I feel the need to share with you my journey so it is understood that eating healthy isn’t just a trend, it reflects on bringing up healthier children, and probably help improve the quality of life for you and those you love.
I began taking charge of my diet at a very young age, the constant protest during meals was concerning dear mother, a visit to the pediatrician prompt in attempt to convince me that I needed to eat my share of rice and veggies as everyone else. Unfortunately the visit twisted things around, I vividly remember the doctor saying ‘let her eat whatever she wants, ice cream and cheese has calcium and protein that will help her grow, pizza is similar to eating bread that’s a good source for energy.’ ahhh! those joyous words, mum took it literally and awarded me with whatever a the 2 year old expert wanted, this meant a daily staple of Cheezels, ice cream, nuggets, and a cake. She didn’t know any better then, If you ask mum she’ll smile and happily tell you the story how she had a candle lit everyday before I’d scoff into the cream and sponge of choice (She’s got softest heart when comes to her kids, bless). At 7 my move to New Zealand opened an appetite for a daily staple of meat pies, sausage rolls, custard slices, lamington’s, Primo chocolate pudding, Le Snack, and of course I knew I needed fruits, fruit roll-up’s that is.
I had four cakes the year I turned four – this hamburger themed cake was the first of the day. The following was a chocolate sponge with choc sprinkles at mum’s office, a heart shaped cream cake with my godparents , and a simple round vanilla sponge with butter cream topped with oranges roses to end the night with at home. I’m pretty sure that nutrition was not thought to be a big part of my well being back then.
I wasn’t obese as a child but I’d struggle with chronic asthma, attention deficiency, tantrums, and to top it off itchy red scales all over my skin. It was a journey that stressed my parents with regular hospital visits up until my teenage years. In the 90’s I had a great a list of favourite hospitals in Bangkok, Singapore, Malaysia, and Auckland…. I should pause right there before I loose your attention, sorry I digress. After many painful years and few biopsies, my cross between eczema and psoriasis was later to be known as Pityriasis Lichenoides Chonica commonly brought on by an inflamed digestive system and weak immunity. We didn’t really know how to fix it, I was terribly self conscious about my skin but didn’t let it show. Tar soap and cream soothed, topical steroids didn’t help much, UV treatments helped a little, but what got rid of it was a natural anti-inflammatory diet. It came back in patches as I started drinking alcohol, I didn’t know it was the cause or cared much at that age causing my skin flare to come and go without making much sense until recently.
Skip a few years forward, there has been some positive changes since my deep fried meat pies, cheeseburger obsession (eheeem, I once demolished 9 in a seating under 20mins for fun), binge drinking, and addiction to refine sugar. The scaly red spots have dissipated, my energy level is at it’s greatest, I feel good and to top it off there’s been a few physical accomplishments I could only dream of ; marathons, duathlon, and a recent 85kms ultra marathon. The nutritional journey began to click as I started to run, I noticed a big correlation between what I ate and how I would perform, I began noticing cravings and researching why, everything began to make sense. Running over 100kms a week with 50kms back to back on weekends really got me curious on how I was capable of such feat. I would crave things and then try satiate it with clean substitutes ; oysters when I was lacking zinc, peas when I needed a vitamin K boost, dark chocolate for magnesium. I’ve noticed how I my ‘primal calling for junk food’ muted when I started consciously fueling with a nutritional purpose.
I’ve done a lot of ‘diet’ variations in my short life; calorie counting, the high fat, super processed, high carb, low carb, no sugar, high supplementation, you name it and I’ll probably have something to say about it. With so much information available, nutritional claims, differing opinions, and contradictory reports it is no wonder we’re confused, it had me spinning for sure.
Drum roll.. So here it is – Ideally a diet high in variety that wholesome and less processed works best all round. Regardless of palate preference, nutritional requirement, or lifestyle you lead, natural food is what the body was designed to eat, nothing much has changed since.
Food has evolved a whole lot, I doubt three generations ago our great grand’s could imagine mega grocers stock with items we see as food now. Food processing is the method of changing raw ingredients into other forms other than natural done to increase shelf life, enhance taste, texture, and cut cost. The method initially came about due to military needs, keeping up with feeding the mass, convenience and the extension of shelf life. It’s very common for these food to contain ingredients no ordinary human would keep in the kitchen, seriously try reading the list of ingredients on a pack of food you’ll most likely find come across an ingredient added with some funny numbers or a name you don’t understand. Well guess what? your body probably won’t how to comprehend it either! Us humans are smart with inventions, food processing has evolve so quickly our body struggles to keep up biologically which is probably why food intolerance and allergies is high on rise.
What has been labelled as ‘clean eating’ is not as daunting as it sounds, I often hear people saying ‘I’ll never be able to do it. Truth, it’s not easy and eating clean 100% is just too damn hard. At home we follow the 80/20 rule, eat healthy 80% of time and the other 20% is set for whatever you fancy. It’s easy building a healthy lifestyle when you’re not restricting yourself, it takes away negative stigmas; the feeling of guilt, social pressure, failure, and because you’re eating well majority of the times your body is able to function greater, detox, burn more efficiently, and no doubt feel better.
Where and how do you begin eating healthier?
1. Cut out/Reduce : Let’s start with basics refined sugar, white flour, hydrogenated vegetable oils, shortening, trans-fat, soft drinks, sauces and spreads, these are generally made with lots sugar, salt, preservatives, and thickeners. What? that’s everything?! Start slow, give yourself a chance to learn and have fun discovering.
2. Drink lots of water. If the appeal water isn’t great you could try herbal tea without sugar you can have this cold or warm, water infused with mint or fruits).
3. Eat lots of living food especially vegetables and fruits, adding a variety of colours increases nutrient variation the body biologically strives on. Things that come out factories packed in printed boxes, sealed plastic wraps, are generally bad news. Try purchasing packaged food with a list less than 5 ingredients that you can understand. Reducing processed means less stress on your gut trying from trying digest food that has been engineered not to rot, also makes you life easier with less food labels to comprehend.
4. Change your attitude towards food by paying a little more attention to what you eat. As Ann Wigmore would say “The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison”. Before you reach out to plonk something into your in your think twice about what you’re getting out of your fuel, if you don’t feel your self well you can’t expect the body to perform at it’s best. Take cars for example, the cleaner the fuel the better it’ll perform. Do you have vegetables plated up or is that just garnishing?
5. Low-fat does not necessary equate to healthy, to this alternative usually contains more sugar and salt than the standard to make up for taste. Not to mention more synthetic ingredients that can disrupt your metabolism. Calories in a product isn’t an indication of the quality or wholesomeness a food can give, 120 calories from a can of soft drink isn’t going to nourish the body same as two pieces of fruit at 120 calories.
6. Avoid hunger, eat small regular meals. This will help eliminate inappropriate choices often made when hungry, control sugar levels, and keep your metabolism right. While on the topic of hunger and snacks, move away from deep fried alternatives! Don’t kid yourself fried chicken isn’t is not a good source of protein, neither is caramelised nuts.
I’ll stop here for now if you tick a few of the above you’re on the right track 🙂
Your once upon hotdog eating champ. x