Part 3 My Health Story: Vegan, My Food Philosophy, Eating For Longevity

Several people had recently mentioned to me a movie called Cowspiracy, and I had this feeling in my gut that it would change my life. I wasn’t prepared for this, I was still of the belief that I needed animal protein. I knew if I watched just ten minutes of it, I would go vegan. Nevertheless, when my boyfriend, Mike (who had been vegetarian for a year at this point), said that he wanted to watch the movie, I knew all signs were pointing to the obvious – to stop living in ignorance and make an informed choice. So I did. I was wrong, within the first three minutes I decided I was going to go vegan! Mike and I said we would trial it for one month, which easily became two, and has now become a lifelong commitment.

There are many moral reasons I could list – environmental concerns, animal welfare issues – let’s be honest, we all know them, we just try not to think about them. And for sure, that is what breaks my heart and what grabbed my attention at first. You see, I am of the belief that what is good for the macro is good for the micro – so it makes sense to me that the best diet for us as beings on this planet, should be compatible with the environment and other creatures around us, so that it is sustainable. Therefore the choices we make for our health, can and should support the vitality of the world around us.

However, most interestingly for me as a nutrition student, it came down to the cold hard facts regarding the correlation between standard western diets and disease, and the way in which we have allowed mainstream media and food marketing to distort our beliefs, our instincts and our relationship with eating. We have become entirely disconnected from our food; what it is, where it comes from, what it does for us. I came to realise that there are far bigger holes in the western diet than “protein-deficiency” (which is extraordinarily uncommon, by the way), and that a diet centered around real, whole-foods makes the most sense on a biological and biochemical level.

Why is it that for almost every chronic illness, a vegan diet is prescribed and found beneficial, yet to healthy people, it is perceived as harmful, or wrong?

It just makes no sense!

As a health coach and nutritionist-in-training, I am fully aware of the fact that I will be presented with clients that do not wish to embrace a fully vegan diet. People don’t change overnight, and my own journey is a perfect example of that. My aim is to encourage you to eat in a way that is conscious, vibrant, and sustainable. So to do that, I stand by simple principles that can be applied to everyone:

  1. Eat more whole foods that exude life, not death – this includes plant foods, raw foods, fermented foods, sprouts, herbs and weeds!

  2. Don’t fear entire food groups – Carbs, Fats or Protein;

  3. Don’t fear any whole-food – that goes for fruits, dried fruit, grains and white potatoes (the common ones people, my past self included, seem to view as “bad”) – we live in a world where artificial sweeteners and processed protein bars and shakes are deemed “healthy”, but the banana, a whole-food, given to us by nature, is bad… really?

  4. Cut processed and refined foods, particularly refined sugar; and

  5. Source, prepare and eat your food consciously and mindfully.

Winter or summer & everything in between- I love my morning smoothies They make me feel energised! In the cooler months we naturally gravitate to more warming & grounding meals, but it's important to remember to still consume raw fruit/veg daily A powered up green smoothie first thing can offer up to 5 servings of fruit/greens before 9am!! I go for 3 full handfuls of different leafy greens, 1-2 pieces of ripe fruit & maybe some herbs Alkalising, hydrating, detoxifying & full of fibre, antioxidants & other disease-fighting nutrients Especially useful in winter, when we want to keep our #immunity in check Have a think... how many servings of raw greens are you having daily? Starter salads are another great way to get them in☺️ #drinkyourgreens #smoothielove

I believe that we all need to reprogram how we look at food. Yes it is yummy, comforting, and often celebratory, but do we stop and realise that it is actually a source of energy? No. Do we truly understand that food is a source of nutrients? Not those supplements you occasionally pop, but real, beautifully packaged, naturally intended vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes and fibre! No. Do we make the connection between the food we put in our mouths and the way we feel? Mood, energy levels, digestive discomfort, sleep patterns, hormonal changes? NO! What’s more, is the connection made between our food choices, and our susceptibility to disease?

NO. I don’t believe the majority of the world does view food this way.

My vegan journey has taught me many things, but one of them is certainly regarding the way in which I view food. I view it as a source of nourishment, as preventative medicine, as my ticket to vibrance, vitality and longevity. I don’t want to wait until I am sick, I want to be consuming the diet that ensures I stay as healthy as I possible can right now, in this moment. And I believe, we all could do with eating many more plant foods.

So, this is what leads me to where I am today. Happy, healthy and vegan! I was reluctant to “announce” it to my readers and friends because I didn’t want to seemingly push my beliefs onto you, but mainly, because I wanted to feel it in my own body first so I could speak from some experience. I can now say with conviction that this is my lifelong way of living and eating. It is not a diet, not a FAD, or a ploy to get thin or look a certain way, it is a lifestyle choice to consistently feel optimal and live a long and healthy life.

If I can encourage you to do anything, it is to make the connection between food and your overall health, not just your size. Start thinking about how many greens and other veggies you eat daily, and begin to incorporate more into every meal, and even every snack. These are the foods that will enhance your health, not inhibit it. Losing weight, feeling energetic, getting thick hair and nails, glowing skin, are just happy side effects. But I believe the intention is important:

let’s eat for longevity, not looks.

Thank you for reading, your support means the world to me.

Love & health, always

Sami xx

Feasting! Last breakfast spread at the beautiful Mu Fruit salad, granola with coco yoghurt, a young coconut & a watermelon juice for me this morn The location is breath-taking! Up high on the cliffs surrounded by green with the big blue ocean sprawled behind me I'm holding a warm lime water hehe they didn't have lemons ... making do & trying to keep up my morning ritual wherever I go! Stay tuned on the blog for my Thursday Asian-inspired recipe...

Part 2 My Health Story: High-Fat, High Protein, “Carbophobia”

Eventually social pressure and convenience got the better of me, and in my early twenties, I moved from a vegetarian to a pescatarian diet. There were little vegetarian options through my overseas travels, and I didn’t want to be a difficult travel companion. This was also motivated by the high-protein, low-carb “Atkins” approach that was popular then. Soon, I was dabbling with chicken, hearing that eating animal protein was the best, most effective way to eat and stay lean.

When I went off the OCP I lost my period. My doctor put me on a Ketogenics diet, to help me get a natural cycle. I was eating very high-fat and high-protein. I still didn’t naturally gravitate toward eating a lot of protein, but I tried my best, and I was told to strictly avoid all but one carbohydrate a day. One carbohydrate a day! If I wanted a carrot, that was to be considered my carb. Can you imagine? It made me extremely “carbophobic”, and if you ask me, was just as, if not more, restrictive as some of my disordered eating of the past.

This way of eating also made me demonize fruit in such a way that I easily went months without eating a single piece! But as is the problem with restrictive eating and fearing a whole food group, I replaced fruit and other carbohydrates with something else, fat. Whilst I do believe that good fats are extremely beneficial, I was eating it in high quantities, and it wasn’t doing me any favours. I felt sluggish, my skin seemed dull, my hair and nails brittle and I felt there was always something wrong that I just couldn’t put my finger on. I was extremely stressed from having to work out precisely when I would have my one carb for the day and social scenarios became a source of anxiety for me. This way of eating was not only limiting and extremely inconvenient, it actually didn’t help me in any way.

After 6 months of this diet, I had had enough. I was going overseas where there would be lots of tropical fruit, and I decided to just eat intuitively for the first time in a very long while. I travelled, relaxed around food, reintroduced more carbohydrates such as delicious fruit, went back to eating only a little fish (pescatarian) and was able to reduce my stress – being away has that advantage! Within 5 weeks of this, I got my period for the first time in just over 1 year. It would be unfair for me to attribute this 100% to my “letting go”, however, it wouldn’t be entirely wrong to draw some correlation between the two. I definitely felt better – during that entire trip I could feel my body healing. It was a powerful indicator that I needed to listen to my body and reassess my food choices.

The next 6 months became a gradual progression toward going 100% plant-based. I totally eliminated dairy, as I came to understand that it isn’t necessary or healthful, particularly with hormonal imbalances. At this point, eggs and the occasional piece of fish were the last parts of my carnivourous diet that I had to relinquish.

Birthday Linner! Light & fresh @earthtotablebondi ... Because I'll definitely be having a birthday dinner My favourite: the rainbow seaweed slaw (kelp noodles, seaweed, beetroot, cabbage, carrot, broccoli ginger soy dressing) with added avocado And an icey matcha latte almond milk frappe Happy to be spending the arvo with my mumma

The Beauty Bible Feature: Muse of the Moment

Hi guys!

I was recently interviewed by The Beauty Bible on all things beauty. A little different to the questions I usually answer! I truly believe that the best beauty tip is a clean and healthy diet, and I love that people are realising this more and more. However! There are definitely some tips and tricks I have picked up along the way from trial and error, especially since making the switch to natural, cruelty-free products. Read the article here to find out about my skincare regimen, morning routine, favourite beauty products plus more!