It all started with a banana. I normally (used to) really dislike bananas. The texture is kind of weird and I can smell them a mile away. I mean, they may look rather innocent, but to a non-banana-lover, they are actually rather pungent. (So pungent in fact, that once, I didn’t kiss a boy I really liked, because he smelled like banana…) Until the other day, when I was at my friend Jayne from She Is The Revolution‘s She Is Wild Urban Retreat on the weekend. This I will tell you more about soon. For now, back to the banana.
As at any retreat, there was a bowl of friendly fruit sitting in a corner of the room, for anyone with a peckish nature. I recall looking at said bananas, and my body suddenly really longing for one. Which is rather weird for me, being a fruit I quite dislike. And after a delicious lunch of beetroot soup, kale salad and fluffy quinoa with roast pumpkin, my craving was still there. Despite a wide range of contradicting perceptions about whether eating bananas is a healthy choice or not, I’ve long been trained to listen to my body, and reached for this bright yellow fruit without a second thought. Obviously I need it right now.
Which got me to thinking about all the silly different diets, regiments and rules we like to place on ourselves. The way we try to control our fears, our bodies, our lives, by living from our head, making decisions based on information and judgement, rather than listening to our inner wisdom, our bodies and being fully aligned and present to what we need in this very moment. Oh, don’t worry I’ve been there!
Some of my favourite experiments with ‘ways of eating’ include:
I had little choice with this one as my mum decided to put the family on trial with this rather regimented lifestyle for about four years in order to heal her own illness and subconsciously find a way to control a life that has become out of control for her. As the name aptly implies, you just eat fruit. That’s it. So for several years of my childhood, our family meals consisted of an abundance of fruit. We looked healthy, but I recall feeling deeply deprived of having the experiences that all the other kids were having at school, which also caused me to feel like an outcast. I mean, clearly your social status is depicted by the contents of your lunch box! It wasn’t about being given the opportunity for a super-healthy life, but rather, not being allowed to enjoy the many and varied experiences, tastes and flavours of life that everyone else seemed to indulge in. This left me with a bitter taste of missing out and the idea that something was lacking in my life which, unwittingly, created a bit of a tumultuous relationship with food for me, that took me a good ten years to work out.
Which means you only eat one type of food at a meal. Like watermelon. Or brown rice. Or zucchini. Which is fine. As long as your getting a variety of mono meals throughout the week. And no, ice-cream or chocolate do not count. Mono diets work the best when they are fruit and vegetable based. And I like eating this way. Every now and then, I just choose to have a meal made of one thing. It’s lovely. I like it. I don’t know why it has a fancy name.
I was vegetarian for a good five years in my early to middle 20’s. Partly because it was cool in the circles that I was moving in, partly because it suited me and my lifestyle. I was traveling a lot, especially to countries such as India, where eating meat isn’t such a great idea anyway, for hygiene reasons. One thing that I did notice was that many vegetarians and vegans have a habit of filling their plates with high-carb contents such as breads, cereals and beans, all of which aren’t my favourite things. It was after several visits to a naturopath, a kinesiologist and a nutritionist, all who confirmed I wasn’t absorbing enough protein despite my vigilant natural-plant-based-protein eating, that I decided to change. That, and the raging gluten-intolerance that suddenly raised its head.
Which means absolutely no animal products. I am not vegan. But I really love vegan food. And I eat like I’m vegan a lot of the time when I’m at home. It’s simple. It’s clean. It’s easy. I don’t even know why we call it vegan. I think that this is the original way that we used to eat. When we don’t have animals around, what do we do? We eat plants. Clearly this is self-explanatory.
HIGH FAT + SUGAR FREE
All hail the coconut oil! I love coconut oil, and yet, I have a feeling that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. I’ve not gotten to the bottom of this intuitive feeling yet, but when I do, I’ll get back to you. I also noticed that people on this type of diet LOVE, (and I mean really get off on it!) making foods that emulate ‘naughty’ recipes, however made of ‘healthy’ ingredients. Like the raw snickers bar. And yet, I’m pretty certain that, just because we are using superfood and non-processed fats and sweetners, that we cannot just eat mounds of them. Simple, clean and green is definitely the better choice. The solution to all the sugar-free recipes is Stevia, but even though technically, this is natural sweetener, I’ve noticed the my body responds with some repulse after a few uses. Clearly, it’s not something that my system can easily handle. My favourite leaning from this specific diet style in the Raw Chocolate Pudding which is absolutely divine, honestly healthy and really does taste just like chocolate pudding. I like it so much I’ve included it in my The Gypset Recipe Book.
The premise here is that we haven’t physically evolved much since Neanderthal times, and still need to be eating a largely meat and plant based diet. And when I say largely, I mean solely. Out of all the different eating styles that I have experimented with, I’d say this is one of my favourites, because it’s the one which makes me look the leanest. And my trainer swears by it. But being organised enough to always have plenty of vegetables and proteins at hand, especially when you’re travelling, is super challenging. I’ve only ever managed to succeed at eating Paleo when I lived on my own, in my own apartment in Sydney, and could fully control what I was eating most of the time, without having to take others into consideration. Eating vegetables and salads is easy for me. Cooking fish and meat takes me out of my comfort zone, even though I do eat it. Which means that eggs are usually my main protein. And sometimes I really, really, really miss and crave fruit. Like watermelon. And apples.
Which brings me back to the banana. When I ate that banana after so many years of not liking them, I felt surprised. And then grateful. Grateful because I can hear my body. Grateful because I can give it what it needs. Grateful that I am flexible and open to change. Grateful that I am present enough to go with the flow and have a beautiful relationship with myself and my body, which allows me to eat and nourish myself with whatever I need in that moment.
Which brings us to the final diet.
Eat What Ever The Fuck Your Body Wants Whenever It Wants.
After all my years of experimenting, trying different lifestyles and ways of eating, I realise it all comes down to one, Very Simple Thing. Listen to your body. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. It will ALWAYS without a doubt, tell you exactly what you need. And if it’s telling you that you need deep fried junk food and processed Cadbury chocolates, then you definitely need to detoxify something chronic. They body naturally only craves and asks for healthy, whole foods that are abundant in nutrients and minerals that support you and your life. When it isn’t doing this, there are deeper, emotional aspects at play, which you might want to take a look at. I write more about these aspects of food in my post The 6 Kilos Between I Love Me + I Love Me Not.
In fact, your body only wants to serve you and support you for your own highest good, which it does with such incredible efficacy every single moment of the day. I believe our natural diet isn’t a diet at all, but rather, about the ability to listen. It’s about developing a strong relationship with yourself, about making a commitment to yourself to always do your best and show up. It’s about nourishing and nurturing yourself with the best possible nutrients, and adapting to your bodies ever-changing needs.
My healthiest, best diet, the one that my body thrives and shines on, is the one where I don’t overthink things, and simply just listen to what I need. Which means on some days I just eat fruit. On some days I eat a simple meal of one thing. On some (though very rare) days I eat cheese on toast, being the well know vegetarian favourite. On some days I eat Jayne’s amazing vegan stew. On some days my meals consist of all greens or a balance of vegetables and fish or meat. And on some days I eat a banana. Because the best possible diet is eating exactly what you body asks for whenever it asks for it.