I love January. It’s the start of the new year (I’ve only recently stopped thinking in academic years! It’s funny how long it takes to break that mental habit), a time to reset and ease into new goals and intentions.
And I love all the television programmes about weight loss on right now (my version of car crash TV) and on the flip side, the many articles imploring people to love who they are and not fall into the trap of faddy diets (all good stuff!).
Gisele’s personal chef, Allen Campbell, recently spoke about the way he cooks for her and her husband, the football player, Tom Brady. No sugar, no dairy, no wheat, no caffeine, no nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants), no MSG. Their diet actually sounds amazing and #real talk: my mouth was watering as I read about what their chef prepares for them to eat. However, once this interview hit the mainstream press, predictably, there were cries of ‘a little bit of what you fancy‘ and ‘moderation is the best approach’.
I see it in a different way. Not only are their bodies their living, they have a clear sense of what works and what doesn’t work for them from a nutritional perspective. Why should they eat cake or cheese if they know these foods don’t make them feel great? Fame aside, any sensible person would avoid the foods that make them feel ill.
For all the preaching about moderation, if bread makes you bloated and tired or dairy gives you acne, don’t eat it. Bloating, fatigue and acne are your body’s way of telling you that it’s not responding well to what you’re putting into it. The pleasure of eating should ideally last from the moment of anticipation when you first put the food into your mouth through to the lovely feeling of satiety when you’ve finished the meal. If there’s a disconnect, then the pleasure becomes bittersweet, doesn’t it? I love eating ice cream, but it’s just not worth the hours I’ll spend afterwards running back and forth to the loo.
Is there a middle ground? I believe it really all depends on you and the type of person you are. There is no one-sized fits all solution to nutrition and everyone needs to figure out the best solution for them, based on their needs, lifestyle and goals.
What kind of person are you, nutritionally? It seems that there are abstainers and there are moderators. Some people find it easier to give something up altogether (me! I have to completely avoid wheat and sugar for my health, even through I love them both so, so much) and some people would rather have the option of moderation – having cheese once a month, for example – to help them manage their diet and cravings. There are also people who can completely abstain from one food, like sugar, but can moderate other foods and drinks like coffee and tea. Everyone is so different.
I would like to say there is a right way and a wrong way, but nutritional approaches are so individual and ultimately it’s important to take a long-term view, i.e. what kind of person are you and what approach is going to help you manage your diet in a healthy way for the next 5, 10 and 15 years.
And get rid of the guilt. Enjoy the food you do eat and find pleasure in the making and eating of your meals. I like what Anna Jones has to say about this.
What’s your nutrition style? Are you an abstainer or a moderator?