Why Healthy Eating Doesn’t Mean Dieting
Something that I’m constantly aware of is the misconception that healthy eating is a form of ‘diet’. I’m really keen for you to understand how I feel about this as there are some that see this way of living, and crucially eating, as being connected to deprivation.
For me health eating is absolutely not a diet, it never has been and it never will be.
It’s all about balance, moderation and variety. I believe healthy living and eating isn’t something prescriptive and it shouldn’t dominate your life, and it never needs to be taken to an extreme. Instead, it should be about enjoying nourishing food in a way that tastes good and makes you happy. You can do it when you want, how you want and as much or as little as you want. There’s no fixed rule about the amount of kale or quinoa you have to eat in a week, and there’s no ban on things that aren’t green either!
I prefer the taste that cinnamon roasted sweet potatoes dipped into creamy hummus, stacks of smashed avocado with chili and lemon on toast and other veggie-based dishes have to more processed foods, but this is just my personal view. I think plant-based meals can be so interesting and I feel great for eating them. I eat this way all of the time because of my love of these foods, but also because it helps me manage the symptoms of my illness, which is how I got started with discovering this way of eating in the first place. I worked very closely with a qualified nutritionist to find the right tools for me when I first started eating this way, and found that individual/specific advice was very effective for me. We’re all so different and there’s never a one size fits all.
The other thing that became really important for me was to never count calories or worry about portion sizes; I eat the amount I want when I want. I share the foods I enjoy making with you here, but you don’t only have to eat these foods or eat this way all the time just because I do. Do it in a way that suits you and your lifestyle best, and make sure that you never feel restricted or deprived. Feel free to adapt my recipes to make them work for you too; use them as side dishes or add other ingredients to them to help them fit into your lifestyle and the way you like to eat.
I love my husband’s approach to it; at home we eat lots of bowls of porridge with almond butter, warming veggie stews with lots of spices served over brown rice, chocolatey energy balls and rye toast with honey, but when we go out he also loves a pizza followed by ice cream with extra chocolate sauce! It’s a different balance to mine, as we have different reasons for eating this way. Find what works for you and go with that.
It’s great to go out and enjoy food that you love, and you should never feel guilty about it. We should never shame ourselves or anyone else for eating and enjoying food, no matter what that food is – it doesn’t matter if it’s a deep fried mars bar or a chia pudding with cashew butter. What we eat is our decision and it’s not something we should judge each other on. I also don’t subscribe to the concept of healthy eating being about ‘clean eating’, I think it’s a really negative way to look at food, and I feel it’s a real shame that the concept of clean has becoming synonymous with healthy for some people: for me the two have nothing to do with each other. I don’t think we should ever categorize what we eat into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ – that’s never going to make anyone happy. All food is good as long as you enjoy it and you feel well.
If you want to make changes to the way you eat to incorporate more whole foods and less processed ingredients this is a great way to start, but don’t feel you have to change everything you eat or that you can only eat green leafy veg – the good news is that guacamole is a vegetable too, as are honey-roasted carrots and smoky aubergine dips.
I wanted to write this to not only share my philosophy, but to get you thinking about the foods you enjoy, particularly now the sun is out and there’s lots of gorgeous seasonal fruit and veg in the shops. Enjoy making something delicious this weekend and remember that food is a beautiful thing and should always make you smile.
It’s not all raw kale salads and green juice from here on, I promise!