One major area of my life I want to change is food and my attitude surrounding what I eat.
I know, I know, how original. But hear me out.
I have always struggled with highly processed “food” and the things I affectionately call ‘edible food-like substances’ have almost always treated me poorly. Most of them give me heartburn and make me break out in blemishes (this is something I desperately wish I knew back when I was in high school), and they are designed to be insanely easy to overeat, which makes me gain weight.
When I eat real foods that are not highly processed, portion control becomes easy because I don’t feel the need to overeat since the meal is nutritious and deliciously satiating. My skin clears up, inflammation falls to the wayside and my energy skyrockets.
My problem is two-fold: my desire to please others is debilitating and I live in a particular area where fresh and minimally-processed foods are difficult to access, especially during the winter months. How I’ve decided to tackle these problems is two-pronged: I need to believe that my health is more important than what other people think of me and what I do, and I need to become an active participant in growing and accessing fresh and minimally-processed foods. I need to think outside the box. Just because something has been done a certain way for a long time doesn’t mean that it’s the only way.
People are very defensive about food and their choices regarding what they choose to put in their mouths. In 2011, as an experiment, I decided to go grain-free to see what would happen. When I announced my intention there was a huge backlash from friends, family and co-workers. A mixture of horror, concern and derision filled almost every conversation I had. ‘Why would you do such a thing?!’ asked so many people. ‘How will you get your fiber?’ asked many others. ‘The government says you need grains, and you should support farmers.’ insisted many. Nevertheless I persisted and ended up losing 40 pounds and dropping 2 dress sizes. My skin cleared up, my energy sky-rocketed, I felt fantastic! But, alas, slowly and surely I let the people around me dictate what I should eat and my good habits dissolved in the face of the ‘everything in moderation’ approach.
I dislike the word ‘moderation’ so much. People don’t even know what they mean when they say that, beyond the intention that having a treat once in a while is a good thing. And in theory it could be true, IF WE WERE ROBOTS. I don’t know about you, but I am not a robot. I don’t have the time nor the inclination to measure and remember how often I treat myself to junk food. I just don’t. And I know there are apps out there that can do it for you but my whole point is I don’t want to live a life where I need to worry about how often I treat myself for being ‘good’. I would rather live a life where food is delicious fuel and junk food is a not a term in my vocabulary. The argument so many people tried to give me back in 2011 that ‘It is not healthy to deprive yourself’ didn’t make any sense to me. Deprive myself of what? Pimples? Cellulite? Massive weight gain? I don’t want those things and you think it’s not healthy that I don’t want that? Who’s the crazy fool now?
Ok, I’m getting angry. Take a breath, Caleigh.
Here’s my point: People are nuts. People have a strange way of creating justifications for just about anything. People in groups are both helpful and dangerous, depending on the situation. But I can’t worry about people I can only worry about myself (and my family but, c’mon, I have to take care of myself in order to be able to take care of others). So here’s the gist: I am going to concentrate on eating fresh, local, hopefully spray-free food and I am going to be aware of how I react to other people’s responses, because as an emotional eater, I tend to fall face-first into a mug of brownie when I’m feeling, well, anything.
Let’s be clear here, I’m not a foodie, or a snob. If I enter someone else’s home and their chosen meal is hot dogs & kraft dinner, I’m not going to be all like, “Are the buns made from local wheat and ground at the neighbor’s mill? Is the cheese made from the local monastery? I can’t eat it if it’s not.” I am so not that person. I will always choose to sit down and eat a meal that someone else prepared. Maybe I’ll offer to bring something as a second option, but I will never deride someone else’s effort.
I will write about my adventures with food as a series under the category of ‘Cook’, please feel free to follow along!
Until Next Time,