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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