Since last November I have been learning and experiencing the impact of what I eat and drink on my ability to be present and focused. A major part of what I have been experimenting with and more importantly enjoying immensely is my commitment to eating organic fruit and vegetables wherever possible.
To set some context for you, when I started this eating approach, I was someone who LOVED his food. I was of the belief that if I wanted something, I would have it with little awareness to what it was, the quality of it or where and how it was grown. I had good enough health for a 39 year old apart from a higher (conventional) cholesterol reading than the ‘normal’ range and an irritated bowel occasionally. I hadn’t eaten red meat or pork since I was 11 years old but did eat a lot of chicken and some fish and I had a more than enthusiastic taste for desert!! I wasn’t just a sweet tooth, but a savoury tooth also and due to long held habits, I would eat at uneven intervals through the day and often would overeat in a sitting due to missing meals.
My weight had steadily grown over the years but never alarmingly, I always found that I seemed to self-regulate pretty well between 85-88kgs (13.85 stones). My family have always had a big focus on food and diet because they all struggle to keep weight down and although I am tall, and that can hide a multitude of sins (!) I felt paunchy and lacked skin tone. I had never been into working out but had a pretty good base line of aerobic fitness but no muscle form or strength.
One amusing story from my childhood was when I was playing for the local under 12 team, under huge duress I must add. My father had bargained with me and said that if I played for one season, I could go on the school ski holiday. My father had been a player, linesman, referee and then the manager of the local team so a real footie man! My older brother had somewhat followed in his footsteps….and then there was me! I was always put in Back Defense position which from memory means that you are usually seen as the stocky overweight kid that behaves like a tank and shouldnt let anyone from the opposing team through. There was minimal running required from that position (which was good!) but also all the fun and action usually happened further up the field so I often felt quite bored. One time, I was playing, I saw a perfect opportunity. The ball had magically landed not so far ahead of me and my excitement rose as I realised it was my moment to shine and kick the ball as far as I could up the field so that my team could take over and hopefully score. Well, I put my head down and sprinted like an olympian (in my mind anyway!) towards the ball which at this point had rolled to a stop and was ripe for my foot to belt it. It was like slow motion in my mind, I lifted my leg with all the speed and agility I could muster, closed my eyes to really focus all my energy into that one kick and kicked as hard as I could. “Tooooooot!” came the whistle (from my Dad who was refereeing the match) calling the game to a halt. I was stunned! What had I done wrong?! It was my moment and thought I had really done a great job. What I hadnt realised is that a member of the opposite team had somehow managed to magically appear between the ball and my high velocity foot and I had kicked him 3 feet in the air!! And my dad was holding up the red card to send me off!! I was gutted on one level because my moment had been thwarted but at the same time quite relieved to be able to leave the game and go to eat the half-time oranges cut up for refreshment ; )) Needless to say, the humiliation my father must’ve felt as he sent his own son off the pitch allowed me the leverage to hang up my boots once and for all and stay clear of sporting activity from then on. Aside from a short stint swimming for the local county and a short burst of glory coming second in the shot-putt, javelin and discus in athletics at school I didn’t get bitten by the heath and fitness bug again till the end of 2011.
As part of a group mentoring I attend, we decided to challenge ourselves around the food and drink we consume and also commit to a training program that would support this new eating approach. I call it an eating approach because I don’t believe the word ‘diet’ works for many of us. It implies sacrifice and missing out on yummy things and having a lack of anything only seems to make me focus and want it even more. Have you ever noticed that? That whatever you are resisting, you focus and obsess on more!
What I learned through this approach has transformed my view on food and its effect on my body and the way I look at ingredients and the preparation of food. From someone who spent most of my meal times at cafes and restaurants and ready prepared meals from supermarkets, fully convinced that because I wasn’t eating red meat and fatty things, that I was fairly ‘good’ and had a varied diet. As my friends would attest, my idea of cooking at home was microwaving a jacket potato and heating up beans and sprinkling grated cheese on top! Or a tuna pasta bake with packet cheese sauce! I sat in this strange place of loving food and appreciating other peoples amazing food and wine and yet no personal interest in it in terms of preparing and making it for myself. My dream was to outsource that part of my life and get someone else to take responsibility for my diet and the cooking of it. I even got to the stage where I was researching housekeepers who had dietitian training!
Now, one of the most rewarding and unmissable times in my week is when I go to the local organic food market which is one of many that are thriving in and around the Sydney area. The consciousness I feel around what fruit and vegetables are in season just simply because I now take an active role in choosing my produce leaves me with a healthy glow all of its own. I now source and eat organic red meat (only grass fed and finished to avoid the consumption of grains) and cook it in ways that maintain the quality and integrity of the fat, mainly slow-cooked and grilled and less dependency on chicken than before. One of the major discoveries I have made is the myth around fat making you fat and eggs causing cholesterol issues. As I mentioned, my cholesterol reading was higher than average and on the borderline of taking medication. Now, after eating more (healthy) fat, good quality meat, avocados, olive oil, ghee and coconut oil, my reading has dropped with only a bemused look from my doctor as to why.
The clarity I experience in my thought process and the energy I feel is well worth the challenge I felt in not eating grains and processed food and sugar. An unexpected and welcome benefit I have experienced in this experiment is I have lost the paunchy waistline and love-handles (there since birth!) with my waistline reduced by 3 inches and i’m 10+ kgs lighter. That part is very much the icing on the cake as it wasn’t my intention to lose weight.
For someone with my family history and a lifetime lack of discipline around food, I feel like this way of eating has really opened up my world and works for me. The combination of doing the challenge as a group, which offered invaluable support (and yummy recipes!) , a firm commitment to myself, along with the very quick results I experienced seem to be why it does. I am now supporting some of my CoreTruth clients in this way with some great effect. They report back similar experiences to mine, more clarity, enthusiasm, a levelling out of mood, lighter body and smoother process. The one universal realisation is just how sugar addicted we have become as a population and how amazing it is when your body remembers how to taste sugar in natural forms, such as root vegetables and nuts.
So, now after 9 months, I have found that I don’t struggle to choose the healthier option, it has become just how I eat. I stay with this approach 90% of the time and am not militant about those times where my first choice isn’t available and I eat out with friends and enjoy whatever I feel to have the other 10% of the time.
As you can probably gather, I feel enthused about what I have learned and benefited from. If your interest has been piqued around anything I have shared above and would like to know more, please just email me at David@CoreTruth.com.au and it would be my pleasure to give you some more pointers.