2019 - A New Direction for BBH
Happy New Year! Well, it sure has been a while since I’ve written anything on here – sorry about that, and I hope you’re all doing well. I’ve spent the past few months contemplating the purpose and place of Berry, Berry Happy, and how it does/does not reflect my current values, beliefs, and general life trajectory. As such, it felt appropriate to publish this post on the dawn of a new year – a fresh start of sorts.
Essentially, to summarise a lot of thinking into a few short sentences, I feel that the original intention, and much of the content, of this blog no longer reflects my knowledge and understanding of health, or many of the things that I now care deeply about. Given that I started this when I was 16, as my budding interest in nutrition grew, it’s perhaps not surprising that my interests and focus have changed. I am now painfully aware of how much, frankly very shit, pseudo-scientific nutritional “advice” I’ve shared on here. Much of this based on opinion pieces, the works of self-proclaimed ‘experts’ and very, very controversial views on nutrition. For that I can only apologise. I will be going back through the posts over the next few months and rectifying anything that even suggests something that is not clearly supported by the general body of scientific knowledge.
This has become particularly evident this year as I have commenced my medical studies and learnt to think critically about “science”, and how people can construe and cherry-pick data to create an argument for just about anything. Just because there is a potential scientific basis for something, or even plausible biological mechanism, does not necessarily mean it works that way. It’s not that simple. Our bodies are magical and incredible, but unbelievably complex, and as such our health is not as simple as eating a few superfoods and avoiding those that have been scapegoated by various groups or individuals. However, with the overwhelming amount of information about food and health that is available to us (especially online), and the number of people who proclaim to be health experts (whether or not they are actually trained and educated), it is amazingly difficult to decipher reliable information from ridiculous propaganda. And, once again, I am very aware that this very blog and my own writing has been a part of purporting often unsupported claims about health and nutrition.
In short, as I am not (yet) qualified to give any health advice, nor am I specifically training in nutrition, you should disregard any previous nutrition advice/health-related claims I have made on here. As a young person, I was far too influenced by the opinions of often controversial “experts”, believing that if someone could publish a book about health, they must know what they are talking about. It was upon these unscientific sources that I would often base my posts, and my own dietary choices and phases, which eventually led to me having an incredibly restricted diet, and developing obsessive and very unhealthy eating behaviours and habits that have taken years to undo… and I’m one of the lucky ones who can say I’ve done that.
I simply cannot sit here and be complicit with calling such a lifestyle ‘healthy’. On the contrary, it fits more closely with an increasingly recognised eating disorder - orthorexia. If you, or someone you know, has been restricting their food intake, following a very specific diet that has not been medically prescribed, or cutting out entire food groups, obsessing about quality of food or food preparation, or is altering their life/plans in order to accommodate their eating requirements, then I’d recommend seeking some information about orthorexia. And as always, if you suspect someone is suffering from this condition, please encourage them to seek help.
Of course, food is a part of life and diet certainly does play a big part in determining our general health and risk of disease. With so much conflicting information out there, it is important that you seek out reliable, evidence-based sources of information. I was recently made aware of a fantastic blog, called Thinking Nutrition, on which Dr Tim Crowe writes very accessible articles about various health trends and fads, and what is and is not good nutritional advice. I would recommend that if you are wondering about something you’ve read or been told about, you should check to see if he has written an article about it.
Whilst giving blanket advice for nutrition is rarely useful, the buzz about the Mediterranean diet is supported by good data from large studies, including one coined PREDIMED. In short, the study found that following a Mediterranean diet consisting of plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, legumes, extra virgin olive oil, and moderate amounts of dairy, nuts and seeds, lean meats (with minimal red meat), fish, and the occasional glass of red wine (my favourite!) reduces the risk of having a cardiovascular event (a heart attack or stroke). Given that this is one of the biggest chronic health burdens in our world today, that’s some pretty good news.
If I’ve learnt anything over the past two years, it is that moderation and a relaxed approach to eating is probably the way to go. If food choices are a source of stress for you, and you have to make such choices several times a day, it doesn’t matter how good the food is, the stress is going to be harmful, and damaging to your mental health. And on that note, let me take a moment to acknowledge that ‘health’ encompasses much more than just the physical and what you put in your mouth. It includes your mental, spiritual, social, and emotional health too, and to be honest I think often these are far more important than drinking a green smoothie every morning. Here are some things that are good for your health – having strong social circles and good relationships, laughing, meditation, exercise, relaxation, hobbies, spending time doing things that you love, reducing stress, self-care, positive self-talk, and reflection.
In all my thinking about what to do with this little blog we’ve built, I decided it’s not something I want to put to bed just yet. I love writing, I love sharing my story in the hope that others can relate or find some solace in knowing they’re not alone. I am passionate about mental health, body positivity, I still love yoga, and cooking. So, going forward you can continue to expect yummy recipes and food ideas, but with much less emphasis on it being ‘clean’. You can still expect bits and bobs about yoga, meditation, mindfulness, mental health, and self-care, although from the viewpoint of someone doing their best to practice these things, rather than as any kind of expert. And from Peta, you can expect lots of travel posts, tips and tricks for various destinations, as she continues to gallivant around the world.
With that all said, we would also love to hear from you if there are any particular topics you’d like to hear more about. If we cannot write on it, we will at least endeavour to find good resources for you. We hope that 2019 is kind to you.
Erica (& Peta) x