My Diet Philosophy
While it may be pretty clear that I am against diets from the food that I post about and the topics that I talk about regularly on my social media, I haven't really spoken much about what my personal philosophy is. Mostly that is because it is indeed personal and what works for me totally won't work for some people so I don't want to promote something as a "cure-all" when it really isn't. I also think it is highly triggering for people to hear about certain diets and certain rules that people are following, I know it is for me. I also don't have many hard and fast rules because as I have said before, I try to eat intuitively and I do not diet so I am definitely very laid-back (hence the photo!). However I would be lying if I said I didn't have any guidelines that I try to follow! I think most people in the nutrition field would be, it is impossible not to when you really know some of the nutrition science! Also it is totally a healthy behaviour to have some guidelines in place that you know make you feel great. So I am going to share my personal philosophy that I try to follow and what I will likely extend elements of in to my practice once I qualify. Once again, everyone is unique so please do not look at this and think "Oh I need to do z, y and z" - you don't!
1. Eat a plant-based diet with at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day
I always aim to hit my 5 portions a day and get as many fresh ingredients in to my diet as possible. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants so they are very important! My rule is just to include multiple fruits and veggies with every meal, that way I know I am covered.
2. Follow an 80/20 balance
This is probably my most important rule because it sums up what I stand for: moderation! I aim to eat well 80% of the time and then I indulge around 20% of the time. It isn't an exact science and to be honest some weeks it is probably a 50/50, but the most important takeaway is to let yourself indulge if you really want something. If your body is craving something, then have it! A "healthier" alternative won't satisfy your craving and you should be able to enjoy going out to eat or having a takeaway every once in a while.
3. Load up on wholegrain carbohydrates
I notice such a difference when I am not getting enough carbs and enough fibre in my diet, I feel stodgy, drained of energy and completely unable to focus. Wholegrain carbs are so important because they provide you with lots of fibre and also lots of energy! I aim to include a source of wholegrain carbohydrates in all of my meals and snacks to keep my energy topped up.
4. Eat intuitively
This is really something I have been working on in the last 6 months or so, after suffering from disordered eating for many years, learning to eat intuitively has been hard but so worth it. These days I listen to my body, if I am hungry, then I always eat and if I'm not then I won't (unless I want to!). Likewise, if I really want a cookie, then I will have it.
5. No calorie, macro or nutrition tracking of any sort
I used to be an obsessive tracker, at first it was calories and then it was macros and it used to consume me and take over my day. It was a very unhealthy behaviour that I have so these days I have forbidden myself from it! I will occasionally look at a nutrition label just out of curiosity, but I NEVER track what I eat because that is no way to live in my opinion and it can definitely be a gateway in to disordered eating.
6. Eat fish twice a week
This is a pretty simple one, fish is great for you! It is loaded with EPA and DHA which are the two omega-3s that do wonderful things in our bodies. Aiming for 1 portion of oily fish and 1 portion of white fish per week makes sure you are getting those polyunsaturated fats!
7. Banish the food guilt
I have written a whole other post on this topic, but this is truly something I still have to think about and prioritise on a daily basis. I find it very easy to fall back in to feeling guilty about food so I have to actively push those thoughts out of my mind and eat what I fancy!
8. Eat 3 proper meals + 1 snack a day
I love food and I love to eat! I have 3 meals and a snack every single day without fail. Back when I was overly restricting myself I used to skip meals, skip snacks or have very small meals that weren't satisfying. Your body needs food and your metabolism needs food. Undereating causes your metabolism to slow down to conserve energy so you need to feed your metabolism!
9. Cook most of my meals from scratch
I adore eating out and trying new restaurants and as I said earlier, it is something I definitely incorporate in to my diet. However, for the most part I try to cook all of my meals from scratch when I can. Partially because I love cooking, but I also notice that I feel so much better in general when I haven't eaten out too much.
10. Enjoy my food and eat what I love!
This is probably the most important one for me and is something that I tell to everyone. What is the point of eating things that you don't enjoy?! If you spend your life eating things that you don't really love but you do it because you think they are healthy then what sort of life is that? I guarantee when you are 90 you will not be sat there thinking "wow I really wish I ate more quinoa". The likelihood is you will wish you just enjoyed yourself a bit more and ate that cake when you wanted it!