Lay off on the foodshaming

Disclaimer: I’m not an actual dietitian and everything I say here is from personal experience, if you want expert advice, this is not the place to be.

I love food. I love cooking and baking, baking in particular. I was really pleased with how my Halloween bat cookies (picture on my Instagram) turned out and anyone who bakes will probably understand how seeing a finished cake or batch of cookies that turned out really well can be a huge mood boost. But I also like being healthy, feeling healthy, and being able to do things like go on a three week expedition to Zambia, so finding a happy meduim between the two is something I’ve always striven for. A way of combining lots of good (some of it sugary) food with a healthy lifestyle that goes beyond eating quinoa and kale and posing with coconut water. I don’t even like coconut water. So I’ve watched a fair few food documentaries and kept up with some of the new research on how much water you should really drink, or how carbs are allegedly killing you with every mouthful. And there is a lot of conflicting advice; particularly when the vegans get involved. You almost have to study nutrition yourself to find out what’s actually good for you and half the challenge of having a balanced diet is figuring out who to believe.

Stressing about your health can actually bad for you and it makes you wonder if it’s even worth it. I, personally, am not vegan or even vegetarian, despite all the supposed health benefits of those lifestyles, and I don’t care much for super foods. All I really have to say is that a 100% meat or even a 80% meat diet is not the healthiest way to live your life, but equally, eating meat isn’t some kind of death sentence. Really. And if you come here with ‘meat is murder’ slogans then I have no time for you, it’s manipulative and counterproductive and misses the fact that maintaining a strict vegetarian diet is hard for most people who are not middle class. Seriously, there are meat products in everything. So I refused to get drawn into the never ending food arms race and stuck with my gut. Quite literally. I have intermittent acid reflux and it’s impacted by certain kinds of food so, naturally, I have to monitor what I eat, if only slightly. I can’t have big, fatty meals and fried or spicy foods make me feel nauseous. KFC makes me want to die. Now that’s one experience I never want to repeat. But just as I listen to my body when it comes to eating spicy or fried food, I do the same for everything else. If I change my diet and it makes me feel unwell, no matter how wonderful and life changing that particular diet is supposed to be, I’ll change what I’m eating until I feel better. It’s that simple. And not to brag but I’m a pretty damn healthy weight and I don’t look so bad if I say so myself.

Of course some rules hold true for everyone, you need to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, with an emphasis on the veg and drink water. How much water is dependent on how much physical exercise you do in a day and the kind of climate you live in, but my baseline is about two litres. And pure water is best but if all you can stand is sports drinks and fruit juice then just make sure you drink something, there’s also a lot of water in fruits like watermelon. Stay hydrated. Sugar is probably the only food group that we don’t actually need to eat (carbs are a bit complicated but I’ll leave off on that), but I’ll be the first to admit it still tastes great. Just, eat it in moderation, as always. But other demons of the food world, things like fat, are important to have in your diet, no matter how terrible all those weight loss shows make it out to be. Again, consume in moderation. My point is, eating well isn’t nearly as impossible as it might seem; if you base your diet around fresh veg, stay hydrated, listen to your body and, of course, exercise, you can’t go far wrong.

If I sound a bit preachy here please know that wasn’t my intention, food and health is something I think about a lot and I wanted to share my thoughts.

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The Right to Understand

I have a lot of time for Naomi Klein, which is saying something because these days my standard reaction to anyone trying to speak about politics is usually scorn and derision, because they’re usually spouting total rubbish. But Naomi Klein, she talks sense, and it’s backed up by fact. I’m a physicist, I can’t help it, I’m a sucker for good evidence. But more importantly than anything, she doesn’t just deliver the bad news, she offers a solution. Not a cure. Not a panacea. Not a key to any utopia. Because there are no perfect worlds, some people, no matter the society they live in, will lie, cheat, and steal, but not nearly as many people as you might think. I call myself a misanthrope. Not so much these days but I’ve had always had a tendency towards, lets say, a lack of faith in humankind. But I’m optimistic, when empowered with knowledge and the agency to control their own futures, people can be a force for good. And a powerful one. Which is why what people like Naomi Klein and Owen Jones are doing is so important, granting people the right to understand.

It was almost exactly a year ago when I first picked up No Logo, the story of how that happened a whole other blog post, and my perception of the world has shifted so dramatically I’m not sure if I would recognise myself. I won’t lie, the change in perspective hasn’t been an entirely happy one, it’s set me at odds with my parents, though that’s not too unusual, and more recently, some of my closest friends. I might even say that it worsened my depression, but despite all of that I’m still following this lead, having devoured every book on neo-liberalism, free markets and corporatism I could get my hands on and done my fair share of yelling at the TV, I suddenly have something real, concrete to believe in. Not something as abstract as free speech, or ‘equality’, whatever interpretation of those words is being discussed at any given moment. I believe in people. I believe in real democracy, not the version we’re being force fed at the moment. And, more importantly, I believe in myself. And that’s a right so many people have so long been denied, the right to understand the world they live in, and feel a part of it.

I suppose this is one of those Power to the People moments, I’m not telling you to go read Naomi Klein’s books, or any books at all if you don’t want to. Though I will recommend No Logo and the more recently published No is Not Enough, if you’re interested. But I am asking you to listen with a critical ear, demand evidence, from everyone, even the people fighting your battles, because in the end lies and deceit in your favour, is still lies and deceit. And I won’t stand for it.

Pain as a philosopher’s muse

I’ve messed up my shoulder, not sure how, but it’s making a whole load of things harder to do and is causing me a bunch of pain and hassle. I should be fine in a few days but that’s not really the point; my cello, a rather large investment, that I do actually adore despite appearances, is sat next to me as I type, and I can’t play it. Now I’ll be the first admit that I haven’t always played a lot, but that’s because I’m a lazy, procrastinating generally despondent person, not because I don’t love the instrument; but now I can’t play, I’ve wanted to so bad in my life. Stupid, am I right? And I can’t do many of the other things that I love either, I can’t really write and even cross-stitch caused me pain, typing this isn’t particularly comfortable so I’ll try to keep this brief. But I had to get down how this injury reminded me of something, something else that keeps me from doing the things I love on a day to day basis.

I’m not lazy. Not really. I’m depressed. And constantly fatigued, and occasionally crushed under the weight of unnecessary schoolwork. I’d love to finish my first novel, to actually get my writing out there like my mother keeps telling me to, but I’m exhausted, and battling a world that doesn’t want me to be like I am. It’s a wonder that I’ve achieved what I have. For one thing, I’m still alive. But you don’t get a medal for surviving. It’s a constant source of frustration because nobody wants to do nothing with their life, everybody wants to leave a mark on the world, even if it’s just a footprint in the sand.

Depression. Mental illness. It’s the shoulder pain that never goes away, but we’re expected to wait literal years for help and soldier on through, suck it up and just try harder. I’m trying harder. I’m typing through the pain. We’re all trying to climb a seemingly insurmountable mountain and we’re doing our best.

But lord is it difficult.

Just so you know

So, uh, my apologies that this has taken so long. This blog is a new responsibility for me and I’m not used to it. Hence the lack of regular posts, or posts at all. but I promise that once I’ve got a feel for what I want to talk about and when, I’ll establish a regular post schedule. Be patient with me. As of now the blog does not have any particular theme, one may yet develop organically, we’ll see. I aim to post about all sorts of things, books I think you might find interesting (particularly books on ASD because I personally seem to struggle to find ones that are actually true to life), if I bake as I so love doing, I’ll post a picture and the recipe I used. If you’re interested I can post the poetry I write from time to time; but equally, I’m not going to shy away from politics. If something happens in the news, I’m going to want to say my piece. If that’s likely to offend you, let it be known that you were warned. Whilst I’m also open to discussion, just don’t be rude. That’s all for now. Hopefully I’ll see you soon.

Introductions

There’s a lot to be said for experiencing new things, but what’s sorely underappreciated is the benefits of seeing old things from a new perspective. The world is a big place, full of different people living different lives, and here you can hear all about the trials and tribulations of a book-loving, creative, little bit odd writer who happens to be studying physics.