Thoughts on the world, homeopathy, mindfulness and food...
A collection of blog posts - feel free to respond with your thoughts and comments - I love to have feedback - thank you!
I'm aware that really we can only ever speak for ourselves. I find the idea of eating meat now repulsive. Someone would have to pay me a lot to put something that had lived and breathed on my fork and raise it to my mouth, to chew it and swallow. It would be like being on I'm a celebrity eating some form of inedible insect. And yet, two years ago I was eating it believing that I needed it (or at least, my growing child did). So things change.
It struck me very recently that the process that an animal goes through from field to fork is simply barbaric. It's brought into the world to be sacrificed for someone who may not even appreciate that act. Who may joke about how it's really an evil mastermind, how it wants to sell drugs to your kids - really? No really?! If you're going to do it then at least respect it. But for me, I recognise that the amount of adrenaline, stress hormones and sheer energetic terror pumping through that animal as it faces it's inevitable fate - well that's something that I no longer want to be responsible for, let alone consume and allow to become part of my body.
So no surprises for my number one food that drains me! I'm staying firmly away from meat.
Fish likewise to be honest. It's experience of drowning in air, of panicking as it could no longer get what it needed to survive is again something I can live without. Aside from the radioactivity in the oceans, the mercury, the accumulation of heavy metals and the wiping out of the ocean due to farming and fishing methods. Just not all that appetising anymore!
Milk is another that once my eyes were opened - most significantly by The China Study but other texts along the way, just not all that tasty once you know the truth.
Salt is one that I'm battling my personal demons with - I love the taste of it but I know it's really not good for me and it really is all in my head. I'm fine without it - far less dehydrated, bouncier, lighter and possibly even happier!
And lastly for me - larger amounts of nuts and seeds or oils really ground me - without them I feel bouncier, lighter and more energetic.
So to the foods that boost me - I love my fruits - water rich fruits in a morning such as a melon or two. Loving my melons ;)
Greens - greens are sooooo good and I've had mornings (might have been when I realised I definitely was a crunchy mama) when I've thought 'I need the spirulina' - and felt better for it. Placebo or not. Feeling better is good for me! I love my kale especially at the moment although we also go through lots of baby leaf spinach and in summer plenty of romaine lettuce too.
Tasty raw food dishes - it doesn't have to be boring! My favourite at the moment is a coconut curry with cauliflower (and kale sometimes) 'rice' or vegetable 'noodles'. Love wraps using a romaine leaf, tomato based dishes, raw soups (mango and cucumber is my current absolute favourite).
So check out your boost and drain lists - see how you feel after certain foods and others - experiment and enjoy!
Oh and lastly, ice cream. I love love love banana ice cream made from frozen bananas and blended. Nothing more. Such a fabulous and healthy treat. Speaking of which I think I'm off for the ice cream tub. Time to go do some studying. Bath. Ice cream. Lesson notes. Perfection.
It seems strange to think it's been a year. Seems like I've eaten this way for a long time, and other times feels like I'm still very much at the beginning of the journey. I think perhaps we always are at the beginning of the journey. It's just a step at a time, and what went before is gone, what's to come is so far away it's only ever about this step.
I've been reflecting a little recently on the year and my experiences and thought I'd share a few...
I love eating raw. I love the way I feel when I totally engage in it and don't nick the odd leftovers off Isla's plate. I can feel totally hungover if I have salty things or too much cooked food.
I totally absolutely love eating whole food plant based and completely feel right doing that.
I really don't like the term vegan. I don't think it describes much, I think it's so broad but narrowing at the same time and I think it has lots of attachment to it for lots of people. I eat whole food, plant based raw foods that enrich and support my body and mind.
It's all just a big experiment. One day I might listen to my body and feel totally great, another I might listen to my ego based mind that tells me I 'need' this or that - I might feel great or not the next day. It's OK. It's all just a big learning curve. Life.
It's just food. There's so much more to life than food. I think if food isn't doing you good then life can be hard but clean up the food and get out there enjoying life. I don't need to talk about it all the time. I am happy to, and to be honest can't talk about Eastenders or other soaps but there's lots more than just where the protein does or doesn't come from. That said, I am happy to engage and discuss it all on an intelligent level. I am totally disinterested in arguments that go along the lines of 'but animals like to be killed and eaten'. Tolerance has run a little low just there!
I love it - have I said that? I love I've explored new foods, that I actually love being in the kitchen, creating new dishes, sharing recipes and writing my raw food book.
I don't need people to agree with me to feel good. Which is probably a good job as I don't know many people who care to eat this way (but so appreciate my lovely friends who are happy to try things, taste stuff and play out raw from time to time). I have some opinions that some people disagree with. This isn't about me, it's their stuff - they can think their stuff and I can think mine. And that's perfect. Whether that be around vaccination, co-sleeping, food, work, whatever - it's all good.
I love life and feel more connected to life, the universe around me and the magic that's out there all the time.
I think that's enough for now. I'm sure I've learnt much much more but now it's time to go play on the guitar.
With thanks and so much love for reading, commenting, liking and sharing my blog posts, recipes and website information,
Within a relatively short space of time, two posts had come to my attention highlighting the naked body. One, a beautiful collection of images of yoga poses, done completely naked, and the other, a blog offering 5 reasons to get naked everyday.
For me, the most beautiful sentence in the blog, or at least the most thought provoking was:
'When was the last time you looked at your body in all its naked glory? I mean really looked at it. No squeaming at chubby thighs or grimacing at lanky arms. Just looking at, understanding, and accepting your body in all its perfectly imperfect brilliance'
How many of us think 'I'd like my body if...' I'm definitely not immune to it, although aspire often enough to elevating myself beyond this place. Elevating may be the wrong word - total acceptance of my body in all it's perfect imperfection is, I suppose what I'd like to aim for. And I have no doubt I'll get there. It's been a lifetime's work so far, and from a place of fairly intense food restriction to gain control in an uncontrollable part of my life story nearly 20 years ago, I've come a long way.
What saddens me though is how young this judgement starts. I hear my 7 year old tell me that 'friends' have told her she's fat and ugly. She's neither, but that's not really the issue here. What are we thinking that these gorgeous beings are calling each other these names? And, more importantly, how do we strengthen their inner knowledge that they too are, imperfectly perfect. People will, at various points, or at least may, knock our confidence in ourselves, in our bodies, in our beliefs. I just wasn't aware that the training starts so young.
For me, mindfulness comes in, self confidence in ourselves, taking time to get to know our bodies, accepting and giving thanks for the beauty that is within and without. Not to be ashamed of our own bodies in front of our daughters and sons and to work on our own stuff with the hope of releasing them from a similar place. I feel lucky I grew up in a house where we could all wander around in with nothing on (not that we often did - it wasn't quite that sort of house...) but there was no judgement - and still I fell into a self loathing trap of telling myself I was fat daily so I would have the resolve to restrict my food (and probably covered up more so no one was aware of my journey at that point). Beating myself up to get results didn't lead to happiness - although I suppose it did lead to an unhealthy level of weight loss at the time. And so now I see the BBC news around obesity suggesting that they use terrorising tactics and light stigma to assist in our obesity crisis.
I don't doubt the crisis - I would call it a health crisis, an overabundance of processed food crisis, and probably a shocking lack of foresight in people who are in government handing out watered down information in the hope that people could achieve it instead of trusting our intelligence and giving real, true information crisis.
Damn I've done it again. My blog was about the beauty of the naked body and it's becoming a food rant. But hear me out, there's a point to it all. If we eat well, we feel well. If we feel good about ourselves we are inspired to eat well and look after ourselves. Making people feel bad - whether it be in the playground, in the workplace, in the consultation space or even just sat at home watching an advert doling out some 'light stigma' tactics is unlikely to lead to an enhanced sense of wellbeing and ambition to give our bodies life enhancing foods.
Let's learn to love. Ourselves, others, our bodies. Our glorious naked bodies which do so much for us and get so little thanks. Today I stood in front of a mirror and thanked mine for being what it is. Doing what it does and helping me everyday.
So let's go naked now and again. Even if that's only naked, unprocessed food to start with. Imagine funding for subsidised fruits and vegetables (or even just buying more ourselves) and a campaign on TV for juicing, upping fruits and veggies, starting every meal with a large salad, increasing the greens, learning to love greens. And ourselves. Loving us for being imperfectly perfect. Just the way we are.
With my involvement in the “Inspire” Pilates Bootcamp, alongside conversations over the weekend, and my gradual journey into a plant based way of life, I’ve thought a lot recently about fish.
As with everything, there’s lots of opinions out there. Whether they are ethical, moral, health related or emotionally linked, it seems everyone has something to say. And deciding what makes the most sense seems to be the most challenging bit.
For me, the health issue was the highlight. I’d always been aware that it was killing another creature and yet I could put this to the back of my mind as I tucked into swordfish, fresh tuna steak, lobster (only on the very rare occasion and possibly only at The Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok). I’ve said before that it was Scott Jurek (American ultrarunner) who started my journey and awareness into plant based eating when he talked about how he felt fitter, recovered faster and trained harder whilst following this lifestyle. The very fact that an athlete could improve upon his athletic performance made me wonder whether I could improve my own health by making subtle shifts.
Colin Campbell (author of The China Study and passionate researcher around the effects of animal based protein on the human state of health says:
‘Some people may have heard that fish are good sources of essential fatty acids. However, the high amounts of fat and cholesterol and the lack of fiber make fish a poor choice. Fish are also often high in mercury and other environmental toxins that have no place in an optimal diet.
Fish oils have been popularized as an aid against everything from heart problems to arthritis. The bad news about fish oils is that omega-3s in fish oils are highly unstable molecules that tend to decompose and, in the process, unleash dangerous free radicals. Research has shown that omega-3s are found in a more stable form in vegetables, fruits, and beans.’
Dr Caldwell Esselstyn Jr adds to this in an interview around his diet to prevent and reverse heart disease
‘Fish oil is not essential. Fish get their omega 3 from plants. It is difficult to be deficient in Omega 3 if eating 1-2 tablespoons of flax seed meal or chia seeds and green leafy vegetables at several meals. There is also research that suggests that those on plant based nutrition become highly efficient in their own manufacture of omega 3. Patients on fish oil are also at increased risk for bleeding.’
My own view is that farmed fish is rich in antibiotics due to the disease ridden climate they are existing in up until they are killed, the additives (such as the dye in salmon to make it appear as the wild variety naturally is) and the high rates of illness combined with the reasons above are enough to make me think I am less eager to consume it.
The often quoted benefits of fish can be achieved easily through a diet rich in plant based foods and these individuals will not lack the essential nutrients that fish too are able to give to us. The bonus side is that plant based omega 3 intake comes without a list of side effects.
A lot like the great big fat cancerous tobacco myth, I balked at titling this blog The great big fat cancerous milk myth, but actually that was my first choice. Because milk isn't this innocuous substance that's all warm and friendly and you want to give to your kids, cats, dogs and yourself. Or at least whilst it may appear that way, below the surface there are uncomfortable truths to discover.
Uncomfortable truths to hear, as a parent who believed milk was the next best thing to, well, human milk, I admit I took a bit of convincing. But now there is resolutely no going back. However, it's so well established in our society and culture that nobody stops to question whether we should be listening to the advice to drink milk to increase our calcium sources and prevent against osteoporosis, grow healthy bones, teeth and more. It turns out we're at the peak milk drinking that we've ever been at and with more osteoporosis than ever before. The maths just doesn't add up.
Humans - supposedly the most evolved of all animals - and yet still suckling after weaning. From an entirely different species with an entirely different physiology than us. How many of us cringed at the Little Britain 'Bitty' sketches and yet happily guzzle the white stuff? How many protested, or at least had a little 'urgh' about the breastmilk ice cream at Covent Garden and yet contendly indulge in Ben and Jerry's?
But I've alluded to cancer and not given any more information. Here again I was shocked. Experiments time and time again on rodents have shown that casein, the protein in milk, is an active cancer promoter. Without even any science behind it if you merely consider that cows milk is endowed with many compounds to promote growth in calves - it may also promote growth in ourselves. And once we're fully grown (leaving aside the issues around giving milk to children for a moment) do we want to promote growth? I don't know many people who would happily double their current weight. And what is cancer at it's simplest level? Overgrowth of cells in an area that they're not supposed to be growing in.
The China Study by T Colin Campbell, is, so far the most comprehensive study I've found around dairy and cancer. Study after study, they are able to demonstrate the effects of consuming animal based protein (casein - the protein found in milk was most commonly used) and cancer. Up to a certain level - around about 5% of the total dietary intake, appeared to create no issues - even whilst the animal was exposed to carcinogenic substances, but about the 10% mark the cancer was activated and grew. Even more interestingly, by switching the animal to a low protein diet, they were able to decrease the cancer growth. And on the opposite effect, the low protein group who were then swapped to high protein intake, then developed the cancers.
All well and good - but that was on mice and rats (which I acknowledge comes with other issues that I am passionate about but am merely quoting the research as is relevant here). What about humans? Which was where China came into it all. The China Project was a large study looking into the links between diet and western based diseases. And it echoed the previous, animal based research - the more animal based protein a person ingested, the more likely they were to succumb to what Dr Campbell would call - 'diseases of affluence' - your cancers, heart diseases, obesity, diabetes, and also maybe surprisingly - autoimmune diseases such as MS, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis and more. The book, The China Study, however is much more than just the China Project. It's a collection of many researchers work, many well referenced and critiqued studies and, fundamentally, irrefutable evidence around dairy, meat, eggs and processed food stuffs.
There's more I could write, so much more, but I implore you to read The China Study and decide for yourself. It would be great to hear your views after you have.
PS Our favourite milk substitutes seem to be Coconut Milk and Oat Milk - what do you like best?
Just a few thoughts from the comfort of my desk. Food production and sustainability will feature heavily in the years ahead and we can make a difference to the impact on our world starting now. If we want.
I'm always happy to help with advice and assistance around making these changes - just give me a shout if you'd like to know more.
I've just realised you can even spot our lovely 2014 calendar in the background which is available here. Get one whilst you still can - gorgeous, beautiful images of homeopaths around the world, out there in nature, and what's more, it's all in a calendar girls style.
I'm a Homeopath working in the Skipton (North Yorkshire) area. I am also able to offer food intolerance testing using Kinesiology and advice around diet and lifestyle.
Em Colley MARH, Practitioner of Classical Homeopathy, BSc(Hons) Psychology and Neuroscience
Focussed Mindfulness Practitioner
Dip (SNHS) Kinesiology
Dip (SNHS) Holistic Nutrition
Certificate in Whole Food, Plant Based Nutrition