Embracing bio-individuality and intuitive eating

If you read my last Stylish Wellbeing post you’ll know all about my recent week of wellness at Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat. One of the many things I loved about Gwinganna was all the delicious organic cuisine on offer. Guests are given a choice of two dinner options, and one day, the veggo option of Mexican bean mole just wasn’t floating my boat. I kept being drawn to the roast turkey with quince. So I listened to my body and went for it. I know what you’re thinking. Big freaking deal, right? Except in this case, for me, ticking the turkey box on my dinner order actually was a big deal. Because, you see, that roast turkey dinner was the first time that I’d eaten either red meat or poultry in a really long time. Around three and a half years to be exact.

For me, becoming a pescatarian (aka a seafood-eating veggo) was less of a conscious decision and more something that just kinda happened by accident. After my radical lifestyle overhaul, which saw me swap regular party-hopping and a diet of canapés, cocktails and cuisine that came out of a microwave for clean eating and coconut water, I started buying organic food. And organic, grass-fed meat was both hard to come by and a bit exxy. So I just stopped buying it. Plus, I’d never been a big meat eater. Even as a kid. You know how so many parents say they have to force their kids to eat vegetables? I was the kid who had to be told to eat her meat. So I didn’t really miss eating meat or poultry. Seafood on the other hand I could never live without!

But, lately I’d been feeling something shift. Like, rather than wrinkling up my nose at the aroma of slow-roasted meat, I’d been thinking “hells yeah that smells tasty!” I had also been feeling a bit rundown and wondered if my nutritional needs might have changed.

However, these days, with healthy eating becoming something of a status symbol to some people, it’s all too easy to become too rigidly attached to a specific dietary philosophy. To be a little obsessed with one way of eating (whether that be paleo, raw, vegan or whatever) and define yourself by it. And perhaps even be kinda judgemental about others who don’t eat the way you do.

Which is why it why I loved being introduced to the concept of bio-individuality by my dear friend and biggest wellness inspiration Jess Ainscough. What is bio-individuality? It’s basically a fancy nutrition concept based on the idea that our bodies are all different. That there’s no one diet which works for everyone, because our metabolisms and genetics are all different.

So how the hell do know what to eat then, huh? Well, that’s where intuitive eating comes in. It means listening to your body and what it wants you to eat. Of course, we’re talking within the realms of real wholefood here. Not cravings for processed junk. It also means being ok with the fact that your nutritional needs may change.

That’s certainly been the case for me. While my diet is still predominately plant-based, I have started to re-introduce some meat, in the form of nourishing bone broth and healthy desserts set with natural gelatine. And let me tell you, while recovering from a wisdom tooth extraction last week, my dad’s homemade organic lamb and veggie soup tasted like medicine in a bowl!

Sare x

I’m not the only one who is a fan of bio-individuality! Here’s what the experts say…

Carla Papas, holistic health coach and writer from The Merrymaker Sisters

“Everyone’s ‘healthy’ is different and every body thrives on different fuel. I like to believe that there’s no one right way to eat or live.It’s all about trial and error and figuring out what works for you and what makes you feel good. When you find that? You keep on doing it! The most important thing is to be aware of how your body is feeling. If you’re not feeling quite right, don’t be afraid to make a change!”

Lee Sutherland, holistic health coach and personal trainer from Fitness In The City

“It’s so easy to get stuck in comparison mode, especially in today’s social media crazed society. I’m looking at you Instagram! You see a beautiful person glowing with health and say to yourself ‘I’ll have what she is having’. Regardless of whether that eating style or exercise regime suits you. But I am a huge believer in bio-individuality. This means what works for me won’t necessary work for the person next door. Vegan, raw, paleo, pescetarianism – there are so many eating styles out there. But rather than putting a label on it, why not just get back to wholefoods and intuitive eating? Ask yourself after each meal: how does my energy feel? Do I feel bloated or energised and nourished? Pretty soon you will learn what food helps your body thrive and what you need to say goodbye to.”

Credits: Photography by Heidi Boardman. Hair and make-up by Katie Goerlach