Starved by advice


I’m confused. Aren’t you?

Our food industry is so saturated with fad diets and advice that I’m sure I’m not alone when I hear another list of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods and I think… is there anything left that we can eat without feeling crappy?

Some of the food advice I have read on blogs and in cookbooks over the past few weeks include a long list of items that I shouldn’t eat because they are ‘bad’ for me. According to these experts we should not eat or cook with; fat (except coconut oil), butter, wheat, lard, bacon, coconut oil, coconut products, gelatine, meat, fish, grains, any grain, rice (except brown rice), rice (except white rice), sugar (except honey, rice syrup and maple syrup), coconut sugar, honey (unless it’s raw and manuka). I’ve also read from various sources that we shouldn’t eat almonds, cashews, peanuts, soy in any form, corn in any form, uncooked kale, cooked kale, cooked greens, dairy products (except when fermented), no kombucha, vinegar, alcohol (except wine), alcohol (including wine), tea (except green), tea (except medicinal herbal), coffee, beans and lentils, potatoes… and the list goes on and on and on.

I’ve read I should eat vegan (including processed meat alternatives), that I should eat only raw food, that I should eat no fruit, that I should eat lots of fruit. I’ve been told that eating meat is bad (but then again so is soy) and then I turn to the next blog that tells me that I should be drinking large glasses of bone broth (stock) every single day. I read that we should eat no salt, unless of course it is pink and himalayan. I should eat no fruit, except expensive imported berries.

There are lists of food that are ‘good’ and foods that are ‘bad’ and it’s no wonder we are all so bloody confused.

The food industry is saturated with ‘experts’ and food fads and we take the word of celebrity chefs as gospel in a world where we are so damn privileged that we have become obsessed with food choices and diets and ‘bad’ foods.

I spend a lot of my time working with teenagers who are trying to balance a harsh world of criticism with their own need for self empowerment and expression. These (and all) young people don’t need the additional pressure of the food industry telling them that the natural, whole foods that they eat are on some list of ‘bad’ foods touted by some expert or another. If you took into account every single piece of advice from every single expert there would be absolutely nothing left to eat. I spend a lot of time talking to teenagers and young adults about taking care of their physical and mental health and giving them the tools to create strong spectacular lives by placing solid self-empowered building blocks of health and wellbeing on top of each other… but I look around at the adults around me and I realise we are all more obsessed and confused than we ever have been before. As a society we are still endlessly obsessed by looks and never attentive enough to our (or each others) mental health.

We are so obsessed by what we eat that we are kind of missing the point. Aren’t we?

I’m not saying that there aren’t natural foods that cause problems for us as individuals. I have a few. But working through our own intolerances and building food profiles with naturopaths and alternative health experts who we can sit across from and give us advice that is based on our own bodies and our families needs… instead of just washing everyone with the same ‘bad food’ brush.

Why don’t we stop obsessing about foods that are bad and start thinking about enjoying food that tastes good and make our bodies feel good. Food that is grown locally, food that is in season, food that isn’t laced with chemicals and isn’t processed until it doesn’t even resemble real food anymore. Food that doesn’t cost the earth a great price to produce and food that isn’t flown to us from halfway around the world because of its ‘superfood’ benefits. Why don’t we enjoy the occasional treat and eat cake and share delicious food with friends. Why don’t we stop shaming each other about what we eat and remember how privileged we are that we get any choice at all.

Your health, your wellness, your life is far more complex than simply food than food that is ‘good’ and food that is ‘bad’ (that you then eat and feel guilty about).

We can choose to opt out of eating animal products for ethical and/or health reasons. We can have food intolerances that mean that our body doesn’t respond well to grains or to dairy. But to say that these ‘rules’ should apply to everyone, just because they do to you (or to a celebrity foodie) – is crazy.

Let’s not poison our kids with this crazy notion that local food in its natural form is in some way bad for our bodies. Let’s stop with the fads and the food fashions. Let’s stop with the superfood labelling and the greenwash marketing. No one actually needs freeze dried blueberries shipped from Peru. You don’t need to grate avocado seeds blindly onto your toast just because someone told you it was packed full of potassium, so are beans and greens. Do your research. Make your own choices. Stop throwing food away. Shop responsibly. Compost your food waste. Share what you have.

Let’s just stop and be grateful for how bloody lucky we are to be surrounded by local farmers and food producers who are growing awesome food that we have the privilege to buy, to eat, to share.

I don’t think that’s really too much to ask. Do you?

I’m going to go and eat a slice of cake and think about this.

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  • June 3, 2015 - 5:45 am

    Jessica - Thank you so much for posting this, these are exactly my thoughts and feelings. I really do think this obsession comes from a place of privileged. I do feel that because we are so far removed from poverty, recession, famine, disease, war, that we sometimes invent our own problems.ReplyCancel

    • June 3, 2015 - 7:27 pm

      Sash - YES! I think you got it in one Jessica… so much privilege yet so many ‘problems’ that aren’t true problems. What so many people in the world would give to have food (let alone choices in what they eat!)ReplyCancel

  • June 3, 2015 - 7:50 am

    Tracey - Thank you for this!!ReplyCancel

  • June 3, 2015 - 8:57 am

    Dale - OMG yes! *sigh*ReplyCancel

    • June 3, 2015 - 7:28 pm

      Sash - Big sigh indeed. It’s a conversation I think we all need to keep having to start to change the tide.ReplyCancel

  • June 3, 2015 - 1:31 pm

    Jo - Absolutely Sash. Well said!ReplyCancel

  • June 3, 2015 - 5:58 pm

    Jayne - Couldn’t agree more with Jessica. This is a first world problem and people (myself included) need to get some perspective and just use common sense when deciding what food to eat.ReplyCancel

    • June 3, 2015 - 7:29 pm

      Sash - Ah common sense! Some days it feels as if it went out of fashion years ago, doesn’t it? I absolutely agree with you, 100%.ReplyCancel

  • June 4, 2015 - 12:57 am

    slowmamma - I absolutely agree. It should be simple. And yet, it’s so complicated. Ironically, I think it is complicated because it’s so damn important and our food system is so terribly screwed up. Luckily, getting back to this is so worth it on so many levels!ReplyCancel

  • June 4, 2015 - 5:33 am

    lisa thomson-the great escape - Fantastic points made here, Sash! My daughter was a vegan for years as a teen. Suddenly at age 20, she started eating meat with a vengeance. Food fads & trends can be dangerous and not to mention take all the joy out of eating. Thanks for this powerful reminder to enjoy our food and be grateful for our choices. I’m eating some fresh local strawberries right now with ice cream and thoroughly enjoying!ReplyCancel

  • June 4, 2015 - 8:38 am

    Supernashwan - Really it all comes down to moderation. As a former junk food addict, extreme meat eater who went Vegan for a couple of years, and now back again, I’ve come to learn that really just don’t eat too much of the same stuff (unless it is vegetables). Eat everything that you want, just make sure it is a wide wide variety. I think people just want to be told “eat these 10 foods only and you’ll be healthy forever” which just isn’t realistic (but is a great clickbait title).ReplyCancel

  • June 5, 2015 - 8:33 pm

    Pass me the butter - Couldn’t agree more! I find it completely confronting and stressful to be trying to balance so many competing interests. Add to the above mix trying to eat from local suppliers and there is nothing left to eat!
    One of my main concerns about all of this is the impact on our kids. I know kids that won’t eat things because they have too much sugar (these kids are 4 years old!!). I wonder if they are being set up for a lifetime of anxiety related to food consumption.
    I want my kids to make healthy choices but I also want them to enjoy all of the gorgeous things the world has to offer and not live the obsessed lives I see all around me. BTW, hats off to those that manage their diets in order to manage health issues – I am all for this, but for the crazy, whacky, restricted, ridiculous, over priced food consumers in the name of it being “best” with no scientific evidence to support it – I say no to that!!!!
    Turns out I have quite an opinion on this 🙂ReplyCancel

    • June 10, 2015 - 9:30 pm

      Sash - It’s good to find you have an opinion on things I think! 🙂 And I agree… totally.ReplyCancel

    • June 10, 2015 - 9:31 pm

      Sash - Also… butter… yes… pass it to me.ReplyCancel

  • June 6, 2015 - 5:14 pm

    Helen - This was so refreshing to read. Thanks for the reminder to keep our food choices in perspective. It would be great if there were more people like you writing about this on the internet!ReplyCancel

  • June 12, 2015 - 6:19 am

    Anna - This article is really relevant and refreshing advice. I go to boarding school but love food and read a lot of food blogs when I’m bored with conflicting advice that makes me worry about what I eat at school and I can get caught up in a whirlwind of worry but then remind myself I am lucky to have food at all. Obviously some food is not that great and there are some things I would rather not eat, but to have food available 3 times a day is something I think we take for granted. So thank you this article was a sound reminder to stay grounded and eased my worry.ReplyCancel

  • June 15, 2015 - 1:23 pm

    Heidi - Apples Under My Bed - So well said, Sash! This is the first post I’ve read of yours (found you via voices 2015) and I am so excited to explore your lovely blog a bit more. I cannot agree more with what you’ve written. I think you’ve articulated how a lot of people are feeling. I’ll add Dietitians though, to the qualified people who you should see for advice 😉 I’m a Dietitian and I see so many clients who are confused from all these mixed messages. We need to learn how to trust ourselves again and listen to our bodies. Off to look at that cake recipe xReplyCancel

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