We are delighted to bring to you an inspiring and honest interview with Dr Rupy Aujla, the NHS GP who started ‘The Doctor’s Kitchen’ – a project to inspire patients about the beauty of food and the medicinal effects of eating well.
Not only does Rupy create delicious recipes on his website and social media channels including Instagram, Facebook and YouTube – but Dr Aujla also talks about the amazing clinical research behind the ingredients he uses. He also has a best-selling cookbook – ‘The Doctor’s Kitchen’ – published by Harper Collins, with his second book ‘Eat to Beat Illness’ released in March 2019.
Dr Aujla is also the founder of ‘Culinary Medicine’ – a non-profit organisation which aims to teach doctors and medical students the foundations of nutrition as well as teaching them how to cook. In his role as clinical adviser to the Royal College of GP’s and more recently being accepted as a fellow on the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme – Dr Aujla has big aspirations to bring the concept of ‘Culinary Medicine’ to the profession globally.
“As a doctor, I see the effects of poor dietary and lifestyle choices every day. I got so many questions about nutrition whilst working as a general practitioner that I plucked up the courage to get behind a camera and literally show my patients how to get phenomenal ingredients onto their plate. I’m just a straight talking doctor giving healthy eating inspiration”
What’s Your Why? Who is your book trying to help / support?
I haven’t really started this project with a clear why – I have been doing. The Doctors Kitchen has been very organic from the get go from the start when I was living in Australia. Therefore, finding my why has been a bit of a soul searching journey. What I really want is to help people live healthier and happier lives using food and lifestyle medicine. I feel I am in a privileged position as an author and doctor with respect and trust and I try to help people become experts in their own health. Whether that is through recipes, or making them excited about food.
I want people to look wider than the current medical model. We now have great resources for conventional therapies but not so much for other avenues, so I want to shout out there is more than one way to treat people.
What do you stand for?
When I talk about The Doctors Kitchen, I want people to see an evidence based approach to health and wellbeing using food but also I want to instigate conversation around lifestyle, sleep and exercise. It’s important to create a sense of purpose – asking people to consider what their why is e.g. trying to be the best parent or to help others. I want to be the voice of reason when it comes to educating people around food and nutrition. I would love to be seen as the medical Jamie Oliver!!
How did you make sure you kept yourself accountable whilst writing the book?
I started both books with a sketch of the proposal and worked backwards both through literature and through aligning my beliefs. I also wanted to try to disprove what I was promoting while writing the books. But what I keep finding was that the evidence is overwhelmingly positive for the utility and nutrition and medicine.
I also make sure to keep on track by sticking to my diary, planning, hitting my own deadlines and targets and coming up with a coherent plan before writing with literary agent.
It is also just as important to schedule time to NOT DO things and have some time off.
Did you have any content you repurposed from existing articles / social posts?
I didn’t re-purpose content form article or posts, but I certainly did from my podcast. This was inspiration behind my second book. There was so much content that people resonated with, so it was a really good lift off for writing everything down and a making it a lot clearer as people love having a book to hold in your hand. My nutritional medicine masters has also really pushed me.
How did you find the right publisher / agent?
I was lucky in that I was approached by both my agent and my publisher. Off the back of advice from me literary agent, I was able to build up my team. I was less lucky in other respects, for example I was formerly with a talent agent that picked me up very early on in my game which gave me a confidence boost but I realised they weren’t pulling their weight and didn’t share my vision. I am grateful for this learning experience as it made me much wiser in the way of the media world. I’d encourage people to take time and shop around – there is always time so make sure you are happy with your decision.
What did you learn from them?
I learnt the negative side of things but also how the industry works: from book sales to building up contacts, smooshingwith books retailers. It was a very alien world tome coming from a NHS background (which in contrast is slow moving and bureaucratic) but I soon found that there is bureaucracy within companies and lots of different things to navigate, and barriers to overcome.
What is the book you would recommend that everyone reads and why?
The earliest book I read was by Tim Ferriss, The 4-Hour Workweek. This was inspirational for me, not because of the thought of working 4 hours and relaxing the rest of the time, but because of the opportunity to have an incredible impact on the world. He is not having individual conversations, but a global one. People went crazy for the book and people heed his advice. I read this over 15 yrs ago while I was at medical school and still talk about it.
Another book that inspires me is. A General Theory of Love, written by three scientists. It goes into the theory and the science behind whywe love. It is written with such eloquence and some sentences stop me as they sound so mellifluent to read; balancing the scientific perspective of love with the emotional aspect of love
What is the most worthwhile investment (time, energy, money) that you have made?
My most worthwhile investment has been getting an assistant who is amazing. She is a virtual assistant who approached me and gave me an outline of how she could help. I was tentative to start but she has been game-changing for me: she organises my diary, speaks to clients on my behalf, and I have trained her to respect my values and ethos. You need to have some cash flow to afford this expenditure so I am ver grateful to be in this position as I have realised I cannot do it all.
What was the most challenging aspect about writing a book?
The most challenging aspect is your own self doubt – I suffer with major imposter syndrome. I have this in clinical work and work outside medicine as I always feel there is a need to learn more before I can demand people’s respect. I probably will always have this issue, whether it is at my age now after practising medicine for 10 years or when I am 70 years old and still talking about nutrition – there is always, alwaysso much more you can know and believe that learning is a life-long journey.
What is the thing you wished you knew when you started?
To enjoy the process a bit more! One piece of great advice was given was from from Sabrina Ghayour (an amazing food writer) saying just remember to enjoy the process and that this is what you want to do, don’t stress too much.
What would you tell someone thinking about writing their own book?
Write it! Just get on with it and don’t change too much, don’t comprise your ethics, values and don’t try to fit into what’s relevant right now or chase a fad or a trend. Write what you think will resonate with people but stay true to your message. Do not try to pander to the market – people can smell authenticity and it you are lacking, you will lose your game. Remember to keep writing, and don’t let anyone who says you should change your writing affect you.
Have a little bravery and put yourself out there, trust your gut and don’t compromise.