When I first started to study nutritional therapy, I was a tiny bit concerned that it might flare up some tendencies and habits around food that I had worked hard to move away from. I think it’s difficult when you study nutrition to not become slightly obsessed with food, and to create food rules, depending on what you have read/seen/been taught. I know from having talked to other students along the way, how hard it is to not get caught up in all of this and all of a sudden to find yourself developing some unhealthy habits and an unhealthy relationship with food.
I’ve certainly been through ups and downs while studying, and there have been times where maybe I’ve had a lecture, done some research after, and decided I needed to avoid X/Y/Z. However, I can happily say that after 3 years of studying nutrition, I think I’m in a place where I’ve probably felt more freedom around food than I have at any other point over the course of the last 10 years.
What I’ve discovered from seeing clients and observing cases, is there is no one size fits all case with nutrition, we are all unique, and thus what is going to work for us and suit us personally is going to be totally different from the next person. I think it can be trial and error, and you have to really be in touch with your body, and discover what does and doesn’t work for you.
What really really frustrates me, is when I see so called “wellness gurus” demonizing certain foods or food groups, and suggesting a blanket removal for everyone. Yes, certain foods might not suit some people, but I don’t believe that suggesting removing gluten/dairy etc is something that should be applied as a first port of call for every single person regardless of their symptoms or health issues. We want to create sustainable changes long term and creating restrictive rules around food is not the way to put that in place.
Studying nutrition could have made me obsessive and restrictive, but it’s actually left me freer than I have ever been. I’ve reintroduced foods that I previously had avoided for a long time, and though it doesn’t mean I eat them all the time, I don’t feel guilty for having them when I want them. Let’s be honest being Vegan in certain places can be restrictive enough, without declaring that you don’t eat gluten/sugar/fruit/grains or whatever else is on trend. It’s not sustainable and I think it alienates us even more. It’s about embracing each and everything that is Vegan, whether that be a delicious raw cake, indulgent smoothie or massive pizza. Of course just because something is Vegan, doesn’t mean it’s automatically healthy, but at the same time, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t enjoy things that can nourish us and be healthy in other ways.
So I guess my journey from here on out, is about how I can show how easy, balanced and accessible a Vegan diet is, and can be. Veganism is not something I see as restrictive. or a way of cutting things out of my diet. It’s a lifestyle, it’s how I define myself, and it’s about so much more than my food choices, and actually it’s about being part of something much bigger than myself. I could never eat animal products again, and that’s my choice, but it doesn’t mean that it would work for everybody, and I respect that too.
I think I’ve totally over-complicated health and my relationship to food over the last few years, so it feels so good, to actually eat in a really simple, affordable and nourishing way. Health to me has become about listening to my body, eating what I crave, eating food that’s not only good for my body but good for my soul. I’ve found my wellness, and it was actually in the place I least expected to discover it.