There is this thought out there that there are good and bad foods. Right and wrong. One diet is better than the other.
Is this true, or is this just a cultural phenomenon right now because of all of the new diets that come out so frequently?
Animal foods are bad for you, next it is carbs.
I can remember when I believed that all- yes ALL- animal foods were toxic and to be avoided. I went into starvation mode, even though I was eating quite a lot of whole grains, vegetables, sprouted, green, fermented and living foods. And yes, loads of tofu.
Many of my clients have been there too, only they usually add a lot of sugar into that blend. The vegan diet creates protein deficiency and therefore creates pretty strong sugar cravings for people in many cases.
Then there is the no carb diet which tends to make people crave, well carbs!
Many will argue with me that people are doing a particular diet wrong and that is why there are cravings. I do not think this is true.
I think there is no one diet for everyone all of the time that works. We have to eat from all food groups to be nourished and satisfied. There is so much diet advice in this country at this time that many will swing from one diet to the next. Some are better than others, that much is true but all usually leave out an entire macronutrient group that is essential to health.
It’s like we are constantly throwing the baby out with the bath water in a desperate attempt to take off excess weight. But the most important question is about why we have gained weight in the first place. Is it from dieting? From stress? From over-eating? From eating junk foods too often? From poor lifestyle habits?
The impetus to go on some kind of restrictive diet- in any direction whether from vegan to paleo can be problematic if we don’t address the real causes of issues with food. Long term dieting tends to create a belief that you can’t eat anything. If I could count in dollars how many times my clients have told me, “but I can’t eat anything anymore” I would be a very wealthy woman indeed.
So what is going on when we think in terms of “good” and “bad” and start to fear food? Chronic hunger and dieting (as well as the inevitable binges) comes next in my experience working with people.
Needing to rely on will-power is often the tell tale sign of this way of thinking. It goes something like this.
“I can’t have it, so I must have it.”
“I can’t eat what I really want, so I will force myself to eat salads and smoothies until I just can’t take it anymore!”
I say scrap all of this and stop being the food police with yourself. It doesn’t work anyway so why bother with the suffering of it all?
Here is what works.
Eating real foods most of the time. What is real? Whatever doesn’t come in a box usually and that doesn’t have a long ingredient list on a label. I say “most” of the time because it doesn’t have to be perfect to work. I don’t think most people will entirely switch over to a whole foods diet and cook all of their meals themselves and don’t have to. What if we could do a lot more of it though and swing the scales from processed to whole even 50% more? It get’s easier as people see a difference and feel better I’ve noticed.
Eating from all macronutrient groups; protein, fats and carbs. I am talking about animal protein and animal fats too here and not just the popular omega 3’s we hear so much about. For carbs, I do think including whole grains is important for most people. There are those who can’t tolerate grains, but this can often be due to gut imbalance that needs healing, or from eating foods that are overly processed for too long, not a problem with all grains. There is great debate about this I know, but aren’t what we all are really talking about here is the extreme over-use of processed wheat in our culture and processed sugar?
Eat for your specific needs. What are they? Find out by working with a professional holistic nutritionist and listen to your own body. Needs change dependent upon stress, activity levels and food sensitivities to name a few reasons. This is where knowing if and what grains you can tolerate becomes important.
Speaking of food sensitivities, heal your gut and watch as many food sensitivities clear up. Again, working with a qualified holistic nutritionist can help in knowing specifically how to do this. Parasites, dysbiosis (imbalance of gut bacteria and candida overgrowth) as well as low stomach acid contribute greatly to digestive problems.
Eat regular meals with all macronutrient groups- leave none out. You can vary the type, for example instead of oats use quinoa or rice, or even sweet potato but do not leave the carb out unless there are health reasons to.
Do not skip the first meal of the day, and definitely don’t eat something sweet first thing in the day.
Eat some raw fermented foods or beverages daily for digestive health.
Eating alkaline foods and drink alkaline water. However, staying “alkaline” isn’t just about what water you drink and foods you take in but stress levels, toxicity, infections, inflammation, and gut health. It’s not all as simple as it looks through diet alone. I have noticed that alkaline water can be the one thing that can really create dramatic shifts for many even without changing diet however. If you can’t get alkaline water include alkaline vegetable broths into your life. You will be amazing how healing and tasty these can be. Recipes coming soon.
Enjoy your food and don’t criticize what you do choose to eat. Just enjoy and give thanks. The chronic negative thinking is a downward spiral when it comes to food and tends to contribute to not only over-eating but binges. Let it go. Love what you do choose!
(I always joke that I love twizzlers, which brings a shock to fellow nutritionist’s faces. Oh my god! She’s gone to the dark side! Whatever I say. I hardly ever want them, even when they are right in front of me. It is no big deal to me. I can eat whatever I want, therefore I usually am not interested in them or other “bad” evil processed foods or sweets. I also follow all of the above most of the time so don’t crave sugar.)
Be present when eating.
Address stress, and old negative thinking about body image and food.
Address metabolism issues if you have been dieting for a long time and restricting food, then binging on processed sugar and foods. There is a place for this and a qualified nutritionist can help you recover relatively quickly. But there is a warning required here: you will have to eat more, not less.
Address hormone imbalance, digestive health and chronic illnesses as well and if possible do a professionally guided detox or cleanse once per year.
Get in touch with your body and get intuitive with your own needs. Though this takes practice, it’s worth it and you deserve to make your own food rules! Listen to what satisfies, nourishes and leaves you feeling joyful instead of addicted and hungover afterwards. If you are starving or unsatisfied after eating maybe there is something missing. Be willing to change what you think you know and listen to your own bodies’ wisdom.
Notice I am not saying what not to eat in any of this really? Why is that? Because when you eat this way there is no need to be the food police with yourself. Cravings diminish. It just works.
How do I know? Hundreds of women can’t be wrong. I didn’t make this stuff up.
I no longer need “rules” like the “90%” rule I used to have (eating whole and natural 90% of the time or more) because I’ve thrown the map out.
I now know the territory and it is love and peace.
Bonus points for eating local, seasonal and locally grown organic produce and animal products.
Wanting love and peace with food and your body?