Rupy Aujla is an NHS doctor who loves to create healthy and wholesome recipes on his blog, The Doctor’s Kitchen. Rupy is one of our expert judges at the 2017 Health Blog Awards.

We spoke to Rupy ahead of the Health Blog Awards to find out more about his passion for healthy living, his thoughts on alternative therapies, and the role of mindfulness in health.

Where did your passion for healthy living come from?

I’ve always been interested in the medicinal effects of food from a young age. I grew up in an Indian household and as most second generation kids will concur our families tend to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of ‘healing foods’! My mother overcame an illness by using diet and lifestyle when I was about 12 so I went to medical school with the understanding that food was exceptionally important to health.

What was your motivation for starting a healthy blog/Instagram account?

I started The Doctor’s Kitchen to inspire my patients about the beauty of food and the medicinal effects of eating well. I wanted to bring a reliable, evidence based approach to healthy eating and start the conversation about how we can use food in medicine. By creating recipes I can excite patients and colleagues about the medicinal benefits of lifestyle.

From your experience are as a doctor, how big of a role does diet play in managing health issues and diseases?

It’s the most important starting point for many people and I believe it has a role in every aspect of disease. Everyone gets a quick assessment of their diet in my clinic. Those ‘one liner’ elevator pitches can be incredibly motivational for a lot of people.

What is the idea behind functional medicine?

It’s an interesting and exciting field of medicine that tackles problems by questioning ‘why’ people are suffering from a particular disease. By focusing on the root cause of an illness you tend to take a lifestyle medicine approach which is why it sits well with me and my professional goals. I wouldn’t call myself a functional medicine practitioner however, because I tend to blend elements of all my training in my approach to helping patients.

Can alternative therapies and science ever complement each other when it comes to health? 

I believe so. I’m quite open minded about complementary medicine, certain patients swear by it and who am I to judge if a particular intervention has led to a positive experience for someone. As long as a patient is safe and not causing themselves any harm or spending exorbitant amounts of money on treatments then I’m satisfied.

Interest in gut health has increased recently. How can people look after their gut?

Quite simple things that correlate with a healthy lifestyle to be honest. A colourful diet with a variety of plant foods, plenty of fibre and reducing refined carbohydrates and sugars. As well as diet, stress reduction techniques, movement and making sure you get regular sleep are other ways to look after your gut bugs.

What role does mindfulness play in a healthy lifestyle?

It contributes a huge amount. It’s not very well recognised by the medical community and we don’t address it as much as we should. Stress, sleep deprivation, isolation, lack of community and social contacts all have a huge role in symptoms that present in front of me. I encourage a daily mindfulness practice for everyone, but that doesn’t necessarily mean sitting cross legged in leggings and chanting. It could be a walk through the park concentrating on breathing. It could even be gardening, making tea, cooking etc. Whatever allows you to actively rest the mind and switch off from the bombardment of stimuli that we experience in modern life.

As a doctor, blogger, recipe creator, speaker (etc!) you must be very busy. How do you make time for yourself to unwind?

I try to meditate daily (although that doesn’t always happen). I forgive myself for not hitting targets. I learnt how to reduce my stress over the years by concentrating on my breath during the day. I read outside my specialism, I party hard when I need to, I skateboard, I climb, I make sure to remember to make time for people even if I have a huge list of things to do.

What is your go-to comfort meal? 

It changes all the time but, Slow roast Beef Oxtail Ragu Tagliatelle is my current favourite. So easy to make!

Do you have a favourite quote or mantra you live by?

“Even when it’s the hardest thing to do, Be positive in mind and be nice to people, always.”