Wednesday, 11 May 2016
Why My Diet is Not Perfect and I Am Healthier As A Result
I have been playing with the idea of posting this for a long time. I have started the post and deleted it, banishing it to the black cyber hole where countless unfinished and unloved posts go to die.
Mostly because of a fear of losing credibility.
For fear of arrest by the Paleo police.
For fear of going against my deeply ingrained need to strive for perfection. That if I wasn't "perfect" I was somehow failing. Failing not only in nutrition but also as a Nutritional Therapist.
But now I am ready. I am ready to admit that yes I promote Paleo nutrition and living, the power of good nutrition and the healing properties of healthy eating. I promote that food can be both medicine and poison. However, I am NOT perfect. My diet is not 100% Paleo. I sometimes eat chips. I sometimes eat cake. And I definitely like chocolate.
And. That. Is. Ok.
I have been following a Paleo lifestyle for the past 5 years now. I am as passionate about it now as I have ever been. I have changed my life as a result of this lifestyle, retrained in Nutrition, left my job and started my own business. I learned the tools to ensure I promote health for my family, something which will hopefully never be lost on them. As a result of finding this great lifestyle I learned the importance of breastfeeding for the health of my baby (now 9 months and still going strong) and the importance of good gut health and nutrition in preventing illness. My family are rarely sick thankfully and I credit finding Paleo nutrition with all of that.
However in recent months I have found myself stressed about food. I felt I couldn't eat anything which was not strictly Paleo or I was in some way failing and a bad example. I felt I had to beat myself up if I decided to have a piece of porridge bread, ate some hummus or heaven forbid I have a slice of my husband's birthday cake. I felt that if I was out meeting friends I couldn't have a gluten free muffin for fear of judgement. I felt like if I did decide to taste my husband's dessert I had to make sure no one recognised me! I felt I couldn't satisfy my breastfeeding induced sweet tooth with 85% chocolate.
Since when did organic high cocoa chocolate have to instil guilt? It doesn't. I had created that guilt all on my own. I found myself feeling a little down about it all. Felt my passion dwindle a little. I understood how clients sometimes feel when I provide them with a protocol they may struggle with. I know this isn't a unique circumstance. Many people do my 30 Day Challenge (a 100% Paleo Challenge) and do fantastically only to feel like they are failing constantly afterwards by eating things off plan. As a result they end of giving up altogether, feeling they have somehow failed the whole protocol. I realised it was time to STOP!
Something clicked lately for me. Maybe it was talking to friends about it. Maybe I just stopped putting so much damn pressure on myself. Whatever it was I am grateful I reached this conclusion. I don't need to be perfect. No one is perfect. And if they say they are they are probably lying.
Does this mean I go around eating white ham sandwiches spread with margarine followed by a plate of chips and ketchup and daily muffins? No. I know the only person who would be negatively impacted by that would be me. I would merely be kidding myself. What I am trying to achieve is BALANCE.
I have adopted a healthier approach to eating. Instead of constantly trying to aim for perfection and the 100% I struggled with for so long I am aiming for 80% "good" with room for items off plan. And I actually feel healthier. Stressing over perfection probably does more harm than any diet so it is important not to allow nutrition to become another stressor!
Of course it is important to remember that if you are in healing protocol being strict IS important in the short term. While you work on gut healing and allowing your body to address any underlying issues. But in time you may be able to reintroduce these foods with no ill effect.
I have no underlying issues thankfully.
It is also so important to remember that everyone's nutrition is very unique. Some people do fine with dairy. Others are perfectly fine with legumes. And you know what? It is actually ok to put them in your diet if you feel good on them and you have no ill effects. Yes, even if they are not Paleo!
Diet should not be rigid. It should be unprocessed, clean and healthy. But it need not be rigid.
Take that Paleo Police!