It is now generally accepted that ‘we are what we eat'.

When I am in the Emirates, I am always surprised at how much sugar is added to drinks like tea and coffee, and to food in general, particularly when the incidence of diabetes in the UAE is one of the highest in the world.

Unfortunately, there is also evidence that unhealthy eating can increase stress levels, and, therefore, the obvious action required to remain healthy is to modify our eating habits. Both diabetes and stress can kill and if the bad news is that certain food can make you ill, then the good news is that you can easily change your eating habits to optimise your life expectancy and your physical and mental wellbeing.

There are certain foods which can damage your health.

Sugar is a highly refined, carbohydrate that immediately raises your blood glucose levels and has no nutritional value, and people who consistently consume a sugar-loaded diet become progressively deficient in the vitamins and minerals required to efficiently metabolize their food. Our body converts the excess sugar into fat which, make us overweight and, eventually, if sugar is eaten to excess over many years, can make us diabetic. Once this happens, and the pancreatic cells become damaged, then the inability of the body to produce insulin becomes irreversible.

Caffeine is another unhealthy chemical in some of our food or drink. It is usually present in coffee, tea and colas and in some forms of chocolate, and should be avoided where possible.

Life style can help lower stress levels, therefore it is important to eat sensibly — whether you are seven, 17 or 70 years old. Good food includes whole grain food items, such as wheat or grain, oats, brown rice etc., all which have a low GI index and enables our blood sugar levels to be reasonably constant over the day, thereby getting rid of unwanted highs and lows that cause us to go out a grab a bar of chocolate!


Fresh fruits and vegetables should be eaten as near to their organic, unprocessed form as possible, in order to guarantee that as much of the vitamins and minerals are retained. Fresh fruits and vegetables, which should be washed before eating, aid the elimination of toxins from the body.

Oily fish, for example mackerel, tuna and salmon, are good cholesterol busters, as also are pulses, such as beans, peas and lentils. So choose what you eat carefully when you go shopping or when you eat out at a restaurant. Avoid ordering a sugar-laden lassi, and opt for a sugar-free drink instead.

We have but one body and it is up to us to look after it!

PS: My favourite drink is a pint of hot water and half a lemon, first thing in the morning — with NO sugar!

Diet: Key points

- You can increase your health by modifying your eating habits

- Excess sugar consumption with little exercise can lead to diabetes

- Fresh fruits and vegetables aid elimination of toxins from the body.

- The author is a BBC guest-broadcaster and Motivational Speaker. She is CEO of an international stress management and employee wellbeing consultancy based in London. Contact them for proven stress strategies -