Today's post is a little on the serious side as it is something I know a lot of girls around the world, whoever, wherever and whatever is going on in their lives suffers with. The amazing World Wide Web enables us all to interconnect on a much grander scale than ever before and one of the things I have taken from this is and introduction to just how many people suffer as the result of poor/ inadequate nutrition.
However that's probably too big of a topic for one blog post and so today instead I want to scrap it all down to just one little section of this issue; under-eating. And it most cases; not even realising your doing it!
I've spoken on this before with my own experience, where unhealthy thoughts have entered my mind when I'm making myself a meal, saying ridiculous things like; 'If you don't add lentils to this dish that's a whole pack of food your not consuming... and do you really need to add them anyway? Will they make the dish any better?'
I guess on a more realistic and relatable and regular occurrence level, it would be the unhealthy voices in my mind saying;'No, you don't need to eat, it's only 2pm! You still have 2 hours until your next snack!' When I'm standing in the kitchen ravenously hungry.
But again, this issue I want to talk about is even more specific than that. It is pure and simply, not eating enough. And why sometimes you need to make yourself eat more!
It would probably shock the life out of most teenage girls to tell them to eat more and they will feel 10000x better when all they've been told from a very young age by society is how to lose weight, be skinny and therefore be happy. And thus begins the downsizing of meals, the infrequency of meals, the small, small amount of fuel being given to the body.
Do you know how hard it is to come to school, comfortably full and energised from a big bowl of warm, gooey banana porridge with nut butter and all the other good stuff, to be subjected to watching a friend eat her breakfast of- a slice of plain toast. Or perhaps, an apple. Or an orange. Or a juice. Or a coffee. Or maybe even just a bottle of water. (Whilst morning hydration is essential; so is following it up with a big, hearty, nutritious breakfast!)
Can you understand how painful it is to start digging into a home-prepared, well-sized portion of roasted veggies, spinach, beans, lentils, peas, corn etc. and look over to see a fellow girl-power nibbling on a rice cracker. Slowly crunching through some raw veggie sticks. Or better yet, a salad... made of lettuce.
Is it even legal to then go home and prepare a delicious feast of veggie pizza on a wholegrain pumpkin crust piled high with veggies and homes and nutritional yeast, only to message a friend and find out they've got another salad, or perhaps a boiled egg, or some more toast or maybe even that they're not eating dinner because they're not really hungry at all after a stressful/ bad day at school.
This is the kind of thing I'm faced with on the daily and whilst I'm not sharing this to gain sympathy (which would be rather odd because it would be like asking you to feel bad for me because I'm eating loads of food??) I'm asking you to consider the kinds of messages that are being sent out into the world and the 'normalcy' surrounding meals and eating that has been taken on by many, many girls, young women and women in general... in fact I wouldn't even limit it to women any more, the internet has also provided me with multiple examples of boys, young men and men who restrict their intakes to for an unrealistic image.
If I brought this issue up with a fellow friend who just doesn't seem to eat. At all. The response could well in fact be; 'Well, I'm just not much of an eater. I'm never hungry.' And whilst this seems legitimate, there's also a reason for this lack of hunger and I hate to tell them this, but it's not natural to not feel hunger. Ever. The reason why these girls can wake up and fill their stomachs with a whopping meal of water and then some crackers and lunch, followed by two pieces of buttered toast at dinner (and that's it) is because their body has adapted to the limited supply of energy, nutrients and just plain FOOD in general, that metabolism has slowed to the bare minimum and in all honesty the body is not burning anything anymore- storing what little food it is given is the only way to survive.
Hence the absence of hunger signals.
I was never one to restrict any of my meals or anything as a girl but even looking back at my 6-7-8-9 year old self who would wake up and have a bowl of cereal, then a cookie at recess, a vegemite sandwich on white bread at lunch and some rice and meat (pre-vego) for dinner, if I ate that now-a-days? I would be a screaming, hanger monster. That wouldn't even make up half the kilojoules I consume now! And what's even better? My body burns that energy I feed it now and I've never been stronger, fitter, more toned (similar lean-ness, I've never really been 'big' before) than ever. With probably 3x the amount of fuel!
So what would be my advice to these girls? Firstly, start slowly. Add in extra foods and kilojoules slowly and regularly to each meal. Not a big breakfast eater? Start with a home-made granola bar, or a small smoothie, or some fruit with nut butter. Then after a bit, add in a small bowl of oats, a piece of wholegrain toast with a delicious topping, add more fibre and protein to the smoothie. Slowly and slowly the hunger will creep in. You'll start to wake up with an appetite. Until eventually you're like me and a hungry monster after a night of fasting! The same goes for lunches and dinner. Slowly but surely (and regularly) add in another nutritious food, whether it be some avocado, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, sweet potato, chia seeds, homes, greek yoghurt, tahini- you name it!
Well, here's the remainder: Eaten with a spoon straight from the blender! :) NOM!
I won't lie, I've struggled with non-hunger before (see here, here and here) but in my case, this has never stopped me eating a meal, or dramatically downsizing portions etc. Instead it's made me aware that I still need to fuel my body even when it's not particularly hungry (especially if it's been over 4 hours!) because not only am I a growing teenage girl, with increased iron needs and calcium and protein etc. I'm also a runner, lover of HIIT, fitness addict, who loves to work up a sweat. So if I've worked up a sweat that day, I know I need to work up a good amount of food!
Pre-hill-sprint sesh leg shot:
This is a great example of a not-so-hungry Steph meal, that tasted delicious I might add, which was my breakfast of choc protein oats with nut butter and banana:
Do you struggle with feeling your body properly?
Ever have to make yourself eat because you know your body needs the fuel?
Favourite oatmeal combo at the moment? Kind of hooked on chocolate at the minute to be quite honest!!
I hope you take what I've said today and really consider the foods you are eating and if it is enough to sustain your day-to-day life. Enjoy your day, do something you love and as always; EAT SOMETHING DELICIOUS! Bye for now friends!! :D