Pete, I think your meatloaf recipe is ace and your butter chicken curry gives me mouth pleasure like no other. I proudly display two of your recipe books in my kitchen and without trying or having any interest in conforming to any strict, food group exclusive diets, I follow a mostly paleo meal plan. And when I say plan, I mean, I decide at 3pm what i’ll be eating not long after.
You see, sugar gives me headaches, dairy doesn’t agree with me and gluten makes me feel like shit, so I cut out the crap (unless I'm at Goldbergs, than I have the pumpkin pancetta pasta. It’s so effing good and worth every bit of discomfort) and I feel much better for it. Of course every so often I like to indulge in coffee flavoured ice cream. And coffee flavoured coffee. And, coffee. Palaeolithic homo sapiens had Bulletproof coffee, right?
I’ve also adopted a small bi weekly habit for craft beer. Since i’m no longer pregnant, I tell myself i’m deserving of such a habit whilst my husband’s weekend driving skills (with more practise due to said habit), seem to be getting better and better as the weeks progress. Win win. Or just win. I win!
If i’m being honest, I personally don't agree with or don't like the concept of anything; diet or otherwise, that is EXCLUSIVE. I mean, apart from my marriage…
Whether it be excluding animal products or grains from diets or a gay couple from the right to be married, I think it really just stunts our opportunity to grow. Once we conform to something that excludes something or someone else, we become emotionally attached to the idea and along with excluding sweet sweet coffee flavoured ice cream from our diets, we exclude the opportunity to ever see things from another perspective. The longer we conform, the harder it is to get off the moving train and the more attached our ego becomes to the idea that we are more virtuous than someone who say, eats meat, or god forbid, RICE!
No one is disputing that sugar is bad or that modern day dairy or vegetable oils are inflammatory, but what about our mindset?
My relationship with my body has been a tumultuous one. I used to think I was healthy because I was active, but when I look back on my teenage years, I realise just how undernourished I was.
When my mental health took a turn for the worst, at around the age of 15, my diet & lifestyle got worse too. I binged on sugar, abused alcohol and popped Nurofen like skittles. In my early 20's, I smoked cigarettes, experimented with drugs, had stressful jobs along with abusive relationships. I had been on the contraceptive pill and antidepressants for 12 long years before I got diagnosed with Endometriosis and finally decided, enough was enough.
When I met my husband, conveniently, he was studying Nutritional Medicine. He is an encyclopaedia of knowledge, an incredibly intelligent man. Our worlds collided at precisely the right time. I was on a new path of self discovery and he happened to provide me with a lot of the answers I was looking for. He supported me through my health struggles and stood by me whilst I morphed into a new Woman. Layer by layer, I revealed a new me.
The changes that I made to my life and my diet were dramatic. I cut out sugar, dairy, gluten, alcohol and cigarettes completely. Cold turkey. No more. I was a complete pain the arse to be around!
I added to my diet as well. A lot of healthy fats (lots of grass fed butter), bone broth, homemade sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir. All the things.
It took me about 7 months, learning to live with this new way of RESPECTING myself before I began to really see the difference. One day I woke up and I realised, that I couldn't remember the last time I felt any symptoms of Endometriosis. Gone. I no longer felt pain.
With my health issues now handled, we started to talk about the possibility of having a baby. We were both REALLY excited and couldn’t wait to begin such a rewarding journey.
Over the next 12 months we prepared. We read all the books and listened to all the podcasts. We wanted to give our baby the BEST possible start to life that we could. We took it very seriously and showed great pride in the knowledge that we collected whilst navigating our way through our own health journeys.
But how much knowledge is too much?
I guess what I didn’t see coming was, in my desperation to have a baby; a really healthy baby, I didn’t take into consideration that the knowledge that I now had, could be burdensome. At the time I felt like I was doing the right thing. By knowing everything there is to know about a healthy pregnancy, I would surely… have one.
But what it did instead, was stress me the fuck OUT! I was anxious.
I wanted my baby so badly and had I longed for him for so long that I fixated on things that I could be or should be or wasn't doing, instead of enjoying the god damn moment and giving myself a pat on the back for the things that I was.
Like Pete, I worried about the fluoride in water. I worried about the chemicals in hair products, I stopped wearing make up and I punished myself for every subpar meal I ate.
Sadly, this incessant need to be perfect cast a heavy shadow over my pregnancy. I always thought I could be doing more, doing better. I felt overwhelmed by the amount of information that these days, is so readily available and that I gave myself access to. I felt so incredibly exposed and judged by every decision I made.
I judged myself.
But why? Why do we as Women always feel the need to be so-fucking-perfect! Why do we burden ourselves with such responsibility?
Perfectionism, I think, is really just code for “I’m a control freak”. And at the core of all control freaks, in my opinion, is self doubt. Anxiety, lack of self worth and lots of self doubt.
Losing Link taught me many things but perhaps the most obvious lesson of them all, was that sometimes you just cannot control everything. Sometimes no matter how many chemicals you avoid by not using make up, or no matter how much sugar you avoid by saying no to delicious ice cream, no matter how many soul warming bowls of pasta you pass up, and no matter how many coffees you don’t have, sometimes it just doesn't fucking matter. Sometimes, life has other plans for you. Sometimes, no matter how PERFECT you try to be, you CANNOT control everything.
So whilst I still agree with a lot of Pete’s (and other health advocates) beliefs and I myself still advocate a healthy lifestyle, I now thoroughly enjoy my craft beer and ice cream Sunday’s without ANY regret, guilt, judgement or anxiety. I truly believe that BALANCE, not exclusivity, is key.
You know why?
Because being perfect SUCKED and giving myself permission to be imperfect (or redefining what that actually means to me) is relaxing AF.