So I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while and seeing as I am currently coming at you from under the foggy influence of an impromptu wheat and dairy binge that happened last night (there was a party, there were brownies, there was pizza…), today seemed like a good time to finally get this written.
Since I caught the fitness bug and made friends with running and the gym I’d always believed in the old adage that you can eat whatever you like as long as you workout, yet I was constantly frustrated that despite the good quality exercise I was doing, I seemingly inexplicably never saw the results I was after. I also struggled for years with terrible bloating, awful skin, lack of energy, and I retained water like nobody’s business. Despite working out and running regularly and eating well I always felt uncomfortable. After more than one night curled up on the bathroom floor in agony and wondering whether I should call an ambulance for the stabbing pains in my stomach and chest I finally reached a point where I just couldn’t deal with it any more and I turned to my diet for the cure.
Once I began to dig into the depths of the Western diet I discovered that many of the ‘healthy’ the foods I was eating were really not so healthy at all and I gradually began to adjust my intake as I learned more and more about nutrition. I finally realised just how good I could feel and that you really can’t out run a bad diet. This is when my love of health and nutrition really developed and I’ve since spent huge amounts of time researching health and how to get the most from food and our bodies for physical and mental wellness.
It wasn’t easy to do at all. The foods I’d been filling up on are essentially drugs that we are conditioned on a daily basis to become addicted to; and I was well and truly an addict. There was a whole lot of regressing and quitting and denial – ‘Nuh-uh. There’s no way Galaxy Cookie Crumble/fro-yo/millionaires shortbread/Nutella/BREAD could possibly be bringing my face out in cysts and making my belly look as though it’s housing a 6-month-old foetus. I love that sh*t with all my soul. I’m eating it.’ But once I finally eliminated processed food from my diet my skin cleared up, the perpetual bloating and uncomfortable-ness reduced significantly, my body composition changed and I noticed a radical increase in my energy levels.
The question of diet is vast, multi-faceted, and subject to much contention and controversy, so I thought I’d write a series of posts dedicated to why it is I now eat the way I do focusing on each of the main ‘rules’ I follow, namely, being dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free, and sugar-free. I don’t follow any one particular, defined ‘diet’, it is more of a conglomeration of different ways of eating and fuelling that I’ve found worked for me after a lot of time and a lot of experimentation. My primary focus is now on the Clean Eating paradigm (I capitalise because eating ‘clean’ is now super vogue and a cool thing to do, so Instagram says), which for me, means the following:
- Eating as little packaged, aka, processed food as possible
- If I do eat food from a packet/tin/container I make sure I know exactly what each of the ingredients actually IS. If I can’t pronounce it, I don’t eat it.
- If it came from a plant, it’s good. If it was made in a plant, it ‘int.
- Little sugar, and no refined sugar.
- No beans, pulses, legumes, dairy, grains (sometimes peanut butter slips through here…).
The way I eat could probably be most closely associated with the Paleo diet, which I credit with providing me with a lot of my education on food, but as I’m also pescatarian I can hardly call myself an devoted Paleo, which is a good example of how the best diet is the one that is tailored to you as an individual. I do think it’s interesting, though, that there seems to be a general theme running through the modern diet of our culture, and that is that for the most part we are filling up not on food but on food-like substances and I think that says a whole lot about our rapidly declining health.
Here’s a little list of the resources that influenced me most on my quest for better health:
So, first up will be my take on GRAINS and why I stopped gorging myself on porridge and that oh-so-nutritious-and-full-of-greatness bread – I hope you enjoy reading!