Me and Food

Over the last few years I’ve tried made significant progress on the path of “eating right.” I quote that because I really don’t know how to “eat right.” That is, I know to stay away from processed foods, I know to stay away from industrialized foods. But there are times when I can’t. And I mean two things by “I can’t”. First, it’s just too expensive to all healthy food. I grow what I can — I learned to can last year to preserve the harvest — and buy “organic” and “natural” foods when I can, but often times it’s cost prohibitive.

Second I mean there are times when my impulse to eat potato chips is just so overwhelming I don’t know how to stop myself. But I have learned to cut down on the *amount* of junk I eat. No more do I binge on Slim Jims or eat an entire bag of chips in one sitting. Now I put some chips in a bowl and eat until the bowl is empty. This may not seem significant to you but it’s huge to me.

Recently I gave up a decade of vegetarianism because, well, I’ve gained 50 pounds in that decade. And I don’t think weighing 180 lb at 5’4″ is healthy. Maybe it is for someone else but not for me. There was a time I wanted to go vegan but every ounce of my body said no. Not that I eat much dairy to begin with. I *loathe* milk and have since I was a kid. I don’t remember the last time I had a glass of milk. I do eat cheese but not a lot. By that I mean, not more than once a week usually. I do eat goat cheese, which I very much like, and soy milk in oatmeal or the rare bowl of cereal, but I won’t drink a glass of soy milk (eww).

Carbs seem to be my weight-gaining trigger. And it’s not that I want to lose weight to the point where I look like a concentration camp survivor. I want to be a round 140lb, give or take 10 so when I read this post it struck a cord. You see, nothing appeals to me more than bread. I *heart* bread. Bread can be a entire meal for me. Bread dipped in olive oil, bread spread with butter* and preserves and a cup of tea, just like Nana and Ma used to make. I love bread. I love carbs. I can’t imagine cutting them out of my diet.

I eat bread every day. Be it 1 piece of toast in the morning, a tuna sandwich at lunch, and whatever’s for dinner, bread is pretty much a staple in my diet. Rice is too. Wolf and I eat a lot of rice. Usually that’s the carb we have for dinner. Rice and kalamata olives or rice and veggies, or rice and something. Rice, bread. Those are the lynch pins of my diet.

As much as I love veggies, if I don’t eat carbs with a meal, I’m hungry very quickly. And that’s when I get into trouble. When I’m hungry I can’t control my impulses. That’s when I do and say things I later regret. I can’t concentrate when I’m hungry. I get irritable. Bitchy. Rude. Dismissive. I’ve combated this by staying full, by keeping food with me. And that’s where the weight comes.

Learning how to eat when no one’s looking was easy. I’ve had the perfect model: Ma. You rarely see her eat — aside from the three staple meals — but if you look in her purse, car, desk, you’ll see all kinds of snickers wrappers, potato chip bags, etc. I’ve had the template to secretly eat before my eyes for the majority of my life. And I’ve taken on some of her tactics. But I’m noticing now detrimental secret eating is for my body (hers too but that’s another post) so I’m making an effort to stop the secret eating by not bringing food with me in the car and by keeping myself cash free.

But I I need to purge the toxins out of my body to eliminate the cravings.

And then I wonder if I’m just following a fad. I went on a fast two years ago May. For 10 days** I did the master cleanse. It was the first step in healthy eating for me, and a way to protest the Iraq War. And it was a first step for me. I had hoped it would “cure” the loose bowels I have every day*** but that didn’t happen. I did, however, purge the need to eat cheese almost every day. While I haven’t lost any weight, I have become more sensitive to junk foods and I *have* cut down on what I eat. But I feel myself slipping back so I”m thinking of doing the fast again later this year (in the summer when lemons are more abundant). I won’t do the 40 days, I think that’s too much, but I will do another 10 days.

What other changes do I have to make? Obviously the junk food. I’m going to ask Wolf again, to stop buying junk food. He did for a while but then we fell off the wagon. I’m not going to beat us up about this. Everyday is a new day and it’s an opportunity to eliminate industrial food from our diets. So again I will try today. And tomorrow. And if the only results I see is a decrease in the amount of junk food I eat, then that’s a success.

Yes I want there to be a day when I look at chips and say “no thank you.” And to give myself credit, I have. One thing I’ve learned about myself and food is if I don’t eat it I don’t want it. Well, that’s not totally true. Totally true is more like “When I give into the temptation to eat junk, I can’t stop. So if I don’t eat it at all, I’m ok.” It’s like me and beer. I can’t have one. I can’t drink responsibly, so I don’t drink at all. I have to take the same approach junk food. It’ll take time like eliminating alcohol did. I just have to be patient with myself.

There’s an herbalist class I want to take but I can’t come up with the money. I am really very sad about this because the woman who’s teaching the class will be retiring. And the reason I want to be an herbalist, besides the spiritual connection to Our Mother, is to learn how to care for my body, and Wolf’s and our pets’, in a better way. In an appropriate way. In a way in which we listen to our bodies and treat them with the ingredients we have in abundance.

What I wonder is why we’re killing ourselves. Really, what is wrong with our brains that we, as humans, are poisoning our food and water. We’re poisoning ourselves and others.

*Hannaford brand butter, but still butter. Not margarine or any of those other yucky substitutes. We haven’t found a local source for real butter but, honestly, we haven’t looked too hard.

**I was planning on doing it for 40 days but lasted 10. My GERD was unbearable and I found out I was going to DC unexpectedly with a 14 year old so I ended the fast early to stop the stomach pain and so I could be alert while in DC with Jacob.

***I found out what’s causing this: our well water. Whenever I go away for 2 days my bowels return to normal. In order to treat the well we risk contaminating it even more so we’ve not done anything about it. One thing I can say, though. For the first time in my life I poop everyday at the same time. That is, I’m “regular”. Americans spend millions of dollars trying to “get regular” with pharmaceuticals such as Metamucil.

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2 Responses to Me and Food

  1. Emily Lilly says:

    We’ve found something recently that you might be interested in: mercola.com. Dr, Mercola is a traditional doctor who has freely dabbled in alternative medicine and nutrition theory for the last 35 years. Anyway, he says that people come in three basic flavors: protein, carb, and mixed. His descriptions of the protein person fit Jeff to a tee; for the past 2 weeks, Jeff has been following the recommendations, and the weight has just been sliding off! He also _feels_ better, too: less cravings, more energy, etc.

    Anyway, you sound like you fit the profile of a protein person. The basic scoop is this: 1) Eat your meat FIRST in the meal, and keep eating it until you are full of it. The amount may end up being only an an ounce (or a whole lot more); the key is to eat it first. 2) Eat your veggy combined with a good fat (the list of veggies that are appropriate for this metabolic type is quite small; since it sounds like you aren’t too keen on veggies, this could be why!) Jeff was thrilled to find that celery with nut butter was a recommended food–he has _always_ loved it! Keep eating the fat-laden veggies until you are full of them. Fats include butter, olive oil, raw nut butters, cheese, and others. 3) Optionally have a tiny potion of a whole grain food (or liquid-y milk product) at the bitter end of your meal. Wheat is not included in the list of approved grains. 4) Place an emphasis on raw, organic, unprocessed foods. This can get expensive! There are recommendations in his book and sprinkled throughout his articles about which things to choose if you are forced by a tight budget. 5) No sugars of any kind (not even honey or maple syrup). 6) Never fast. Protein types go into metabolic shock when they do that to themselves.

    Jeff has never before in his life felt satisfied and not-bloated after a meal. The sugar-triggered acid reflux, which was a continual presence in his life, is gone. It’s looking like he has finally found the secret to fueling his body right. Yay!

    Unfortunately for the family, I am a mixed type. And it looks like each of the kids either follow after him or after me. I have a different (albeit larger) food list to choose from, and totally different rules about order. It’s getting zany around here!

    When we did the Great American Detoc Diet 18 months ago, we did an 8-week cleanse (not fasting–just one change per week, having a large cumulative effect), followed by making informed choices about what we eat. All of our grains become whole grains. We ate less meat, but of higher quality. We drank a lot more water (and a lot less milk–not your problem, of course!). And I have lost 55 pounds (and still losing–I eat 2500-3000 calories per day, too) and am now back into my college weight range. Jeff lost a little at first, but gained it all back. But now we grasp our mistake: he needs more protein, and while whole grains are better than refined grains, he really shouldn’t have _any_ grains!

    You two are on parallel tracks here–each can learn from the other. Good luck with your changes!

    –Emily
    PS Having loose bowels because of your water could be really bad for you–you may be dehydrated and nutrient deficient. I’m not sure what the answer is, I’m just saying it may not be a satisfactory thing for you to just ignore!

  2. Howling Hill says:

    Emily,

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I will definitely check out that link.

    55 pounds is nothing to shake a stick at. Good for you! Have you found preserving your harvest was a way to cut down on the cravings in the winter? Sometimes I think the reason I eat worse in the winter (the boredom aside) is because we’re attempting to quell cravings of nutrients we can’t get because nothing’s growing in our yards (except the depth of the snow…)

    You’re right I should do something about the water. I’ve looked into it. We can put water conditioners into our well. That, however, is just adding chemicals to our water supply. Think of pools.

    The other thing we can do is treat it with bleach but opening the well to pour the bleach in runs the risk of contaminating the well worse than it already is. Besides, I don’t really want to drink bleach.

    What I need to do is research ways to treat our water. I just haven’t gotten around to it. It’s in the back of my mind but…

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