I am not one to go in for strict rules on health and eating, with labels attached and foods to cut out. My health philosophy is exactly that, a philosophy (from the Greek word philosophia meaning “love of wisdom”) meaning a rational and questioning approach to everyday health, and how we can achieve good health in the modern world. Research in nutrition is constantly throwing up new discoveries, old data is revised with new opinions formed as science progresses and we discover more about the human body, meaning we have to constantly keep up to date with the latest studies and be willing to re consider what we might have once believed as fact.
Saying that, I have a basic approach to overall health that I believe can encourage optimum nourishment to the body and mind and harks back to a time when we relied less on convenience foods and man made chemicals, and more on what we can produce from nature. I believe our wellbeing relies on physical, emotional and spiritual factors and in order to promote optimal health we must nurture all three-a holistic approach.
I believe in eating a diet based on natural wholefoods, mainly plant based, with small amounts of good quality, free range meat, eggs and dairy which benefits your body as well as our planet, and I don’t cut out any food groups or advise wheat free/gluten free/lactose free diets unless that person has an intolerance or allergy. I think balance is key so I don’t go in for high carb/low carb/high fat/low fat diets, instead eating a balanced ratio of high quality protein (tofu, soya, seitan, quinoa, beans, pulses, sometimes meat, eggs or fish) along with a source of good fats (essential fats such as omega 3 & 6 from fish, nuts and seeds, plus avocado, coconut, olive oil) and complex carbohydrates (vegetables, wholegrains).
Personally I favour organic produce for the majority, as I believe it retains more of its nutrients and is better for the planet. I don’t like labels but the term ‘flexitarian’ I think is one of the better ones, made up for people who aren’t entirely rigid in their approach, but appreciate the complexities of a lifestyle that takes into account nutrition, finances, morals, ethics and ecology. In an ideal world we’d only ever eat the organic, homegrown food from our own land, or at worst the locally sourced produce from the farmers market, skin our own rabbits and make our own cheese, but we all know these ‘life goals’ sometimes remain just that. Part of my philosophy is not sweating the small stuff, food is to be enjoyed and stressing because your shopping basket doesn’t tick every box you’ve set yourself takes away from that experience. We can only do our best with what we have.
For me health goes further than what I do or do not put into my body. I try and limit the amount of chemicals my body is exposed to so I make the majority of the cleaning products I use, largely based on things like bicarbonate of soda, vinegar, castile soap, essential oils etc. and also many of my beauty products such as face creams, deodorant and the like. When I buy products they are made from natural, organic ingredients that aren’t tested on animals and I use a lot of herbal and flower remedies and essential oils. Living on a boat means our waste water goes directly into the sea so making a conscious choice isn’t only for my own health.
Exercise is as important for the body as it is for the mind. Going for a run clears my mind and I always feel so much more positive. I’m generally more productive after I’ve exercised, whether it’s a run, a swim in the sea or some yoga, with the endorphins produced leaving a lasting energy buzz. Getting the blood pumping carrying freshly oxygenated blood to all your cells and sweating it out, preferably in the fresh outdoors, gets your whole body fired up and clears out your system.
So it is not just food that encourages good health, it is lifestyle choices and environment, mental state, spiritual beliefs, activity levels and genetic predisposition…we must look at the body holistically in order to reach our full health potential.