As a Yoga Teacher and Health Coach it is obviously very important for me to walk my talk, but, I was talking to a great friend recently and we came on to the subject of keeping up our 'healthy' appearances in certain social groups and on our social media... and we decided that actually maintaining this healthy appearance is not only extremely draining but also bloody stressful at times!
Before becoming a Health Coach and Yoga Teacher, I spent quite a long time 'figuring stuff out' by trialing different ways of eating - all restrictive in some way - and actually developed disordered eating habits. At the time I thought it was willpower and committment and I saw my restrictions as a positive thing - but on looking back it was far from healthy.
Going for dinner and being the only one that didn't have a dessert meant that I simply alienated myself from others - I wasn't being a hero in any shape or form! I was actually becoming less and less fun, and more and more stressed out about social occasions or eating anywhere other than home.
I took tupperwares EVERYWHERE. I always had a 'healthy' snack in my bag. I had to pre-warn every person I went to dinner with that I had intolerances (actually I was using them as a way of controlling my food intake) and I selected restaurants based on their gluten free/sugar free/fun free menus. I would always be the one to book meals out because I could control them.
When I enrolled in the Institute of Integrative Nutrition to become a certified Health Coach I believe it saved me in some way from becoming more and more obsessive about restricting my food. I don't know where my restrictions would have lead me but I don't think it would have been a good place.
We got the chance to study hundreds of different dietary theories and learn from real life experiences. It gave me the confidence to realise that there was no 'one way' that suited everyone and encouraged me to try new things and re-introduce many of the ingredients I had deemed 'evil' and 'bad' in the past.
Where is the fun?
Coming back to the conversation I had with my friend the other day, we ended up discussing all the foods we 'used to' eat when growing up. The days when we didn't worry about what was in them, we didn't obsess over our food, we simply ate what we wanted and when we wanted it and lived life fully and with FUN!
And yes... for me that meant Kit Kat chunkies from the vending machine, it meant bags of salt and vinegar Discos in the car on the way back from a meeting, it meant a smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich from Marks & Spencers and it meant jacket potatoes with cheese and beans at least twice a week!
Nowadays I wouldn't dream of eating any of these things. Kit Kat Chunky... oh no... I can't eat refined sugar. Discos... don't you know how much processing goes into these things? A sandwich... are you KIDDING me, do I look like I have a death wish? And WOAH to the jacket potato... I mean... those things are nuclear!
OK... so genuinely these things probably won't make me feel great, but every now and then would it actually harm me to relax? Would it be so bad to eat a slice of cake that has been made by a friend with actual wheat flour and dare I say it... refined sugar?
Who am I?
What has happened to me? I was the girl that ran a half marathon on wholemeal toast with nutella and peanut butter mixed together!
When did I start to become so stressed out around food that I can't even go for a spontaneous dinner without reading the menu online five times beforehand to know that there was something I 'could' eat?
I haven't written this blog to highlight my slightly strange way of eating at all, it is more to be open and honest with the struggles I have had, and still do, around food. But also to be truthful about the things I have feared to admit incase I get called out, judged or criticized for not being as 'healthy' as I should be!
Green juices... Aren't they the ultimate Health Coach accessory? Isn't every yoga teacher starting their day off with a freshly squeezed, cold pressed vegetable juice? I don't actually have a juicer, in fact I don't actually really like juices all that much.
Supermarkets... Much as I would love to say that all my food comes from a Farmer's market and local producers... I buy most of my groceries in Lidl. I have tried to hide the packaging in any social media because I fear the judgement because it isn't the most sustainable and holistic food source... but it is cost effective, the fruit and vegetables are really good and who doesn't love somewhere that you can buy a steamer/waterproof jacket/dog bed for next to nothing when you do your weekly shop?
Raw food... My body does not love it as much as Instagram does! There are some amazing restaurants out there creating incredible raw food dishes but my stomach tends to rebel against it and I generally come away craving something warm and hearty!
Kale... When you put Kale in a smoothie it genuinely tastes like sh*t... sorry but it does. It makes smoothies grainy and stalky... and that is not OK. It also is horrible to eat raw - your digestion will not thank you for eating raw Kale unless it has been massaged with olive oil, lemon and salt OR cooked in some way.
Chocolate... the other day I ate a bar of chocolate with toasted coconut in it that was only 70 cocoa%... and I felt like I couldn't share the brand with my followers because it had refined sugar and only a moderate cocoa content. It was bloody delicious!
Vegetarian food... As a yoga teacher I feel that I shouldn't eat meat. But in reality my body thrives on animal and fish protein. My body does not thrive on beans and pulses... I have tried and it doesn't end well. I need a good steak every now and then and regular doses of chicken to keep my energy levels up. And bacon... I'm sorry but I love bacon. I have however lessened the quantity of meat I eat and I always make sure that my plate is full of lovely colourful veg. I believe that some people thrive on vegetarian or vegan food, but not mine.
Bread... I went to France recently and ate bread. With every meal in fact, sometimes it wasn't even gluten free and quite often it had slabs of cheese on it. Oh yes... and I ate a croissant. It was divine!
Courgetti... I haven't used my spiraliser in over a year! It is a faff to clean and it has been put in a cupboard that I can't even reach!
I am sharing this because I genuinely believe that some of my perspectives on food have become totally irrational and my fear of not seeming 'perfect' to the outside world has taken so much hold that I am 'hiding' my actual real daily life away like it is some dirty little secret!
I love real food, I like cooking with beautiful ingredients and making things from scratch from whole food not processed junk. I like experimenting with unusal ingredients and checking out healthy restaurants. I like nourishing myself with lots of vegetables and filling my plates with colour.
But I also like cake... and cookies... and red wine... maybe all on the same day sometimes...