Food. The thought occupies my brain for…. well most of the day. I think about what I have just eaten, what I’m going to eat next, if I need to pack a snack (I could go on but you get the drift). I am instantly suspicious of people who ‘eat food to fuel themselves’ – I mean, what the hell do they think about all. day. long?!
Food to me is so much more than fuel – it’s a social occasion, a celebration, pleasure, comfort, wellness, nourishment, healing, health. Your relationship with food is so very personal and can be vital to your happiness. Think about it – you have 3 meals and possibly a few snacks (I do love a snack) throughout your day – if you’re not enjoying them, or have some kind of guilt or negative thoughts attached to them, then that’s a large portion of your day that you’re unsatisfied or unhappy. Equate that to a year and that’s a long time, in my book, to not be enjoying life.
‘Diets’ are crap. Honestly, I think they’re the worst. We, as humans, are all so incredibly individual – therefore we all need an individual lifestyle. Picking up a book and following the ‘diet’ may work for a time to help loose weight or get in shape, but diets are rarely sustainable for YOUR WHOLE LIFE. It’s difficult in a world where we look at people on the outside to determine how healthy they are. Someone with a six pack does not mean they are ‘healthy’. A healthy person is the whole caboodle – body, mind, inside and out. Nourishing and developing your mind has to be equal to doing so with your outer shell. Believe me, at my thinnest back in my uni days, I was certainly the most unhealthy I’ve ever been. Not just the food I was eating but the way I thought about food. I went through major binge and starvation days or would chastise myself harshly for eating too much or not looking like perfection. I needed to educate myself about food and my own body and mind – it took me a long time to fully understand how important food is in my life.
It goes back to that buzz word again – Balance. What has worked really well for me is the 80/20 ratio. 80% of the time eat the foods that are nutritious and good for you, 20% be a naughty food slut. If you know you’re going to have a dirty burger for dinner, have a smoothie for breakfast and a light lunch. The question to ask yourself is ‘what does my body need?’.
When I did the vegan month, I found it relatively easy all in all. I felt pretty damn smug about doing my thing environmentally and enjoyed the variety of different recipes I was forced to try out. But about 3 weeks into it I was getting some serious cravings for eggs and fish. I dreamt about fishy suppers, I drooled over brunch menus with eggs on. I realised quickly that my body was trying to tell me what it needed. As much as I thought I was making healthy vegan choices, my body wasn’t getting enough protein. I’m sure you can get more protein into a vegan diet, but my answer was to eat a scrumptious fillet of hake as soon as my vegan month was up – and that first bite (lord have mercy, that first bite) was absolute bliss.
We all have cravings – listen to them, but don’t always give into them! You’re body is lacking something if you are craving a food, but it is understanding what your body is telling you that is key here. Let me break it down (I got the info from The Londoner about this – check her out here)
If you have hunger cravings you may be dehydrated – drink water and wait.
If you crave;
- Sweets: Your body’s lacking chromium, carbon phosphorus, sulphur, tryptophan. You can get these from: broccoli, grapes, cheese, chicken, fresh fruit, beef, liver, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, legumes, cranberries, horseradish, kale, cabbage, turkey, sweet potato & spinach
- Fatty snacks: You’re lacking calcium. Eat more: mustard, greens, dairy, legumes & sesame seeds
- Coffee: Your body’s craving phosphorous, sulfur & iron. Try eating more: chicken, beef, liver, fish, eggs, dairy, red peppers, garlic, onion, sea salt, apple vinegar, seaweed, greens & black cherries.
- Salty foods You need chloride. Try and eat: goats milk, fish & unrefined sea salt
Strictly speaking, there are no bad or good foods when it comes to moderation – sure some are almost like poison (I’m looking at you Diet Coke) and others are almost saint like in nature (holla atcha maca root) but all in all, there is really only good or bad relationships with food. A healthy lifestyle is the only way to get the most out of foods and your body. When you have a healthy relationship with food it’s easier to make healthy food choices more often. The benefits of nourishing your body are priceless – your body and brain can function at its best and… well food is delicious so your happiness soars when your body is given the best.
For me, it has come to be about being a ‘conscious eater’ – really thinking about my food choices, both for myself and for the environment. Although high quality, organic foods are expensive, its about enjoying these when you can and knowing the less something is messed with the better it is for you. Fruit and vegetables obviously are at their purest but also choosing foods like butter over margarine or full fat milk over skimmed. The more processed its been the further away it is from its natural state. We are natural beings… you do the math.
I really enjoy most healthy foods and I love to cook and I suppose that makes me quite lucky – but if you do need help with making delicious and nourishing food look no further than Hemsley & Hemsley. These girls have put all my food beliefs, some of my favourite ingredients and the most nutrient packed foods altogether into some amazing cook books.
Food is really the second love of my life and I have only just scratched the surface of not only how food can contribute to a healthy life but go even further and actually use food as medicine. My mum taught me a helluva lot, but nutritionally I saw how powerful food can be in your life. She slowed down a terminal diagnosis and gave us all 10 more wonderful years, partly due to how drastically she altered her diet and lifestyle. As an educator myself – I know how important it is to continue learning – so I’m going to study Naturopathic Nutrition at the College of Naturopathic Medicine, starting in October and I. CAN’T. WAIT. I’ll be sure to keep up updated – watch this space!