can they come together?
This one is far too long, complicated and multi-factorial to sum up in a question here. I may in fact need to write another book about that very subject, but often people talk about the skin being a reflection of the gut, so by supporting your gut you might find that glowing skin is nice side effect, too.