Fareeha Jay - Committing to Love Yourself and Your Body Will Lead to a Healthy Lifestyle (Dietitian)

Fareeha Jay is a Registered Dietitian based in the UK. She is a diabetes educator and also works freelance. 
Her aim is to spread awareness on healthy eating and lifestyle among South Asian communities. She has a successful Facebook group called Aap Ki Dietitian with over half a million followers . She is also an author of the book "It's not a diet, it's a lifestyle" 

1. Tell us more about yourself and your profession.

I graduated in 2000 with a Masters in Anthropology and immigrated to the United Kingdom in 2004. It was here in the UK where I started working in a health-based organisation as a Community Development Officer. I worked alongside dietitians and was impressed how dietitians had a positive impact on people’s lifestyle by giving good advice on food and diet.

Experiencing this change made me embark on a career as a dietitian, where I could bring about a positive change in people’s lives. Hence, I began my journey to become a Dietitian. It was a long process, and it took be 6 years to become a dietitian.

After I qualified, I decided to take a break from work, and spend some quality time with my children. Just to keep myself busy I initiated a Facebook Group called “Aap Ki Dietitian” where I started giving tips on healthy eating, weight loss and healthy lifestyle. Very soon it became extremely popular and today I have a community of more than half a million.

After interacting with people on the group I realised that there is a big gap of knowledge with regards to food and lifestyle among South Asians and I started making videos and posts to provide the best available nutrition advice. I also started my You Tube, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok to spread the message of healthy eating among South Asians from all over the world.

This is my passion, though I also have to earn a living.

For that I work as a Diabetes Educator and run my virtual clinic online. It’s extremely exciting as I do consultations with people from USA, UK, Dubai, Saudi Arabia , Japan , China, Australia , New Zealand , Mauritius , Kenya , Mozambique , Pakistan , India , Bangladesh and so on .

2. What is your fitness mantra?

There is no specific fitness mantra for me. Just try to follow the basics and not stress over specific regimens. I’ve kept it simple and easy. I try to include 2-3 portions of fruit every day. Aim to have half a plate of vegetables in both meals. Going for whole grains and focussing more on plant-based proteins. 

Try to exercise 5 days a week which is usually a combination of cardio exercises and strength training.

3. What are the major misconceptions about diet.  

There are so many misconceptions about diet that I can write a book on it. Some of them are -

Carbs are bad

We need carbohydrates for energy. it works as fuel for our muscles and brain. Carbohydrates are sources of b vitamins and they also are important for our gut health. Carbs are NOT bad, it’s all about how much we have them.

Gluten Free is good for health

Gluten is a protein found in cereals and it acts like a binder. We do not need to remove it from our diet unless we have coeliac or gluten allergy. Removing it from our diet will not help us lose weight or any better for our health.

Fruit should be eaten on its own and not with food

There is no evidence to suggest so. Vitamin A, D, E and K can only be absorbed with fat so eating fruit with a source of fat will help better absorb the nutrients. Iron is better absorbed with vitamin C therefore having orange, kiwi, berries with iron-based foods. Tryptophan (a type of protein )is better absorbed with fructose which is found in fruit.

Detox Diet/Drinks with detoxify your body

The term detox is a marketing term. If you have functional and healthy kidneys and liver, they will detoxify your body.

4. How can one maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Self-care. If we do not care for ourselves and our body, we can never maintain a healthy lifestyle. Committing to love yourself and your body will automatically lead to a healthy lifestyle.

Part and parcel of self-care would then be the following:

  • Sleep plays an important role in our overall health and wellness.
  • Physical activity 30 minutes 5 days a week. 
  • Keeping yourself hydrated 
  • Manage stress 
  • Eating healthy and also indulging in treats. 

5. How can one build a successful career in your field?

I believe to be successful in any career hard work is the key. Just keep going and never give up. There will be times when you will feel low. There will be times when you will be pushed down. All you have to do is carry on and think about your end goal. Always being ready to learn and acknowledge the people who help you. Self-reflection will always help. Assessing yourself all the time. What you did well, what you didn’t and how can you improve yourself.

6. What is one piece of advice you would like to give someone who wishes to lose weight.

My only advice will be never to follow diets. Diets don’t work. Diets are never sustainable. Restricting specific foods will only develop a negative relationship with food. Food is to enjoy, not to feel guilty about. If you really want to lose weight follow a balanced diet, move more weight loss will occur on the side.

7. How do diets and exercise contribute to overall well-being and happiness?

A healthy well-balanced diet will provide nutrition to your body and can also prevent you from different health conditions. Quality of diet is directly linked with mental health and depression, whilst regular exercise will increase levels of endorphins and is a prescription for mood.

- Fareeha Jay 

- Interviewed by - Komal Tolambia 

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