I was reading through my morning pages today, which is not something I would usually do because mornining pages are crap – deliberately so, its an exercise to do in the morning to get all that random whingy shit that runs through your head on a daily basis onto a sheet of paper so you can free up your mind for better things. I’ve been doing these for a while – it’s a process created by Julia Cameron in ‘The artists way’ as a method by which artists can unblock themselves and recognise what is holding them back from pursuing their art. It can be used by anyone though as a way of clearing your head of that endless noise and that nagging negative little voice that we all get at some point so you can free yourself up for more productive thinking.
Anyway, I digress, as I was reading through my morning pages I came upon a bit that I’d written about how pleased I was that even though I’d bought a chocolate bar, I hadn’t eaten any of it and then how I’d been in the supermarket and going along all of the shelves and cabinets labelling all the stuff in boxes, shiny packets and tins as ‘not food’ and how this was a much better space to be in…I wrote this whilst I was really struggling with food and my diet immediately post comp.
I then went on have a discussion with myself – on paper – about whether I was being too hard on myself, did I have a healthy food attitude or food dysmorphia (if there is such a thing)
Did I have eating order or an eating disorder?
And then I was fascinated – my attitude towards food has changed dramatically in the last few years. I’ve always had a high awareness of food/health because of my celiac, but in the last few years I have studied, learnt and practiced so much more to do with nutrition that for any given food I can usually name it mains minerals, vitamins, g of protein/fat/carb, and even what health issue or ailment it is useful for treating/preventing. When doing Biosignature modulation I learnt about steering clear of processed, packaged, and tinned foods. I learnt so much about fats – which are good and which are not and how to balance them, why you should always go for grass fed and organic meats/eggs/wild caught fish. Bodybuilding has taken my diet to a whole other level of awareness and changed my attitudes towards food indelibly.
I now don’t eat dairy – I’ve always suspected I was lactose intolerant and eating cheese/yoghurt/milk cause my eczema to break out (distressingly on my face!), but over the years I learnt that I could I control the negative effects on my skin by eating avocados and fish – the fats of which are exceptionally good for your skin.
I now don’t eat capsicum because I’ve developed a severe allergic reaction to that – shame because capsicums nutritionally speaking are fantastic food, and they taste good too! 🙂
For sheer convenience now I eat the same thing every day – except weekend breakky, that is my treat and I’m not giving that up – even during comp diet I still go out for breakky as long as it fits with my plan.
Food has become merely a function that achieves a goal – it’s just a list of nutrients that are essential to keeping my body functioning and I’ve narrowed that list of foods down to about 35 that I eat regularly to cover all bases:
Chicken (organic, free range)
Beef (organic grass fed)
(mackerel if I can get fresh)
Tuna (infrequently and only sashimi quality, eaten raw)
White potato (infrequently love sweet potato too much!)
nectarines (when in season)
Cherries (when in season)
Banana (legs day only off season)
Nuts (mainly almonds)
Organic grass fed butter
And that’s it.
Now this list is not all I’m ALLOWED to eat, not a bit of it, I CAN eat ANYTHING I like (as long as it fits my plan), but I’ve arrived at this purely out of sheer practicality and their nutritional superiority (bang for buck) – I don’t have the time/Can’t be bothered to be creative with a huge variety of different foods when only cooking for one person – shopping is quick and easy, food prep is quick and easy, I so love sweet potato that I can’t be bothered with things like rice or quinoa.
It’s the same thing with meat – 2kilos of chicken or turkey can be baked, 12 eggs boiled, 6 heads of broccoli steamed all in one go – meals done for 3 days.
Big bag of spinach/rocket – 2 big handfuls at mid morning snack and lunch – meals sorted for 3 days
Get my soup pot out, chop up a variety of green veg + gluten free stock – soup every day of the week for dinner.
Healthy convenience food!
But is this eating order or eating disorder?
Immediately post comp when I was in a very emotionally/hormonally unbalanced place, struggling with cravings, trying to reverse diet sensibly I would have said ‘yes’. My thinking and attitude towards food became incredibly black or white – a food was ‘good’ or it was ‘bad’ there was no middle ground. For example when weighing up carb choices, say sweet potato, rice or quinoa. The rice would be in the ‘bad’ pile because it had too many calories from carbs and not enough protein or other nutrients. Quinoa would also be in the ‘bad’ pile! Yes, I know it’s an incredibly nutritious whole food with a complete amino acid profile, but again I would put it in the bad pile because it had too high a carb content. So that would leave sweet potato as my carb choice. This type of thinking was coming from a very anxious, distressed, irrational, fearful space, I was seemingly incapable of retaining any sort of rationality around food. It was not reflective of the reality and is the typical kind of thinking associated with disorders. Now that I’ve got through that post comp phase, in looking at those same 3 foods I would still go for the sweet potato not because its ‘good’ and the others are ‘bad’, not at all – the others are very valuable, nutritious foods. I often catch myself in the supermarket picking up random packets of stuff and reading the ingredients labels and ‘nutrition’ panel, then putting it back with a wry smile on my face, shaking my head – I don’t label things ‘good’ or ‘bad’, they just are what they are and I choose not to have them in my diet.
Getting back to the sweet potato, now I eat it purely because of the taste and convenience thing… I can bake up a kilo of sweet potato and I’ve got my required carbs + sweet treat all in one for the next 3 days! Job done and let’s be honest, brown rice will never be able to compete flavour wise on sweet potato baked with cinnamon – no contest! And quinoa…well, just tastes nasty…although happy to be proven wrong on that point!
So again I ask – eating order or eating disorder?
I say now, its order. I make my food choices on nutritional bang for buck, whether I have all bases covered, whether I am getting the right balance/kind of fats, whether there is enough variety to rotate and avoid intolerance development, whether it works with my current goals, whether it agrees with my body and convenience. I am perfectly aware that there are many great foods that I am not eating, and I certainly would not advise anybody to follow my example unless they were absolutely sure it works for their body. When I’m not so focused on alternate muscle growth/fat cutting then I will probably return to being much more flexible with what I eat. Until then, whilst I am definitely not an angel, at least 90% of the time my diet is bang on – right now, I approach eating like I approach my training – methodically and purposefully with the aim being to achieve my overall goals.
And now I’m off to a little place I know that does the most amazing lime cured salmon with smashed green peas, avocado and poached eggs for brekky…and yes I will eat the gluten free bread that comes with it.