I’ve read a really good article this morning about the latest trend for “clean eating” and it really struck a chord with me.
As you know I have been having tummy troubles for a while and after all the investigations and “that” procedure I was declared allergy and intolerance free – I just have a sluggish constitution which needs to be controlled with medication. Whilst I was going through the tests, I read a bit about intolerances and looked at diets to help alleviate the symptoms in case I needed to go down this road. I am glad I didn’t. As much as I would like to be able to regulate my issues without the need for medication (or not have the issue at all!), I am glad that I don’t have to remove an entire food group from my life.
Over the years I have been on numerous, varied diets. I went on my first diet aged 14 – the Rosemary Conley Hip and Thigh diet. I wasn’t fat, I have always been tall and well covered, never skinny. But at 14 I felt huge and my mum, bless her, agreed to help me lose some weight. She has always yo-yo’d and we embarked on this first foray together. It was the start of a long and never-ending journey of losing weight. Not just with Rosemary: Weight Watchers, Slimming World (both more than once), online plans with supermarkets, fad diets from books (Eat Yourself Slim, Atkins, GI, Fasting), juicing. The list goes on and on.
What I have learned from all of this is that there is no quick-fix. Yes, it’s possible to lose 7 pounds in a week from drinking green juice or from eating cabbage soup. But this is short lived and not a long-term, sustainable way of life.* (* for most people – some people are very good at long-term and I applaud them, but the majority of us mere mortals are susceptible to a piece of cake or a bacon sandwich). What I have learned is that as quickly as a person can lose 7 pounds, they can put it back on again,plus a bit more. For example, last week, I made a concerted effort to curb my eating and lost 1.5lb. Great. But then I went to a food fair and have put back on the 1.5lb plus another 1lb. I suppose I should look at it that at least I had lost the bit beforehand so the “damage” wasn’t so great as it could have been.
What I have started to become quite sick of is this idea that unless you are gluten free; sugar free; fat free; meat free; you are not healthy or “clean”. Surely it is possible to eat a bacon sandwich (brown bread thank you, fat cut off the bacon) without feeling “guilty”. Surely it is possible to have a diet (and by this I mean a way of eating day to day and not a fad) that incorporates all of the things that you love but, by eating them moderately, still be healthy. We all know that eating a slice of cake EVERY day is not a good idea; that eating a bag of Haribo every night is probably not sensible; that eating fresh fruit and veg as often as you can is good for you; and that processed meats and ready meals should be eaten only infrequently. So, why are we being told that we have to shun carbs and only eat spiralised courgette instead? Surely, if you have a small bowl of pasta with a tomato based sauce once a week it won’t kill you? Or make you the size of a small elephant? Yes, I totally advocate the campaign to reduce sugar in everyday foods, and am a bit of a sugar-Nazi where my kids are concerned, ensuring they have low-sugar cereals and drinks, etc. But they still have cake now and then. Cake that my 11 year old has baked and had great pleasure in doing so and even more pleasure in seeing us enjoy eating it. We still have s’mores every now and again when we have a fire outside. We just don’t do it every day.
I’m by no means a health guru. I am an expert on failed diets. I am at my lowest weight since having my kids, but am by no means slim or, heaven forbid, skinny. I am in a healthy weight range for my height (thank god for being 5ft 9 – I have been told all my life “you’re lucky you’re tall, it’s easier to carry a few extra pounds”) but I am never going to be knocking on the door of the “underweight” range. I like a piece of cake. I like a bag of chips. But I also love a huge slice of watermelon or a bowl of strawberries. I don’t like vast amounts of sweets as they do tend to make me feel a bit crappy. But I love a square of two of dark chocolate. I am just trying to eat good stuff with the odd bit of “crap” (not necessarily stuff that’s really that bad, but that has been deemed as “evil” by the various “clean-eaters” out there) thrown in every now and again. Surely, that’s got to be OK?
The article I was reading can be seen here http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/ruby-tandoh-eat-clean-wellness