Food-Stress Syndrome

For those of you who follow thymes.two on Instagram would know that I study nutrition and am utterly obsessed with anything health and wellbeing related. The nutrition industry is booming with more and more people taking control over their health and wanting to make a difference to the quality of their lives. This is all great. This is exactly what needs to happen in order to reduce Australia’s staggering rates of preventable diseases. I mean seriously, you don’t need to be studying nutrition to know that our country’s food supply and consumption of ‘food like’ products is far from ideal. Crispy potato chips from a packet do not count as a vegetable and just because you use a microwave to heat up your store bought prepackaged dinner does not count as cooking. Just sayin’. 

I am truly grateful for the opportunity to study in the field that interests me the most and for all future possibilities that are ahead of me in my career. I love wellbeing, I really do. I have heard numerous times from people ‘I just want to study what I love’, ‘I just want to find my passion’ etc – I can honestly say that I have found mine. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

However. There is one element bothering me about the whole thing, well quite a huge element really. Information overload.

There is just so much information. So many opinions and ‘expert’ opinions for that matter (and when I say expert I’m referring to those 100k follower instagram fitspo accounts, celebrities and health bloggers that really should not be health bloggers – this is not an attack towards bloggers – there are just a few who really don’t know what they are talking about). So many fads. So much social media. So much confusion. So much comparison, guilt and basically just a whole lot of headaches. Do you get me?

In class the other day we had to debate the statement ‘ignorance is bliss’. I was on the ‘agreement’ side of the debate and one of the ideas that came up in my group was ‘When you really think about it, how much easier would life be if we just didn’t know about any of this food stuff’. We could eat what ever we wanted (within reason and probably still health orientated) and not have the slightest care factor for the foods nutritional breakdown within the body, kilojoule amount and chemical makeup. You see, you would probably be put in the ‘silly’ compartment if you weren’t able to admit that unhealthy food is bad for you however some people just chose to ignore this. They ignore this and they’re probably happy and food-stress free (obviously for the sake of this post, lets assume they are not suffering from any preventable illnesses such as diabetes or obesity..!). I’m sure many of you know someone, family or a friend maybe, that are aware of health and nutrition but don’t really ‘watch’ what they eat. Do they seem food-stress free to you? I think they do.

Now I am not saying this is a good thing. Of course we all need to be health conscious, eating a healthy and nutritious diet filled with an abundance of whole foods and take action to reduce our stress. But with all this misinformation, contradiction and comparison, how do we know what is right anymore? And how can we avoid the food-stress syndrome?

This is what is bothering me. But I am slowly learning how to tackle it. 

Recently as I’ve been scrolling through instagram, reading blog posts, watching documentaries, being in class at uni and reading health books, I’ve started to feel quite stressed and confused. There are literally so many opinions as to what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat that I am struggling to keep up. Paleo, vegan, raw vegan, fruitarian, ketone diet, high carb, bullet proof diet, intermediate fasting, blood-type dieting, macrobiotic diet and the list goes on.

I have to admit though, some of these have intrigued me, and still do.

For example, when I entered into my studies of nutrition I started to tune in to what was working well for my body and what wasn’t. I found that gluten wasn’t really working for me so I slowly made changes to eat gluten free alternatives. Buckwheat and quinoa became my favourites and are now my best buds. I also found dairy wasn’t really all that great for my belly so I stopped with it all together for a while and followed the ‘soy’ trend. Both of these changes lasted for quite some time in my life but after somewhat healing my gut (still in progress), changing where I buy my food and changing my attitude and educating myself on soy, I now eat full fat diary and some gluten grains such as sourdough, rye and oats but only organic, minimally processed and from a trusted source.

Another example, a couple of months ago Mel and I decided to jump on the paleo bandwagon to see what all the fuss was about. It’s focus being on eating a nutrient dense diet based on vegetables, fruits, meats, eggs, nuts and oils and avoiding grains, dairy, legumes and soy (some also avoid nuts and starchy vegetables). This is the diet that apparently was adhered to in palaeolithic times, before the introduction of farming and agriculture in which grains and processing was introduced.This was the diet also eaten before the introduction of preventable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, obesity and even neurological problems. Sounds interesting right?! Well, it did to us anyway.

Despite the potential benefits of this diet (for some), our attempt at it lasted I’d say a week or two. Pathetic I know.

After that little stunt, we went back to eating unrefined gluten free grains and dairy to return back to a state of emotional balance. From this experience, I learnt that restriction doesn’t sit well with me. It creates unnecessary stress (for me) around food and kind of freaks me out.

A month or so after, Mel and I started gaining quite a bit of interest in sustainability, food wastage and basically eating what is best for the planet. I decided to watch the documentary ‘cow spiracy’ plus another one that I can’t remember the name of and I can actually say that I almost did a three-sixty and turned vegetarian. Vegan-ism crossed my mind for a split second but I just couldn’t handle the idea of giving up eggs. I was so traumatised from watching these documentaries that the thought of eating animal products didn’t seem right anymore. I really hit a road block and felt lost.

How could I give up animal products knowing the nutritional benefits behind them? (you see this is where ignorance can be bliss). Some of the most nutritionally dense foods on the planet are largely found in animal products. Salmon, livers and bone broth to name a few. Not being able to ‘un-know’ what I know, I couldn’t just cut these foods out of my diet all together. It just wouldn’t make sense to me. I am studying nutritional medicine after all.

So. what did I do next?

I made a decision to continue eating animal products but only of the best quality I could possibly find. Organic, ethical, cruel free, antibiotic free and sustainable were the words that I searched for at the farmers market and whole food stores. Now I’d like to say that I had been eating organic and ethical meat for quite some time anyway so this wasn’t new to me – it just become even more important.

Despite the stress that I experienced from the continual moral debate I was having with myself, Mel didn’t feel this at all. She didn’t even watch the documentaries and just based on a feeling she felt after having a rather large steak plonked infront of her at a restaurant in Italy, she stopped eating meat. That was it. She said goodbye to sustainable caught fish, organic roast chicken and eye fillet. All of the sudden meat wasn’t just fuel anymore, it was an animal. An animal with feelings that she did not want to eat.

She is now a chickpea, lentil, quinoa and rye toast eating vego and she’s never looked back. We like to cook vegetarian meals together now and I love it!

Vegetarianism sits well with her and I am happy that she is following her gut and living a cruel free life.

I heavily value the nutritional component behind food so vegetarianism doesn’t sit well with me. And that’s okay. It’s all okay.

After my many attempts at following the current food trends, I have now decided to take everything like a pinch of salt (or is it ‘as a pinch of salt’ – who knows). I’ll read the article, watch the clip and read the blog post, but I won’t emotionally engage in it. I won’t let it consume me or let it make me feel guilty for my already highly nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle. Oh I also love yoga and walking. I don’t do cross-fit or run marathons. 

Instead of being all caught up in what diet to follow, I am now only really caught up in where my food comes from and how can I reduce my food wastage. I eat the best quality food I can find from markets and whole food stores. I also eat the whole apple, eat the tip of carrots, buy the less popular cuts of meat and I don’t peel anything.

This also means I eat full fat diary The cafe around the corner from my house uses organic milk. I also eat gluten from time to time I love organic rye sourdough toast with avocado and organic butter mmmm. I eat an abundance of vegetables starchy and non starch, nuts I buy them activated – expensive I know! But I don’t buy ‘superfoods’ so this is how I justify it to myself, oils coconut oil roasted veg are my favourite and olive oil just pretty much on everything, some fruits I love bananas, green apples and berries, dark raw chocolate, coffee and organic red wine I’m a shiraz girl. 

My point being, I have come to a place where I eat all food groups. I don’t follow fads. 

It’s the kind of lifestyle that is working for me right now. Wholefoods a plenty, my beloved daily coffee made with organic milk, red wine whenever I feel like it but only a glass or maybe two, organic chocolate and basically trying my hardest to reduce my food-stress.

I’m entering an industry that I love but also an industry that stresses me out. I have learnt however that this is okay, everything is always okay. You just have to do what works well for you and try your best to live the happiest, healthiest life that you possibly can.

Because we only have one life and who has time for food-stress syndrome?!

But please folks, eat your greens, choose your food carefully and be nice to the planet.

Sarah x

 

 

 

 

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