You asked and I’ll answer!
I’ve had many requests to write a blog on my past experiences with nutrition and diet. I get asked often. How do you eat so healthy? What keeps you motivated? How can you know what your body needs? What is the ultimate diet?
Usually the answers are the same, I don’t eat completely healthy, I still like cheese, biscuits and the occasional sweet. Some days I’m not motivated and I feel bloated, fatigued and unable to concentrate. I don’t always know what my body needs, some days my head is going so fast i can barely hear myself think. And the ultimate diet is one that’s makes you feel amazing, keeps you healthy and able to enjoy life.
I’ve recently qualified as a Clinical Nutritionist and the knowledge I’ve gained over the past 3 years at uni has helped me to understand my body a little more. However, I still have so much to learn, and there are some moments I have questioned my abilities to help myself and others. I am human. Let me give you an overview of my past experience to begin..
Trying to fit in.
I’ve struggled in the past with my own body image throughout most of my teenage years and early 20s. Like many girls, I tortured myself to the point where food was the enemy and my body was a burden. My relationship with my body was turbulent: I was a carbrestricting, fad-dieting, anxiety-ridden, scale-fearing, self-loathing, and self-doubting mess.
I took extreme measures to to get my body to look a certain way including calorie-restricting, throwing up, diet pills, laxatives and starving. Whenever I felt I had over-indulged, I would punish my body by beating myself up, and over-excercising (until i fainted).
I thought I was doing everything right, and I couldn’t understand my body at all and why I always felt unwell. I was experiencing constant migraines, body aches, bruises that would pop up out of nowhere, my nails were brittle and my hair was falling out in clumps. My diet and lifestyle was so extreme, in fact, it was downright dangerous. My obsession with dieting and food clouded my ability to listen to what my body really needed.
Then something clicked. I realised hating on my body was not only affecting everything in my life, it had become my life. I committed myself to understanding what nutrition was all about, and how the body utilises the food I consumed. That’s when I enrolled into The Australasian College of Natural Therapies to learn more about nutrition. Once I started to learn and understand how the body actually works, my mentality shifted. I viewed food as a source of nourishment, not the enemy. I realised it didn’t matter what the number on the scales read, that would never make me happy. I needed to work on myself and find true happiness outside of my own self-obsession. I began to eat in a way that healed my body. Listening to what foods worked for me and what foods didn’t. This become how I tuned into my body’s needs and help support my system to work at it’s full potential.
Even now, I’m constantly changing the way I eat, to fit into my lifestyle, and how my body feels at the time. But I believe that is all par of being a nutritionist. (We are constantly trialling new diets to better understand their affect on the body).
Let’s go back a bit.
Four years ago, I decided to cut red meat back to 2 nights a week. I was feeling bloated, uncomfortable and experiencing flatulence on a daily basis. I felt it took my body fare too long to digest and my body wasn’t accepting it. This was my first experience in listening to my body. In my first week I ate red meat once, then never ate it again. I consumed fish and poultry, along with wholegrains, vegetables and fruits.
After around 18 months I began to become sick of chicken and fish so I decided to cut out all meat and go vegetarian. (i love cheese and wasnt ready to part with it). I began to feel more energised, lighter and was passing stools more easily. In the past 2 years, while studying I have tried removing gluten, dairy, sugar, and trialling new food products. While I have found some that have become staples in my house ( ie kombucha, legumes, quinoa and buckwheat grains), I learnt more about what foods work and what foods don’t. Every body is different and responds uniquely to food products.
A difficult time.
Six months ago, I went through a very difficult personal time. My life had become all about work, study and I became selfish to find an outlet. it was a healthy way to deal with my stress, and I acknowledge that now. I made mistakes and my body suffered greatly. I was run-down. My body was in a state of constant sickness, I was fatigued, pale and struggle to cope. Somehow I manage to get through the year, finish my uni degree, tafe course and work duties until my body decided since I wasn’t listening to the earlier warning signs, It was time to be a little more abrupt.
I became sick around end of November when I was diagnosed with Glandular Fever. It is a mono-nucleus virus that can lay dormant in your system, and flare up in times of immune stress. I had been fighting this virus for the past 6 months but wasnt listening to my body. I was diagnosed in Hospital via blood test, where I visited twice within the week, dehydrated, confused and yellow. My liver wasn’t coping, I wasn’t keeping any food/fluids down and I was miserable. I spent my birthday in hospital, and was unable to finish my last two weeks of uni.
This time I listened to my body. I wasn’t coping, and I needed to step back to rest. I put myself up for bed rest for 2 months. Even now I get fatigued easily, and out of breathe. I have had a check with the doc and iron deficient (which I suspected).
I am NOT perfect.
I may not ever get it completely right and I am still learning. Learning to say no, learning to cope with stress and learning to find balance. With both my life and diet. I have become more relaxed with my diet recently, as I can only tolerate certain foods still. I realise I stopped enjoying food when I became stressed and strict with my diet. i thought I was eating a healthy diet, but I was actually forcing my body into a state of burn-out without the necessary nutrients to sustain every day metabolic functions.
Rest assure, even nutritionist struggle. We cannot treat ourselves, and I’m thankful to have such a wonderful mentor who has been a blessing. She has been trying to tell me for months, what my body was telling me, but I was too arrogant.
I look forward to 2018 being a year of pacing myself, and continuing to learn how to balance my diet and life. I will no longer restrict myself with food, but allow myself to enjoy and accept my body the way it is.
I wish you all a successful 2018, and I hope you’re able to take something from this blog too.
Tegan, Nutrition Nourishment