One of the things that’s hit me about settling in to a new home, has been having to re-explain my diet.
I guess my friends back in New Zealand got so sick of trying to understand why or what my eating habits were, that they just learnt not to ask questions and leave me to it.
People don’t know me that well here.
They don’t realise that my opinions on food are not only wildly strong (and tend to come with a full blown argument) but, they’re also forever changing. (However, if you try to point out that last week I fought vehemently against the idea of consuming dairy, and am now knocking back a large flat white with full fat milk, I will probably throw said coffee in your face. Or at least the empty cup.)
People have been telling me that my diet, and my attitude towards food is extreme. Which sits oddly with me, because I feel that my diet has relaxed hugely recently.
The more I learn about food, the more I get confused, and realise no one “diet” is better. I’ve realised that the key to health, in pretty much every way, is balance.
I’m currently taking a night course, working my way to a diploma in nutrition (because you know, I thought I didn’t have enough on my plate *slaps hand on forehead*) and one of the key elements that comes out of every class is:
1 You need to give your body a variety of everything.
(I’m talking fats, carbs, vitamins, minerals etc etc)
Aka if you lived on a diet of JUST spinach and blueberries, no matter how much of a super food they both are, you would get sick, because ultimately your body needs more of a variety to survive. Just like if you lived off a diet of purely ham sandwiches, you wouldn’t be in tip-top shape either. Same, same – but different.
2 What we get told is’ healthy’ is always changing.
Twenty years ago fat was the killer, then carbohydrates were demonised, and now sugar is a no-no. And, as much as I personally don’t think refined sugar (or refined foods at all) are ever going to be celebrated as a healthy option; nutrition is a young science and this latest claim could be just as wrong as when we all decided margarine was better than butter.
So, precisely 1 year on from drastically deciding to cut all grains, dairy, and legumes from my shopping list, I’ve gone through a bit of a personal journey. I’ve completely cut out ALL sugars (yup fruit), then reintroduced some back (yup, fruit). I’ve cut out caffeine, then decided a coffee every now and then is worth the risk of horrid death (and I would probably suffer a horrid death by means of irritated boyfriend if I didn’t ease my morning moods with a espresso anyway). I’ve had cheat days so huge they’ve resulted in my local Tesco running out of Ben & Jerry’s. And, I’ve eaten more nuts than probably every human. Ever.
But what I’ve also done is learnt. Learnt that the best bit about food, and nutrition is the learning. It’s the falling over (into a plate of cake), picking yourself up (usually with A LOT of water), forgiving yourself (the key part) and trying again.
I’m in a (slightly) different place than a year ago. I still call myself paleo (because people really like labels) and I still mostly eat in a way that a paleo hard core would, but I have dairy sometimes, and I can dig into some ancient grains every now and then, and peanuts are cool with me. And maybe a few years down the track people will scoff at the thought that that way of eating was healthy. Or maybe I will sit there on my 125th birthday laughing, because my superior diet granted me immortality (mwahahaha).
More likely however, is nothing will really be that different between me and those who chow down on creamy pasta, on toast with a side of cake and a pile of other stuff that’s oh-so-not-paleo that I can’t think of right now.
Except that I love the way I eat (mostly), and I love the fun I have with food, and I don’t ask you (unless you’re the boy) to eat this way.
So, rant over. Now I will get back to my almond meal cupcake AND a carrot (eaten simultaneously, because…well…balance right?).