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Are we tired of avoiding fruit yet?

Hi guys,

what I am about to post might be a little controversial. I get it, I myself jumped on the “all sugar is sugar” bandwagon and went through a long period of avoiding all things sweet, including fruit. In fact, if you look back at some of my recipes, you will see I used to make a lot of fruit-free smoothies, replacing it with avocado or soaked nuts and stevia/xylitol.

Whilst I think limiting fruit has a place, like in issues with Candida overgrowth, my transition to a 100% plant-based diet has seen a revival in my love affair for fruit. It has brought to my attention the very warped way in which I once viewed whole foods, like fruit, and the way I believe so many of us still do.

You see, we live in a world where packaged food with nutrition panels, ingredients we can’t pronounce, flavour numbers we don’t understand, and buzz words that deceive, are viewed as “good”, yet we are afraid of the plant foods that grow from the earth and have been eaten by humans for centuries. Hmmmmm...

It goes back to the simple concept, if you can recognise it, your body probably does too!

Fruit is natures beautifully alkaline, perfectly packaged, fibre-rich supplement.

When we consume fruit we get vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, folate and calcium. We also get the benefit of antioxidants such as organic phenols, which have been shown to decrease oxidation helping to prevent chronic disease and promoting healthy aging. The fibre acts as a buffer to the natural sugar being consumed, ensuring it is slow releasing and preventing those dreaded highs and lows of refined sugars. Not only that, but ripe fruits are the most alkaline of all foods. We want our body to stay alkaline to prevent chronic disease and toxicity and make us feel and look our most vibrant (animal-based foods are acid-forming, which causes the body to leech specific nutrients that balance this acidic effect, like calcium). And last but not least, fruit contains water making it extremely hydrating, which never goes astray when so many of us struggle to meet our daily quota of 2L water.

With all these incredible health benefits, we have somehow managed to demonize fruit and glorify artificial, man-made formulas.

So how did we get here?

Big bad fructose: Any ill effect of fructose, the sugar found in fruit, is strictly limited to that of industrial fructose such as high-fructose corn-syrup, and not fruit. In fact, this study proves that a diet that restricts fructose from added sugars but includes fruit, is more beneficial for weight-loss than a diet that limits both fruit and added sugars! It is definitely a combination of the above health benefits that ensures fruit doesn’t have the same effect on our blood sugar as refined sugars. Indeed, restricting fruit intake has even been shown to be ineffective in type 2 diabetes patients.

Here is something else I have come to understand – when you cut a food out completely you usually need to fill it’s void with something else. What I found myself doing was replacing a lot of my fruit with nuts, seeds and oils, essentially replacing healthy carbohydrates with good fats. I didn’t feel good on a high-fat diet, and even though I still promote good fats as part of a balanced diet, I think we are all too concerned with eating fat and not concerned enough about eating fibre and nutrient-dense plant foods.

We are in fact designed to eat carbohydrates as a large portion of our diet – particularly land and ocean fruits and vegetables, even whole grains. Yet so many of us are crowding out carbohydrates with protein and fat. We actually have 5 tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami. As you can see, sweet is indeed one of them, meaning we need not feel guilty for wanting something sweet! And fruit is the perfect answer.

The more I eat real, whole foods, the more I can eat fresh fruit and even a little dried fruit, with no guilt, no bloating and no weight gain. It actually makes me feel so, so good and alive! This is where another age old comes into play – listen to your body. We are unique individuals.

Experiment, eat consciously, tune into yourself.

Don’t fear a whole food group, especially one as vast, nutritious and natural as fruit. We are fruit eaters – look at the banana-loving chimpanzee, our closest relative!

I just want you to think about how you view food, and begin to see the irony of fearing foods that are whole, pure and come from nature.

Surely, that doesn’t seem right?

Love, health & wholefoods, always

Sami xx

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.

 

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

 

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