Food for Thought
Simply put, food fuels the human body. We need it to grow and perform, but sometimes we just really enjoy it! Food can be healing or harmful, and everyone plus their Aunt Sally would like to tell you how/what/when you should be eating it.
I love food, combining my love of food and travel equates to my favourite past time – eating out abroad! I love new flavours, trying new things, being in new places and basically soaking up cafe culture around the world. You can learn so much about a place by sitting somewhere and watching the world go by, but I digress!
What I’m talking about here is do I really have to think about everything I consume that much, and is that really healthy eating? What does a healthy relationship to food really look like? Side note, I am not a nutritionist; this is just my thoughts on the ever growing world of food and clean eating.
I buy in to the basic principles; eat healthy, don’t over indulge, and try and avoid too much of those processed bits. Where I get a little fuzzier is when we get into all sorts of restrictions, no dairy, no gluten, only organic, no carbs, all carbs, no sugar, no salt, high protein, low protein, I mean the list could go on for about another page. It’s confusing right!
What’s worrying is there are all sorts of eating disorders cropping up. Take this one, purely based around the constant and obsessive restriction of certain foods. It starts from a really healthy place but can easily become as debilitating as some of the more well known culprits.
I’m equally not saying that following a vegetarian/vegan/plant based/no carb or whatever kind of diet is wrong. I am vegetarian and I love that the likes of Deliciously Ella are making healthy, homemade options accessible. I myself have used many of her recipes for inspiration. But what I’m saying is that clean eating has to be an individual experience and you have to listen to your body and what it’s telling you. You shouldn’t let food dictate your life whether that food is deemed as healthy or unhealthy. Surely the truest sense of healthy/clean eating is having a diet that feels right for you and your lifestyle.
I read a story that I think illustrates this really well. This lady decided to try out one of these new uber famous eating regimes that shall remain nameless. All her friends felt great on it, but she was just not getting the same results. She felt sluggish, lethargic, bloated and generally just uncomfortable. After mixing up her diet and a series of trips to the doctors she found out that she had an issue with her Gallbladder that had gone undiagnosed for years. She had increased her healthy fats intake so much (nuts, seeds, avocado and the like) and her body just could not handle that much fat (healthy or not)! Her Idea of a healthy diet now looks completely different because her fat intake has to be really well managed. She’s happy and healthy and all the rest, and I’m sure she could write a book and sell the new low fat regime! But her approach to a healthy diet would not necessarily work for me or you, or Joe blogs down the street. Just as that world famous diet did not work for what her body needed.
Take me for example, during the week (if I’m not travelling for work) I go to the gym and have my shorter runs so I need less fuel for my body. I tend to focus my meals more around home cooking, healthy, non processed, vegetable hefty options. On the weekends we may go out with friends or have something a bit heartier. I have my long runs on the weekend and depending on the distance I need to make sure I’m fuelling for them appropriately. I try not to over indulge in anything (e.g pizza and beer every night) but I also don’t restrict myself completely from the things I enjoy (e.g. pizza and beer)!
That’s what a healthy relationship to food looks like for me. We have a trade off, and we enjoy each other’s company. I recognise what food I need and what food I don’t and I try and balance that all around what I enjoy and the lifestyle I have. I don’t think it needs to be much more complicated than that.
My approach will continue to be listen to your body, to what it is telling you it needs and don’t blindly follow anyone down a path without thinking if it fits and works for you. For some people it can be just as important to junk up their diet as it is for others to clean it up.
You will still find me eating macaroons and drinking red wine for lunch in Paris! My body says hell yes to that!