Oatmeal, porridge, whatever you wanna call it. One thing: treat it like risotto.
Oats are like the perfect middle-ground between incredibly indulgent and incredibly nutritious.
I was probably born with a spoonful of oats in my mouth. Wherever I was, at home, at school, on holidays, oats always made an appearance. Except my oat consumption has changed drastically since those dairy and microwave days. I actually used to pour cornflakes on top of my porridge. That crunch was everything. Now it just comes in a different shape (i.e. spoonfuls of PB)!
It’s almost Valentine’s. Can you believe it?
Truth be told, I’ve never really understood it! I think I got a card, once. Nowadays, being in a strong and well-grounded relationship means that Valentine’s hasn’t got much significance for us. We have other meaningful times and milestones we celebrate! But I admire those who make a real effort on the day. Buy something nice, take their S.O. for a decadent dinner or better still, COOK FOR THEM!
Food gifts are definitely my favourite kinds of gifts; to cook for me or to gift me something edible speaks in my sorta love language. I’m so easy to please.
But taking me out can be.. complicated.
There you are, sitting in an outrageously expensive restaurant and staring blankly at the 3 mains on the menu. And there is nothing you can eat. Because you’ve been avoiding gluten and dairy and nuts and soy and sugar and and and— Sound familiar?
So. We all know how to prevent this scenario from happening.
a) phone the restaurant in advance and have a lengthy and frustrating conversation about your dietary restrictions (“no, I’m not allergic, it’s just that I’m avoiding it for the moment because…”)
b) cook at home.
Option b) generally wins for me!
I’ve spent some time (not that I mind!) looking for the best gluten + dairy free, real food recipes to cook for yourself or someone special (or print this out and hand it to them. Wink wink.) And I guarantee you’ll have a much better night than trying to eat around the croutons in your overpriced salad.
It’s late at night and I’m thinking about the whole30. I’m thinking about my first whole30 and how I’m still seeking #FoodFreedomForever. And I really feel like I need to take some thoughts off my chest after seeing how much attention the programme has had over the month of January!
I did the whole30 back in September. It didn’t have a happy ending, but it did have lifelong positive consequences. My gut wasn’t happy, but my soul was, and I am so grateful for the experience. I’m also proud I lasted the 30 days without a slip. I know I won’t be doing the whole30 exactly as it is outlined again, but I know that applying the core principles was essential to my mental success the first time around.
But there’s stuff we’re not talking about enough in this community. I still stumble upon whole30ers who just want to “lose weight”. Who think it’s ok to eat almond butter by the spoonful because it’s compliant. Or worse, who stuff dates with almond butter and are cool with that.
No. Don’t be cool.
If these behaviours don’t seem like red flags to you, please don’t stop reading. You need this.
#1. it takes a while to get ready and figure out your boundaries
In case you missed my previous post, you can find my old order blood vampire chia jam recipe here. Because, hey, first we food, then we meditate. Amirite?
I thought it would be fun to live up to the stereotype of yoga + meditation. Incense, sacred tools, chakra alignment, candles, strange contortions… You know the drill. Outsiders think we are either completely off the hook, or mystical creatures that can contact ‘the other side’. Ultimately, the goal of ‘yoga’ is enlightenment – now, I don’t know about you, but I haven’t met very many enlightened people! All yogis are striving to be the best version of themselves. And that means making time for play, too.
In a nutshell: it simply wasn’t the right time, the right solution or the right fit for me.
the reason why
So I decided to complete the Whole30 because the lovely Kate, my nutritional therapist, advised I remove dairy and gluten from my diet to regulate my digestion, and the September Whole30 was about to start, and I thought it would be a good excuse for me to combine the two. So I did, and it took a great deal out of me at the beginning. My digestion took a hard hit. It is very fragile on my regular diet (mostly vegetarian, occasional animal products, lots of grains), and I didn’t give it enough time to adjust to the changes of a paleo-style diet (lots more meat, no grains).
You may or may not know that the paleo diet includes moderate amounts of meat, fish, nuts and dairy-free animal products, as well as an abundance of vegetables. No grains, no pulses, no peanuts and no soy. You are expected to eat a moderate amount of animal and plant fat to keep you satiated. The paleo community has become renowned for recreating pancakes, cakes and tortillas employing tricks using cashews, cauliflower and avocado. Now, the Whole30 encourages the paleo part, but not the recreating part. You can read more about it here.
It’s Sunday, two weeks into my very first Whole30. I feel like I’ve been on this for months already. I’m getting the hang of it, whilst simultaneously feeling like I am not experimenting enough in the kitchen. I know I can do better!
In terms of health improvements, my digestion is 100% improved. Amazing. Not so amazing I may have to restrict my dairy or gluten intake in the future. We shall see. Oh and my sleep. My goodness I have not slept so deeply since childhood. I put my head on the pillow and I don’t wake up until the alarm wakes me. I am so lucky to have seen results two weeks in already. If you haven’t seen much improvement, please don’t give up. I know it’s not easy, but just keep going. It only gets better.
So anyway, week 2 has been a tasty week of meals!
Breakfast is two slices of streaky bacon (I get mine from M&S. It isn’t nitrate-free, but I’m still looking. It’s sugar-free, which matters to me the most right now.), 2 eggs and an entire small avocado. I’m struggling with digesting all this meat, and I order some HCL for stomach acid. I haven’t tested it yet, but it is very likely that I have low-ish stomach acid. Hopefully my body will adapt, otherwise I will have to revert to eating more fibre-rich starches when I am done. I’m pondering transitioning back into a much lower meat diet (90% plant-based) if my body rejects the paleo movement. But I am absolutely convinced I need grains. Like oats and amaranth and buckwheat. I read an article about digestion on PaleoLeap and read that it is normal for digestion to slow down at the beginning of a paleo shift, because fats are replacing grains and grains contain bulking fibre. I might need to eat more vegetables.
For lunch, I finally got to taste my sauerkraut, which has been in the making for 10 days. It’s so delicious, I have it with romaine lettuce, boiled potatoes, garam masala chicken breast in coconut oil and a mayonnaise (from Waitrose, all natural. I fail at making my own.) and apple cider vinegar dressing.
For dinner, I make pork loin with a big kale salad, roasted potatoes and cooked cabbage. Again, very delicious. I’m getting a little comfortable with my cooking, I’ll have to keep my creativity in check.
One week down, 3 to go. We can do this. Even if our digestion is completely out of whack and we can’t stand the sight of ghee anymore. We’re fine.
I thought I would give you an insight into what I have been eating this week, at home and on the road. It’s not been easy every day, but I’m proud of pulling through!
Monday morning, post late-night pizza feels (has anyone else tried Domino’s newest pizza with fresh rocket and Prosciutto? It was so worth it.) I am craving something healthy!
For breakfast: two eggs fried in coconut oil, a quarter avocado with hot sauce (Red Hot) and some mushrooms, sautéed in coconut oil + bone broth. I normally have toast. I didn’t miss the toast.
For lunch: a crispy chicken breast on a bed of leaves with a tahini, basil, garlic, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar dressing.
For dinner: homemade beef burger patties (spiced with cumin + paprika) + roasted potatoes + crispy black kale.
I did snack on a handful or two of nuts, I must admit I hadnt quite grasped the concept of not snacking unless you absolutely need it. I promise I’ll get better.
It has been 5 days since we all started, and I must admit the emotional rollercoaster is the real deal. I thought everyone was being dramatic, but I’ve experienced my fair share of ups and downs this week.
So what exactly is the BARE. Lifestyle? Simplify, simplify, simplify. Minimalism is a big trend at the moment, and there is absolutely no reason why it shouldn’t apply to your plate or mindset, too. What you put in your mouth every day should not only give you the energy you deserve to have, but it should also make you super happy! And the food you eat shouldn’t crowd your head with questions, concerns and tension. Food is awesome and we want it to stay that way, right? So ditch the sugar, the processed junk, and start eating real. Eat the BARE. way!
Eating the BARE. way will allow you to feel great, there is no doubt about it. But your mental health will benefit from this journey enormously, too! Being more aware and mindful of yourself and others is more important than ever; we are always so busy, stuck in our routines and unappreciative, despite our efforts to make the most of our daily life. None of these mechanisms are our fault; they are the product of modern society. But we all have the power to change the way we lead our lives.
Whatever ethical, dietary or lifestyle choices you make, there is no one-size-fits-all magic formula. We are so amazingly different! So by taking it back to basics, allow yourself to be in tune with your physical and emotional needs rather than blindly following the latest trend or fad. Trends and fads can be really good fun, there is no denying that (the avocado fad has still not worn off on me, oops!) But first, you should know and understand yourself. 😙
I am a strong believer in second chances, and your body is a very forgiving organism. Give yourself another chance to feel amazing! If you like the sound of the BARE. lifestyle, don’t stop here – take action and head over to my recipes and lifestyle posts to get inspired and excited about simplifying your life.
My 3-step approach makes it easy for you to reach your goals; from experience, I know that trying to reach a goal without a structure or a plan is hard.
A BARE. head: understand and identify your emotional relationships, with food and your surroundings, take time for yourself and for others and be mindful of your place in the world through meditations and self-awareness exercises.
A BARE. plate and body: take time and learn food awareness by following my recipes and eating tips & find the physical activity you are most passionate about, and start getting perfectly in tune with your body.
A BARE. Lifestyle: integrate your new mindset, eating habits and exercise regime into your daily life. This is a time for you to reflect and transition into your new habits, share your experiences with others and move on. Knowing yourself well means you have the liberty to add or remove whatever feels right at the time. Your body and mind are ever-changing entities. 💌