Food for thought


By Celine Wallace

Wellness Expert and Founder of Sattva Soul Retreats

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Wellness encompasses many facets of health, including the food we eat daily. I wanted this article to give you some 'Food for thought,' pun intended, because not only is eating a huge part of our lives, but it affects the quality of the lives we will and are living right now.

Personally, I'm vegan, and so many of my clients ask me if I'm vegan for dietary purposes and so I thought a great place to address this would be on the blog. So, I'll state with a solid no, that I'm not vegan for dietary reasons, but purely from a moral standpoint because I don't like eating animals. In Yogic philosophy, it's believed that no soul is worth more than another.

So I ask myself, why would I eat another animal if our lives were equal. Let me pause here to say I'm not trying to convert anyone to veganism or get on my high horse, because trust me, before I was vegan I was Paleo, so I really can't talk.

Usually, I don't even tell people about my lifestyle choices, but since some beautiful clients recently asked and I think this is a powerful topic of conversation I thought it was essential to address.

These days with so many dietary buzzwords when it comes to healthy living; Ketogenic, Paleo,  Gluten-free, Atkins, Flexitarian, Whole30, Veganism/Vegetarian, The Blood-Type Diet, DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). The list of diets, and their various restrictions, rules, and regulations, go on and on, but are they sustainable long-term? And is there a perfect one size fits all diet?  As a woman who works in wellness with experts in their field, I am always searching for the answers to these types of questions. 

Now, if you are someone who eats a certain way for religious reasons, such as Vegetarianism, which is strongly linked to religions that originated in India (Hinduism, Buddhism) then that's amazing - keep doing you! But I know many of you are confused by the enormous amount of conflicting information about what you eat, what you shouldn't eat and which diet is best for you. I've long believed that the health industry is filled with half-truths, lies, and misconceptions in which it uses to push us onto its latest fad product. New eating plans and "superfoods" are always advertised as the keys to health, and as consumers, I know we can feel overwhelmed by choice and information. As well as the latest fad products, the information we get from the food industry is so mismatched. It always has new nutrition information, layered with gimmicks and often the majority of it is contradictory, providing a never-ending highlight reel of garbage. 

Traditionally, a  diet was merely the way that you ate. Now, over time the human species has developed and so has the meaning of the word, changing it to mean, "restricting your current intake of food to lose weight." On the one hand, we're lucky we can now pick and choose what we put into our bodies; on the other hand, it's sad that it has become a micromanaged task that involves daily restrictions. So let me cut to the chase, regardless of your preferred definition of a ‘perfect diet,’ there’s no such thing as a single “best” diet — and that nutrition is a whole lot simpler than our fascination with fads would suggest. 

There is no physical way one perfect diet works for every single person on this entire planet. That's impossible. Each person has a different set of nutritional requirements to keep him or her healthy. Many diets will sustain you or keep you alive. That doesn't mean that they are right for you long term. Your perfect food should not just keep you live, but it should help you thrive. It should give you the best possible intake of nutrients to allow your body to be as healthy as it can be. We are now more nutritionally starved than we ever have been at a time when we are consuming more calories than ever before - it's crazy! Not you personally, but as a society. 

If you were reading this article hoping I'd give you an easy answer and I've led you to be further confused, don't fear! When you cut through the headlines and look at the studies of different food groups, you'll find that the few fundamentals of nutrition are the same. That you should avoid processed foods and focus on natural nutrient-rich foods, e.g., fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and plain water, which experts across the board agree that these choices should make up the majority of what people eat and drink. If there is such a thing as a "best" diet, that's it. Ultimately, found on the outside of the supermarket shelves, i.e., avoid the inner isles. So don't beat yourself up if you have that chocolate bar as a midnight snack, just make sure the chocolate bar isn't a midnight snack every night (and maybe keep tabs on the size of that chocolate bar.) As humans, we're a product of what we repeatedly do, so one chocolate bar isn't bad for us, but nightly chocolate bars, maybe not such a great idea. 

So, now that you know there is no perfect diet, what should you do? Simple - Listen to ‘your body' and eat to that accordingly, it's not a one size fits all scenario but rather a lot about trial and error and being able to maintain your food choices happily. Take these trends and fads with a grain of salt and make sure you aren't living your life with a series of unrealistic restrictions to fit a mold of how you think you should live. We aren't a cookie cutter version of one another after all - Mmmm cookies.

Celine Wallace