This has to be the hardest blog post to write but definitely one that i’ve been anxious to write about. DISCLAIMER: I am not a nutritionist, everything in this post is a result of my own research and my own views/ideals.
the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.
I speak a lot about my diet and the food choices I make everyday; it’s been a slow process and I know I still have a long way to go. When I speak about my diet, i’m not speaking about restricting food groups for a period of time for weight loss; i’m referring to foods I do/don’t eat as a lifestyle and fuelling my body correctly. For example, a person can have a vegetarian diet, pescatarian diet, vegan diet, dairy free diet, gluten free diet or anything combined.
The reason I titled this post “Live to Eat vs. Eat to Live” is because over time, i’ve found that people generally do not realise that there is a difference. Living to eat, in the most frank terms, is gluttony. The easiest way to define it would be, eating past the point of being full, excessive snacking, lacking self-control with junk food or sugary foods etc. Eating to live is understanding the power of food and using it to your benefit. When you understand the roles of different food groups and the importance of portion control; it is easy to find a comfortable balance.
The easiest way to lay out this post would be to answer questions I get from people most commonly. If i’ve missed anything – please feel free to shoot me an email/comment or hit me up on my social media (Facebook / Instagram)!
What is your current diet – are you trying to become a vegan?
About 8 months ago, I made a decision to give up red meat in its entirety; no more lamb or beef and I also gave up pork. I don’t drink cow’s milk 90% of the time – simply because I do not like the taste but the other 10% is because I don’t have a choice and it is usually red cap (skimmed) milk. I recently (as in within the last month) cut out chicken and turkey; so I only eat fish. I find, however, I am experimenting more with plant-based meals around 3x a week. In regards to milk, I like hazelnut, coconut, soya, almond and hemp. I don’t really like rice – I know, strange because i’m African – but as of late, i’ve been eating a lot of brown rice. I also don’t really eat white potatoes unless it’s fries, however, sweet potato fries seem to be quite popular these days so they will always be my preference.
I have considered becoming vegan but I love eggs, mayonnaise and lots of halloumi, as well as honey in my herbal teas. The reason I gave up red meat was because I felt as though it weighed me down after eating it. I also felt like I had a lack of energy and I have never really looked back. I once read somewhere, you must listen to your body because it will tell you what it wants to eat based on how it feels 30-60 minutes after eating.
How did you transition towards your current diet?
Substitutes! When I decided to omit certain foods, I didn’t want to feel like I was restricting myself. It is so important to make lifestyle choices as opposed to short-term commitments. I swapped cow’s milk for plant milk, white potatoes for sweet potatoes, red meat for more leafy greens, rice for legumes etc. By providing myself with substitutes, i’ve experimented more with meal combinations and I haven’t really limited the foods I eat. I also found that making people aware was really helpful! When I was still consuming poultry, I went to a friend’s dinner party and she made me a lasagna with turkey mince as opposed to beef; super thoughtful and JUST as tasty!
Are carbohydrates bad?
No, they are not! Leave them alone! The role of carbohydrates are to provide energy, as they are the body’s MAIN source of fuel. Never trust a diet that eliminates carbohydrates completely. Yes, some body types are more sensitive to carbs (check out this post about different body types!) but a diet should never completely eliminate any food group. Complex carbohydrates trump simple carbohydrates any day and are the best choice. Simple carbs are just sugar and are rapidly digested, whereas complex carbs are more rich in fibre thus keeping you fuller for longer and a better health decision. This is basically the difference between white carbs and wholewheat carbs; foods such as brown pasta, brown rice etc are much better choices and they don’t taste horrible. Otherwise lots and lots of vegetables should give you enough carbs!
How are you able to eat brown rice/brown pasta/leafy greens & how do you stay away from processed foods?
Urgh, if I had a penny for the amount of times i’ve been asked this?! Growing up, I hated spinach and salmon and even cauliflower; now I look forward to having these on my plate. I actively made a conscious decision to not eat processed foods and takeaway until it became a habit. Things like meal prepping once or twice a week also help to stay on track. Ultimately, the main advice I can offer is to train your palate. If you’ve spent lots of time feasting on bad foods, it will be harder but in the long run it’s a beautiful thing. Please, do not get me wrong, I love pizza/biscuits/cakes/doughnuts but I am learning to become more aware/conscious of how much of these I consume.
What are your go-to’s?
Well, recently I started making my own batch of granola on a bi-weekly basis. I carry some everywhere and snack on it during the day when i’m craving something sweet. I also started making my own hummus which I finish super super quickly!
Otherwise, my go-to’s are sweet potatoes, olives, avocados, spinach, chickpeas, black beans, asparagus, red lentils, kale, peas and quinoa.
What do you mean by ‘eating to live’?
Just as it sounds hunny?! Food is a source of fuel just as petrol is to a car. You would never overfill your car with petrol so why would you overfill your body with food? Eating to live is understanding the role food plays for your body. Carbohydrates give the body energy and fuel, protein is necessary in building and repairing body tissues and GOOD fats protect the heart and keep your body healthy. When you eat the right foods, in the right amounts for the right reasons as a lifestyle, there are so many benefits. Eating well results in sustainable weight, good hair/skin/nails, a healthy heart, lean muscles… the list is endless.
Ultimately, I have a love-hate relationship with food. Sometimes, I eat the right foods but in excess and other times I eat the wrong foods and I don’t eat often enough. The most important thing is making the best decisions for yourself as often as possible and enjoying it.
Would you be interested in seeing more of the meals that I eat?
Much love, Meech xo