The post that has been sitting in my 'Drafts' for a few days..

I just ate a slice of apple pie, with ice-cream on the side and a bar of chocolate fudge.

I am writing this post because I feel that sometimes we can put too much pressure on ourselves and  other people when we are trying to be healthy or follow a certain way of eating. As someone studying to be a Nutritionist, I will admit that at times I can feel the pressure to eat a 'perfect' diet. I am all for β€œpractice what you preach” but I believe that sometimes, somethings gotta give!

Yesterday, I visited Bilpin in the Blue Mountains. This place is a land full of freshly grown apples, apple picking and many wonderful childhood memories visiting my grandparents property. I choose to indulge in some delicious homemade apple pie and chocolate fudge.

In the past I have struggled with following a strict diet, which was mostly due to food intolerance's to casein (in dairy) and gluten. The foods I ate became fairly restricted when I had to eliminate and reduce my intake of these proteins.

Recently, over the past few years as I learnt more about nutrition through my studies, I also choose to limit my intake of refined sugars, and for ethical reasons I cut out all meat (except seafood). Will I ever eat meat again? At this point in time my body has been working in harmony without it, although I am open to reintroducing it in the future if it feels right to do so.

After following this strict way of eating for quite some time, I started to develop a negative mentality towards food. Whenever I would 'break my diet' or eat something that would cause a reaction in my body (intolerances), I would start to feel bad, and physically sick from eating something I was intolerant to. This would occasionally lead to binge eating, a cycle of guilt,  or even just a horrible feeling that I had let myself down.

Looking back, I now have realized that this was not a healthy way to look at food.

Now, when I crave something, I eat it.

I practice mindful eating and focus on appreciating each mouthful.

I stick to eating foods that make me feel good 90% of the time, and if I feel like having some chocolate fudge or apple pie, I will have a slice and not feel bad about it. It has been a bit of a process to build up the guts to write this post, as it has been a something I've kept to myself for a long while. I have written this post for anyone has experienced this themselves, and may even still be in a bad relationship with food.

This experience has helped me realise that life is too short to get stressed out over food. I feel that food plays a unique role in each person's life, and we all have different views on what to eat. Food choices often link to positive or negative emotional events or celebrations in our lives.

Eat the foods that make YOU feel good. You can be healthy without subscribing to certain diets, or cutting out gluten, dairy or meat. Be mindful of the foods you do choose to eat, and aim to eat well they majority of the time.. but if you are craving a few squares of chocolate then I think it's ok to eat it in moderation, and enjoy every bite! I believe the key to health is balance.

Our bodies have the answers. Think about how you feel after eating different foods, and follow what works for YOU and YOUR unique body. For those who can't tolerate certain foods, it's usually better to avoid them all together, but this is completely up to the individual. Eat the foods that provide you with loads of nutrients and work well with your body, and avoid the foods that don't! Cutting out gluten or dairy may benefit some (especially people with allergies or for medical reasons!), but for the people whose bodies can tolerate these foods, it's completely fine to include them as part of a healthy diet. When you think about it, organic wholegrain breads can actually be considered a β€˜healthier’ choice than a highly processed loaf of white gluten free bread!

Some people feel better being vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian or including quality meats in their diet. I believe that everyone has their own individual needs when it comes to food and should set realistic goals for themselves.

Fill your body with a variety of nutritious foods, eat a rainbow and remember that it's actually 'healthier' for you not to put the extra stress or negative emotions on your body!