It took a whole lot of learning and lifestyle changes for Yalda Alaoui to get her autoimmune conditions Ulcerative Colitis and Auto-Immune Haemolytic Anaemia under control. Keen to help educate others struggling with gut health, inflammation and sustained weight loss, she subsequently launched her very own platform Eat Burn Sleep. But with all that said, it’s still encouraging to know that she still makes time for a glass of wine between gym sessions…
I haven’t always been healthy. In the past, I wanted to be healthy and have my body look a certain way, but I didn’t know or truly understand how to do it. I remember having oats for breakfast, thinking it was good for me, when it wasn’t. In a way, my health issues forced me to stumble on this lifestyle which also makes me look how I’ve always wanted. I did it to heal my auto-immune conditions - but the side effect has been turning into the best version of myself.
On an average weekday I’ll have an apple for breakfast followed by eggs or salmon with crudités and beetroot salad. Lunch is generally chicken or tuna salad, and for dinner I’ll have tray bake chicken and vegetables. I snack on a handful of almonds, fruit and my Paleo vegan bars.
I tried to be vegan but it yielded catastrophic results. Dairy is super inflammatory as well as grains, beans, pulses, peas and chickpeas. Similarly, the Keto diet didn’t work for me, but for different reasons. Very low-carb diets are not good for hormones and thyroid function in the long run. Same goes for fasting. I have written a blog post on intermittent fasting sharing my research and experience.
I cook almost every day. My friends, family and followers are addicted to my easy shakshuka recipe. It’s my weekend breakfast. And sometimes my gluten-free banana pancakes. I love slow-cooker recipes and Moroccan tagines, and one of my favourites is Moroccan lamb shoulder and roasted vegetables.
I eat out about twice a week. I love going out, and I try to make the most of it. My favourites tend to be Japanese or Italian. I find that I can eat super healthy when out and make the most of a chef’s skills. I love seeing friends - either out or at home - but socialising is a really important part of my life.
I used to be stressed out by meals but I've now found a way to navigate restaurant menus. I enjoy the food, some wine, but still stay on track. It's important to have fun, but there’s a way to do it so it doesn’t create stress. I share it all in my 6-week plan. If I’m having a takeaway, I’ll order Japanese. I live in Holland park and love ordering from Eat Tokyo in Notting Hill.
I love good quality red wine. Once a week, I’ll have a couple of glasses. If it’s not quality, I can’t drink it. It just feels like a different product altogether! My favourites are Bordeaux (both left and right bank), Spanish reds such as Vega Sicilia and Tuscan red wine such as Sassicaia and Tignanello.
There are things I’ll buy each week from the supermarket without fail. Apples, carrots, eggs, fish and olives are always on the list.
I used to spend a lot of money on organic food until I did further research on the topic. Organic standards differ from country to country, and checks aren’t carried out the same way in places like Kenya or the UK. Also, there can be cross-contamination between fields, through water running in the ground or even the wind. Vegetables and fruit lose nutrients when they are picked early and travel. The best bet is to buy local. When it comes to fish, I would choose wild over organic any day. For meat, grass-fed is higher in omega 3 (which is anti-inflammatory) and lower in omega 6 (which is inflammatory). The only thing I always buy organic is chicken. Non-organic chicken is high in hormones, steroids and antibiotics.
That absolutely extends to my beauty routine and household products. The hygiene hypothesis highlights the fact that in the western world, everything is too clean, and the lack of germs leads to a higher incident of auto-immune conditions. At home, I don't use anti-bacterial sprays. When it comes to beauty, our skin absorbs 70% of what we put on it. I don't stress too much about my face products or eye creams as it's a small area, but I use natural oils such as argan oil, almond oil or coconut oil on my body.
How you eat your food is as important as what you eat. Looking at our food, eating slowly, chewing well and enjoying the process stimulates the production of digestive juices in the gastro-intestinal tract, as well as triggering the feeling of satiety so we know when we're full.
I don't feel deprived at all. My healthy habits have become second nature now. I used to be completely derailed by even a couple of glasses of wine, but I've managed to find a fool proof hangover cure. I’ve even written a guide on how to deal with them. However, lack of sleep is the one thing that’s really not fixable in my book. When I don’t sleep enough, my hormones are all over the place, I tend to eat more, have more cravings and I lose my natural good mood. I generally go to bed around 10.30pm and wake up around 6am. I am an early riser and love mornings. I also take Magnesium citrate regularly to reduce PMS.
I like using Epsom salts baths at home. It’s one of the many things I have tried and tested over the years. But the only thing I do consistently is a weekly lymphatic drainage massage. It helps reduce inflammation and drain out toxins. Acupuncture has also helped me, but I tend to go when I feel the need to, rather than regularly.
I am an advocate of fast walking and moderate low-inflammation workouts. There's a trend at the moment to do really strenuous stuff, and it's just not that good for you. I do my workouts at home or at the gym and tailor them to my needs. I generally workout twice or three times a week, for between 25 and 45 minutes.
I pray or meditate before going to bed and in the morning. My parents are atheists, but I became very spiritual after I almost died in 2012. Praying was a key factor in my remission from the severe auto-immune blood disease I had then (auto-immune haemolytic anaemia). Praying and meditating alter the chemicals in our brains and bodies. It supports bio-plasticity and helps rewire habits in the subconscious brain. In the 6-week plan, I dedicated a huge part of the platform to mental wellness as this is a key factor for overall health.