My Diet

 While looking through my old photos for a "before" photo, I realised I don't actually have any I could use as a decent "before" photo. But this will do. Because as you'll read, it's not about appearance. It's about FEELING good.

While looking through my old photos for a "before" photo, I realised I don't actually have any I could use as a decent "before" photo. But this will do. Because as you'll read, it's not about appearance. It's about FEELING good.

I'm asked on a daily basis about my diet, what foods I eat, how I eat, etc. The main reason I haven't answered yet is because it's such a complex answer, I don't even know where to start. 

So I'm not going to start at the beginning. I'm going to start at the end.

My conclusion, the points I want to make are:

1) EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT.

The most important change I ever made to my diet had nothing to do with choosing a particular protocol, but rather it was recognising that my needs are different to everyone else's and I should LISTEN TO MY BODY before taking the advice of some documentary maker, article author, or random person talking about what worked for them.  

I advise you to do the same. 

For example, I've tried to be vegan. Three times in my life I have adhered to a vegan diet for a few months. I love animals, and I never ever want to see any living being suffer. I also love vegetables! So veganism appealed to me. But each time I've been vegan, no matter how much I supplemented with B12 and enzymes and amino acids and everything else, I stopped having a period. And finally after my third attempt at veganism and then losing my period, I decided it's not right for me. Does that mean veganism isn't right for you? Of course not. You're not me. 

2) FOOD IS EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING!!

You literally are what you eat. And drink. Every single morsel of food you eat and have ever eaten has dictated what bacteria live in your gut. Your gut organs are responsible for absorbing all the nutrients (or toxins!) from the food that you eat. They do this largely thanks to the trillions and trillions of bacteria that break down that food. You cannot live without these bacteria. 

Some bacteria eat bananas. Some eat kale. Some eat sugar. Some eat meat. Depending on what foods you regularly feed the bacteria in your gut, certain types of bacteria will flourish (because they're well fed!) and some will struggle to survive (because they're starving.) So the more sugar you eat, the more the sugar-eating bacteria and fungi will proliferate and ask you for more more more!! The more leafy greens you eat, the more those bacteria will flourish. 

And guess what? Your gut health does a LOT in dictating your hormone health and your mental health. So. Do I want my gut happy? Yes! And I eat accordingly.

There's WAY WAY WAY more to the science of what happens in your body than this, but...these little bacteria and what they're doing paints a little image in my mind of what happens inside my body to the food I eat. 

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I don't eat based only on how much I'll enjoy the food while it's in my mouth.

Sure I like things with a nice taste and texture just as much as anyone else.

But I keep in mind what happens to that food after I swallow it.

What is my body going to do with it? What nutrients and what toxins have I just given my body? Am I feeding the good bacteria? Or the bad bacteria? 

This is why I am not tempted to eat junk food. It's why if my smoothie isn't super tasty but it's full of wonderful nutrients I know my body needs, I will enjoy it! 

And it's this mindset that I think can be really helpful for anyone struggling to eat healthy. You KNOW what's good for you and what isn't. I don't need to tell you that the cupcake or pizza or takeaway isn't doing your body any good. But so many of us eat just based on what happens before the food is swallowed. 

So I eat food that will fuel my body. Drinks that nourish my body. 

Food can be medicine. Or it can be poison. 

I choose foods therefore that are full of nutrients, and low in anything that will send my body into some chaotic frenzy of blood sugar spikes or trying to figure out how to digest something made in a Monsanto/Bayer laboratory. 

If the gut is healthy and happy, then it can communicate properly with the endocrine system and the brain. That means your hormones are better balanced, and your brain is functioning optimally. 

I'll repeat: FOOD IS EVERYTHING. A bad diet doesn't just lead to a larger waistline. Diet has been linked to anxiety, depression, Alzheimer's, and....well...just about everything. YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT! 

3) IT'S A JOURNEY. 

In the last 6 months alone I've changed my diet about 3 times. Six months ago I was still eating rice occasionally, for example. Now I don't. Three months ago I wasn't eating any fruit at all. Now I do sometimes. 

Just as every person is different, every day is different for each individual. What you eat in the summer differs to what you eat in the winter. What you eat when you're regularly working out differs to when you're not exercising so much. What you eat when you're a teenager is surely different to what you'll eat when you're in your 80s. 

It's a constant journey of just listening to your body, paying attention to how you feel when you do or don't eat certain foods, and adjusting for as long as that works. Then re-adjusting when it doesn't work anymore. The body is complex, life is complex, and so there's no such thing as figuring out the perfect diet, and then for the rest of your life never eating anything outside of the confines of that diet. 

So I think of each day as a mini scientific experiment. Each day is new, and so if I succumb to that chocolate bar beckoning me to eat it, I think, "Okay, I just ate a whole bar of chocolate. It PROBABLY wasn't good for me, but I'll see what happens." The next day, maybe I have a few pimples on my face, and then I think, "yup...probably wasn't a good day to eat the whole bar of chocolate. I guess I won't do that today." But I don't judge. I don't criticise myself.  

It's a constant journey.

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So back to this image. 

I've always been thin. That's my genes. But in case you can't tell from the horrible-quality photos, I used to be quite soft and now I'm more toned. 

Guess what? I don't pay attention to looking toned or looking thin. I don't eat for my waistline. I eat in a way that makes me FEEL GOOD. In a way that makes me feel light, energetic, alert, and happy.

But, if you look at the images, it seems it does have an effect on physical appearance too. 

In the time of the older photo, I ate everything. Now I have found (more or less) a way of eating that works for me.

Before I proceed and share with you what that is, please keep in mind that THIS MAY NOT WORK FOR YOU. But here's the answer to your questions, finally: 

I eat a low-carb, high fat diet. I don't eat any grains, and apart from if food in a restaurant is cooked for me with butter and I don't know about it, I don't consume dairy.

I fast intermittently (a high-fat diet helps with this) (usually 17-18 hours a day) and nowadays I like to break my fast with a smoothie full of things like almond butter, avocado, celery, vegan protein powder, collagen peptides, and spirulina. Whatever nuts and seeds I've got lying around might get thrown in, as well as maybe some kale or fresh aloe vera leaf. 

I snack on nuts and raw veggies. Maybe a portion of good quality coconut yogurt if I can find it.

I love ending my eating hours with a massive salad with not just leafy greens and veggies, but also lots of fatty things like nuts and seeds and olive oil, maybe a can of sardines or a couple eggs for protein, and some good quality Celtic sea salt and pepper. 

I supplement with magnesium, omega 3, vitamin D, zinc, b-12, and digestive enzymes. This is largely because I'm still on protocol with a functional doctor to heal my gut from issues caused by past behaviours (I'll write a separate blog on that in a few weeks).

One Last Thing...

If you're still reading, I'm guessing you're really into this whole idea of learning what diet works for you. 

So I'll tell you, this is what I do through my health coaching. If you are interested in having a personal coach (me!) to help you towards your health goals, then please fill in the contact form (click "Connect" above and choose General Inquiries). 

 

Why I don't eat "the most important meal of the day"

 Sorry, breakfast, I'm just not that into you...

Sorry, breakfast, I'm just not that into you...

Okay for those of you with a short attention span, I'll get right to the point: I don't eat breakfast because I don't want to. I don't feel like it. I feel better when I don't eat it. 

But what about the fact that we SHOULD eat it!?!?! What about the fact that it boosts the metabolism and we can't concentrate in our jobs or at school without it? And all the other stuff we're told about why breakfast is so important? 

Well...my answer is: who says? According to who?! 

It's just like the idea that we should eat 3 meals a day, or that cereal is for mornings and sandwiches for afternoons. It's the same as the idea that you have to go to university to get a good job. That a "good job" is one that your parents and teachers approve of because it fits into society's template for what's "normal". It's really no different to other ideas we subscribe to as a society, some of which are changing now, such as the idea that women should do all the childcare while men have a career.  Ideas like this are simply that: ideas. 

So like so many other ideas, the concept of breakfast is just something that we've been taught, so we go along with it, and don't question it. Or that was the case for me.

I always ate breakfast because I was actually fearful of what would happen if I didn't! I actually worried that I wouldn't be able to function properly without it. I had a story in my mind that I NEEDED breakfast. And that story was so powerful that if I didn't get breakfast, I would convince myself that my whole day was going to be off kilter.

But I've since learned to be a rebel, especially about food. There are an overwhelming and endless number of articles out there telling us what we should or shouldn't eat, how much, in what order, what time, and even how we should consume our food. (Juice vs smoothie debate anyone?)  To all of those, I say, "Thanks for the info, but I'm doing my own thing."

Our bodies are intelligent and wise. Our bodies know what they need. We just tend not to listen to our bodies. When I started to listen to my body, I realised that I was thirsty in the morning, and a 1/2 litre of water first thing was all I needed to feel satisfied, energised, and awake. We wake up dehydrated, you see. Unless you're waking up throughout the night to sip on water, you've gone several hours with no liquids, so your body doesn't need food, or coffee, nearly as much as it needs water! 

Then I discovered intermittent fasting. This is the idea that you intentionally give your digestive system a break of at LEAST 12 hours every day. The easiest way to do that, of course, is to fast overnight when you're probably not eating anyway. The benefits of fasting increase with every hour that passes, so 13 hours is better than 12, and 14 hours is better than 13.  I personally find that 17 - 18 hours is good for me right now. 

I usually eat within the hours of 11a.m. and 6p.m.  My typical day might look like this:

11:30a.m.: superfood smoothie (my favourite time of the day!) full of fibre, good fats and vegetable proteins such as flax, chia, spirulina, chlorella, almond butter, and hemp protein, as well as maybe a handful of berries and some celery. 

2:00p.m.: a snack if I feel hungry, such as some carrots with hazelnut butter or celery and hummus

6:00p.m.: a salad made of whatever organic veggies I can find, topped with nuts and seeds and olive oil, and probably some sort of protein like fish or eggs. 

And then my fast begins again. 

I began about a year ago with 14 hour fasts, and over time it was no problem at all to extend to 15, 16, 17 hours. I sometimes go 19 or 20 hours depending on how I feel.

Like anything in life, you have to find what works for YOU. Not just copying another person. I know people who eat just 1 meal a day and fast for 23 hours, or others who regularly do 80-hour fasts, or go a full week with just water! That works for them. 

It's not about trying to break some record though, or push or punish yourself. It's about giving your digestive system a chance to rest and fully clear everything out. It's also about learning the difference between low blood sugar and simply WANTING to eat, and being ACTUALLY hungry. 

Because they are two different things: there's appetite, and there's hunger.  The desire to eat, and the need.

Of course you can eat breakfast and fast. Or you can skip breakfast and not fast. But for me, the two go together. It's because of intermittent fasting and the benefits I've seen from that (improved energy, appetite control, better digestion) that I don't eat breakfast anymore. 

I'm in no way telling you to stop eating breakfast. But I am asking you to be a rebel when it comes to things that we've always been told by society. I am asking you to question anything that asks you to go against what your body innately knows and feels. I mean, it's considered "normal" to eat foods wrapped in plastic that were created in factories, but does that mean it's what our bodies want? Probably not.

I hope that's some food for thought for you! 

 

5 things to add to your diet for better health (it may not be what you think!)

If you know you have room for improvement when it comes to your healthy eating habits, I want you to know it doesn't have to be difficult. There are some really simple but effective things you can add to improve your nutrient intake and your overall wellbeing. 

Key word: "add"! I'm not suggesting you to stop eating anything. Just add a few things in to what you already enjoy!

 Salads don't have to be boring or tasteless or leave you feeling unsatisfied.

Salads don't have to be boring or tasteless or leave you feeling unsatisfied.

1. Green stuff 

Okay this first one might be what you expected. BUT! Seriously. If it's green and comes from the ground, (i.e. it's a plant -- I ain't talking about green M&Ms), it's gonna nourish you and give your body so much goodness, and greens are basically calorie free. 

It's really quite easy. If you like smoothies, add some spinach or kale into them and you probably won't even taste the greens. Add a handful of watercress to your sandwich. Next time you have your favourite dip on the table, get through at least one stick of celery with that dip, along your favourite chips/crisps.

I personally love greens and enjoy them. But maybe you hate them. So take them like medicine if you have to. Because food IS medicine. This stuff can heal! Grab a bunch of romaine and eat it like a rabbit, get it down you, and wash it down with some chocolate. I don't care, just get the greens in you. 

But, also, thanks to food technology, you can now get a mega dose of greens in a really easy way. Loads of health stores and even the Wal-Mart in podunk (I can call it that, I'm from there) Petal, Mississippi stocks mixtures of green superfoods. 

What is it? It's powder and found amongst the vitamins, and it's often sweetened with stevia so it doesn't even taste bad. It's made up of all the best (i.e. most nutrient-dense) greens such as wheatgrass, alfalfa, spirulina, and chlorella. Many of them add probiotics and other great stuff to them as well.  Just one scoop a day is better than most multi-vitamin!

And trust me, it gets easier. Give it two weeks. Maybe 4 if you're totally new to greens. But I promise you'll start loving them.  

2. Water

Easy. Just drink more water.

If you want to be picky, you can get geeky about how to get the best water, with filters and alkalinising shizzle, and I welcome you to explore that if you want to. But if nothing else, just drink more water.

Our bodies are MADE of water. Like 70 or 80% or something. Google it if you wanna know the exact number because I don't know. I just know it's enough that it makes sense that if you're not drinking an adequate amount of water each day, your cells are gonna be shrivelled up and screaming out saying "I'm thiiiirrrrssstttyyyy" and not able to function properly because they're so dehydrated.

Oh and also your fascia needs water. Fascia is everywhere in the body and isn't made of cells, rather it's produced by cells. Who cares? Anybody that wants to become more flexible, more mobile, move without stiffness, soreness, or pain. Because when the fascia is dehydrated, it gets decrepid and withered.

Like the greens, if you hate water, then take it like medicine. Don't do it for your enjoyment, do it for your health. Just get it down you. At least 2 litres a day. Preferably spread out throughout the day. 

Also like the greens, the more you do it, the more you're gonna love it. I promise. You'll find water becomes more and more satisfying. 

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3. Vitamin L

I'm talking about L-O-V-E! Love the food you eat. Put love into the food you prepare. 

When you eat food that's come from a production line where people are hurriedly packaging that stuff to meet their daily quota so they can collect their paycheque and go home, or from a restaurant where people are going through the motions of just slapping together a sandwich, one right after the other, they don't care about you! They don't care about how your body digests that food.

Eat food that's been prepared with love. Or if you must buy pre-prepared food, put some of your own love into it. Bless it. Take a moment to be grateful that you get to eat it. Thank your body for the work it's about to do to digest that food. 

Does this sound silly to you? Are you like "oh I was with her till now...but this is some airy fairy nonsense." 

Food is like a hug. And a hug is food. Both nourish us, both are necessary for us to keep going through this crazy world with vitality. How would you feel getting a hug from somebody that doesn't acknowledge you as a person, and is only doing it because it's their job? Ew. It would be a cold and probably pretty awkward hug. I'd much rather get a hug from somebody who gives it with love. 

Same with food. There's energy in everything. So eat good energy.

4. Mindfulness 

K. So, this is interesting. 

How many times do you eat per day? Why?

What kind of diet are you on? Why?

How much do you eat? Why?

What food do you stay away from? Why?

How fast do you eat? Why?

How much food do you shovel into your mouth at a time? Why?

What times of day do you eat? Why?

How often do you overeat around other people? Why?

How often do you overeat when you're alone? Why?

Are you hungry, or do you just want to eat? Why are you eating? 

I'm not interested in the answers to the first questions. I am interested in the answer to the question "why" and so should you be! 

So many of our food habits are because it's tradition or what we grew up with, or as a mindless reaction or because what some article we read somewhere (or blog post!) suggested. I'm not saying don't take advice from people, but I am saying it's worthwhile to understand your own intentions. 

Do you overeat sometimes? All the time? Why is that? Is there a trigger? How does it make you feel? 

Ask yourself these questions. Become curious and figure out if you're doing something because "it's just the way things are" (e.g. eating three meals a day) or if it's because it's what really makes you feel good (e.g. maybe you prefer just two meals a day). 

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5. Understanding and compassion to yourself

This is an add-on to the mindfulness, especially if you're discovering some eating habits you're not so proud of like a tendency to eat a whole box of cereal when you're alone in the house and you realise it's a distraction from the uncomfortable thoughts circling around in your mind. Or...maybe that's just me. 

Whatever your eating habits, make sure you drop the guilt. There's so much guilt associated with food these days. Just quit that. Be compassionate to yourself. You're doing your best. 

Stress is our worst enemy. If you eat a salad and you're stressed about the spinach not being organic and all those nasty pesticides wreaking havoc in your gut, you're not healthy. If you eat a cookie and you loved every bite of it and you know you deserved it and it made you happy and you're not at all guilty, your body will, I reckon, be better off.

Everything has energy in it. So eat good energy.

So summing up: Eat your greens, drink water, and prepare your food with love. Watch your food-related actions with curiosity--NOT judgement.  Learn what your habits are around food and what you do based on what other people have told you vs. what makes YOU feel good. And do it all with compassion to yourself. Remember that you are part of this planet so compassion to yourself includes compassion to others and the environment around you. 

Eat good energy.