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What’s eating you?

August 10, 2021 - How do you cheer yourself up in times of distress or reward yourself in times of joy? Do your emotions rule your route to the fridge? Nutrition and TCM Expert Cátia Ferreira at Six Senses Spa Douro Valley can arm you with strategies to help.

  • Douro-Valley-Portugal-Wine-Tasting-Class-detail-6.jpg

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” Virginia Woolf

Let’s put the facts on the table. Food is good. It is one of life’s greatest pleasures. It sustains us. We just have to learn when and how to eat it – and also why we’re eating it!

During her Nutrition & Conscious Eating consultation at Six Senses Spa Douro Valley, Cátia Ferreira talks less about diets (we all know in our hearts they don’t work in the long term) and more about making sustainable lifestyle changes.

Hungry for what?

Cátia starts by digging into your hunger, to explore your emotional eating patterns. For example, your body has its own way of dealing with stress, especially regarding your food choices. This explains why some of us tend to gain weight while others lose weight.

“The way we deal with our emotions affects the way we feed ourselves. Some people lose their appetite or find it difficult to swallow when they are stressed or sad. On the other hand, others alleviate their pain – or even their boredom – by eating more.” says Cátia. “Major life events, or the hassles of our current daily life, can disrupt our relationship with food. A lot of interesting studies are coming out right now pointing to the fact that our eating habits have changed, and not necessarily for the better, because our emotions are less balanced without our usual escapes such as going out, traveling, or touching nature.”

Not all metabolisms are equal

“If we’re eating more, our metabolic rate changes to deal with the excess calories in different ways,” she says. “Two people with the same body composition may have very different metabolic rates. Some people can get away with eating more calories because their bodies will expend them. Others will end up accumulating them and this could be down to a lot of things such as hormones, enzymes or getting older.”

One underappreciated fact about metabolic rates is that your resting ‘basal’ metabolism accounts for most of the total calories you burn each day, with physical activity accounting for a much lower proportion (unless you are a performance athlete or have a physically demanding job).

“If you want to change something, you have to be aware of it and be completely honest with yourself. Knowledge is power, and we use our non-invasive Wellness Screening to analyze your key biomarkers and get a picture of what your body really needs. Once we have your physical stats, we then look at your lifestyle status, assess your dietary habits and help you build a healthy and conscious relationship with what you eat. It’s about finding the right strategy to promote a reset.”

Watch your wolf hour!

Although our weight is the least interesting thing about us, so much emphasis today is placed on how we look. It is easy to fall into a vicious circle of judgment and guilt without taking the time to stop obsessing and start analyzing and then acting on what’s behind it.

“We have to go slowly. Otherwise, we begin everything with a lot of motivation, but we slip up and we don’t try again. We have to think about what is happening in our lives and analyze our triggers and cravings. Are we bored or sad? Are we using food to escape unpleasant emotions? Are we becoming a food addict?”

A lot of us may fall victim to a “wolf hour”, where our cravings can get the better of us (usually early evening). Cátia can help you identify when this is, why it happens, and substitute the craving for a healthy habit or activity instead.

“Everyone is unique. Not everyone enjoys jogging for example, so it just won’t work for some people. Connecting to nature is universal, however. You don’t even need to walk in nature, you can just get out, take a book, and sit in your garden or a park. You can call or meet a friend. These small strategies can make a big difference, but you have to find the right ones for you.”

Eating with Six Senses

Staying at Six Senses does not mean starving at Six Senses – far from it. Dining at Six Senses Douro Valley is a celebration of the region, with much of the produce coming from our organic garden and verdant valley around us.

“You shouldn’t feel any guilt enjoying our food and drinks. It’s a matter of balance and we can work in the middle, to be healthy and happy. A lot of people are locked and feeling tied to their obsession; they are frustrated about thinking about food all the time or feeling guilty about what they have just eaten. Our Eat With Six Senses philosophy means our food is naturally nutritious. Our menus are marked to support our different programs such as fitness, detox or sleep, and we’re on hand to help you find the right approach while you’re staying with us and in the future.”  

It’s not just what you eat but the way you eat

“I like to work with mindful eating, to eat with your full awareness by engaging your senses to notice the shape, the smell, the texture, and the flavor. I also recommend pausing and reflecting halfway through a meal to check in with your body. From one to 10, how full do you feel? Like meditation, mindful eating is a skill, and it takes practice, but it can really pay off as a long-term strategy.”

Nutrition & Conscious Eating Consultation

Your 90-minute consultation with Cátia includes an analysis of your current lifestyle and health status, collection of anthropometric data, assessment of dietary habits, guidelines, and a practical experience of mindful eating to promote a healthy and conscious relationship with what you eat.

  • Digestive wellness and healthy eating: change your eating habits for overall health.
  • Metabolic reset: to detox, improve gut function and lose weight effectively.
  • Healing foods: nutritional strategies to help you manage a chronic condition and boost your immunity.
  • “Hungry for what?”: to explore the emotional eating pattern and inspire healthier relationships with food.

Available at Six Senses Douro Valley Spa

For more information, please email Cátia Ferreira: [email protected]

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