Do you know how much I want to super moan about losing the original draft of this post?? OH MY GOODNESS SO BADLY!! The shame about this is that, apart from wanting to keep this blog positive and all, I think it was pretty much totally my fault. I write all my posts in Word and I must have saved to my desktop instead of my documents - and I chose yesterday morning to clear my entire desktop AND empty my trash!! It was shamefully Tech Virgin.
ANYWAYS where was I?
I think I was at the point where I was eating what I thought was super healthily, but was actually starving my body and my mind? This lasted from the age of 23 until about 27. During this time I was a Pescetarian who avoided dairy and ate pretty much no fat.
You can imagine how much fun I was to have dinner with right? ;)
In my efforts to be healthy, I ordered a whole host of alternative health books including 'The Optimum Nutrition Guide' and some books by Barry Sears. Its the Optimum Nutrition Guide that makes me really mad to think about now. The book actually advocates one tablespoon of nuts and seeds per day, as your entire fat entitlement. Dr Holford also recommends a basically vegan diet, saying 45g of protein is plenty for most anybody and that you can do things like have an 'apple fast' day once a week, or just have a bunch of almonds and some fruit for lunch. I combined this information with stuff in the Barry Sears book, regarding 1400 calories per day, and came up with a crazy plan which meant my every day diet looked something like this;
Breakfast; Medium Bowl of Oats with Hot Water + 1 TBSP Walnuts + 2 TBSP Raisins. 2 Dates + 2 Brazil Nuts
Lunch; Sweet Potato + Carrot + Coconut Milk Soup w/ Plain Rye Toast. + 1 Apple
Dinner; Small Amount of Tofu + Broccoli + Mushrooms + Spring Onions. + 1 Apple
This was at the same time as owning a dog and going running most nights! It was so crazy.
Obviously I had low energy and poor focus the entire time - I propped myself up with endless cups of tea (light soy milk of course). Unfortunately, I was so blinkered by all these stupid health books that I convinced myself other people eating normal amounts of food were in the worse position. Also, when you are considerably under-eating, your body seems to release constant adrenaline to try to help you out and deal with your low blood sugar. Therefore, although I had no real energy, I had constant nervous energy that stopped me having to acknowledge how empty I was running. Yup, existing on adrenaline and PG Tips caffeine - that was me!
Im now on one cup of coffee pre-workout - but please excuse sans makeup weird expression pre- workout look!
Apart from that though there were other signs which should have made me realise I wasn't doing my body any favours. You can read a bit more about some of them on my About Me page. There was a lot more than that though. Examples of other things I didn't attribute to my stupid diet, but massively should have, are as follows;
Anxiety; I worried about EVERYTHING the entire time. Unfortunately, I also tended to focus my worry on aspects of my life that were entirely out of my control. What did other people think of me? What might other people say about me? Where was I going to be in two years time? How about five? I also felt constantly anxious that control of my life was about to spiral out of control, if I let go for just one second. I was even capable of getting anxious about plates sitting by the sink or dirt on the carpet - if my house wasn't clean I was a major failures whose life was about to take a nosedive. If you have never suffered anxiety you probably don't know how totally exhausting it can be.
Hysteria; If I wasn't worried, I was probably flipping out about something. I know my personality leans towards the dramatic at the best of times, but I having no sustained source of energy, or stability through hormones made me a billion times worse. My ex-boyfriend being late back from the pub was a major crime against humanity, and I used to chase Louis round the apartment and try to hit him! For Real!
Low Immunity; My ex boyfriend used to tease me the whole time about how I, the healthiest eater of all time, was constantly sick. It was ridiculous - having hardly ever gotten ill all through university, I could just skim past someone who sneezed, or have one all nighter, and I would be off work for two days. This really confused me because I was getting so many vitamins. All I ate was fruit and vegetables! I now know you need lots of healthy fats, including saturated ones, to build up immunity, not to mention plenty of protein. You also need enough energy to sustain your day to day life. I think getting sick was sort of like my bodys way of demanding a rest.
Massive mood swings if food was late; Like I said I never missed meals, but carbs and fibre don't fill you up for very long. The longer I carried on eating like this the worse my blood sugar regulation got. After a couple of years I couldn't be at all flexible with waiting for food. If a meal ran late my blood sugar would dip and I would either need to eat immediately or I would turn into an irrational monster. The worst part was if it dipped when we were in a restaurant. I would either totally humiliate myself by going spastic about something like the Special not being available (I have given waiters some pretty dirty looks in the past), OR I would lose the plot menu wise and take about 45 minutes to choose my dish because my brain was so muddled.
I still remember Louis looking over at me really seriously in this Thai restaurant once and saying (and he is NEVER mean) ' You are really embarassing me and I may have to just leave now'. Im so embarassed!!
Panic Attacks; This was the real sign for me that I had to take proper control of my blood sugar - which meant eating more protein, more fat and more altogether! I would start to get panic attacks if I hadnt eaten in long enough (low blood sugar) and I had any form of stimulant. I think it was my bodies form of warning me it was sick of my selfishness - after YEARS of working out on an empty stomach, after a coffee and then not eating for two hours afterwards (in order to ensure maximum fat burning potential). It happened to me first in the supermarket - of all places! - and then at a music festival and then in a meeting. I now eat in a much more sustaining way anyhow, but I am also super careful about how much caffeine I ingest and working out on an empty stomach. If I do, I make sure I have both milk and a quick releasing carb really soon afterwards. Oh, and if you havent had a panic attack you basically feel like you can't breathe and you are definitely going to die. SO NOT FUN.
And pretty majorly uncool at a festival as well ;)
In my original post I had a section after this about some of the less healthy behaviour I engaged in whilst pursuing my 'healthy eating style'. Similar to eating in this 'healthy' way they are behaviours that I don't think did my life or body any good, but which are so commonly accepted that I didn't really bat an eyelid. They include things like not really eating all day if I was going to a restaurant at night, or barely eating if I was going to drink a lot that night.
(Okay, maybe the second one was fun sometimes. :) )
Seriously though - doing that stuff is not good for the body!! It is also literally ridiculous logic, for reasons I will explain in a future post. Finally, it is linked to premature ageing if that makes it any less appealing....
Anyhow, I'm going to need to leave that for tomorrow post - making this saga a whopping 4 Part-er -
Part 2 - Signs my Healthy Diet was all it was cracked up to be (this post!)
Part 3 - Other signs I wasn't approaching health (or food!) in a balanced way (tomorrows post!)
Part 4 - How I overcame my imbalanced attitude and re-assessed what healthy is! Which also co-incides with the time I got engaged, learnt how to bake and bought an ice cream maker... :)
I really really hope you'll stick around to read the other parts, if you have found anything in the story I have told so far to be helpful. I also hope that if you recognise any of the behaviours in the section above as being similar to yours you'll consider increasing your intake of both protein and fat and or adapting your eating style to something more traditional (larger meals, feast days, special desserts etc).
Basically reading the information given here and putting at least some of it into practice.
Not only will you feel healthier but cooking and entertaining will become a billion times more fun! After all, there is only so much joy that can be obtaining from assembling salad number five thousand.
Take Care xox