+ Well Nourished | Finding peace with my plate

Finding peace with my plate

I’ve always been amused by the assumptions people make about you when they find out I’m a Naturopath.  Walking into a social gathering it’s often like, ‘cripes, the fun police are here, hide the booze and crisps!’ For others, a halo appears and all they want to talk about is this or that ‘diet,’ how it has changed their life and just how healthy they really are because the don’t eat this or that. I remember when I first started practicing, some of the young girls in the dispensary of the pharmacy where my rooms were, affectionately referred to all of the Naturopaths as the ‘fruit and nut bars.’  They also hid their chocolates and lollies, like we didn’t know!

I’ll admit, there have been many years of my life where I’ve experimented with different ‘diets’ and rather extreme health philosophies.  All of which had positives and I’ve learned a lot from partaking – they all have served a purpose.

But now, 43 years into my life, I have decided that by focussing on one part of a food, I give away too much power to it.  I believe the real power and healing that comes from food, is in its pure deliciousness and appreciation of how amazing it can make us feel.  How it can bring people together and how you can form relationships and bonds about the pleasures of sharing a meal.  Rigid food rules have no place in my life – I don’t eat food just because it is healthy, but because I love the way it tastes, the way it nourishes me and makes me feel on top of the world.  I also know that having a relaxed outlook on life, practicing gratitude for all that we have and not taking food so seriously is an important foundation of being ‘healthy’.

I don’t believe there is one way of eating that suits everyone (this is one of the reasons why I try to offer as many variations on my recipes as possible).  One thing I’ve learned from consulting with many different people with various health complaints is that we are all individual, with individual nutritional requirements. What works for one, does not alway suit another.  For example, some people do well on lots of raw food, for others, it is really not a good choice.  Individual nutritional requirements also vary day to day, season to season, year to year. Life is fluid, as are your needs.

I get that it is human nature to follow, to like to have guidelines and thus be accountable to someone or something.  This is why diet trends and fads are so popular.  I’m not bagging ‘diets’ here – but if you’re giving power to them and relinquishing the joys of nourishing your body, maybe you should reassess their purpose and place in your life.  Some diets are almost cult like (and their popularity depends upon this being the case).  The one advantage of having worked in this industry for as long as I have, is I’ve gained perspective on ‘diets’ – early in my career the be all and end all was the Pritikin Diet (which demonised fat/protein) with grain hailed the holy grail.  Ironic, that the polar opposite diet is the now so popular.

I recently saw a Current Affair TV show where a group of people were interviewed about their dietary preferences.  Most of the people interviewed had a really poor understanding of why they chose to eat, or not eat certain foods.  For example; many people who ate ‘gluten free’ were unable to explain what gluten was or exactly why they didn’t eat it. They avoided it because they thought it was a healthy way to eat.

I know a gorgeous lady who unless eating at an organic or paleo cafe (even though not too long ago she was a strict vegan), will eat a full meal before going out to dinner.  She says it doesn’t bother her, but I feel sad for her.  Food stresses her and consumes her.  I’m not suggesting her perceived intolerance’s and health issues aren’t real.  But I do know that when she is forced to relax her self-imposed food restrictions (like on holiday), she actually feels better.  She has endured so many years of dietary restriction, searching to demonise a food (or part of it), has just become part of her identity.

Confessions of a Naturopath and food lover
Nowadays, I derive so much pleasure from eating a variety of SLOW (Seasonal, local, organic if possible, whole) foods. Fresh, good quality food always tastes best. They are the foods I love and the foods that love my body back.  Like Michael Pollan, I advocate to simply ‘Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.’ The ‘not too much’ is a work in progress for me (sometimes I get carried away with the deliciousness/ pleasure part of eating) – I’m sure some of you can relate?

I think becoming a parent has forced me to find the middle ground, for my kids sake as much as my own. It is important to me to instil a love of food in my kids, and not frighten them to find fault in the things they eat. So I eat a little of everything and a lot of nothing.

I’m asked on a daily basis for a confession about those not so nourishing indulgences, so here’s the dirt – good coffee and fine wine are my weakness (I’m a self-confessed coffee and wine snob).  Neither are daily, just when the occasion arises and I am fairly fussy with both.  Oh, okay there’s more…and an albeit infrequent, but oh so pleasurable gelato with my kids (again I’m picky), oh, and 85% cacao chocolate.

 

It’s funny having the profession I do because I genuinely care about the health and wellbeing of others and my natural instinct is to help others.  However, I learned quite early on in my career as a Naturopath that I can’t be responsible for what others (including my nearest and dearest) eat.  I can only lead by example and do the best I can do as a person, who like everyone else is governed by desires and circumstances sometimes beyond my control – I’m not perfect and never will be.  After many years of scrutinising and experimenting with ‘diets’ – I’ve finally found peace with my plate!

Have you a happy relationship with food? I’d love for you to share your thoughts by posting a comment below.

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Peace with my plate

  • Meegs

    Fantastic piece Georgia. I’m so tired of hearing about the Paleo diet etc. Your take on healthy daily eating is like a breath of fresh air. No guilt trips involved. Thank you!

    • Thanks Meegs. I heard a fabulous joke the other day on the radio – “How do you know that someone is paleo? – Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.” Ha ha. Still makes me giggle. But before I have a barrage of offended Paleo lovers, the basic premise of paleo (and many other ‘diets’) is fantastic because it cuts the crap, which of course I’m all for. Glad you liked my musings, G x

      • Meegs

        Hahaha! Love it, so true. Yes I’m not anti Paleo either just tired of hearing all the debates etc about it. The cafes offering Paleo friendly meals have been a godsend for my family with a few intolerances, eating out is getting easier for us not to mention healthier. Looking forward to more of your delicious recipes.

  • Nikki Langdon

    Such a great article thanks so much Georgia, exactly how I feel about food. I don’t want a ‘diet’ to take over our lives so we just eat as much wholesome goodness as we can and enjoy!!! Love your recipes and so do my kiddies, thank you soo much

  • Linda Robinson

    I spent most of my life pretty relaxed about the food I ate thinking I mostly chose healthy options enough to balance out the non healthy options. And then I had children and then I read articles and books blaming food for all sorts of things and the amazing things that happened when one changed their diet in a particular way and suddenly I was uptight about every mouthful and what the heck do we do when we leave the house and have to find food when out and about! At times I literally felt my world had been turned upside down and wished so hard that I could “unknow” so much of what I had read. I had loved food and then it became the enemy lurking in every corner. Very happy to say I have settled back into a more relaxed state of mind that is enhanced so much by the discovery of you 🙂 My health is great too!

    • Thanks for your great comment Linda. Finding the balance is tough. Information is power but it is important not to let it become all ruling. Like you, I can’t unlearn all I know, but I’m much better at not letting it overwhelm me. My approach, especially with my kids is to do the very best I can when I’m in control, but if I’m not in control, I have learned to just accept that. It’s not to say I won’t tell them to slow up if they’re going nuts though! G x

    • kelly seach

      I can relate to that Linda! Thanks for sharing x

  • Thanks Helen G x

  • Maxi

    Love your comments. These are the beliefs that were taught back in the early 80’s when I studied nutrition, iridology. Your site is helping me get back on track, so many thanks for that. The two main comments I always remember were -Eat everything in moderation and always eat a variety of all food types. Eat in a relaxed mood and you digest your food better. I love that you give advice for free and not expect people to pay for information to become Paleo or Raw Food eaters.

    • Thanks Maxi. Yes I’m sure aligning myself with a specific ‘diet’ would be a lot more profitable, but I just don’t believe in a one suits all approach (20 year in clinical practice has demonstrated that). Glad you liked my post, G x

  • Lina Fidanza

    How timely your article is. Wanting to give my 5 year old son healthy options however confusion was consuming me with too much information on sugar free, gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian, blood group A etc. Thank you for making it real Georgia.

  • Emma Collins

    Great post Georgia,
    I think I have a great relationship with food. I too live by Michael Pollen’s adage. I’m vegetarian for ethical reasons and try to eat seasonally, locally and organic wherever possible. I do eat a bit too much processed food, so I could cut down on that. But I definitely don’t ever have negative feelings about the food I eat. It fuels me, makes me feel good, keeps me healthy, inspires me and does the same for my loved ones.

  • Bianca Sands

    Wonderful post Georgia – very real and so much common sense that seems to be lost in today’s diet debates. For me there is also the element of people not feeling at ease within themselves, not knowing and understanding who they are and this leads to the blind adoption of so many diets and other lifestyle practices….and yes this has impacted me too! Your passion and your approach to nutrition is very empowering, grounding and joyful….just the way life and nourishment should be. Thank you 🙂

    • Thanks so much Bianca, yes agree. Appreciate your input G x

  • Vicki

    Great reading, thanks Georgia. Really hit home to me as we share a very similar philosphy (and indulgences!). I’m a bit sick of hearing people define themselves by the way they eat or constantly demonising praticular foods or food group. Just eat real food that nourishes your body people!!! It’s so important that everyone makes their own discoveries about the foods they eat and I think we need to listen to our own bodies more rather than trying to fit into a particular ‘diet’ mode. Knowledge is power! Thanks again and keep up the great work xx

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