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Interview with Ben Pratt (Nutritions Playground, Premier Training and Natural Food Finder)

TG: Hi Ben, thanks for being interviewed.  Could you start off by telling us a little about your background in the wellbeing industry?

BP: Thanks Tom, I appreciate the opportunity to discuss things over. I have been in the health, fitness and wellbeing industry since 1995. I started out all those years ago working as a leisure attendant in an exclusive private health club near Tower Bridge, London. I have had many roles since then including gym instructor, personal trainer, duty manager, gym manager and fitness and nutrition lecturer. I am currently working as Premier Training International’s Research and Development Manager and as such author leading fitness and nutrition courses that get taught in many venues around the country. I founded my own business as well over a year ago called Natural Food Finder.

TG: How important a role do you think nutrition has to play in overall levels of wellbeing?

BP: I believe that nutrition is one of the greatest providers of optimal health. Out of necessity we eat regularly every day to nourish our bodies and fuel ourselves for the activities of life. Unfortunately in today’s world of fast paced living the food we eat often has little if any thought put into it. The convenience foods and take away meals that are becoming ever more a dominant part of our diet are literally diminishing our health with every bite. Many people struggle with ill health and search endlessly for an answer from doctors, specialists and pharmaceuticals, but continue to eat food that damages them slowly from the inside without considering the impact. Food can truly be medicine for those who need to rebuild their health. It is extremely important.

TG: What are the first 5 steps a person should make to improve their diet?

BP: There are so many things that could be offered as an answer to this question. The most appropriate answer is that the top 5 things will depend very much upon the person whose diet needs to be improved because as Lucretious said ‘One man’s food is another man’s poison.’ There are some general steps that would be important for all people.

  1. First and foremost a clear and solid decision needs to be made that now is the time for change. All too often people’s lives are scattered with occasional efforts to try and eat healthily with little effect because they do not get to the root of the problem. It’s not always so much about how much you need to change, but how much you want to change.
  2. Quality! There is no substitute for quality food. Learn what really good food is and what is not. I will give you a clue it is a great deal more than just eating fruit and vegetables. Investigate, educate yourself, read labels and ensure you buy the best food your circumstances will allow
  3. Avoid foods that contain damaging ingredients such as hydrogenated fats, trans fatty acids, artificial sweeteners, flavour enhancers and are sprayed with agricultural pesticides and herbicides.
  4. Get over your fat phobia. Modern advice and guidelines has created a huge amount of unfounded fear regarding dietary fat and cardiovascular disease. Fat from high quality sources is a vital nutrient for optimal health and should be actively included and used with wisdom in cooking and food preparation.
  5. Take time for your meals and food preparation. Adjust your priorities so that food fills a more significant part of your life. Food preparation is an essential part of life and can become very enjoyable and fulfilling. It also makes you become significantly more aware of what goes into your mouth and how it can affect you.

TG: You have been a member of the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) for a while can you tell us a little bit about this organisation?

BP: Yes I have been a member of the WAPF since 2006. The WAPF is a charity that has been set up to share the unique and valuable work of the great dentist and researcher Dr Weston Price. He is one of the few inspirational people who decided to research the lives and diets of healthy, untouched cultures to see what it was that made them so healthy. This is a fundamentally different view to how we study health today. The medical world predominantly studies illness to learn how to treat it and by so doing makes educated suggestions about how to be healthy. The WAPF seek to teach how natural, traditional foods can return us to optimal health and vitality. They always seek out research and modern science that supports the wisdom known for generations in populations throughout the world. If you wish to learn any more about them go to www.westonaprice.org

TG: I recently came across your site www.naturalfoodfinder.co.uk , what an awesome site!  What was the idea behind this site?

BP: Thank you for your complimentary comments about the site. Over the 5 years I worked as a fitness and nutrition lecturer many students would enquire about where to buy the foods that we were teaching them about in their home towns. This led to the idea of creating a website that campaigns for suppliers of the highest quality foods and helps the consumer know what these foods are, why we should be eating them and how to find and purchase the best that nature has to offer. It has been so rewarding to see the response of many of our website users to Natural Food Finder. We know that it is just the beginning and that there are many excellent farmers and food producers who we can still assist in bringing them into contact with consumers who need their high quality food.

TG: What do you find is the biggest barrier people come across when it comes to dietary change, and how do you overcome it?

BP: That is quite a difficult question to answer because, to be honest, it varies considerably from one person to the next. There are many common barriers such as financial restrictions, family likes or dislikes and understanding which foods to buy and which to avoid. But perhaps one of the most difficult barriers to overcome is your own dietary history! It is tough to overcome the habits that people have developed over years – when they eat, how often they eat, quick fix snacks, favourite take away meals and foods they buy when they go shopping. If these habits are less than helpful in the search for health and wellbeing it is essential that some habitual retraining is needed. This goes deeper than just setting a few goals and being accountable, but moves towards needing to influence the dominant regular thoughts and the emotions that they generate. When these fall more in line with the direction of change required then maintaining change will be much easier.

TG: What are your top 3 tips to achieve weight loss?

BP: My top three tips…that is valuable information you know!

  1. Weight loss is not all about calories in and calories out. That is one of the longest running myths regarding weight loss. I am not saying that energy intake and output has no part in weight loss, but that there are other factors that have significant effect.
  2. We can’t store body fat without carbohydrates in our diet. This is because carbohydrates stimulate the release of insulin in our blood, which is the most potent fat storing hormone in the body. If insulin levels are elevated we are effectively in a fat storing state. Therefore to lose weight, we must lower blood insulin, which will require and reduction in carbohydrate rich foods.
  3. There is no substitute for good quality food! Eat as natural and nutrient dense as you can and your body will detoxify, feel more satisfied and healthier.

TG: What state do you feel the UK food industry is currently in?

BP: Well that really depends on your perspective. In comparison to some Western countries our food industry is doing fairly well. We have a great history of high quality farming and still produce some of the best food in Europe. As part of the EU we are subject to high organic standards, including the prevention of GM farming. Britain prevents pig farming in prison-like sow stalls, a practise that still happens in Europe. We have more recently pushed for higher chicken welfare and free range chicken is in huge demand. Since the BSE crisis in 2000 more cattle roam free on pasture leading to higher quality beef and dairy. However, we are losing out with fruit and vegetable production as imports are undercutting the demand for UK grown produce. We also spend vast amounts on junk food and take away food, nearly as much as the rest of Europe combined. The supermarkets have huge control over the food chain with over 80% of the consumer market buying their food from these large corporations. If we continue to purchase our food in these large supermarkets it is only a matter of time before they have control of the whole food chain. Then we would be in a terrible position where they can buy and sell to us on any terms they see fit. We must continue to support local, quality farmers and farm shops. Spending money in your local community is rewarding and helps you keep control if where your food comes from and how it is produced.

TG: What key changes do you wish the government would make to improve the food we eat?

BP: I grow tired of the attempts to punish people who eat poor quality food, by focusing on labelling these foods as high in fat, sugar or salt and by so doing branding people who eat these foods as unhealthy and burdensome on society. There has been talk on and off of taxing these foods, which will of course put the price up. Research has shown that the poorest areas of society tend to eat the highest amount of lower quality foods because they tend to be the cheapest. So taxing these foods will create considerable strain on the poorer classes of society and do nothing to make healthy foods more available. I wish the government would offer subsidies to farmers who uphold high standards. Also offer solutions to making high quality, nutrient dense foods more affordable so that a larger proportion of society could benefit their health.

TG: Tell us a bit about what the future holds for you and your business?

BP: Well top of the list at present is the imminent release of my book, Nutrition’s Playground. I recently finished writing it and am in the middle of publishing. This is a unique read that reveals how and why we need to make a shift in our eating habits towards truly nourishing foods, opens up the science of weight loss and empowers the reader into guiding their own efforts to achieve optimal health. Look out for its release towards the early autumn.

On September 24th we are holding a one day nutrition conference with some outstanding presenters. It will be a fantastic event that I am already looking forward to. Full information can be found on my website www.naturalfoodfinder.co.uk

It’s been great sharing with you today, Tom. Thanks.

TG: Thanks for your time Ben, and we wish you all the best for the future!

This entry was posted on Monday, August 2nd, 2010 at 6:27 am and is filed under Interviews, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.