This is a very personal post for me, because it touches the heart of one of the things I truly enjoy most in life — delicious food.
I’ve always loved food. Possibly not the making of it at the start, although my mum was a great cook.
I wasn’t a particularly keen kitchen helper during my childhood (maybe because my mum was so self sufficient in the kitchen), and between the ages of 19 and 26, I mostly survived on takeaway and packet noodles. And at 26, because I had a crazily demanding job, I hired a full-time nanny for my daughter as soon as I could afford it. The nanny took care of all our food shopping and meals which was great! As time flew by and work ended up demanding 12-16 hours a day, this meant that yet again, learning how to cook fell by the wayside.
And then I moved to Australia for work. One thing I remember about the move is despairing about cooking because my repertoire was limited to:
more rice (fried, this time)
It called for desperate measures. So I became a fan of takeaway (yet again), until Masterchef captured my heart and mind. Oh well, my eyes at least. I think I spent more time watching Masterchef than actually cooking. I think I was actually a customer of Lite n Easy during one particularly riveting Masterchef season.
By the way — just because I didn’t cook didn’t mean I didn’t love to eat. Oh I did! And I do!
I was always very keen to try new places, order from new takeaways and generally I considered any event to be dull unless there was a food aspect to it. Yes, including going to the mall. You can’t go to the mall and NOT try out the new food stall or restaurant.
I even started to eat “healthy”. Or what I thought was healthy. I shifted to whole wheat bread (from not eating bread). I started eating whole grain muesli in the mornings. I started cooking whole wheat pasta and whole wheat pizza (because “whole wheat” was supposed to be good for you). I started stocking the fridge with “healthy” options like fruit-flavoured yoghurts and Latina fresh pasta.
But something was still off. I knew something was off. Why?
Because despite all the delicious food, I felt like crap. Like seriously crap.
I was a regular customer at the physio and osteopath due to my aches and pains. Most days I woke up feeling so tired, I wished the day would get cancelled.
I felt foggy. I felt moody and would snap at the smallest thing.
I would crash in front of the TV at 8:30PM, barely being able to spend time with the family after dinner.
I would wake up at least 4 times at night, and find it hard to go back to sleep.
And the vicious cycle continued.
Oh. And there was a blip too…. I thought that probably, I needed more exercise because my time-demanding job was so sedentary. So I started training with a personal trainer. And went to bootcamps. And started training running 4 times a week. Despite my own misgivings, I went and pushed my already-protesting body into doing more things she obviously did NOT need at the time.
Which meant that one day, I seriously felt like an old person with aches and pains and creaky bones. Despite the “healthy diet”. Despite the delicious food. Despite the exercise.
So I started looking at my life and what I was doing. And looked at some easy fixes. There were none.
I kept reading my food magazines until one day, I noticed that I wasn’t as interested any more in whether the food was tasty. I was more interested in what the food did to my body.
Like yes, the triple chocolate muffin sounds delicious but what’s that giving me?
When I started to think more critically about what I was eating, I started to become more open to the idea that perhaps, delicious didn’t equal healthy. And that perhaps, not everything that was being marketed as “healthy” was doing me favours.
I’ve always been a bit of a geek, and I took my interest in food to another level by studying Holistic Nutrition. And then it became crystal clear.
I was making myself sick and tired with what I was eating.
Delicious didn’t mean healthy. Healthy was bio-individual. And that the only way to find out was to carefully listen to my body whenever I ate something, and figure out how my body reacted at that instant, or some days later.
I noticed that gluten gave me pain. LOTS of it. When I cut it out, my osteo and physio bills went down to zero.
I noticed that dairy gave me the constant pain in my left ear.
And I noticed that a number of “healthy” delicious things gave me gas. REALLY BAD GAS.
That coffee made me ultra jittery and anxious. (So my 3 cups or so a day wasn’t helping.)
And that some form of combination of everything I was doing and eating was causing my insomnia.
How the hell didn’t I notice these things before? And then I realised.
Because I used to treat food as entertainment, my health didn’t really factor into it unless I had a “party in my mouth” (Masterchef quote here). As long as something was delicious, it was to be eaten. And to add to that, as long as something was labelled “healthy” that was okay to eat as well. I let comfort and the desire for something delicious lead me most days, not the desire to fuel my body.
When I started to feed my body and what she needs (instead of what just tasted nice), I lost the “old person” aches and pains, and I have heaps of energy that I feel like a pocket rocket some days. As my diet and lifestyle all contributed to hormonal issues for me, I am still on the journey to improving my sleep but I no longer wake up 4 times a night and I can easily go to sleep if I do wake up needing to go to the toilet.
Nowadays I’ve lost interest in Masterchef and foodie-ness. Yes as a Health Coach I deal with food on a daily basis, but nowadays I am more interested in the health aspects of food. Rather than what’s the next delicious thing or gourmet thing is. Or where the new up-and-coming restaurant is.
Of course I am interested in flavour — but I am now more interested in real, fresh, whole food and how it fuels my body and health in such a powerful way. And I am interested in listening to my body because again, it is so easy to press the “Override” button and ignore the body’s signals.
So, this is why I’m no longer a “foodie” in the traditional sense. Food is not entertainment, it’s nourishment.
Life is meant to be fun and delicious, but being mindful of what we eat creates an amazing cycle of true nourishment from the inside out. And in the end, that is what helps us create a delicious life.
Do you love delicious food? Has eating food that you loved ever make you feel like crap? I’d love to hear from you. x
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