New year, new me.
Really, are we still going through the same notions as soon as that clock hits 12 on the 31st of January??
The feelings of guilt for the past month of indulgence and enjoyment (yes didn’t we all have a good time), plans of restriction, intentions of sweaty runs in the arctic gales which will be preceded by a bowl of kale with a no-oil dressing, an early bedtime and an early rise only to start it all again.
Because kale is good for me, right?!?
It may sound healthy but that person sure ain’t happy.
2017 should be the year when we realise diets are out the window, and the word balance comes to mind. It’s thrown around a lot these days along with intuitive and mindfulness and I’m sure you use them yourself and have no idea what they really mean.
Intuitive eating is a nutrition philosophy based on the premise that becoming more attuned to the body’s natural hunger signals is a more effective way to attain a healthy weight, rather than keeping track of the amounts of energy and fats in foods.
I must admit, my interest in food and into this whole ‘wellness’ scene started when I came across Deliciously Ella. It was a good few years ago now, and she didn’t have that worldwide status that she’s now achieved. Slowly taking over the world one sweet potato brownie at a time. I didn’t quite see the downside at the time, but decided to follow a diet like hers, basically of just fruit and vegetables, lots of dates and nuts for energy because I was always hungry.
There we have, the first example of an unsustainable way of life.
I used to beat myself up about why my meals never looked as amazing as hers (and other fellow Insta health gurus) why my skin wasn’t glowing and why I wasn’t a happy person with a smile plastered on my face.
I’m not against Deliciously Ella at all, I think what she has done for the UK and almost the rest of the world is a really good thing. making more of us aware that we need more fruit and vegetables in our lives, and a good slice of avo on toast of course. I just think it can be quite dangerous for many people if they start to cut things out of their diets unnecessarily. Ella has written many posts about how her lifestyle isn’t the ‘be all and end all’ although some people don’t seem to understand that still. But even her food choices has changed over the years, at the very beginning she was extremely strict, avoiding things like rye and spelt, eggs and fish, whereas now she uses rye bread almost daily, eggs are used in the pancakes in The Mae Deli, and she has admitted to eating fish occasionally, soon to be followed up by hoards of angry followers shaming and guilt tripping her.
It’s this part of the wellness community that I hate. One persons’ food choices shouldn’t be shamed by anyone. Whether you’re vegan, flexitarian, pescetarian, vegetarian, meatarian, fruitarian, whatever other ‘arian’ you may be, that’s your life you’re leading and the choices you make are for you. Nobody else.
As long as you’re healthy, have no vitamin or mineral deficiencies and can live your life full of energy nourished from the fuel you give it, that’s A OK.
Back to January and the wave of diet fads and abstaining from alcohol we all feel pressured to partake in. Number one why? It’s cold, we’re back at work and its a whole 12 months till Christmas comes around again. Also the only time when watching elf wrapped in your duvet becomes acceptable (i.e. not in the middle of summer). In winter, we’re supposed to be laying on a little extra fat as insulation to shield us from the dropping temperatures. Big hearty meals should be celebrated: steaming stews, soups, pies, a nice bit of molten cheesy goo is welcome and some stodge in the form of a good ‘ol potato is always on the menu. Use this furnace from the inside to power up for a bracing walk out in nature. Move your body around, do whatever you fancy whether it be dancing in your knickers, going to the gym or a gentle jog round the park. As long as you enjoy it that’s all that matters.
One thing I love about my mum is how realistic she is. While the majority of adults are on a dry January, she has a dry November (with an exception for drinks at the weekend and whenever we have pasta red wine is a must). No it’s not completely perfect but every year she follows it through and even my dad joins in. All in all they end up drinking much less than usual. Her thoughts are that January is pretty depressing, as I’ve already mentioned before, so supplementing it with a ban on alcohol is just plain wrong. We need a bit of the hard stuff to make it through to the end unscathed. November is the time when we’re starting to get excited about the festive period, so why not stop drinking and save a bit of money to either spend on a loved one or as a special gift for yourself, after all you deserved it.
So back to January. 2017. That’s right, but doesn’t it sound so wrong. Out with the diets and in with all round wellbeing, trying to be a bit healthier, but still enjoy the sweet things in life. Whether that’s a daily square of chocolate, a glass of vino with your meal, a bowl of apple crumble and steaming custard. Seriously what is wrong with that?!
By depriving yourself, it’s only human nature that you will end up craving more of the forbidden fruits and face plant into a tin of Quality Street.
So say no to restriction, no to cutting out whole food groups, your friends may be singing and dancing about a new diet they’re on and how amazing they feel, but are they feeling the same a few weeks down the line? I highly doubt it. Enjoy things in moderation, eat every meal, no feelings of guilt and learn to love yourself. It’s a hell of a lot easier to say than to do (I’m struggling but it’s one of my aims to improve on this year).
Read this piece by Laura Thomas on learning to respect our eating habits, enjoying our food and a big fat NO to diet culture.
I always like to follow the same principles, loads of veggies, a bit of meat or fish if I fancy it just not every day, protein with every meal typically in the form of nuts, beans, lentils, tofu (I’m attempting to learn to like it), organic full fat dairy, healthy fats like olive oil and rapeseed oil, avocados, olives and a variety of whole grains. Not forgetting my favourite indulgences of a thick wad of butter on sourdough, cheese, wine, dark chocolate, and a big fat pudding and custard, they make me happy and make me human. This is what works for me and we are all different so listen to your bodies and when you get a pang for that sticky toffee pudding HAVE IT!
So lets all celebrate this new year, new experiences and people are awaiting. Start with a bang by enjoying some fresh air, making tasty heart warming food and spending it with friends and family. That sounds a hell of a lot better to me than going on 6:30am runs in the rain and eating an iceberg lettuce salad for lunch, which one sounds healthier to you?
Much love, wishes and warmth sent for this January. Don’t worry it’s nearly Summer!