Thursday, 20 January 2011

"Healthy" eating?

I came across a blog the other day, in the course of one of my random blog hopping exercises, of a girl who was losing weight while following a fairly strict vegan diet. Reading through what she ate on a daily basis was quite amazing – here was someone who was actually doing a Gillian McKeith In Real Life! Someone who didn’t have to go on the TV and extol the virtues of such a regime for the cameras while secretly fighting a burger craving*.

It made me feel a little inadequate, I must admit. I wouldn’t say I have a bad diet, I cook a lot from scratch, I try and eat plenty of fruit and veg (made easier, it must be said, by the fact that WW have now made fruit zero point) and try to be conscious of eating a good variety of foods to get in a range of nutrients. But I am never going to be someone who tucks into a bowl of roasted cauliflower for breakfast.

Then I started thinking about some of my sins. I often have a jar of ready made sauce in the cupboard so I can bung something together quickly if needs be. I am no stranger to the takeaway. I prefer a bag of French Fries to a handful of unsalted nuts. And (oh, hang your head!) I recently purchased a bag of frozen alphabet potato shapes on a whim. I started picturing my “Table of Shame” – you know, when McKeith used to take someone and lay out their weekly food intake in order to shock them into embracing their new diet. Was I the only person who used to look at that and think, “Oooh, I haven’t had Jammie Dodgers (or fish and chips or cheesy Wotsits etc…) for ages!”

But here is how I justify my less than flawless food habits. We all talk a lot about “healthy” eating, and when we use the word “healthy” we generally are referring to physical health – that food which will provide our physical bodies with sufficiently nutritious fuel to function at peak efficiency. How about mental health though? Let’s not pretend that emotions and food are not related; apart from the odd person who genuinely doesn’t given a monkeys about what they’re eating and, literally, only eats to live, we all make that connection. You know, a particular dish that will put a smile on our face after the shittiest of days, or a favourite chocolate bar that is the oral equivalent of a great big hug. If what you’re eating is (to your own palate) worthy but joyless, you won’t be particularly happy. And I personally believe that good mental health makes a significant contribution to the health of the physical body.

I would support the right of the author of the blog that set off this chain of thought, or Ms McKeith or anyone else to eat and drink exactly as they wish. If cauliflower for breakfast makes them happy then good for them. But for me, I’m going to try and learn to balance eating a diet that feeds my body and a diet that feeds my soul too – and that very likely means the odd indulgence and regular deviation from the path of nutritional righteousness. Sorry Gillian.

*NB: This is a complete and utter guess on my part – I’m just projecting.


  1. Roasted cauliflower for breakfast? No thank you!

    I admire people who can eat like that, but I do wonder how much enjoyment they get out of it. I remember trying to do the "You Are What You Eat" plan and lasted three days, and found it very hard to eat spinach for about a year afterwards!


  2. I agree. Eating is a pleasure - and one I don't want to lose altogether. I want to have my cake and eat it too!


  3. i do wonder how people can commit to eating like that (or how they can afford to...have you seen the price of goji berries??) you gotta do what works for you...and be happy with what you can achieve! xoxo