Wednesday 29 February 2012

Support vs. Sabotage - Who's got your back?

Are there people in your life who you need to justify your healthy eating habits to? When you go to the bathroom, do they lay a cookie on your desk and say “C’mon – live a little!!”? When you say you have quit sugar, do they say “You’re no fun anymore!”? Or do they just downright crack it when you say you are giving up bread?

                                                              Image source:

What I have learnt over the years is that people are very defensive when it comes to food. They don’t like to change and they don’t like those around them to change either. I know this because I used to be one of these people.

It may be hard to believe, but my husband is just as much of a nutrition nerd, if not more so, than me. While I have always been interested in healthy living, he deserves the credit for opening my mind to life without bread and pasta and instead focussing on more nutrient dense foods. He therefore also deserves the credit for making me a happier, more energetic, and generally more pleasant person. However I didn’t take too nicely to his suggestions at first. You see, this is what my daily menu used to look like:

  • Breakfast: All Bran with banana, nuts, seeds and honey with rice milk OR porridge 
  • Lunch: Salad with some sort of protein OR a wrap/sandwich
  • Dinner: Some sort of meat and vegies OR risotto OR pasta

Now, let it be known, he didn’t actually tell me that I should be eating differently. He was just gradually transitioning to a paleo-style diet himself, and I didn’t like it. Why, I don’t know. But I got angry…all the time….until he got angry back. That I was abusing him for trying to obtain optimal health pissed him off. And rightly so. Who was I to stop him from being healthy? How presumptuous of me to think that my way was the right way. So did I change my diet straight away? No, no I didn’t. I’m a little stubborn in that I need to find things out for myself. So that’s what I did – I started reading information on nutrition other than the mainstream regurgitation I was being fed at uni. And what I found was some solid scientific evidence to back up his nutritional decisions. I had to admit he was right all along (I still haven’t done that. I told you – stubborn!). 

The real power was not in knowing this information, but what I did with it – I started to make changes to my diet. Just small changes at first – it probably took me around a year to completely take grains out of my diet, but I have never looked back since. Friends ask me if I miss bread and pasta – I miss them like I miss the constant itching from my chronic eczema. I miss them like I miss the extreme mood and energy swings I would experience throughout the day. I miss them like I miss the daily diarrhoea. So no….I don’t miss bread and pasta.

But I diverge – this was a post about support!!! My point was change is hard at the best of times. We are creatures of habit and routine. In order to make change we first need to have a really good reason to do so (e.g. to have more energy, to be a good role model for your kids, to not die from a heart attack before the age of 50). I could waffle on all day about what to eat for optimal health, but unless you embrace the concepts yourself and also understand why you are changing, you are setting yourself up for failure. Finally, and most importantly, we need support. We need it from everyone around us – friends, colleagues, partners, family.

To start with, you may find yourself defending your eating habits. The best advice I can offer to tackle this resistance is to calmly explain why you are making the choices you are making. Someone who has your best interests at heart will be happy for you and offer their support. The next step is to pass on your knowledge – get them onto the books, articles, blogs and websites that helped you make changes. And finally….cook for them! Show them that healthy, nutrient-dense meals can be just as tasty as any other meal!

Hopefully, one by one, we can spread the knowledge, grow the support network and be on our way to healthier, more fulfilling lives.

Who's got your back?


  1. Kate,

    Really enjoying the blog. So fantastic and full of heaps insightful, helpful, not to mention eye-opening info. Keep it coming-especially the recipes, I think the hardest thing about altering your diet is not having enough inspiration, so reverting back the old faithful menu (which generally consists of grains in our house). Can't wait for the next blog!


  2. Thanks George! I'll try my best to give you some inspiration! x

  3. Hi Kate, great blog! You've inspired me to change my diet (and my partners along with it!) - thanks!

    It's been 5 days and I've gone straight into it. Sticking to the diet is fine, but my energy levels are causing havoc with my exercise routine (especially in the evening) - I had to leave a body attack class early yesterday after hitting the wall big time.

    I am determined to stick to this but hate not being able to train properly. I've read up on the subject and see that it can take time for the body to adjust.

    Do you have any tips on getting through this period and still be able to exercise at a decent level?

    Also, we do a lot of long distance, multi day hiking/bushwalking - i.e. walking up and down big hills with heavy packs on. Any tips for keeping energy levels up and suggestions for lunch/breakfast out in the bush (bearing in mind we we need to keep our pack weight down as much as possible)?


    1. Hey there!

      I'm so happy to hear about the changes you have made for yourself AND your partner (that's not so easy!).

      Energy levels can dip, generally for up to 4 weeks as your body transitions from being a sugar burner to being a fat burner. Stick with it! After you get through this period you will have more energy than you know what to do with! During this time ensure you get plenty of sleep, don't go too hard at the gym (don't worry - a break will make you stronger in the long run) and be sure to stay well hydrated.

      While you are hiking, it is important that you get as much bang for your buck. For lunch, ensure that you have some form of protein (like chicken, steak or fish) and also have some good fats, such as avocado. A great snack that is light and really filling is coconut butter. The brand is Artisana and you can get individual sachets from About Life in Bondi Junction, or you can get them online at or Artisana. Eggs are also good, light snacks. If you are hiking at high altitude, however, it is best to include some starchy carbs like mashed sweet potato, parsnips or pumpkin instead of too much fat.

      Hope this helps!