In the past few months I’ve made a couple of observations. Firstly, health and wellness has been identified as a ‘trending’ industry. One that big food, big pharma and network marketing giants are closing in on with dollar signs for eyeballs. Heck, as I write this, I’m about to board a flight from Melbourne and you know what hit me as I turned out of airport security into the airport lounge area? A massive neon sign that read ‘health and wellness’ above a bunch of poor quality vitamins, wedged between the confectionery and alcohol stands.
Second, I’ve noted that health and wellness is now ‘trendy.’ If you’re not hash-tagging #foodasmedicine #cleaneating or #greenjuice you’re just not cool. Gosh I’m clearly a complete dag.
This has all been challenging for me and one of the reasons I’ve been so quiet on social media. So I thought I’d cut through the crap and tell it as I see it. Let’s be honest, that’s my style.
In a nutshell, health and wellness is not a trend, it’s a lifestyle that we should all embrace. On the surface it may seem that we are. But underneath, are we reversing obesity and chronic disease? Sadly, no. In fact, our current approach is only creating a whole new problem at the opposite end of the scale which we’ve now found a name for; orthorexia. Us humans. We can never find a happy medium can we?
So, seeing as there’s so much confusion out there right now, let me cut through the crap and tell you what health and wellness really is, minus the drive to make big bucks from the latest fad.
- First and foremost, a good, wholefoods, nutrient dense diet is the foundation for a life that promotes a state of health and fights disease. This is the basis of being healthy and well.
- The fork in the road between wellness and sickness begins pre-birth, in utero. So babies and children are not exempt from eating a good, wholefoods, nutrient dense diet. Parents please take note of this and collectively, as adults we need to push back against the marketing that Big Food is pushing on our little ones.
- Following a good, wholefoods, nutrient dense diet doesn’t have to mean excluding any major food groups. Bread can be a part of a good, wholefoods, nutrient dense diet. Fruit is not the devil. Bananas aren’t the reason you’ve got belly fat. Most people don’t have to cut out coffee. Wine is generally ok in moderation and balanced with an appropriate number of alcohol free days every week. Legumes for many people are an inexpensive, fibre rich protein and complex carbohydrate source – not a gut abrasive nightmare. Drumroll please….. the entire human population doesn’t have to be gluten free, dairy free, grain free, flavour free or fun free. Eating well doesn’t have to cost the Earth. It doesn’t mean you have to join a club or follow a rule book. If you do want to join a club fine, but not all of your friends have to if they don’t want to.
- Following a good, wholefoods, nutrient dense diet means listening to your own body. Finding what works for you. Cutting out the noise from social media, forgetting about the ingredients in the shake that fitness model drinks everyday and ditching this week’s Woman’s Day solution to cellulite free legs. Guess what? Food, like life, can be enjoyable. ‘Normal’ food can be healthy. You don’t have to survive on a diet of kale and sauerkraut to be healthy.
- Stress around food is currently a MAJOR issue. I am literally seeing clients who have panic attacks about what they can and can’t eat. This is not cool. Stress will interfere with your sleep, it will drive you insane, it will ruin your quality of life, it will drive both weight gain and weight loss, it may cause you to bloat, get reflux, have constipation or diarrhoea. If stress around food is currently an issue for you, please re-read point number 4. Then if that does not help please use the contact form or call me on 07 3398 1977 to book in for a consultation.
- Actual food is the basis to health and wellness. Processed food is not food. It’s a ‘food like substance.’ It does not give us nutrients. It is not processed by the body. It does not promote wellness. I don’t care if a processed, chemical filled bar says high protein, low carb, gluten free, natural, low calorie, muscle food or any other magic – it’s all shit. And you should try to skip it the majority of the time. Guess what? It takes 0 food prep to reach for an apple, a handful of nuts or a few slices of real cheese. And to be honest, eating real food is pretty much as challenging as it will get for most of us!
BUT… occasionally, convenience food is going to be the only option. Sometimes, we all eat some chips. Or a bowl of ice cream. Or a handful of lollies. Sometimes you will eat the before mentioned shit food. Like I did, this very weekend. And that is okay. As long as it is occasional. You don’t need to punish yourself for the next month. You just need to make sure that most of what you eat, the majority of the time, is actual food.
- Stress, in general, is currently a MAJOR issue. ‘Stress’ basically means several hormones in your body are going stir crazy. What happens when one domino falls? Lots of them fall. So yes, expect that if stress is a big issue for you other crazy things might happen. (N.B. many people don’t even know they’re really stressed because it’s ‘normal’). Some symptoms include… your immune system falling apart. Your hair starting to thin. Your thyroid going nuts. Or you going nuts. This is why we have to think about health holistically. Eating well is just the beginning. Lifestyle is just as important. Because health and wellness is not just about the physical. It’s mental, emotional and spiritual as well.
- Suddenly adding turmeric to your food won’t cure your arthritis. Seriously, if you want to harness #foodasmedicine for real you need to consider therapeutic concentrations. And you need to acknowledge that going the natural way takes time. And you also need to know that even though tumeric is the flavour of the month (right now) there are heaps of other magic nutrients and herbs that do some pretty explosive stuff. But none of it is any good unless you build the foundations of a good, wholefoods, nutrient dense diet as discussed in the previous 7 points. And if you aren’t going to start with that foundation, don’t pick a random supplement off the chemist shelf and expect it will fix everything. And on that note, some random probiotic isn’t going to fix chronic IBS in a week.
- If you’re currently in a ‘disease state’ there is no magical diet that will take 0 food preparation, taste amazing and suddenly see you disease free and jumping out of bed next week. Getting healthy and well takes time, consistency and patience. And after that you have to commit to it. Forever. This is a fact that’s hard to swallow in our current society which revolves around instant gratification.
- Don’t bother with any magic pills unless you build the foundations of a good, wholefoods, nutrient dense diet first. And even then, understand what you’re taking, why you’re taking it and ask for the research to back it. See my post on supplementsfor more information around this.
- No matter how healthy you think you are becoming, don’t give up your meds until your Doctor says you can.
- You can’t hate your body and expect to be healthy and well physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. So work on that relationship. Honour yourself, be grateful for what your body can do day in and day out and love it no matter what. Stop comparing yourself to the shit you see on your computer. Most of it’s fake, air brushed or took an hour to set up.
Let’s keep it real people. Because health and wellness is not a joke. It’s lifesaving.