I’ve never loved the whole 80/20 vibe or undertone. It seems to imply to me that 80% is the non fun part, and 20% is where you get to ‘have fun’, enjoy and and not care at all about what you’re eating. It seems to slow down the ‘get on the real food train’ speed by implying we have to be ‘good’ ie not really enjoy ourselves 80% of the time. I feel like this stops us from looking at the big picture and seeing that there is loads of delicious fun to be had in the world of real healthy food. Plus, of 21 meals a week, 4-5 meals / occasions seems a lot to be ignoring what’s in stuff / how it’s made / where it comes from. What do you think?
Something I do agree with is that there needs to be times where you go with the flow and enjoy things that might not be text book ‘healthy’ but in the situation given, are enjoyable things with effort taken to offer them to you by others. This is the bit where you go with the flow and be in the moment. This is the bit that stops obsessive compulsive thoughts or being over controlling with food. This is the bit that stops you from stressing.
It occurred to me when a friend the other day said “Oh but you’d never have that” about a pavlova, that I needed to maybe check in and let you guys know that, yes in fact I would. This real food journey is not one filled with judgement, guilt or deprivation. There are times when a delicious home made treat made by a friend is A OK with me, even though I make stuff differently at home.
I thought I’d list the things I ‘let go on’ in an effort to demonstrate that I do not EVER stress about food. Yes I am a total health nerd. Yes I spend hours and days researching holistic medicine, creating allergy friendly recipes and eating gluten free. No, I don’t stress about food as is all too easy to do if you don’t make the conscious decision to *cue Frozen* LET IT GO.
Adopting the ‘real food’ lifestyle is so important, yes. We never stress as a family that we’re ‘missing out’ when it comes to additives, chemicals in foods and ‘cool packet snacks’. We simply don’t eat them. We’ve worked hard to deeply understand how they’re made and where they come from, and once I knew, I couldn’t think of anything worse than eating those things. They’re anything BUT an indulgence. I will add though, that I’ve always been a ‘justice for the people’ type of person, so when something involves back door deals, vested interests and profit without people’s health / planet health in mind, I intstantly would go off that thing in question – Even my beloved Peanut M&Ms of yesteryear – Can’t do it. Not. Even. One.
Stress is futile and counterproductive to health. It might even give you a worse digestion or MORE symptoms. Who needs that?
So, here’s my ‘let go list’ which equates to something like 5-10% of the meal times… This does not mean that the other 90% isn’t fun. Wholefood is a delicious commitment we make as a family and the 5-10% is the drinks and a few ‘what the hey’ foods, that I consciously enjoy, stress free AS WELL AS enjoying the food we eat everyday.
I used to be the National brand ambassador for Piper & Charles Heidsieck Champagnes and Remy Martin Cognacs – the things you don’t know about me yet, right? Well, when it comes to drinks and alcohol, my motto has always been to drink half as much and the best quality you can afford. I always had one or two glasses of champagne or a neat, old cognac (ok, except at my hubby’s 30th. Not too sure what happened there but never, ever again!) instead of chugging on cheap stuff all night. You feel better for it and you enjoy every single sip with mindful appreciation. These days, even though I drink maybe once a week, if champagne is on offer, I say yes to a glass! As an aside, a lot of people avoid Piper, thinking ‘it’s the cheap champagne’. Well, it’s the best value champagne there is, made by the multi award winning wine maker, Regis Camus (winner of 5 of the last 9 international sparkling wine maker of the year awards by the IWC). Just because I care about your Christmas festivity choices coming up!
I was a cocktail bartender for many years. I loved creating beautiful drinks and if you ever treat yourself to an unforgettable dining experience at EST in Sydney, you can still taste my Celestial cocktail. On occasion I’ll enjoy a creation in a bar, a beautiful classic Negroni or a Bloody Mary, Mojito or Bellini in the summer time. Why not?
Pic: A cocktail I came up with that sent me to Amsterdam in 2006 to compete in a Global competition – I came 3rd! 🙂
3. Grilled fish and chips in the summer time.
I would have vegetable oil about 3-5 times a year in ‘out and about’ hot chip form. Grilled fish and chips by the sea with family and friends is one of those times. It’s summer. It’s togetherness. Enjoy every moment and don’t stress for a second! Just a word of warning for the gluten intolerant or coeliacs though: Some chips are dusted in flour, so ask the place to check their packet for the ingredients. just in case.
4. At friends’ houses
I will NEVER, I repeat NEVER ask if a salad or meat is organic, or turn down food, or ask whether the flourless chocolate cake or pavlova is refined sugar free. If it’s made with love and not store bought pre packaged weirdness, I think that deserves appreciation and celebration. (I say flourless because I can’t do gluten so I avoid that always, no matter what) If a friend knows me super well, they’ll make sure there is a gluten free option and that is so lovely of them, that honestly, I don’t give a second thought to the ‘spread’ other than enjoying time with friends. The only thing I wouldn’t have at a friends’ house is fake lollies / chips type food.
5. On holidays
If I’m away for a week, and things are beyond my control, it is not worth stressing about the fact that you can’t have what you’d ideally want. It will be counter productive to your enjoyment of the holiday on the whole. Choose the best you can. You can always make a choice, so when I found out the omelettes were done in vegetable oil at the place I was staying recently, I had fruit and natural yoghurt there instead for those couple of days. Easy. Stress free.
6. My son at birthday parties.
Because I’ve educated him from birth (yep, I talked him through everything as a baby!) he’s generally of his own accord, great at choosing to avoid the ‘fake stuff’. BUT, if he chows down on party foods that are less than desirable, that’s his choice. To try and control his choice would certainly mean unhealthy mental food issues down the track like secret eating or lying or worse! Knock your socks off sweetheart, and I’m kind of waiting for him to, but still he avoids fake stuff like the plague even when I’m not there… Maybe it’s because I’ve always said “you can have anything you want sweetheart, Mum is just telling you what’s in everything so you can make the best choice for you.” We also played the game “real food / fake food” in the supermarket to help him start to learn the difference, when he was as young as 18 months. He now sees a cartoon character on a cereal packet and says “I bet they’ve put that there to make kids want to buy it”! Such a good little sleuth.
7. Red wine
My 3rd form of alcohol of choice, and probably my most enjoyed in terms of regularity. I really enjoy a good drop of red. Organic, biodynamic wines are becoming more and more readily available, which is great too! Again, drink LESS and much better quality and you’ll be well on your way to limiting alcohol in a joyful way. If you have a normal functioning liver there’s no reason a glass of red a day is bad for you… The French certainly don’t believe so! Best, is to talk to your practitioner about your unique self.
8. Chocolate with ‘cane sugar’ in it. I’m a huge fan of Cocolo 70% dark and Alter Eco 85% Black out.
9. Corn chips. A couple of times a year, I have an unexplained and unrelenting craving for corn chips. So, I find the most natural, non GMO ones I can, or make my own out of Masa Harina and fry them in coconut oil and enjoy every bite. They make me very sleepy and it’s enough to remind me for many months later that they’re not a great food for me, but I thoroughly enjoy the experience each time!
10. Dessert in a really good restaurant – I fell in love with the artistry of desserts when I saw my now friend, Christine Manfield’s book “Paramount Desserts” on the shelf of my local bookshop back in 1998. As long as it’s gluten free for the allergy factor, I will always order a dessert in a really good restaurant. I’m curious about textures, technique and of course getting ‘healthifying’ ideas, and while it’s not the healthified version while there, I enjoy every single bite. I do though tend to steer clear of sorbets and meringues because they are just so super sugary and I genuinely don’t enjoy that any more.
Christine Manfield’s Gaytime Gone Nuts (image courtesy of eatshowandtell.com)
So there you have it. My 5-10% list. Care to share your ‘no stress list’ in the comments here?
Over to you!
NOTE: If you have leaky gut, PCOS, diabetes, autoimmune condition, neurological condition or something else that is really affected by food, then you might not have much wriggle room. Lucky there is so much deliciousness in nature to enjoy. Talk to your practitioner if in doubt. I wrote this post, not as a green light to go nuts on the above, but merely to share the odd random thing I have and enjoy that isn’t part of my every day.