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What my 95 year old Nana taught me about food and health

The Biggest Lesson My Nana Taught Me About My Body and Food.

We hear relentless messages about the latest food trend or superfood. It’s exhausting, conflicting and sometimes hard to navigate. Kale? Activated nuts? Protein powder?

Food is a beautiful experience in life and one that involves a deep personal relationship. Working in this field, it fascinates me to learn about our attachments towards certain foods.

My Nana grew up on a farm during the depression. She churned her own butter. As grandkids we grew up eating her foods. Home baked anzac biscuts, carmel slice and lamb’s fry for breakfast (which consisted of lamb’s heart, liver and bacon mixed with gravy – a crowd favourite in my family). My Nana had sugar, she had full-fat everything and she enjoyed what she ate. She was never on a diet, she ate when she was hungry and from my recollection she never ate when she was full (except to have one too many alcoholic beverages, that’s for sure). She believed that what she ate was good for her, and I think for that very reason alone, it was. She made choices that made her feel good to live life.

This also meant that when she reached 83 years of age she quit smoking. She just went cold turkey. When asked why she gave up, her response was, “Well, I started coughing and I knew that they were no longer making me feel good, so I went to the doctor and they agreed and so I quit.”

Yep, just like that. Because they didn’t feel good for her. Not because the statistics told her they were bad, not because of the horrific pictures on the packets and not because the love of her life (my Pop) lost his life to lung cancer due to smoking. No, she wasn’t scared into anything, she didn’t take action because someone else suggested she should, nor did she follow someone else’s ideas. She did it when she wanted and how she wanted. She listened to her body and responded accordingly.

Some would call her stubborn, and yes she was. But we live in a world today where we are all trying to find the perfect “health” food – we are in a constant state of seeking the best diet, the “right” approach to health. It can be conflicting and confusing to say the least. So maybe my dear old Nana knew a thing or two.

What I learned from my Nana is to try new things, sure, but then stick with what feels good for you. Whether it’s eliminating certain foods from your diet, bringing other foods in or embarking on an exercise plan, does it give you the vital energy you need to be at your best? Eat foods that feel nourishing to your body and stop eating that food when it stops feeling nourishing. Listen to your own body. Feel your way.

Our relationship with food will forever evolve and change. My wish is that we can live in a culture where we are having a love affair with what we put into our mouths every single time. That we only eat foods that we FEEL are going to serve us. Be like Nan and march to the beat of your own drum.

I recently met a friend in a café. While I was drinking my overpriced Bondi hipster super green smoothie, she looked at me with complete respect but at the same time sipped on her full-fat hot chocolate. She had no guilt, no shame and no “is this going to make me fat” bullshit. I loved her in that moment.

As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” I believe the same principle can be applied to food. If you believe it to be good, it will be. If you believe it will be bad for you, it will be. I am not suggesting we all go out and live off ice cream and lollypops, I am suggesting you listen to your body and feed it what you intuitively deem good for it.

Does full-fat dairy feel right? Go there. Does gluten feel wrong but you’re worried about being the annoying person at the dinner party? Get rid of gluten and stand by your decision. Are you a vegetarian who quietly craves meat? Eat the meat. Do you eat egg whites but ditch the yolks, avoid potatoes or coconut or avocados but crave them? Eat them. Give it a go! You’ve tried everything else, right?

The biggest lesson my Nana taught me about my body is to listen to it above all else. And when it comes to food, your body knows what it needs and what it doesn’t need. The guidance you need in this world of conflicting messages, hidden agendas, half-truths and eternally evolving “science” is right inside you.

Need help learning to trust your inner guidance? Learn more about Holistic Health Coaching and BodyLove Coaching with me, Corrie Buchanan.

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