A Lost Art
It’s been a while since my last post and this blog finds us well and truly into Spring, dare I say Summer with the recent glorious warm weather! I wanted to write this post because it’s something I’m hugely passionate about and a subject I’ll definitely come back to in more depth in the future but a conversation I overheard this morning was playing on my mind. It may be the time of year, going into summer and people becoming more aware of their bodies after swaddling ourselves away for many months, but one thing I’m hearing more and more is the disordered way people talk about food and feeding themselves. You’ll have heard them, they may even be part of your vocabulary, but I’m talking about phrases such as -
“I’m allowed this”
“I can’t eat that, its fattening”
“If I’m good all week, I can have a treat at the weekend”
“That counts as a syn”
“If I don’t eat all day I can have wine with my dinner”
In my clinic I’m seeing more and more people who are ‘under nourished’ and they’re not eating enough over the course of the day because they’re so hung up on low fat, low calorie and low sugar. This is surprising considering the widespread publicity given to the obesity epidemic. What they’re actually consuming is empty calories, processed produce high in additives, preservatives, artificial sweeteners and its leaving them unfulfilled and is often a trigger for, and almost always driving their condition. By restricting fat and calories in the misguided hope they’ll lose weight people are actually putting their body into starvation which means it’ll then hold onto calories, slowing down the metabolism as an act of self-preservation and inducing an inflammatory state as the body fights to survive. This becomes a horrible vicious cycle and results in weight gain, inability to lose weight, period pain, PMS, constipation, headaches, hayfever, allergies, chronic pain, recurrent infections, acne and skin rashes. All very common complaints we suffer from or know somebody who suffers from which negatively impact on our lives often leading to self-esteem issues, low mood and low energy.
There’s a whole generation who’ve been brought up on dietary misinformation and sadly we’ve lost the art of listening to our bodies. When we’ve been burning the candle at both ends or are under the weather our body expects rest but nowadays we power through with an energy drink or a pill. How many people resort to a stronger painkiller when their headaches become migraines? If the pain is escalating, surely there’s something we should be investigating rather than masking it further! There are some fantastic campaigns around at the moment asking us to be kinder and more aware of each other, especially around mental health. I’d like it if we showed ourselves the same consideration and compassion. I’ve noticed recently some popular hashtags around self-care and self-love but I wonder for how many of these people it’s more about being part of a fashionable movement than actually how they live their life? Next time you’re feeling blue take a moment to think about your recent bowel habits. Random, you might think but we have a gut-brain communication system and it is no coincidence when one is off it will affect the other. A perfect example of this is not being able to get off the loo when we’re really nervous about something. Some people find it helpful to record in a journal how they feel after eating and this allows them to identify foods that make them feel energised and confident and foods that leave them flat and with digestive issues. This is a very simple but effective tool we can use in starting to be more aware of what’s going on in our body.
Providing our body with the nourishment it needs to thrive should be as natural as breathing, so why are we suddenly punishing it with deprivation and using such negative language? We give our pets treats so why have we suddenly found it acceptable to talk about ourselves as we would our animals? It really saddens me that people say they often feel guilty after eating something when really it should be the most natural way to show our body some love. The focus should be more on eating better, not less and by that I mean eating more fresh, seasonal and organic produce. Over the coming months there’ll be an abundance of great British produce available in the supermarkets and it’s the perfect time of year to get lots of colourful salads in our diets as they provide a wealth of beneficial to health nutrients. Eating more of these fibre rich vegetables helps us feel fuller longer and is also helpful in balancing blood sugar, so the need to reach for the chocolate bars or coffee to keep you going through the day will be greatly reduced. Ladies, this is also a sure fire way to get on top of your PMS because balanced blood sugar and a high fibre diet is also hormone balancing - win, win! I am a huge salad fan and love nothing more than piling as many different coloured vegetables into a massive bowl, drenching with lemon juice and olive oil and adding a quality protein source, so mix in some beans, lentils, quinoa, rice, eggs, meat or fish and throw on some seeds and sprouted grains to make it a more balanced and nutritious meal. If you’re unsure of how your plate should be made up, this is a useful infographic from the Alliance for Natural Health and here’s a link to my Instagram page where there’s loads of really colourful, but super easy meal inspiration.
I suppose my message is really to slow down and be kind to yourself, to listen to your body and identify what gives it pleasure and what causes it pain but most importantly to get excited about real food and the amazing things it can do to keep us well. A clever little way to think about how we should be eating is “if you can grow it in your garden or catch it with your hands, eat it!”.
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