For a few years now I have been watching documentaries about nutrition, our food systems, culture and the implications of all of this in terms of diets, disease and our Western lifestyles. Now let me tell you that when I first went vegetarian at 16 years old, I did it for moral reasons only. I had some health concerns but at the forefront was the thought of not hurting the animals – I have always been a huge animal lover – one day it dawned on me that my love for animals should not stop at pets or wild animals: what about cows? What about pigs? What about chickens? What divides them, besides the fact that we have industrialized animals with factory farms, to our dogs and cats at home? To me, the answer was simple. Nothing. Nothing divides them. And that was the point I went vegetarian and honestly have not looked back since.
Over time it developed into learning more about the vegetarian diet which subsequently led to learning about vegan diets, as well as new recipes and how to be a ‘good’ vegetarian. This is what led me to watch documentaries on the subject – starting with Food Inc. and Earthlings. I urge everyone to watch Food Inc. as it’s a very good starting point to understand a lot of what is happening to our food systems (especially in the USA). I also suggest watching Earthlings, however, I caution that it is not an easy watch by any means. I struggle to watch most of it without covering my eyes at certain points, and that being said I can watch some gruesome stuff without being affected by it. This also led me to read on the subject, one of the first being Fast Food Nation and a great one that I absolutely recommend: Pure, White and Deadly by John Yudkin. I am now reading The China Study by Colin T. Campbell, among a few books currently on the go.
Now, aside from a huge number of issues raised from these films, is the astonishing fact of how much people still don’t know. As a Western culture, we are still obsessed with diet, losing weight, becoming someone else, in every sense of the word. We aim for the next diet (a word I really don’t like): Atkins, South Beach, Carb this, Protein that, Low Fat all the time, no matter what. In this way, we are ignoring: 1. what our bodies actually need and 2. Simplifying our bodies nutrient needs into reductionist thinking – taking one element out of my diet will make me thin… If I eat this and not that I will get the results I want. We live in a culture of abundance and we only think of what we lack. In fact, we are very spoiled by the choices on food we have, however, many are not even food at all but food-like substances.
I want to ask you this: when did it all become about losing (or gaining) weight and stop becoming about being HEALTHY?
I have to outright admit, I am not a nutritionist, so I can’t tell you what to do on a nutritional basis, but I am putting what I know and what I have researched in my own time. In my experience, a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and legumes – a whole foods, plant based diet is the best one. And yes, I said diet, but I don’t mean diet in the sense of the word ‘Oh! I’m on this new diet where you lose 10lbs in four days, but I lose the will to live and I’ll be extremely tired, irritable and yeah…’ but in the sense of what you should eat every single day.
However, if you are on a diet, I urge you to not think ‘how many calories does this have? how much fat is in this?’ but think about how is what your eating contributing to your health? One way I like to do this is to center a meal around at least one vegetable or fruit, even at breakfast. Juicing is another great way to add micro nutrients to your body in a fast and effective way. I suggest including vegetables first, which isn’t always easy, but it curbs your thinking and hopefully makes you a bit more creative on meal ideas.
Last night I watched a another documentary, Hungry For Change, which opened up new ways of thinking for me in terms of health, life and loving yourself.
I believe that above all, we should be looking at ourselves with love. If we aren’t loving ourselves and our bodies, we are never going to make a change. Hence, I ask you to say the phrase “I accept myself unconditionally, right now.” to yourself every day (at least for 30 days) in front of the mirror. As it is only when you accept yourself can you learn to better yourself, from the inside out. When you are striving for HEALTH you start to look at food in a completely different way – you look for nutrients and vitamins and you stop looking at yourself as someone who needs to change something about themselves.
So try it, accept yourself! 🙂