My name is Nikki and I have a degree in Nutritional Therapy, in my past life I worked in hospitality and so I suppose I have always been professionally connected to food.  When my oldest child was diagnosed with Autism in 2006 – it was the first time that I really stopped to think about food.  Up until that point it had always been about what tasted good and looked pretty, but through the struggles with my son food became about nourishing body and mind.  I guess it has turned me into a bit of a food activist.

Eating – we all do it – it’s something we will spend roughly 4 and ½ years doing in our lifetime.  Yet because of advertising and developments in food production it is something that has become so complicated – I often joke that life would be far easier if we could hook up to an IV at night and just eliminate the need to cook and eat.  In the age of information at our fingertips we are in fact more disempowered than ever before – decision-making is clouded by the myriad of professionals – who often can’t even agree amongst themselves.  We are bombarded by do this, eat that, don’t do that, don’t eat that statements all day long!

So, here’s me – another professional – and when I think about the journey that food and eating has taken me on I realize that actually at it’s core – we know how to do this.

If we cut through all the mixed messages we realize that the key to making this simple again is to not necessarily focus on food but on our behaviours.  Our lives are as stressed out as ever before and even though the here in the “Slowveld” it is way better than other places – there is still room for improvement.  So today I’m going to give you 5 keys thoughts – using these ideas to shape your behaviour towards food will hopefully set you up for success and lasting health!

  1. Kick perfect to the curb!

In South Africa we are all so keenly aware of the drought, I think we could hear everyone sighing with some relief when we finally had some rain!  Yet the vast majority of us force our bodies to survive in a self imposed drought.  As women we are generally fixated on being perfect and doing perfect – so because we are unsure about the hormones in plastic bottles and whether our water bottle was in the sun for longer than 2.27539 minutes in a 24 hour period we don’t drink enough water.

Just drink the water!  When drinking the water is an ingrained habit – then look at ways that you can make drinking the water even better.  But just start!  And this need for perfection isn’t just causing dehydration on a massive scale.  Analyzing and assessing and planning to be perfect, be it meal plans or exercise routines, will often lead to inaction.  So kick perfect to the curb and embrace Nike – just do it!

  1. Bring back mindfulness

Nourishing your body isn’t just about what you eat, but what you think about what you eat.  My Ouma greets her plants every morning and says good night every night.  And while the science behind this is controversial – I firmly believe that the way we think about the food that we eat and our selves as we eat it has a profound impact on our health. But if all that is a little out there then here are some hard facts: people who chew their food properly and eat in a socially supportive environment and take the time to appreciate the sight, smells and tastes of what they are eating are known to have fewer digestive complaints, are better able to maintain their ideal weight and are happier.  Use every meal as an opportunity to practice mindfulness – tune into what makes you feel better and have more wonderful meals with fabulous people.

  1. Respect your uniqueness

Jeez if only that IV line was possible – but here’s the thing – we would all have a completely unique cocktail.  There is no one-size fits all.  So before getting obsessed with whether we should do Banting or Paleo or vegetarian or vegan or gluten free or blood type or any other type of diet out there – take the time to start creating a bond with your body – a bond of love and respect.  If we spoke out loud the things we say to ourselves we would be called a bully!  Your journey to optimal health is yours alone, once you start listening to what your body needs more of and stop giving it the stuff it doesn’t want – that’s a massive step in the right direction to lasting health and wellness

  1. Keep it real

Looking at all the ancient cultures, cultures that are not plagued by rising obesity, heart disease, cancer and dementia – from the Maasai to the Eskimos there is a common theme: they eat real food.  The fats, carbohydrates and proteins and all the other building blocks are wonderfully balanced within whole and real food.  Michael Pollan refers to processed food (made mostly from the monocrops corn, soy and wheat) as “food like products” – it is useful to start thinking of processed food like that – processed foods are the cheap and nasty factory made rip offs that we wouldn’t buy if it was clothes or cars.  There is no such thing as cheap food when you factor in the cost to your health.  Don’t just think about what you eat – but about what you eat, eats J  I know that is a brain fart – so here it is again – Don’t just think about what you eat, but think about what you eat, eats.

  1. Support and accountability will get you there

We are none of us Islands – though we like to think that we can do it all – our mission to be superwoman!  We are every one of us Superwoman already– but it is a truly liberating day when you can accept that there is no reason to go it alone.  In my work as a health and lifestyle coach that’s what I do – but you don’t necessarily need me – you need someone – that can be a friend, a mom, your child, a Facebook group.  But make the terms of the support clear from the start – support without accountability equals = ag shame you have had a rough day, have another piece of cake.  Support with accountability = You’ve had a rough day, so take a minute to compose yourself and think about what will make you feel better before deciding what to eat.

So you now have 5 tips when it comes to nourishing your body and mind:

  1. Kick perfect to the curb and just do it!
  2. Bring back mindfulness
  3. Respect your uniqueness
  4. Keep it real – food that is!
  5. Get your support and accountability team

Cheers to our health.