Eshanka before and after she shed the pounds
Towards the end of 2019, I had gained eight kilos of stress weight. I knew it was time for mental as well as physical transformation.
I started with mentally strengthening. Soon after, I was led on to a path of eating clean and getting back to shape. The majority of my meals became gluten-free, grain-free, sugar-free, lentil-free and soy-free. I created a low-carb 'balanced meal' with mostly plants, protein and good fats. I was consistently doing different forms of yoga (such as vinyasa, ashtanga, hatha and power yoga) along with Pilates and Barre workouts.
In a matter of 11 weeks, I'd lost almost 10 kilos. While the world was in a lockdown, I had unknowingly begun a soulful journey. This new way of holistic living kept me happy and energised.
Eating healthy is the highest form of self-respect. But that doesn't mean that your food needs to be boring.
So, I started creating healthy alternatives to our binge food. When I craved a pizza or burger, I made it myself using almond flour and grated cauliflower. When I needed something sweet, I made clean desserts using nut butter and date paste. When I wanted spicy fried rice or biryani, I perfected making it with cauliflower-rice (all these healthy recipes have been shared on my Instagram handle: @eshankawahi).
While I was not depriving myself at all, I was consistently losing weight. However, to ensure that I didn't get intolerant to any food family, I didn't remove anything from my life completely - just altered the proportion.
I treated myself to whatever I wanted once a week: gluten, sugar, chips, anything! But even with that, I started eating mindfully. I was soon able to figure out food synergies that work for my body, and the food families that work as a balanced meal for me.
Another important aspect I learned during the lockdown was to gain full control over my mind and body through extended fasting. If you can control what you eat, you can control anything.
While I was eating mindfully, long fasting of up to 60 hours taught me the difference between need and greed and helped me centre my mind and listen to my gut (it's recommended you consult a professional before embarking on one). Fasting controls our blood sugar levels by reducing insulin resistance, decreases inflammation, kills harmful cell growth, and prevents diseases like cancer and Alzheimer's. It also improves cholesterol and triglycerides levels, and accelerates weight loss, among many other benefits.
Today, I cannot recommend clean eating enough. It essentially means...
. Keeping your gut clean (for example, minimal consumption of gluten, as it is very hard to digest)
. Not spiking your insulin and keeping your blood sugar levels balanced
. Allowing your body some rest from the constant process of digestion (through intermittent fasting)
. There are enough nutritious foods that are like medicine for the body, mind and soul; it's just about incorporating them in our meals (superfoods such as turmeric, berries, garlic, ginger, kale, pomegranate, celery, coconut meat, nuts, etc)
. Eating superfoods that help in cell growth, boost immunity, make the skin glow and strengthen hair and nails.
Clean eating is the easiest way for inward healing for a mental and physical transformation. What we notice as external improvement is actually a mere by-product. The real gain is all on the inside.
The lockdown brought a pause I needed to reflect and reboot. I am grateful that I used this time to discover something that is an investment in myself.
(Wahi is a UAE-based entrepreneur and wellness advocate.)