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Sometimes you have to bend the rules!

Over the weekend, I was away from home for a little over 48 hours. I took my wife and kids down to the Isle of Wight to stay with my wife’s family for the weekend. Travelling can be the hardest time for anyone trying to eat a healthy diet. When we are away from home, in unfamiliar surroundings, away from our usual choice of shops and markets, when the food shopping and cooking is not 100% under our control, this is the hardest time to stay comfortably in charge of what you eat.

Any of you who have been following this blog and are familiar MotherNaturesDiet and the 12 Core Principles (See page ‘The Rules!’) will know that Core Principle 12 allows me to apply the 90/10 rule, and not just as a get-out clause or an excuse for ‘treats’! (In my mind, they are not treats, they are mistakes, set-backs on the road to supreme good health.) ‘Rule’ 12 is in there mainly because I am a realist, and I know that it is virtually impossible to always get organic veggies, organic clean fruit, free-range eggs, outdoor-reared free-range meat, and so on. As low-level stress is a major health challenge these days, getting would up over your food choices is not good for your health, so Rule 12 is there to help us all relax a little and ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’.

Away from home, limited food options

Over the weekend, I was struck by just how hard it is get the things we want when away from the familiarity of our regular ‘home turf’. I went to a medium-sized supermarket, and there were almost NO options on free-range, organic, outdoor-reared meat or open-ocean caught, sustainably-caught fish. This supermarket had just a couple of free-range whole chickens available, and that was it, there were no other options. No outdoor-reared grass fed beef, no outdoor reared pork, lamb, nothing. There were a few organic veggies, but the range was limited and over-priced. It was tempting to think ‘oh I am just in some little corner-shop, of course there is not much choice’, but this was not the case, as in fact I was in the largest supermarket in that particular town, so this was my best choice for 20 or 30 minutes drive in any direction.

This got me thinking, and my thoughts combined with some comments from friends in other countries, who have told me they like reading my blog, and they try to follow the Core Principles I have set out, but the reality is that in their home own/region/country they just cannot get, or cannot afford, the kind of food I buy here at home.

Here’s the point – I understand. It’s OK, stop worrying. No stress.

  • You may live in an area where free-range grass-fed outdoor-reared meat just isn’t available. It’s OK. I understand.
  • Maybe you just can’t afford to buy it, because the only place you can get it charges a fortune. I understand.
  • Maybe you live in a country that doesn’t have that kind of produce available. I understand.
  • Maybe you live somewhere where organic fruit and veg are not available.
  • Maybe you don’t have time to cook meat and veg meals every day.
  • Maybe you don’t live near a gym.
  • Maybe you can’t afford gym fees.

I understand ALL of these points. They are very valid reasons why you can’t follow the exact same plan that I am following. It’s OK, don’t stress, don’t worry, don’t feel guilty, don’t feel cheated, don’t feel bad, just chill out.

BUT do not let these be excuses for why you cannot look after yourself with a healthy lifestyle.

If you are reading this blog because you want to be healthier, or because you want to lose weight, or because you want to slow down aging, feel better, have more energy, avoid illness of just because you are interested in paleo style nutrition and exercise, and you are trying to follow a paleo lifestyle - whatever the reason, go back and read my 12 Core Principles again, on ‘The Core Principles’ page, and think about how you can live by these principles in a way that fits your circumstances.

  1. Can’t find or can’t afford outdoor-reared, pasture raised meat? Well eat normal meat then. It will have a higher fat content, so don’t eat so much, cut meat down to max one third of your calories, and make up two thirds using veg. You will not be supporting sustainable, cruelty-free, farming practices, so it’s not ‘MND-perfect’, but it’s better than saying “oh well to hell with it all I will just go to McDonalds”.
  2. Can’t find the time to take a day off hill walking? Well walk round your town for an hour then. I am sure you can find an hour, maybe even twice each week.
  3. Can’t find time for an hour in the swimming pool? Well try 30 minutes out on your bike then.
  4. Can’t find the money for monthly gym fees? Well try a routine of push-ups, sit-ups, dips, star jumps, walks around the neighbourhood. It costs nothing to jump up and down in your own home, doing squats, star jumps and push-ups.
  5. Can’t afford organic veg? Well eat non-organic veg then. Not perfect, but better than chips, burgers and pizza.

Life can’t always be perfect. Sometimes it takes us a while to reach a goal. Sometimes we have to progress in stages, one small step at a time.

“Ticking some of the boxes is better than not ticking any of them”

Don’t think of this as a ‘diet’ in the popular, but wrong, temporary sense of the word. MotherNaturesDiet is not a temporary diet, it’s a commitment to changing how you live your life. The point of MND (and when I finish writing my book this will all become a lot clearer and more detailed) is to understand that you are trying to live in a way that your body is more in tune with the natural world, that you are eating natural food and getting natural fresh air and varied exercise. If there are reasons why you cannot follow it all to the letter, don’t let that put you off giving it “your best shot”. You can live on vegetables and whatever meat or fish you can afford. Exercise costs nothing…go for a walk, jog, do some push-ups, find a tree with a low branch and try some chins. Stop by a children’s play area in the park, do some dips on bars, climb a tree, there is always an easy way to exercise for free.

Good simple food is not as expensive as you might think

Contrary to what many believe, eating the MND way is NOT elitist and terribly expensive. The picture attached shows my lunch from last Friday. I had local wild caught (hence fully organic) diced venison, with fresh organic kale and leeks. The lunch cost me about £5:60 UK pounds in total, which is no more than a deli sandwich and a latte in a high-street cafe. A McDonalds Big Mac Meal is almost a fiver, so this only cost pence more. That lunch was my main meal of the day. A fiver for my main meal of the day is not excessive. I worked out for an hour in my home gym, in my garage, using equipment made from scrap – old iron bars, old fence posts, some old lengths of rope and a couple of old weight plates I have had for years. The main instrument of my workout was my own bodyweight. Cost = zero.

Where there is desire, you can accomplish anything.

Don’t allow the details to stop you from the achieving the bigger picture. Do the best you can, and stick to it.

Note: Picture actually shows diced goat with greens, as I didn’t take a pic of my lunch today - but it looks very similar, so you get the idea!

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