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The Perfect Diet

So here it goes.  A moment of truth…and shame.  Since I was about 15 years old I’ve been a chronic dieter.  And as a result, I’ve done a lot of damage to my body by depriving it of the essential healthy fats and other nutrients that it needed to be nourished.  And even worse, an imbalanced body like mine was utterly unable to support the healthy mind and spirit needed to really love myself.  The worst damage was done in the time leading up to my wedding when I began a 1000 calorie a day diet.  If I’d been just eating big bowls of vegetables and lightly steamed greens it might not even have been so bad, but I wasn’t.  I was incorporating the nutrition-less, empty calorie ‘diet’ foods like Weight Watchers meals and diet sodas.  And the awful thing, was that after 9 months of eating like this, depriving my body of any nourishment, I was exhausted, mentally and physically, and I wasn’t really losing that much weight.  I struggled to keep up my exercise routines because I had no energy.  I think I lost around 12 pounds in total.  I went to see a dietician at my local GP practice and her “sage” professional advice, after looking at my diet diary was to swap butter and olive oil for margarine and suggested that perhaps I should reduce my diet to 900 calories.  Yep, you heard it.  She wanted me to remove the small amount of healthy essential fat I actually WAS getting in my diet and replace it with toxic, hydrogenated, free-radical spread…I mean margarine.  Even I knew that was wrong, so I ignored her and continued with what I was doing.  It was only later, after the wedding and honeymoon, when I started thinking about wanting to become pregnant that things really changed and I realised the damage I had done to myself through deprivation dieting.

And now I’m ready to share with you the perfect diet.  Are you ready?  Here it is………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….there is no perfect diet.

There is a perfect diet for you, but there is no perfect diet that will work for all of us.  And here’s why.  It’s really complicated.  It’s because, get ready for it, we’re not the same person.  That’s right.  I’m not you and you’re not your neighbour John, or Sally who works at the supermarket.

Do I wish that we could all use the same diet and exercise formula and get the same results?  Yes, of course I do.  But genetics doesn’t work that way.  We each have different DNA (aside from identical twins, but even they express those genes in different ways) and so we don’t all have the same number of genes.  There is no perfect or ideal number of genes, so its not a competition.  But it does mean that some of us may lack enzymes which are essential for different body processes.  (Bear with me here, this will come back around to diet.)  You may have heard of the MTHFR, COMT or BRCA genes.  MTHFR and COMT enzymes are essential for methylation, which is used to control gene expression.  Women who lack these genes will have difficulty becoming pregnant and maintaining pregnancies.  On the other hand, the BRCA genes are tumour suppressing proteins and Angelina Jolie made the BRCA I & II genes famous when she had prophylactic surgery undertaken to remove her breast tissue, ovaries and fallopian tubes because of her high genetic risk for getting this cancer.  So what I’m getting at here, is that we don’t all process the world around us in the same way.  And we have to love our bodies for what they are.  The lack of this gene or that gene doesn’t make us imperfect, but it does make us realise that we may have to take certain precautions to avoid higher risks for foods, toxins and lifestyles which our bodies are simply unable to handle.  For me, the incorporation of a moderate amount of healthy, organic full fat dairy, like non-homogenised milk and raw butter, was incredibly important to feeling good again.

Okay, so I started eating healthfully again.  I got skinny right?  Wrong.  I started eating normally for like the first time in years, and my body had no. clue. what. to. do.  I mean I’d basically been telling my body – in prehistoric terms – that I was going through a time of famine and so when it started getting a normal amount of food, and I’m talking like 1500-1700 calories here, it thanked the god of rain for sending it a time of plenty and it decided to store every calorie it could.  As fat.  Yay.  But the good news was that all this healthy food I was now eating allowed me to maintain a really healthy pregnancy and produce a really healthy baby.

So a year and a half on postpartum, no I’m not skinny.  I’m not where I’d like to be, but I’m okay with how I look.  I fit into my size 8 jeans and that will do for the time being.  I’m still breastfeeding my daughter and I’m grateful to my body for all its been through and for the beautiful daughter its given me and still helps to nourish.  I continue to support my  thyroid health through diet and the use of therapeutic essential oils, and that is helping me enormously now.  So I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve very slowly found the diet that is right for me.  And actually, it isn’t a diet at all.  I’ve learned that I can’t eat too many sugars (argh!), one cup of coffee a day does me good (but more than that doesn’t) and that I am one of those people who can eat full fat dairy but that I definitely can’t process gluten (as much as I like to tell myself I can when I see a croissant winking at me from the bakery window).  However, for you, dairy may not be your friend.  Or you may not be able to tolerate coffee at all.  Some people have issues with one of their liver enzymes and can even build up high levels of mercury from eating something as simple as salmon, whereas the next person processes it perfectly well.  Juicing diets and green smoothies could actually do you a lot of damage if your thyroid isn’t functioning optimally.  And I haven’t even touched on how your gut flora fits in to all of this.  The list goes on.  Bodies are funny old things, aren’t they?

There is an easy and shorter – but more expensive – way to learn all of this about yourself.  You can get genetic testing done and enlist the help of a reputable nutritional therapist.  They can help you to understand your test results and to recommend bespoke  adjustments to your diet and lifestyle which will support what your individual body is able to do, and to avoid what it isn’t able to do.

I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to tell you that a Slim Fast shake is the perfect diet solution for you.  But its not.  Not for anyone.  And the one bit of generic advice I can give everyone is to get the toxic chemicals out of your food, cleaning and skincare regimens.  Eat organic, biodynamic or non-sprayed foods.  Use natural skincare.  Clean your home and office with natural cleaning products.  (They work just as well, by the way, and they cost less.)  Yes, we do have livers and yes, livers were designed to remove toxins from our bodies, but no one’s liver was designed to handle the amount of chemicals we eat, breathe and slather onto our skin every day in today’s world.

So whether you choose to go the slow route of figuring out the right diet for you, like I did (and continue to do), or if you opt for a faster route with the support of a nutritional therapist, I hope that above all you prioritise learning to love yourself and love your beautiful body.  I found the support of my Young Living essential oils incredibly helpful in both an emotional and physical capacity over the last 9 months of this process.  But I guess what I’m saying is be gentle with yourself, be kind to yourself, eat beautiful foods and move in ways that make you happy.

Where HAVE I Been?

I’m pretty sure its a cardinal sin to leave your blog for 2 1/2 months with not so much as a measly posting like:  ‘Here, I went to Pizza Express and took a photo of some gelato and dough balls.’  Actually, I think I may have described the actual first cardinal sin of food blogging there.  Ok, so the SECOND worst sin is to leave your blog for 2 1/2 months.  Like I have just done.  But I do have some pretty good reasons why I’ve been negligent, and here they are:

Reason 1.  I moved house.

L and I bought a new house – so we packed up all our wordly goods, crammed them into £200 worth of cardboard boxes (yes, they do cost that much) and then had Aussie Man and Van (who are actually Polish, not Aussie at all) come and pick up all our crap and move it into the new house.  Moving house is a stressful time for everyone – and I was worried about the effect it would have on our relationship when added to the pressure of planning our wedding (due to take place a mere 4 months later).  But it was great!  We discovered the ultimate equitable division of labour.  I packed all the stuff up, then went to work on the morning of our moving day.  L then supervised the move, and I didn’t have to put up with lugging boxes or getting frustrated about the moving men arriving late.  That evening after work, I went to Charlie-from-PR’s leaving do, and then caught the train home – the train!  I commute now! – and returned to our new house in Dulwich.

And THAT is how you do it.

Reason 2.  Sky.

Yes, Sky and their bad bad BAD service.  L and I had both used Sky for years.  We were good customers – they made lots of money from us – mostly from those Box Office films at £2.99 a pop and all the extra channels and international phone calls.  So why did it take them TWO MONTHS to install our home phone and broadband in our new house?  Our house in ZONE 2 OF CENTRAL LONDON?  Here’s a link to Sky.  Complain.  Tell them that they’re lazy and you’re thinking of suing them for damages from missing out on 2 1/2 months of one of the best blogs ever.  Or something like that.

Reason 3. Food.

Eating London is a foodie blog – go figure – and the thing about food blogs are that they involve food.  Writing about it.  Taking photos of it with clever depths of field and at nifty angles.  And usually, at some point, eating it.  When you’re on a crash diet (Don’t lecture me about starvation mode, blah blah blah – just don’t.  Not at this stage.) food doesn’t really come into the equation that much.  I mean, I could write about things like the crappy little tubs of Weight Watcher fromage frais and Kallo rice cakes I eat these days or I could have L take pictures of me cutting Nori into small squares, spraying them with low cal olive oil spray and holding them with tongs over a low heat flame to make 7 calorie seaweed crisps…but I don’t want to write about it.  And you don’t want to read about it.  (But if you’re going to try the seaweed thing, make sure you sprinkle a pinch of sea salt on the Nori after you spray it but before you toast it.)  And that’s not really what I’m about as a cook.  Or at least it IS what I’m about for the next couple of months.

That’s it.  Those are my reasons.  So unfortunately I can’t end this blog with the pregnancy bombshell that my favourite blogger ever did a couple of weeks ago when she wrote a similar post explaining a recent absence – (Keeping it real) Housewife.  (Did I mention she’s my maid of honour?  And we live on opposite sides of the Atlantic?  How’s that gonna work?)  But the good news is that I’ve got a new house.  I’ve got a phone and broadband.  And I’ll probably fit into my wedding dress.  (Look, I told you this wasn’t building up to much.)

So for the next couple of months, bear with me and pretend that you’re interested in my stories about the mysteriously high calorie content of blueberries, or of how yoga is my lifesaver in a world of urban stressors and about how much I love interval training (I hate it. I hate it so much, I can’t tell you).  But someday again, I promise, there will be butter…