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Meet Elizabeth Peyton-Jones, creator of Cook Yourself Young

PUBLISHED: 00:00 06 August 2015

Naturopath and food expert Elizabeth Peyton-Jones (photograph: Hugo Burnand)

Naturopath and food expert Elizabeth Peyton-Jones (photograph: Hugo Burnand)

Hugo Burnand

Jo Haywood talks to a naturopath and food expert who believes you can cook yourself young

Cook Yourself Young by Elizabeth Peyton-Jones (Quadrille, £14.99)Cook Yourself Young by Elizabeth Peyton-Jones (Quadrille, £14.99)

Can the way you cook have a positive effect on the way you look? And if so, where can we find the recipe for eternal youth?

For all of you hungrily searching for the answer, meet Elizabeth Peyton-Jones, a naturopath and food expert who, through her latest book Cook Yourself Young, claims you can rejuvenate your looks and wellbeing, and live a healthier, more balanced and energised life with just a few tweaks in the kitchen.

Before we get into detail and start drooling over one of her 100+ ‘youthing’ recipes, however, let’s get one thing straight.

‘I don’t do diets,’ said Elizabeth, who divides her time between her homes in Yorkshire and London. ‘They do nothing but drive you crazy. If you eat simply and healthily, you will reach your optimum weight, whether that means losing or putting on a few pounds.

Naturopath and food expert Elizabeth Peyton-Jones (photograph: Hugo Burnand)Naturopath and food expert Elizabeth Peyton-Jones (photograph: Hugo Burnand)

‘It’s about eating what’s right for you. That’s why it’s so important to listen to your body. It knows what’s good for it and reacts accordingly. Unfortunately, however, we’ve undergone a complete disconnect from our bodies and our food. The sort of things that we once knew instinctively, we now need a professional to teach us.’

As a respected professional is her field, Elizabeth taught us about healing foods in her first book Eat Yourself Young. Did you know for instance that a good old builder’s brew teabag is the perfect tool to staunch a bleeding cut? Apparently, the tannins naturally coagulate blood while the bag itself absorbs it. Fascinating, huh? But nothing whatsoever to do with making you look 22 again, which is probably the main reason you’re still reading.

So, in a nutshell, how can you cook yourself young? The basic principles of her new book include dropping addictive foods (processed stuff, refined sugars, salt and bad fats); opting to steam, steam-fry, roast, poach or slow cook your food (no grilling, boiling, barbecuing or microwaving); going nutty for nuts; treating yourself with healing herbs and spices; drinking lots of cleansing water; eating 40 per cent raw; and using non-toxic cooking utensils (nothing that scratches, peels, chips, cracks or leaches).

You don’t have to invest in lots of unpronounceable produce, install numerous gadgets or survive on juices and shakes. And the emphasis is firmly on feeling – and looking – great rather than losing weight.

‘I often see people focusing on thinness rather than health,’ said Elizabeth. ‘But they’re ignoring the real power of food. If you listen to yourself and feed yourself powerful food, your own power increases exponentially and your self-esteem goes through the roof. You will lose a few pounds too if you need to, but that will not be your prime focus anymore.’

She describes herself as being ‘on the slim side’ but this doesn’t come from denial and deprivation – far from it, in fact.

‘I eat a lot,’ she said. ‘And I mean a lot. For lunch today, for instance, I had steamed halibut and raw cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce and tomatoes with hemp seed oil. It was filling and delicious and energising. Give me a real plate of food over an insipid milkshake any day of the week.’

She believes a great many of us are confused about what we should and shouldn’t eat because we’ve bought into diet industry mythology about calorie-counting and manufacturers’ demonization of fat.

‘People have developed a complete food phobia because they’ve been misled,’ said Elizabeth. ‘They don’t trust themselves but they trust manufacturers who fill their foods full of additives and preservatives. These chemicals then put an unbearable burden on your body and distract it from doing its everyday, necessary repairs because it’s too busy dealing with mountains of toxins. This inevitably leads to ageing and disease.’

One of the key issues in her book is damping down the inflammation in our bodies by cutting out our own personal allergens (whatever food makes you feel tired, gives you a runny nose or mild cough, or makes it difficult to sleep at night). She says if we do nothing else, this will lead to a 40 per cent improvement in health and the loss of a few excess pounds.

‘In the past, when you’ve been trying hard to diet and the weight stays put, it’s because your body is too inflamed to let it go,’ she explained. ‘Similarly, if your body is too acidic, you will not lose weight. Toxins are held in fat. If you want to get rid of your fat, you have to get rid of your toxins.’

Her book – a colourful, highly informative tome full of easy, appealing recipes – is unabashedly aimed at women because, she says, they tend to be great learners and are, by and large, slightly more vain than men. Most importantly, however, they’re the ones shaping the next generation.

‘Women are still pivotal in the kitchen and I want them to be pivotal in the food revolution,’ said Elizabeth. ‘We need to force manufacturers to change, and the best way of doing that is by raising a generation who won’t tolerate damaging food. Women need to start and be at the heart of the revolution.’

Cook Yourself Young by Elizabeth Peyton-Jones is published by Quadrille, priced £14.99.

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