A few weeks ago a small group of us sat around my attic floor and talked about FOOD!
Let me begin by apologizing for taking so long in writing this promised blog. As you will see from the few other posts related to this on (all published on May 10th), I got a little carried away with all the information we collected, and it spiraled out of control. Reading on the net, surfing, trying out recipes, organizing Pinterest, collecting your recipes, and trying to format everything so you might still want to read it ALL!!!
So I will begin with my conclusion in my own very messy – and untraditional way. The more I read, the more doctors we see (and let me tell you we have our fare share of those….) the more I share with those around me and the less I know and the more confused I get! (not really but sometimes it feels that way when you get conflicting information.)
My own personal conclusion is that you can get tested for intolerances and allergies until your blood runs dry (which happens here quite often, T’s record breaking blood test had 19 tubes… ) and your results can be clear or inconclusive, but at the end of the day you are the best person to know which foods work with your own body and which don’t. But when you try something new, you must give it your all and everything to be able to make proper conclusions before adopting it or dismissing it.
Just go for it , then keep it or dump it!
Finally before we get into more details and you get as confused as I do with all the information that’s out there.… Variety in our overall diet and color in our plate are essential and this is in agreement with all nutritionists /health specialist, etc…
…That said, you can now read everything else and make up your own minds! (I obviously have mostly written about those things I do believe in and have tested on myself and my family (the best guinea-pigs ever!)
Coming from many different directions, the common accord was if you want to feel better, healthier and be the most performant version of YOU, it has something to do with what you put inside YOU.
Or said differently by our resident Vegan Athlete, food is your fuel. It needs to carry you throughout the day and allow you to do everything you ask your body to do.
Our circle was open to all diets, beliefs and choices. Free of judgement and opinion, just sharing and listening.
In this circle, we had:
– Vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, Paléo (will explain further on), Dairy free, etc..
How much should we eat and how many times a day?
Hmmm…. ask different people, get multiple different answers….
We talked about the importance of quantity and frequency and not just quality. Depending on your lifestyle and metabolism, your meals might need to be more frequent and you might need more than 3 seatings/per day to take in your food. I was not the only one to admit needing a second breakfast at 10.30, when my first one was at 6.30 and in between the 2 I had walked the dog, done a few loads of laundry up and down the stairs, taught a yoga lesson, and whatever kept my backside of a chair… No way I can make it until 12.00 even if I’ve eaten 18 eggs and 5 avocados at 6.30. But some mentioned they can manage their morning physical activities on a bowl of cereal until lunch time. Conclusion… we’re all different and we all have different needs.
Some of you have told me that nutritionists/dieticians have recommended the 3 meal per day approach, no snacking, no “goûter”. Although this might be effective for some of you I’m not convinced it can be a general approach for everybody.
So I am back to the individual, his/her lifestyle, needs, deficiencies, likes and dislikes, body, metabolism, male or female, age ,etc… There is no one rule for all and it all leads back to regaining the power of making the best choices for yourself by listening to your body attentively.
Want to try out the whole listening to my body thing? this is simple, free and super revealing: Try Hiba’s breakfast experiment .
I do believe that all the science, research study we do about food is great but that we really haven’t grasped it all yet. How could we reach general conclusions about a one food that is ingested in millions of different bodies and expect it to react the same way for every human being? Impossible. Read, study, experiment, get help when you need it, but above all, be your own guide.
Just like yoga poses. How can the one asana look the same and be aligned in the same way in so many differently structured bodies? (I just had to make that comparison 😉
What should our plate look like? and a few food facts…
At breakfast for example:
Fats: half an avocado
A few “food facts” we acknowledged.
- Nuts are healthy, but ration them so you don’t eat too many calories. Did you know one only needs to eat 2 Brazil nuts a day to get 100% of the RDI for selenium?
- when we eat oven roasted food and we love that yummy practically burnt taste, accompany it with some fresh raw produce to offset the acidic effects of oven roasting.
- Dates are great to sweeten instead of sugar, but again, watch out for the calorie intake, unless you’re burning them with an active lifestyle.
- Let’s include Healthy fats in your diet, such as: good quality coconut milk and cream – – nuts – – avocado – – dark chocolate – – eggs – – salmon – – trout – – mackerel – – sardines – – herring – – greek yogurt (if you are into dairy) – – feta cheese.
- Let’s stay away from white fish which contain high levels of mercury, including Tuna.
- Avoid eating fruit at night after dinner, we don’t need the sugar rush. Enjoy for breakfast, at lunch or as a snack.
- Reduce the amount of carbs for dinner, our body doesn’t really need the energy it since it’s winding down to go to sleep. But increase the Vegetable intake.
- If you are still eating gluten, take a look at your week and how much of it you are eating and vary your grains, carbs and cereals for variety and to reduce the pure gluten ingredients.
- Try to reduce your milk intake even if you don’t cut out all dairy. Another post will come out soon on dairy, Paleo, and Dr. Seignalet.
Radical Choices – vs trial and error
Some of us are radical in our choices for various reasons, whether conviction or health and some of us have been experimenting with giving up some food groups to see how it affects our bodies performance and overall health. Some of us were there to listen to our experiences and start on a journey of their own. Some of us have been on and off certain foods testing and trying. Having said that I was informed last week by an allergologist that if you are intolerant to a certain food it will have a reaction in your body for the likes of 6 weeks. So…. that means that if you really want to try you need to go “cold turkey” for at least 3 months before making any conclusions.
Most of you got back to me to say it was nice to hear from other’s struggles and successes and realise none of us have the miracle solution or the exemplary perfect diet. It takes the pressure off to know that you are alone having that piece of chocolate with your coffee as early as 10 am!
We were kindly reminded by one of our participants that everything we eat gets eliminated eventually, so don’t be hard on yourself and if you slip up or have a binge day, nothing is lost, you can make up for it the next day. One of my friends who’s also constantly trying to make the right nutritional choices for her and her family, once told me not to look at what you’ve eaten on a given day (because we all know that on some days you might just have to revert to having cereal for dinner or the ole’ can of Baked Beans on toast…. ) so instead, look at your week, your intake of veggies, fruit, choice of grains, and protein. Takes a load of pressure off and makes more sense than a daily conscience crisis…
Dietitians vs. Nutritionists
From the many discussions I have had with people I meet, (it seems it’s my main and only topic at the moment…) the amount of information there is out there is quite confusing and at times controversial. You can go and see 10 dietitians and each one of you will tell you something different. I’ve also come to the conclusion that not all dietitians are nutritionists and in Geneva at least, the dietitian approach is a more medical approach but not very helpful when it comes down to nutrition per say.
No Orange Juice in the morning – Lemon juice instead
Thanks to the input of some knowledgeable contributors, it was suggested and confirmed by many nutritionists I have come across that Orange juice should not be the first thing you put in your system in the morning. It is too agressive for your liver and too acidic.
A good way to start your day is with one first glass of warm or room temperature water, to clear your system. Second glass can have some lemon to detoxify the liver.
You tasted a green smoothie I had prepared that morning, in it was 1 banana, pineapple, and lemon juice, mâche lettuce (as high in vitamin C content and nearly as much iron as Spinach!). Here is a link that was shared to inspire you some more to start your daily with your greens. As a rule I use dark green leafy vegetables for my smoothies, baby spinach, kale, mâche lettuce, that are high in anti-oxidants that will fight free radicals and slow down ageing and hopefully keep disease at bay. I avoid zucchini (better in baking and cooking) and cucumber and fennel are better in juices or just regular salads. simple green smoothies. Of course green juices are a great way to start the day too, just less fiber but you use a lot more veggie in them.
Alkaline vs. Acidic foods
i was the first to believe from so many different sources that certain foods we eat are acidic and others are neutral or alkaline and that replacing acid-forming foods with alkaline foods can improve health.
Acidic: Meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, grains and alcohol.
Neutral: Natural fats, starches and sugars.
Alkaline: Fruits, nuts, legumes and vegetables.
But it was brought to my attention that contrary to what I have read in so many websites and books, it seems that these foods can only influence our Urine PH level and not our blood PH. And with that, the urine indicator is actually not much of an indicator in the end. read more here:
But on the other hand the alkaline diet will encourage you towards more of a plant based diet and that on it’s own is a healthy choice regardless of the PH of the body.
Antioxidants and Dark leafy greens
Having said that I do believe that from people’s experience the consumption of more dark leafy greens which are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C are key elements to fight disease and stay healthy. Perhaps there is not enough scientific research to back this up, but research is mostly funded when there is a monetary gain in place, and I am not sure who would gain from proving that what you grow in your garden can help you “cure” certain ailments. I believe in science but I also believe in the human experience and no matter how advanced we are on a scientific level we still don’t fully understand how each and any one of us functions on an individual level. So many people have changed their diet and it has changed their lives without any scientific or medical backing, and yet….
just a few….