In modern times such as the one we live in, food produce and knowledge has grown exponentiality. I recall one New Years day around 2009 /2010 feeling agitated, confused and overwhelmed. So much of the publications out spouting the ins and outs of the best diet, exercise and contradictory information. And it has been like that ever since.
I was engaged and teaching in the physical arts, from fitness, gym training, pilates, yoga, dance and various eastern modalities of health and wellbeing — anything I would find and that interested me. I combined the teachings and went on to create my own style of classes. From ‘Body Awareness’, ‘Creative Bodywork’, ‘Body Fusion’. All mind-body exercises to meditation incorporated into a blend before the trends of the times.
Alongside this interest, I was always into cooking, food and eating. My mother was a great cook, and we, (my sister and I) were expected to help her in the kitchen since we were tall enough to reach the counter. Eating around the family table as a family was a given — breakfast, — lunch during school holidays and always in an evening. But I also remember my mother being on some diet of some kind, one, in particular, the grapefruit diet. I recall half a grapefruit in a dish on our placing mats for breakfast, asking dad, ‘Why are we eating grapefruit every day?’
‘Because your mother is on a diet’ was the grumbled reply.
Like we really knew what that meant. With that, the belt machine in their bedroom that would wobble you back to slimness. Does anyone recall seeing that in your childhood home?
I read once, that if a parent dieted it communicates to a child a sense of inadequacy as well as instilling a distorted body image of themselves too. (My older sister became an anorexic in her twenties). As trends have always seemed to be around no matter era or decade, we as a society in the west are easily influenced by so-called specialists and experts despite a lot of trends being formed by individualised least qualified and experienced. Eventually, things do get backed up by science, but to that end with more questions than answers and contradictions.
My view always has been to enjoy life and food
To eat concerning your body, not denying yourself anything. I have tried the blood group diet, macrobiotic way of eating, food combining, omitting gluten but never been on a restricted-calorie diet. It has never made sense to me, and in my more youthful days, put an hour or so a day in a gym working my muscles and doing cardio-work. It began by my over and comfort eating, ( I’d go through large bags of Oreo cookies and crisps) during a three months sabbatical in California, where I was bored shitless working as a nanny, stuck in a toxic middle-class household and hardly used my own body to move around.
They lived in Palos Verdes, and the only way round was in a car. Everything there was get in the car and out again. It was there in that State though I was introduced to the mecca of gyms and its environment, back in 1991. At the time, I couldn’t fit into my jeans any longer, had a barrel for a belly and felt uncomfortable with my body.
Calling for guidance
One the plane back after an early career crisis in my 20’s after following my mother’s path for me rather than my own, I prayed hard to be shown what was next for me. I was a qualified interior designer and lost after a couple of offers working for interior design firms, that did not do it for me. Followed by an eight months stint in London before I found myself heading back home with what felt like my tail between my legs, burned out and lost.
So off I went to California to the land of opportunities on the back of a girl I met modelling on a bridal trade stand. Just like the boy in the Alchemist I travelled across the seas – only to find that I could not find what as I was looking for…until I was one the plane back. ‘What must I do?” despondent and desperate to know I spoke to the universe from my aeroplane seat. ‘Show me!!!’ and then a clear sounding voice spoke to me. ‘Train as a fitness instructor’.
I heard the instruction loud and clear. For the first time, I got excited. A tingle of excitement with the willingness to restudy cemented itself by the time I disembarked the plane.
Four days later, back in London, I secured a job in a private members gym as their receptionist and the rest is history.
Isn’t great when you follow your heart and path of truth, how it all opens up with ease and grace?
Back to a life of good eating
I have seen trends come and go, and implode by the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Pippa Middleton, My God, really? Become experts despite no qualifications and years of training and knowledge become speakers demonstrators and experts on eating right, not to mention the movement of ‘eating clean’ by the Ella Mills known as Deliciously Ella, discovered by posting good food shots and the Helmsley sisters advocating fads of grain-free diets etc. etc. etc…yawn! And the rest. Journalism and publishers have become let’s look for the next big thing if you can come up with a catchy title and brand all the better for you! Forget whether you are experienced or not..its what sells. Here is the latest article presented by the Evening Standard Magazine.
Such are the times we live in. But it’s backfiring. The 7-minute workout promising results forgets to mention that you won’t get these results if you are older. Afterall she is in her early 20’s, and one’s body responds differently. Not only is it a hack, but the whole ethos behind it only puts shame and guilt onto those not achieving the promised results! If it were only that easy! Just like all the food fads that have resulted and eating foods from across the world that does not fit you nor climate of country one lives in.
Somewhere way back, when I wrote an essay on this very topic, that we needed to take into consideration our food intake and notice the body. You do so, by listening to it paying attention to how you feel. Also, what could agreeable to you could be disagreeable to another. We are not all the same, far from it.
Listen to your Body
I know that when I eat anything cold, ice cream, dairy or non-dairy my stomach bloats. I get night sweats if I overeat cheese or yoghurt or chilli at an evening meal. My body went haywire when I tried the promised lose weight coffee powder and capsules from a company called Revital U stating more energy and weight loss, ( yes for my sins I gave it a try) only for it to do the opposite, tired me out and had me awake with night sweats each day I took a tablet or consumed the sachet of coffee. I did lose a few pounds almost immediately but for me how it made me feel outweighed the desire of weight loss results.
In the post, my box went, and I decided to live well and eat well on a search for a more natural way of managing my weight and the change. More on this another time. To accept my middle-age-weight gain post-hysterectomy as part of the course. It’s been hard for me; I admit as I remember myself to be a size 8 for years 55kg and lean and agile. Which I am not.
That said, I love going outdoors and being in movement doing yoga, running, walking whatever and using nature as my gym. I feel vibrant and joyful each time. That is matters to me.
But since I’ve been writing on topics I am passionate about; I sit in front of my iMac at my desk at home. The need for social media engagement and work over the internet, I sit longer hours than move about as I did. I still eat well, as I love cooking and eating.
My, ‘why’ is different from what it was. I am happier for being me and myself. I don’t need to be eating quinoa, chia seeds or drinking gallons of non-dairy smoothies to be living clean and well.
The opposite. I drink a glass of wine most nights and smoke socially, rarely at home unless I’m hosting a party. I’ve always believed in moderation — all things I do inform me whether it works or not whether it fits me or not.
I will look things up and often lead to the real remedy or supplement I need. I don’t need Gwyneth or Pippa Middleton to inform of what is in our out. Nor any other person out there what is trendy or in.
We need to wakeup.
Take into consideration where our foods come from. What it costs the planet, the earth. And not to mention the labour force of which the produce is from. Due to the explosion of cashews nuts, in nut form or milk and quinoa and such grains, we have crippled the locals from their source. By default, encourage child labour and pitiful wages. Think about it. Would you tolerate being paid this way or accept your child to work in such conditions, why ignore this reality?
Stop your food snobbery and get real.
There is plenty of intelligent foods which grow locally and which can be sourced locally. By intelligent one that gives you the nourishment you need.
Let’s keep in mind while the planet is an abundant place, mother nature generous. We need to think about our choices.
We can choose wisely and make a difference. Think twice and maybe three times if you have to, about where your food comes from and is it vital?
A life of good eating is a life of consuming all factors.
Just like we are aware of farmed animals due to unethical methods, we must apply the same in terms of what it costs the planet to import foods. Wise up on fads, and wellness products. Much of which is fabricated hype.
Do you know how much water it takes to grow an avocado tree? Marks and Spencers now right now have market range produce selling to ripe at home a twin pack for 0.65pence. Yes, that’s it! You think about the amount of stock they carry to make it worth their while to offer this trendy fruit. Read this and think about what it takes to grow and how were are adding to other crisis so that we can feast on these fruits.
Follow your truth by connecting to the place you live. Eat foods from the country you live in – that to me is key to a Life of Good Eating.
Your body will thank you for it, and in the long term the planet too.
Do your bit and forget the hype. Live, eat and love well.
© Rafah Sabbagh 2019
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