Rika Mansingh, best selling author sat down with the ‘Richmond Sentinel’.
Photo courtesy Rika Mansingh
Richmond stories; A path to healthy eating
Published 12:34 PDT, Fri September 29, 2023
Healthy eating has continued to be a concern for people of all ages. In this edition of Richmond stories, Rika Mansingh (RM) sat down with Richmond Sentinel interviewer Jim Gordon (JG) to discuss her new book, her journey to becoming a dietitian, and healthy eating.
JG: She is a registered dietitian, clinical consultant of media, a certified meditation and NLP master practitioner, hypnotherapist, philanthropist, podcaster, and she is the author of The Empowered Mind Diet Equation. She is also the most recent columnist to join us here as part of the Richmond Sentinel family.
We wanted to have you in because of what you do for a living, I think more people are trying to eat healthier, but it can be intimidating. Let’s start off with, what does a general healthy diet look like?
RM: A general healthy diet is actually very easy to follow and it’s going to include a rainbow of colour, your brightly coloured vegetables and fruits, your wholegrain and lean poultry and fish as well. A very easy way to manage your portions is not to count calories or weigh your food, but to look at the plate model. Half your plate can be your vegetables as much colour as possible, a quarter of your plate can be your lean poultry or fish which is about palm size of your hand, and the other quarter of your plate can be the multi-grain quinoa, brown or wild rice to add fibre to your meal.
JG: Because you’re sought after for advice, do you find that part of the challenge is, people don’t want to cook or don’t know how to cook, do you try to ease them in step-by-step?
RM: Absolutely, what’s important to know is a little bit of planning the night before, and maybe plan and cook meals to cover the next two days, will take you a long way.
JG: Is it necessary to take multivitamins and mineral supplements?
RM: Food first is a dietitian model for sure, so if a person is eating a variety of foods with lots of colour, a well-balanced diet, they may not need vitamin and mineral supplements. But, as we know Jim, everybody is so busy with hectic lifestyles, often skipping meals, that’s where vitamins and mineral supplements come into play. Also, vegetarians and people with food allergies will need to take vitamins and mineral supplements.
JG: One of the parts of this equation of eating better is the complaint that I hear is there’s not enough time, if you’re on a certain income it might be faster as a single parent or a couple to pick up a pizza because it’s $18 and feeds a family of four. Do you find that once people get into your line of thinking, you keep them on that path?
RM: What I try to do is always let people know when you eat healthy, you’re actually going to feel better and your whole foods are not as expensive, it’s the processed foods that are more expensive. When you make the association with what you eat and how it makes you feel, a person is more likely to sustain that pattern of eating.
JG: How did your journey into health and wellness begin?
RM: I was originally born in South Africa. I moved to Canada about 16 years ago and have been working as a registered dietitian for over 21 years. My dad who is a physician had this incredible insight, recognizing the proactive approach a dietitian can make in preventing and managing diseases of lifestyle. This ignited my passion for dietetics, knowing that I could make a meaningful difference. What brings me joy is to witness firsthand the transformative power of good nutrition on patients.
JG: Let’s talk about your book The Empowered Mind Diet Equation, a best seller. Can you highlight the connection between diet and a mindset to empower individuals.
RM: In my book I create the awareness of the role of diet in mental wellbeing. The mind is the most powerful asset and to achieve any goal it all starts with the mind. When we eat healthily we think well, we feel well, we have a healthy behaviour, also better sleep and energy.
JG: Most of us don’t get enough sleep and it’s so important, are there more facts and studies coming about sleep and healthy diet?
RM: First of all, when you sleep well, your brain is cleansed by cerebrospinal fluid which removes some beta-amyloid protein plaque that we see in the brain. When we’re not getting enough sleep a hunger hormone called ghrelin increases and the hormone that makes us feel full ‘leptin’ decreases. The next day you’re going to be super hungry.
JG: One of the most challenging journeys you can go on is getting off sugar, talk about how that affects your mind, sleep, mood.
RM: In my book, I call sugar a culprit and did you know sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine? When we eat sugar or a meal that contains sugar, rapid spikes in our blood sugar help us feel good, our mood is boosted because we increase serotonin, a feel-good chemical messenger and dopamine. Not long after, our blood sugar levels drop and we feel tired, creating more sugar cravings.
JG: You mention fibre a lot, I take fibre supplements every day, is that something you would recommend?
RM: If people don’t eat all their portions of fruits and vegetables, in that case it would be beneficial to have fibre.
JG: In your book, you also talk about the gut as a second brain, can you explain what you mean by that?
RM: The gut is regarded as the second brain. 95 per cent of serotonin is produced in the gut, so if we’re eating unhealthy and not digesting food well, it will lead to inflammation in the gut which leads to inflammation in the brain. It’s important to recognize what we eat will affect our mental health.
JG: Can you explain the gluten intolerance or gluten free condition that people may not understand?
RM: Gluten is a sticky protein, difficult to digest. People with celiac disease and wheat allergy avoid gluten but new research finds that many people who aren’t allergic to gluten experience digestive issues, after eating a gluten containing meal. We call this non-gluten celiac sensitivity where you eat a meal and experience headaches, sleepiness, etc. It’s important to be mindful of how you feel after consuming gluten.
For the complete video interview richmondsentinel.ca/videos
Contact Rika at rikadiet4wellness.com and email@example.com