I follow a restricted diet, because of my illness. I have physical symptoms (i.e. pain) that appear very quickly after I've eaten something I shouldn't have. You would think that because of the pain, it'd be easy to restrict yourself, but sometimes, you just have to have that piece of chocolate or cheese!
However, for most people, a highly restricted diet is not needed. Most people can be very healthy even if they consume processed food, gluten, dairy or sugar, all the "bug bears" of the "clean eating" movement. I adhere to most of the philosophy of "clean eating", as long as there is balance. We tend to go into extremes all the time, on either end of the spectrum. "Clean eating" is about wholesome ingredients (ideally organic or pesticide/antibiotics free, non-GMO), prepared at home.
What do I mean by balance:
- eat your veggies: this is the one thing everyone lacks, especially leafy greens. So at least eat some salad leaves (iceberg lettuce doesn't count) once a day.
- have some processed food, but choose wisely (not all is made equal) and not every day
- have some sugar, but in moderation. All processed food, but especially the low fat stuff, has added sugar, so be mindful of the hidden sugar... Try natural sugar sources like fruits. If you start reducing your sugar intake, you'll soon find your tastes buds will change and you won't stand milk chocolate, as it's too sweet.
- have some bread, but not at every meal and again, choose wisely. Plastic bread, even the wholemeal kind, isn't the best. Try spelt bread or some kind of artisan bread.
- have meat, but make the vegetables the star of the show and the meat the side dish, or have a vegetarian meal once a day.
etc. all in moderation.
If you find you're not able to balance things out, sometimes adopting a restrictive diet or a cleanse / fast for a few days can help kick-start this process... it's all down to your personality. Some people can do everything in moderation, others are much more about abstinence (I'm the latter - once I start I can't stop, so it's much easier to not start).
But there are also some hurdles in achieving this balance and working with a coach can be a great way to put in place some tactics to create some new habits in your life.
- lifestyle / time: most people I know work highly demanding and pressured jobs. What often falls through the cracks is what they put into their bodies: they're too busy or too tired to cook and eat a wholesome meal (which doesn't have to take a long time to cook!). So they rely on processed food, take-aways or eating out
- preparation: linked to above, in order to prepare a meal at home (and I don't mean warming up a pizza in the oven), you need a few ingredients (2 or 3 can be enough!)...
- skills / willingness to learn: either because they're not interested, weren't taught basic techniques or they've haven't got the time to learn, people think they haven't got the skills. Preparing a wholesome meal at home doesn't require loads of time nor skills worthy of Masterchef, but for sure, knowing how to prepare vegetables or boil an egg helps... these days though, you'll find anything on youtube, so there is no excuse! Youtube came back with 8.2m results when I searched "how to boil an egg" :-)
I'd love to help on all the above and help you develop new skills and create new habits. I'm still on a learning journey myself, trying new techniques or recipes, discovering new vegetables or ingredients, developing new habits... This last one is particularly hard for me, especially when it comes to self-care (rather than food).
Please get in touch for a chat. You can contact me here
IIN qualified health coach, foodie, mum of 2, wife of 1, ex corporate advertising executive, RA warrior