The Sweet Meadow

What I wish I knew at 21

living the sweet lifeAishe Besim
 Me at my 21st birthday party in October 2007. 

Me at my 21st birthday party in October 2007. 


You can only go forward by making mistakes.
— Alexander McQueen

Hindsight is a beautiful thing. I have written about my journey to a plant-based, vegan lifestyle previously, and while I understand everyone needs to follow their own path to health, there are a few sweet truths that I wish I knew when I was 21. 

CARBS WON'T MAKE YOU FAT
Carbohydrates are VITAL for providing energy for our bodies and brains. While not all carbs are created equal, complex carbohydrates make us feel full and satisfied and are easily broken down to release their energy. Think potatoes, quinoa, lentils, corn, brown rice and beans. We humans are very inefficient at turning carbohydrates into fat. Author John McDougall calls this belief that 'carbs make us fat' "...a myth and nothing more. In humans, even substantial quantities of refined and processed carbohydrates contribute only a trivial amount to body fat. The same is not true of animal and vegetable fats, however." Read more in The Starch Solution

FRUIT IS NOT THE DEVIL
It blows my mind every time I hear someone tell me they are limiting the amount of fruit they eat because "it has too much sugar." What the hell? Fruit is the most natural food for humans to consume, and we instinctively chose ripe fruit, which is not only the sweetest but also contains the most vitamins and nutrients. Eating more whole, ripe fruit satisfies our desire for sweets in the most nourishing way. And before you ask, fruit sugar alone does not cause high blood sugar levels, but overeating fat does. When our system is not gummed up with excess fat, the sugar from high-glycemic fruit moves easily in and out of the blood. Dr. Doug Graham explains it beautifully in The 80/10/10 Diet.  

 Here I am at my heaviest (there are not a lot of photos of me during this period, funnily enough). I'd put on 10kg from the previous year, which may not sound like much, but when you've had little weight change throughout your teen years this was a big deal. 

Here I am at my heaviest (there are not a lot of photos of me during this period, funnily enough). I'd put on 10kg from the previous year, which may not sound like much, but when you've had little weight change throughout your teen years this was a big deal. 

YOUR BODY IS NOT A TOMB
Leonardo da Vinci famously once said "My body will not be a tomb for other creatures." Meat-eaters like to mask the fact that they are eating a dead animal. The 'steak' you just ordered at a restaurant is in fact a dead cow, 'veal' is (or was) a calf, 'bacon' a pig, 'chops' a lamb. Animals are intelligent, emotional, social creatures. They know when they are about to be killed and they are panic-stricken. When their young are taken from them (hello dairy industry), they feel grief. If you consume animal products, you are eating suffering. You are what you eat. 

DAIRY IS NOT YOUR FRIEND
I first noticed blackheads on my chin when I was in Grade 3. Grade 3! I was 9 years old for crying out loud! It took me YEARS to realise the connection between acne and dairy. At the time I was consuming a ton of dairy products - a glass of milk in the morning with warmed milk on my weet-bix, chocolate, cheese two or three times a day, yogurt as an afternoon snack, ice-cream for dessert. Once dairy is put into our body,  it becomes extremely acid-forming, and puts a huge burden on the body to try to get rid of the mucus in different ways, such as in the form of pimples. Harvey and Marilyn Diamond, authors of best-selling Fit for Life II, clearly state, "Dairy products are disease producing. They're harmful. They cause suffering. They're the perfect thing to eat if you want to be sick and have a diseased body."

 My lunch at Max Brenner's a year before I eliminated dairy from my diet. I have no words!

My lunch at Max Brenner's a year before I eliminated dairy from my diet. I have no words!

MOVE YOUR BODY
When we're in our teens we can eat all the crap we want and still maintain our physique. That all changes when you hit your twenties. Like the wise authors of Skinny Bitch say, "Give up the notion that you can be sedentary and still lose weight. You need to exercise, you lazy shit." Exercise burns fat and calories, improves circulation, defines muscles, builds strength, and detoxifies the body through sweating. I didn't start exercising until I was over 10kg overweight, a year after I turned 21. Move your ass now!

The minute that you’re not learning I believe you’re dead.
— Jack Nicholson