Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Let Food Be Thy Medicine.

When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. 
When diet is right, medicine is of no need.
- Ancient Ayurvedic Proverb.

The older I get, the more I realise how important it is to choose the right food to fuel my body. As the years go by, it gets harder to drop weight, easier to succumb to injury, harder to recover afterwards. It takes longer to build fitness, less time to lose tone, and greater are the effects of gravity.

Also, adding insult to injury, it seems that many of the foods I have always taken for granted as being part of a normal, everyday diet now cause unwanted and uncomfortable reactions. My pregnancy with Brannen, particularly, left me more sensitive than ever to lactose, for example.

You all know how much I love food. I love to cook, I love playing with new ingredients, creating dishes and flavours and memories. However, over the past few months, I have cooked less. I have felt uninspired. The kids' lunchboxes have not been filled with wholesome home cooking like they used to be. The evening meals have often been a throw-together affair nearly void of passion for good ingredients.

Part of the problem for me has been marrying the food ethics I have been carefully shaping for myself (and continue to do so, as I read more and more and talk with different people) with other priorities, such as the desire to lose some weight, or my love of sweet baked goods, or my hankering for iced coffee. 
When I think of losing weight, I think of the 'nutritional experts' advice' that has been drummed into me - low fat, higher carb than protein, a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. I have lost weight this way before - by counting points and eating low fat (but often higher in sugar and 'numbers') foods. However, my food journey has brought me to the point where I no longer feel comfortable eating low fat foods. I am a whole foods girl, and I am not okay with how low fat foods become low fat, or what is added back in place of the fat. 
When I think of warm baked goods straight from the oven, I think about all the varying forms of sweeteners, and how more and more research is suggesting that fructose is not only seriously overused, but could be responsible for obesity and a bunch of other nasties. I think about my own experiments with forgoing sweeteners, and how much better I feel, physically and mentally, when they are not a part of my diet. I think about the availability of sweeteners in our local environment, and how much processing and transport is required to get them to our table (honey aside). I think about wheat, and how it makes me feel bloated and heavy, and sluggish and vague. How much of our diet relies on that crop of wheat!! 
When I think about how my body reacts well to meat, that leads me to think about how reducing our meat intake can be one of the biggest ways we as individuals can reduce our environmental impact. I think about all the issues surrounding a carnivorous/omnivorous diet, and my own value of only eating local, grassfed, preferably organic meat (which is an expensive way to eat meat!)

So, what, then, do I eat? This question has been niggling away at me for a couple of months. I read, I read some more..... one blog clicks into another... one person's research is debunked by another's.... it becomes an impossible quest to find a settling place, where my soul meets my stomach perfectly. Add into all of this that food is a social medium, and entertaining in a healthy, ethical way is more challenging again, and it all begins to feel too hard.

I revisit my heroes. My food gurus, whose advice and philosophy I know to be sound. Jude Blereau, the queen of wholefood cooking. Sally Fallon, whose commonsense approach and skepticism of modern day nutrition/dietetics I find refreshing. Lesh Karan (The Mindful Foodie), who reassures me that I can eat in a way that nourishes my body as well as respecting the Earth. Jo Whitton (Quirky Jo), a fellow Thermomix owner, who wades through the territory of multiple food intolerances to provide good, wholesome meals for her large family. I learn from the principles of Weston Price and, following on from there, from blogs such as The Nourishing Gourmet.

I listen to my body. I learn more and more everyday about what my body is trying to tell me. I go a few days without eating a particular ingredient, then when I eat it again, I take notice of what happens. I don't assume that it is normal to feel uncomfortable, or headache-y, or tired. I also listen to my body when it is feeling good. I learn that protein in the morning keeps me going, makes me feel clearer and more energetic throughout the day. I learn that eating no sugar or gluten reduces my bloating and clears my skin.

I am no expert. I am not even an expert on my own body. I am learning to listen, and that is more than I have ever given myself. I beat myself up, and feel depressed when I eat the wrong things. But I try to remind myself that this is a journey, and every mistake teaches me something new, if I take the time to listen. Being on holidays is a time of indulgence, and I have to be careful not to get too caught up in feeling guilty about what is going into my body. I look forward to returning to my kitchen with a fresh mind and some post-holiday inspiration, and cooking good food. I try to remind myself that the number on the scales is not a reflection of who I am as a person, just a gentle reminder to make sure that I am fueling my body in good, wholesome ways. I get excited about learning more ways to cook delicious, dairy-free, gluten-free, naturally sweetened food, and I look forward to feeling the benefits of such a way of eating.


  1. I like this Nicole! I encourage you to continue doing what works for YOU, not what other people, doctors, media, health experts say, as ive realised, I dont think they always know what theyre talking about! I eat what makes sense to me. Unrefined, unprocessed and nourashing. And If I put on weight because I am fueling my body with nourshing fats, who says thats a bad thing? The media and 'health professionals' but what do they know! The fact that I feel so healthy eating the way I do, and know people who continue to follow advice about low fat, refined 'health' foods, who day after day still complain of the same health issues shows me that maybe thats not right after all, and we should be thinking for ourselves, that food has been given to us to nourish us. The focus should not be on weight loss, but health! I grew up on a farm with my grandparents eating eggs we found that morning, loads of bacon, cheese,fatty meat, not trimmed of fat, raw milk, homemade treats that were not packaged but made with real igredients, vegies and fruit picked from the farm and fresh bread. I am trully greatful, and that is how I try to eat now, the way my grandparents brought me up!

  2. Taz, that little bubba of yours is truly blessed. Looking forward to hearing the news. Looks like he's holding out for Aunty Mezz!!

  3. Firstly, just wanted to say thank you for your lovely comment. Secondly, I love this post! I've thought so many of these very same things before. I used to be low fat obsessed from my teens to my late twenties. But I would never go back to that now. It can be hard to eat ethically, to afford it and to have the energy required to keep up a good wholefood type diet. But one that is worth it I do believe. Then there is the meat vs vegetarian and soy or no soy and dairy or no dairy to mention a few of the debates. I'm trying to incorporate more wholefoods, eat less sugar, but I won't give up dairy or small portions of meat several times a week. I think it's a constant journey and learning process. Though I carry a few extra kilos than I did, I think it's because I eat more because "proper" food tastes so much better.
    Look forward to seeing how you go.

  4. Thankyou for this post. I have been struggling through trying to find the best way to feed my children, whilst having a son who is failure to thrive, daughter with eczema, and another son who is a little left of centre, which way do we turn? who is correct? I really dont know but we just have to do what we can. We are trying to eat as little processed food as possible, trying to provide the snacks without baking using flour I have found the hardest.
    All my friends think I have slightly lost the plot but thats ok. You should see their faces when they notice the soap nuts in my laundry.
    Its nice to know Im not the only one struggling with it, and I am really enjoying reading through your blog.

    1. Hi Michelle,
      Its such a big part of our lives, isn't it, what we feed ourselves and our families?? And so many ways to go about it, its little wonder it can feel overwhelming. I think I have found my groove since writing this, I am planning on doing a follow up post soon.
      For the record, soap nuts are cool.
      Glad you are enjoying my blog and have a merry Christmas.


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