Today we're back with another installment of our monthly series of personal essays from members of the YBC Community. I personally love to create content, but I don't want YBC to be the Candace Show. I firmly believe that everyone knows something I don't, and therefore, we can always learn from others. My hope is that through these personal essays, we develop a deeper bond within the YBC Community, connect with one another, and learn from each other. In today's post, I am sharing an essay from Brita Britnell, who writes a seriously gorgeous healthy food blog. Hope you love it. xo Candace
Like many young girls, I became aware of nutrition and what I ate around the age of 12 when my body started to change and I started really paying attention to my body image and the images that were being thrown at me from all angles. And like many young girls, I was completely sucked in by the notion of what my body is "supposed to look like". However, I'm actually not here today to talk about body image but instead nutrition image.
To me, "nutrition image" is the image that you have in your head of what your diet is supposed to look like. For some, they think that carbs are evil and they're never supposed to eat them. Others think that eating meat is terrible and they would never dream of admitting that the smell of bacon makes their mouth drool every time. Some say to replace sugar with things like stevia while others preach that stevia is terrible for you. It seems that every day there's some new study released praising the benefits of this or condemning the consumption of that. There are SO many images/ ideas out there of what the ideal diet is but I believe that the ideal diet is what makes YOU feel good and what makes your body thrive. There is truly no one size fits all diet.
I first got really interested in nutrition when I was about 21 and was getting super into Crossfit. Naturally, I did what everyone around me was doing which was to adopt a very strict paleo diet condemning all forms of carbs and grains and really shoving in the protein. Fast forward a few years and I started asking questions about how my meat was sourced. I got sucked into the vortex of endless YouTube videos, books and documentaries about the meat and dairy industry and completely changed my diet to being mostly vegan. I never gave up eggs since I have my own backyard chickens BUT I did feel ashamed that I still ate eggs (which now seems completely ridiculous) and hid that from social media when I posted the food I was eating daily. The few times I did post a simple photo of eggs, I got some of the most ridiculous criticism.
Jump ahead to today and I've realized that I have to stop looking at what others are eating and think that I need to be eating the exact same way. Just because so-and-so lost weight eating a paleo diet or my best friend completely cleared up her acne after cutting out dairy doesn't mean that it will work for me OR that it has to. My advice: listen to your body and start experimenting. If following a certain kind of diet is what you want to do, then great. In fact, I think it's often a good place to start. From there, keep eating more of the things that energize you and less of the things that don't. Also- make sure to try new things! Go to the Farmer's Market and get a vegetable you've never tried before and then learn to cook with it. Some of my favorite recipes have come about this way.
Right now, I know that my body feels truly great when I eat a lot of starchy vegetables and grains such as potatoes, squash, rice, and quinoa. I typically have some kind of a starch or grain with every meal and feel great from it. After being hardcore vegan for a while, I've now started eating fish fairly often and am no longer ashamed of my egg consumption. And truthfully, my body has never felt more stable and more energized in my whole life. I know that it's important to keep experimenting and listening to my body because what makes it happy now might not be the same in 10 years. My biggest challenge: portion control...because you truly can have 'too much of a good thing' :)
About Brita: Hi! I'm Brita, a Nashville based food photographer and writer who blogs at BBritnell.com where I create delicious, mostly plant based and healthy recipes. I just recently quit my day job of working in state government to pursue a full time career of food photography, videography, and working on my blog! I first got into yoga while playing roller derby for the Nashville Rollergirls. Honestly, I hated it at first but quickly realized the immense benefits it had to my body, my mind, and (at the time) my ability to better play the sport. Since retiring from roller derby, I've kept up with yoga and am working on increasing my flexibility and finally managing to do some of the fun arm balances. :) You might have guessed since I have a food blog but I also LOVE to cook. Some of my favorite recipes include these Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes, this Peanut Butter Pie, Black Bean & Quinoa Burgers, and Loaded Chili! If you're a meat eater, almost all of my recipes can be easily adapted to include meat as well (which is purposeful since my husband eats meat and I put a little bit in all of my recipes for him).