January’s books: The 4 Pillar Plan by Dr Rangan Chatterjee & Artful Eating by Karina Melvin

Dr Rangan Chatterjee's 4 Pillar Plan

The 4 Pillar Plan: How to Relax, Eat, Move and Sleep Your Way to a Longer, Healthier Life by Dr Rangan Chatterjee

Read my recent interview with Dr Chatterjee here

It is all too easy to be swept away by the maelstrom of detox and diet advice at this time of year and it’s only natural to feel incentivised by the promise of a ‘quick fix’ plan: faddish, overly hyped diets that may work in the short-term but play havoc with our overall health and wellbeing. You know how I hate them! To achieve authentic, meaningful results, we must shift our focus away from the tease of quick fixes and toward a life where we demonstrate respect and investment in our health at all times. Balance is key, as is the need to understand cause and effect, for only then can we achieve lasting results.

Many years ago, whilst in the clutches of an especially stressful time, a friend sent me a postcard with the message “Big strides come from the mere accumulation of small steps” emblazoned across its front. In the context of our health and wellbeing, no truer sentiment can exist and I remind myself of the saying often; it is the small, achievable changes that we employ in the way that we elect to live out our daily lives that, over time, have the most profound, positive results.

With this in mind, I’d like to champion a new book, The 4 Pillar Plan by Dr Rangan Chatterjee, as I’m certain that it will resonate with you as much as it does me. A GP for almost 20 years, many of you will recognise Dr Chatterjee from the BBC1 series ‘Doctor in the house’. I have the great privilege of knowing Rangan personally and I can testify to his brilliance and unfaltering passion first hand. His fervent belief is that chronic illness, for the majority, is preventable and highly treatable without the need to medicate. But it doesn’t end there. He demonstrates that by employing a few simple, small changes in all areas of our lives, we can not only stave off illness but we can also thrive, physically and mentally.

The book is timely and superbly echoes the exciting changes that we are seeing in the continuing evolution of medicine. It is vital that we always challenge current notions of contemporary medicine for there is no question that the greatest threat to modern day health is modern day life itself. The occurrence of chronic disease has reached epidemic heights and the strain on NHS resources is evident to all – just look at the headlines over recent days. Ill health is sadly now endemic in society and our proclivity to seek cure and alleviation of symptoms through medication often adds further fuel to the fire, so to speak. In his book, Dr Chatterjee brilliantly explains that we are simply not equipped to cope with the near constant assault of modern life and illustrates the processes that are bodies undergo whilst ‘under attack’ from stress, bad sleep, poor diets and lack of exercise.

The pressures of modern life have also notably tainted our perception of what constitutes ‘health’. Nowadays, we tend to think that to be in good health means to be merely free of illness. But to experience true health is so much more than that, it is to live each day with vitality: to awake each morning feeling refreshed; to feel suppleness and strength in our bodies; to feel nourished by the foods we eat; to enjoy stillness in our minds. The 4 Pillar Plan provides us with a superb blueprint to help achieve just that: good health and lasting vitality. Dr Chatterjee’s tips and recommendations are clear and simple to embrace, no matter your age, and draw focus on the importance of achieving balance across all four areas (pillars) of our lives: relaxation, diet, exercise/movement, and sleep. It is not by chance that the first pillar in the book covers relaxation, for increasingly we seem to revere the lives of the busiest amongst us, but the simple act of achieving stillness in our minds is as vital to our overall wellbeing as the ability to run up a hill. It is not about excelling in one area, but about achieving harmony and balance across all four pillars.

None of what he suggests here is mere heresay. He sites cutting edge research together with sharing the results of his patients’ case studies to demonstrate that the success of a progressive approach in the management and support of chronic conditions – which vitally include depression and issues concerning mental health – often without the need to medicate is irrefutable. He must surely be a modern day Hippocrates for many.

I encourage you all to embrace Dr Chatterjee’s advice for I believe that his encouragement has the potential to be life changing. Whilst much of what he covers is not new – for instance, we all understand the importance of restful sleep, eating well, and avoiding stress – how many of us genuinely afford ourselves the time and care to mitigate against poor health and lethargy? “Oh, I’ll start tomorrow”, is something I hear so often. How many of you, for instance, check social media feeds as you are poised to sleep and then complain of a bad night’s sleep. We must all be guilty of that! Or needlessly exhaust ourselves during long, vigorous gym sessions, when quick and simple HITT sessions and mindful gentle exercise award us with better fitness levels?

What is most notable about The 4 Pillar Plan is just how easy it is to adopt quick, simple, workable solutions to counter the effects of our frenetic lives. Do remember the saying ‘mere small steps make big strides’ for it supports the very essence of this book.

Dr Rangan Chatterjee's 4 Pillar Plan

The 4 Pillar Plan: How to Relax, Eat, Move and Sleep Your Way to a Longer, Healthier Life by Dr Rangan Chatterjee,
was published by Penguin Life on 28th December and can be bought from here from Amazon or from other major UK book stores.

For more info, head to drchatterjee.com

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Artful Eating by Karina Melvin

Artful Eating by Karina Melvin

Artful Eating would be a useful book for anyone struggling with the more psychological side of weight loss, such as emotional or stress eating, difficulties sticking to new habits or shifting mindset. It is very readable, friendly and beautifully presented, focusing primarily on how and why we eat, rather than what we eat (although there are also a handful of recipes at the back).

The book is filled with advice, written exercises, practical tools and strategies – many of which are rooted in scientific evidence. Karina is a highly qualified author on this topic: she has degrees in psychology, addiction studies, psychoanalytic psychotherapy and is also doing a PhD in psychoanalysis! But as well as having all this theoretical knowledge, her clinical practice gives her the real-life experience to help apply it too. The only area I don’t necessarily agree with completely is her recommended 48-hour liquid-based ‘kickstarter’, but that is simply a matter of personal preference, and doesn’t detract from the usefulness of the book overall. It certainly offers a great deal of ‘food for thought’, and could make a worthwhile addition to your reading list if you are keen to lose weight this year.


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