by Vicki Edgson [Dip ION]
So, you’re on 5:2, the 16:8, or the Fast 800, having already tried Weightwatchers, the Mediterranean. Keto, or Low/No Carb diets, or Gluten/ Dairy/ Meat-free diets and you’re beginning to think that none of it works for you. There must be something wrong with your metabolism, your gut health or your overall approach to this whole dieting lark. Maybe you’ve gained the ‘Covid Stone’. or lost as much through sheer fear and anxiety. You’ve completely lost touch with your likes and dislikes or, even worse, perhaps you’ve lost your taste altogether (OMG should I get tested for the virus??).
This intensified, exaggerated fear of food has become ever worse as the months of unavailability of your staples, or especially your specials, and no eating out in your local haunts and hideouts have passed. Perhaps your regular therapy sessions were actually supportive, but they haven’t been available either. Government guidelines have led us on a meandering goosexhase: Stay Home to Save Lives, Eat Out to Help Out, No more than 6 in a Group outside or inside.
What to do????
STOP! you have all the knowledge you need within you. Whatever age you might be, and at whatever stage of maturity you may have reached, you do intuitively know what you should be eating, as you feel well when you have it all in balance, and not when you don’t. Your health is no longer linked with your daily measurement on the scales – it has proven time and again that eating a wide variety of fresh foods, predominantly in the Mediterranean style of eating, sourced from local suppliers that haven’t travelled hallway round the world to get to you, will not only sustain you, but actually go a long way towards you thriving.
It feels marvellous to have loads of energy, to be able to eat what you want, when you want, without having to yo-yo diet or curb any form of eating and drinking behaviour. In order to do this, you have to start being brutally honest with yourself.
Check through the list below:
- Have you started to eat ‘on the go’ rather than sitting down taking time?
- Are you aware of how many processed food products you are eating regularly?
- How do you feel when you wake up in the morning?
- Are you rested, relaxed and yet full of energy to start your day?
- Do you feel satisfied when you have finished each meal?
- Are you skipping meals to lower your daily calorie intake?
- Do you avoid specific food groups that are touted as potentially allergenic without having been tested for them yourself?
All of the above suggests that you have fallen into one ‘diet trap’ or another, and this behaviour needs eradicating so that you can start to eat intuitively.
If you haven’t achieved the results you were looking for, then clearly the approach you have following doesn’t suit you personally. This is the reason nutritional therapists often say ‘there is no one diet fits all’.
Now, having parked all previous theories (however well-touted by your best friend, sister, mother, boss or other), start by making a list of all the foods that you have always been drawn to, and enjoyed, that make you feel good. There’s no point in including foods that you love, but don’t make you feel good! This is why honesty really is the essential policy here! For example, I love porridge in the morning, but genuinely feel better if I have eggs and sourdough toast for breakfast. Whether I dress that up with spinach, kale, chard, tomatoes or smoked trout is purely based on season, availability, and what I have in my fridge at the time. The key is variety.
Variety is also key to keeping yourself stoked up with nutrient-dense foods that ensure your body and brain is getting what it needs. When you suddenly start craving something you haven’t eaten for months, even years, it is a pretty sure sign that you may be deficient in some of the vitamins that are supporting you through this particular time of your life. From puberty, through pregnancy, intense training, stress, menopause/andropause or senior years all place extra demands on your nutritional needs, as does illness and recovery from all types of disease.
Also know that all fats are not ‘bad’. Essential fats from oily fish and shellfish, nuts, seeds and their oils are all exactly that – essential to the health of our brains, hormones, skin, joints and immune system. They are termed essential as the body can’t make them by itself – they have to be derived from the foods we eat. But it’s how we eat them that’s the important thing – a tin of sardines on wholemeal or sourdough toast is infinitely better than fish and chips from the local chippie! Not to do him out of business, but you only have to walk into his shop to know from the smell of rancid (overcooked) fat is not going to do you any favours others than fill your belly….. for now.
Eating takeaway foods had become the norm for half this country until Covid-19 put an abrupt stop to that, but you have to ask yourself before you pop any of it into your mouth “where would I find this in Nature?”
The occasional takeaway pizza, curry or any other meal is hardly a sin, but to allow the habit of ‘Friday night is curry night’ to develop is only OK if you are making it yourself from fresh ingredients. So satisfying in every respect!
So, is your body a temple? Do you make the choice to put in only what you know is not only delicious but also nutritious? Make sure that the foods you choose are serving you in the way that all other animals choose theirs – for nourishment and best chances of survival according to seasonal availability. Enjoy every mouthful without wolfing it down at such speed that you barely tasted what was there in the process.
If you like it, if its’ what you want, if you feel you need it, eat and enjoy it.
Guest writer – Vicki Edgson is a retired nutritionist, passionate health author. Her most recent books are Gut Gastronomy (2015), Broth (2016), Amazing Edible Seeds (March 2017). A writer for Soulhub Journal, we welcome with open arms Vicki’s insights into how we’re eating in today’s climate and trust her intuition impeccably too!
Soul Food September
Throughout September, Soulhub is sharing personal stories from Guest Writers including Nutritionalist (Author of Gut Gastronomy, Broth & Amazing Edible Seeds) Vicki Edgson, Soul Food Live every Tuesday (from late Sept) with Carey Davies-Munro, Q&A’s with nutritional specialists Sue Camp & Melinda McDougall, podcasts with Nicola Moore, and education about our relationship with food.
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