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Are you suffering from a whole food hangup?

 

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Don’t flog me for saying this, but it’s been on my mind for a real long while.  Being honest, open and raw I believe is part of me not only being truthful to you, my reader, but also to myself.  So here goes.  I feel like many of us are unknowingly spending our days with a form of an eating hang up – much like a form of an eating disorder.  In no way am I making light of women with issues like anorexia or bulimia – it’s a serious illness that is nothing short of torturous.  Helping women overcome their once poor relationship with food and their bodies is one of the toughest things I face as a practitioner – but something that is so equally rewarding when we can repair the wounds.  But it seems we’ve kicked things up a real fast notch in the whole food, organic, paleo, vegan, vego, IQS world and I feel that for many of us, it’s actually becoming our undoing.

Don’t get me wrong, I too am on that same path – I eat predominantly organic, whole foods where possible.  I avoid processed foods for the most part and heaven forbid before ‘that time of the month’ I might crave junky foods, or sometimes I’m on planes for an entire day and if I’ve been city hopping, at times the pack of ghastly nuts are my only option before I keel over.  I’m not healing from cancer or needing to fix my thyroid (generally), my body is mostly happy.  If I were in a serious health rut or experiencing life threatening illness, then absolutely I may need to change my tactic.  But for most of us, we are using food as nourishment and to support our wellbeing.  When eating becomes stressful, no matter what the circumstances, the benefits may be counterproductive.

Last week, I enjoyed the week off from cooking – a whole weeks worth of Eat Fit Food meals, ready made, on my doorstep every morning. My goodness.  It was fabulous.  I posted several images of the delights that landed on my door on social media and was immediately prodded with questions “is it organic? But I thought you avoided grains? Don’t you avoid sugar?” and so on as if I was committing a big fat crime.  Truth be told, I was having one hell of a week and my saviour of getting any nourishment whatsoever were these meals every night, ready to go.  Were they organic? No. Did that bother me? Not for the short term. Do I eat grains? No – it bloats the freaking bajoongers out of my gut.  So what did I do?  I passed on the rice.  Life goes on.

With risk of sounding rude – where’s the common sense gone in all of this?  Nourishment and feeding our bodies isn’t meant to be stressful.  Sure, we totally need to be mindful around what we eat and understand the benefits of providing our bodies with the best food we can afford.  However, it isn’t supposed to consume our every waking thought – that is, as far as I’m concerned, a form of an eating problem.  Absolutely, I choose where possible to eat organic because I know that’s what’s best for me.  And yes, I do avoid sugar for the most part, but I’m not suffering from a thyroid problem and so at times, it might be served up and sporadically it gets eaten.  And then I move on.

Mindful eating is what counts the most.  Tuning into what your body needs means that this is forever changing.  Being stuck in a diet funk can be a disaster, not to mention you might actually miss the special little calls by way of cravings your body is ever so cleverly asking for.

Are you suffering from whole food hang ups?  I believe many of us are.  To get so stressed out because we can’t find the organic butter or to pass on the non filtered tap water when you’re keeling over from dehydration is madness.  What happens when you go a long time without any form of nourishment?  Unkind symptoms.  It upsets your hormone balance, your body goes into famine mode and most of all, your cortisol levels sky rocket, not necessarily for any other reason than you’re stressed about finding your next paleo meal.

Of course it’s all about being mindful and most of all life enjoyment.  Sometimes we’ve just got to chill out, let go and accept we can’t control everything.  To surrender.  To control what we can and let the rest go.  It doesn’t mean you’re going to eat non organic food every night of the week, it may mean on the odd occasion where it can’t be helped you eat whats in front of you and move on.  Life is all about the living – living to be the happiest version of you (cough cough – debunking stress) is much more important than feeling guilty about your last mouthful.  I encourage you to practice mindful eating and move away from unkind thoughts that actually don’t serve us at all.

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33 Responses to “Are you suffering from a whole food hangup?”

  1. Jodi

    Thank you Nat. Well said.

    Reply
  2. Lana

    You took the words right outta my mouth Nat! This is something that’s been swirling in my mind a lot the past couple months, and I’ve been planning on doing a blogpost about it too. I love this, and I completely agree – for the average relatively healthy person, sometimes we all just need to relax a little with food. Love your wholesome, human approach to this! xoxo

    Reply
    • Mia

      Absolutely couldn’t agree more Nat! I LOVE reading your posts & blogs. This is something that’s been on my mind a lot the past couple months being a personal trainer i come across bad eating habits/disorders all the time & have experienced it myself first hand!

      Life is all about balance
      Thank you, i think everyone needs to read this

      Reply
  3. Jennae

    This is something that is so important for people to remember, thank you for the post. It’s actually interesting that you compare it to anorexia because there is an actual eating disorder called orthorexia nervosa in which the individual becomes obsessive about avoiding foods they see as “unhealthy”. It’s amazing that our desire to always select the healthiest foods can actually develop into an unhealthy mindset. It really is essential to try and not let our health & lifestyle choices cause us stress and guilt.

    Reply
  4. Claire | This is Lifeblood

    Could I love you anymore?! SO AWESOME NAT. Yes, yes, yes! x

    Reply
  5. Frances

    It can get so overwhelming these days with all the “health” crazes out there, sometimes it can feel like you can’t eat anything without feeling guilty! Thanks for an excellent article, I think everyone needs to consider this valuable information. Xx

    Reply
  6. Lauren

    Wow, I was only discussing this very topic with one of my fellow practitioners yesterday about how overwhelming it can be for people and our clients that in many cases it scares them off a healthier path. Love that you are keeping it real XX

    Reply
  7. Vanessa Millar

    Nat! So much yes to this. For two huge reasons. 1. If I am stressed out about what I am eating, feeling guilty or ashamed it almost always results in digestive discomfort, regardless of whether I am intolerant to it or not. I believe it’s because I am digesting the toxins of my emotions 2. I have often skipped meals when out and about because it wasn’t gluten free, organic, raw, sugar free and undoubtedly each and every time I would end up gorging on a sugary doughnut at 5pm as starvation and desperation took over. The non-organic, dressed salad at lunch would have been a much better option. Thank you 🙂

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  8. Chantele

    You have no idea how spot on your on your timing is! Hopefully I’ll be able to sleep tonight and not punish my body in the morning because I gave in and ate ‘that meal’ tonight:) thank you

    Reply
  9. Amanda

    Now that’s my kind of healthy! Well said, Nat!

    Reply
  10. Boiling

    Agreed. The reason is most people are too focused on physical health. What is the point if you are emotionally unhealthy and being stressed constantly. I see this often in health based entrepreneurs – They are always portraying this perfect health picture of healthy organic no grains food and claim to feel vibrant every moment of their lives.

    Reply
  11. Beckyf

    Well said, Nat. Love it!

    Reply
  12. Alexie

    Ahhhhhhh yes yes yes! Food is there to be enjoyed and nourish our bodies! It’s disappointing that there is so many labels and stereotypes when it comes to what we choose to put in our mouths these days. All for intuitive eating!! Thanks for your post Nat.

    Reply
  13. Melissa

    Great timing for this topic. I don’t think I have eaten properly in months. I have lost the drive in preparing my meals and am no longer hungry. It’s nice to know I am not the only one who burns out trying to stay healthy 🙂

    Reply
  14. Kate

    I was recently diagnosed with PCOS and am very overwhelmed with the drastic changes I have to make to my diet. By the looks of it, according to what I’ve read, I have to cut out gluten, sugar (refined), dairy and soy – doesn’t sound much but these things, whether combined or singular, are literally in EVERY single food item in our supermarkets… okay, not quite everything – but it feels like I can now only have a very very restricted diet compared to the one I’ve been used to for the last 32 years. Granted, it’s a much healthier diet but I’m really struggling to find meals I can make, that don’t take lots of prep time (so I’m not eating dinner later at night) that keep some variety in my diet. I’m also struggling with breakfast options so much that often I’m going without – surely this is worse for my PCOS?! I know it sounds rediculous but I’ve literally been on the verge of tears in the supermarket once or twice, trailing the isles for something I can cook for dinner, that’s gluten, sugar, dairy and soy free and suits me and my husband. Don’t get me wrong, I’m loving all the extra fresh fruit and vegetables I’m now eating but sometimes a girl just wants to grab something off the shelf and eat it, and not spend all night slaving away in the kitchen, doesnt she.
    I agree, once in a while is I okay for treats and to consume the odd plate of food I’ve always eaten (I think) but I also wrestle with the idea that if I’m going to do this and try to manage my PCOS, I should do it properly, shouldn’t it??
    Confused, overwhelmed and a bit sad really.
    Sorry for the rant! (Promise I’m not feeling sorry for myself!)
    Any advice from fellow PCOS ladies would be very very gratefully received!!
    Take care ladies x

    supermarkets and doesn’t leave much else to pick from.

    Reply
    • Amie

      Hi Kate,

      Fellow PCOS here and I am also on the same journey as you. “I must eat well to heal my body, but the stress that all this food is costing and cooking time is consuming me and causing other stress!” It’s such a vicious cycle. It can make your head explode!

      I tend to use the 90/10 rule of thumb. Include fresh veg, fruit, avoid grains and what not, but have your ‘treat’ meal once a week, because hey, life is there to be lived and if you stress about your next meal all day every day and have massive food envy over your friends all the time, all the tears and stress are only going to make you worse. If you allow yourself the treats and know that every other time you are doing your body good then you can at least be somewhat at ease.

      You’re not alone. Look after yourself both mentally and physically, be happy (easier said than done I know, but don’t give up, keep tweaking your lifestyle until it works, that’s what I’m trying to do at least 🙂 )

      Reply
      • Kate

        Hi Amie – thanks so much for your reply. It’s good to know there are other people out there on a similar journey (albeit not a great one, really). Yes, it is pretty stressful, but I like your 90/10 approach. I started, when first diagnosed, trying to make sure absolutely nothing passed my lips that wasn’t good for me – but now I realize that will become nigh on impossible to sustain.
        I was vaguely aware of the no-grains thing with PCOS, but haven’t really discovered much more about that and why they’re not good for us. Can you shed any light?
        Thanks again – take care too.
        Kate x

    • Lee

      Hi Kate, I have PCOS and hormone imbalance issues and have to be really strict with what I eat or it shows up in my face. I find just googling ‘paleo’ recipes, there are a million, awesome tasting, recipes out there that fit the no grain, dairy, sugar etc. category. Even the larger supermarkets are now stocking most of the ingredients used in these recipes, coconut flour, coconut sugar, coconut oil etc, if you don’t have a health food store nearby. I tend to do eggs in the morning because it’s easy (scrambled with spinach leaves, or just boiled and scraped out in a bowl with chia, spinach leaves and avocado, sometimes some roasted sweet potato or veg etc or bacon!) Souo frozen in smaller batches makes a great quick brekkie, or smoothies made the night before even? I got some awesome protein powder from Nutra Organics that I add to smoothies. Also if you google 101 Paleo Recipe ideas from Ultimatepaleoguide.com, there are some great recipes there. Egg fritatta is another good one to freeze in portions and re heat for brekkie, or any meal really. Good luck! :o)

      Reply
    • Anna Grillo

      Hi Kate,

      In the past I’ve ordered some food from Eat Fit Food, or you could do something similar, and then frozen some of the meals which I used over the next few weeks when I knew I’d be busy. Might be an option! I know it’s tough, having the 90/10 principal is a big help too. Best of luck!

      Reply
  15. Linda Caines

    Love this Nat! Food and eating seem to have got so complicated recently with so many labels. Thank you for the common sense in this post x

    Reply
  16. Sarah

    This is amazing timing. I couldn’t agree more and it’s comforting to know I’m not the only one in this position!! I stress A LOT about my food and have only realised it in recent months. I’m trying so so hard every day to cure my hormonal acne and it’s insanely stressful trying to keep on top of it every day. I moved from Ireland to australia almost 4 months ago and trying to get used to Aussie shops & where to buy the food I need and cook it is causing me more stress than is needed!! I’m grain, sugar, dairy and soy free and I can definitely relate to this article. And I think what stresses me out even more is seeing my friends eat anything they want and from the outside look like their health is perfect! It’s enough to get me really down & is an ongoing struggle every day to ensure I get the proper nutrients etc. good work nat it’s nice to read this article and realise I’m not alone!

    Reply
    • Paul Kenny

      Anyone who is a competent herbalist doesn’t just use herbs. We look at sleep, sleep is foundational. We look at exercise, we look at lifestyle. I don’t care how many herbs you take, if you’re not getting enough sleep, if you’re eating a lousy diet, if you’re not getting enough exercise, if you have a unhealthy lifestyle, you have unhealthy relationships, herbs won’t make up for that. So we have to deal with the foundational things. David Winston (master herbalist)

      Reply
  17. Isabelle

    Wonderful article!! I completely agree that nourishment is not always synonymous with nutrition, and that it is the FEELING that is generated that will have the greatest impact on our wellbeing. Go girl!! xx

    Reply
  18. Emma

    This needs to be said! Thank you. I do feel the pressure there must be for women such as you, Nat, who inspire us all to live healthy lives. But this must not become an obsession. We need to enjoy our lives and not to stress about whether our next meal is 100% organic. If on the whole we are doing what our bodies require and listening to them, its Ok!

    Reply
  19. E B

    Totally relate to this. I went down the health rabbit hole last year and the healthier I tried to be – no sugar, low carb, juicing, paleo etc – the worse I felt and the more damage I did to my already stressed thyroid. Now I have reintroduced all those ‘bad’ foods – dairy, wheat etc – I feel a million times better!

    Reply
  20. Kristin

    This is such a great read! Every person seeking wellness should read this! I just have to share. Thank you Nat for you honest and real writing XX

    Reply
  21. Marcus

    Hear hear Nat! Loving the common sense!

    Reply