My Food Diary has turned out to be even more effective than I imagined it would. Public accountability is unbelievably intimidating, and my goal of eating mindfully is working out just as I had hoped. I’m losing weight, slowly, but slowly is good if it’s sustained over a long period of time. I’m working to lose weight in a way that will prevent me from putting the excess back on again, and believing that I can enjoy what I eat while doing so. Thanks to all those who take the time to say you “like” something. It’s extra motivating to know that people are reading!
While pregnant I posted about my introduction to the Real Foods movement through Nina Planck’s book Real Food for Mother and Baby. I worked on eliminating some ingredients from my diet, including corn syrup, trans fats, hydrogenated oils, and vegetable oils. I stopped being afraid of saturated fats and started buying whole dairy products and looking for meats other than the leanest cuts/options. Shortly after I had T1 I also said that we were going to work on cutting back on the amount of meat we ate. Through all of this I’ve been shocked to learn how many of you are already doing these very things. Duh! Why did it take me so long to catch on to something so many of you have been doing already?
I activated my library card, and post-baby I started reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. The book had to be returned after I was only a few chapters in, so I wasn’t able to finish. (I’ve since checked it out again, finishing it right before I composed this post.)
I couldn’t get it back right away, and so I started reading In Defense of Food.
Am I being over dramatic if I start my next sentence with “And that’s when everything changed for me“? Because that’s when everything changed for me. Suddenly the things I had read in Nina’s book were all making sense. I could actually see how this way of living would fit in with my current lifestyle, and I knew the changes I needed to make in my life. I know there are more than enough Michael Pollan worshippers out there, and I’m trying not to be one of them, but this man truly is brilliant. Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants. I’ve been told that I need to eat more vegetables my entire life, but I wasn’t ever able to make the shift I needed to have that happen. The frozen veggie packs I bought at the grocery store were either tasteless or over-seasoned. I only liked tomatoes in certain dishes because I found them mealy. Vegetables just didn’t seem very exciting and every time I walked into the produce section I loaded up my cart with the same old boring standards, broccoli, tomato, avocado, and lettuce. Plus how was I supposed to have enough room for veggies when I had chicken and eggs and beef and fish taking up so much of my plate?
Pollan talks about what he calls “Nutritionism”, the effects of the Western Diet, and how we can get past the nutritionism mindset and move back to the way of eating that sustained our ancestors for a few thousand years before we came along and scientifified everything. If you’re intrigued by this Real Foods/Whole Movement, you need to read this book. I can’t do it justice here on this little blog of mine.
I couldn’t stop talking about my new mindset with TH, but he wasn’t really getting it. He doesn’t have the time to read In Defense of Food himself right now, and he was skeptical of the regurgitated tidbits I was quoting back at him. Luckily Pollan wrote a book called Food Rules, criticized by many for its brevity but this is exactly why I loved it. He’s created a little manual with 64 “rules” that help you better understand what living a Real Foods lifestyle really means. Some of the more pivotal rules, IMO, include:
Don’t eat anything you great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
Avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry.
Avoid foods that have some form of sugar (or sweetener) listed amoung hte top three ingredients.
Avoid food products that contain more than five ingredients.
and one of the more humorous ones,
If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.
Eat less. (!)
There are two things that have really made a difference with TH. The first is the revelation that Americans devote far less of their overall budget toward purchasing food than many other developed countries (I can’t find the exact figure, but I believe he said American’s spend about 10% of their budget on food, and inhabitants of Spain spend 17%). I told him I was willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to devote more money toward eating better.
The other defining moment for him was when I purchased a $2 organic heirloom tomato from the Farmer’s Market. It was for his birthday lunch, and I was a bit hesitant to tell him how much it cost because it was so spendy (it was a really large tomato though ). He bit into it and told me that this tomato, unlike every other tomato he had ever had in America, “tasted like Poland”. He was moaning with pleasure through the entire meal. Since I started buying local, snatching up heirloom varieties of produce when I can find it, I’ve heard several more times that the food “tastes like Poland”. The free-range grass-fed milk bought for $6/gallon (that I, incidentally, didn’t like) also tasted just like home. After a few weeks of eating this way neither of us can imagine going back again.
I’ve adopted a new mantra in life: Vote With Your Dollars. The choices you make when you decide what to eat really do make a difference. The things you choose to put in your grocery cart not only affect you and your family, but the type of food that will continue to be produced based on the way you “voted” with your dollars. If you contribute to stripping the land with harsh fertilizers and pesticides, the inhumane treatment of factory farmed animals, and the big food corps advertising to your children on Nickelodeon, that’s the food that will continue to be produced. If on the other hand, you seek out local and organic products, you send out a message that these things matter, and that more of them should be produced. Coincidentally you also strike a blow at the profit margin of companies working each year to addict us to fat-laden, sugar-loaded, disease-producing “food products”.
Not everyone can make this change. Certainly many of the migrant workers planting and harvesting the very produce we eat often can’t afford to do so, but there are so many of us who can. I certainly can, and I think there are many of you reading this post who could as well if you wanted to make it a priority. I think an apt comparison can be made when we think about recycling. Not everyone can recycle. Space may be an issue, or you may live so far away from a processing facility that it’s not financially feasible for you to do so (country folk like my parents face this dilemma). But those who do choose to recycle make a difference that we can see. Not everyone has to participate for the action to matter. Everyone would be ideal, but even a small part of the whole is incredibly effective.
Our family has the opportunity to cast a vote when it comes to how we spend our food dollars, and we’ve decided to make localganic a priority. I hope we never go back.