I began studying nutrition wanting to know more about my gut and how I could better advocate for my own health with all the conflicting information floating around. But when it came time to learn what protocols were needed to promote healing for my clients, I was hesitant and became pretty turned off. The idea of clean eating, restriction, expensive supplements, diets and cleanses doesn't jive with me.
But something still drew me in, made me compelled to learn more about why our bodies fall into disease and illness and what alternatives we have to fight against these things. Because I think it's really important to have options when it comes to our health and be educated on what's really going on. It's important to understand the role food plays in our wellbeing and what tools are out there to support a holistic view of health.
But I knew deep down that I would never be able to tell clients to adopt a strict diet if I refused to do the same. I can't authentically preach the idea of clean eating (whatever that means) because I'm never willing to cut out the joys of pizza and happy hours from my life.
And I've tried.
My first introduction into holistic healthcare came from 6 months of a strict allergy elimination diet to figure out what foods I was intolerant to. A diet that normally lasts 3 weeks was given to me with no end date in sight, cutting out gluten, dairy, soy, night shades, alcohol, caffeine, cashews, corn and on and on the list went. I was very much all or nothing in this diet, and refused to stray as I waited for my digestive symptoms to go away entirely.
In retrospect I know that this diet gave my gut time to heal, and I'm very thankful for that. But on the other hand it also created an intense need for control, putting foods into good and bad categories in my mind. I know this control did more harm than good when, after 6 months of restriction, I snapped and binged on all the 'bad' foods I wasn't allowed.
Because restricting food is NO FUN. Summer BBQ's without your favourite foods on the grill? A birthday celebration without the cake? A late night pizza craving without the pizza? No. Fun.
We love to use food as something we've earned after a long workout or a week of 'being good' when it comes to our food choices. It makes us feel crazy and out of control, like eating a piece of dessert means our diet is now shot and we may as well devour the whole thing so we can try again tomorrow.
Restricting yourself isn't caring for yourself. If self care is eating healthy, vibrant foods, then self care is also honouring your cravings. Honouring your cravings by eating any and all foods that make you feel joy, community, celebration, comfort or just sane.
And this culture of restriction is everywhere; even when we think we're steering clear of those messages they've become impossible to avoid:
Fast food restaurants include the calorie count next to their menu items.
There's woman-focused advertising used to sell low-calorie beers.
There's ice cream marketed as guilt-free because of the reduced calories pasted on the front label.
Social media is flooded with 'before and after' images to celebrate weight loss.
It's everywhere. And this means we're constantly being subjected to a message of food being something we should feel guilty about. But hey, guess what!? It's not!
And not just because I said so, but because deep down you know so too. How boring would life be if we live it feeling perpetually guilty about eating certain foods!?
And I say this to you because it's something I frequently remind myself. It's not easy to accept this message when we've been told to feel the opposite. But isn't it a little freeing to know that it's okay to feel guilt once you recognize it, but it's also okay to give yourself permission to just eat? And not feel the need to over analyze it all.
The way I see it, if your body is craving some green things, eat the green things. If your body is craving some sweet things, eat those too. It's all about eating intuitively, and this is something I've been exploring more and more as a nutritionist, as a human and as an eater.
If this resonates with you and you have questions, thoughts, concerns please reach out! Send me an email and let's work through some stuff, together.