Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Why I Eat The Way I Do: Part Two

Part I

It started by reading voraciously, dear reader. It had to. Ignorance is indeed bliss, and when one enters the land of no-longer-ignorant-about-what-I'm-putting-into-my-mouth, one tends to feel the desire to change.

I liken it to receiving and accepting the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many people refuse to listen to missionaries or read Scripture because then --then! --they would actually have to change their behavior to match their new-found discoveries. For many people, that's just too hard. It's not worth knowing. They would rather remain blissfully ignorant.

It totally works with food.

Did you know, dear reader, I once read somewhere (if you know where, please tell me! I have forgotten!) that food opinions are more volatile subjects than religion or sex? Food is a very personal thing. Food represents culture, tradition, family, gatherings, money, lack-of-money, ability (to cook it), hard work (growing it), and personal tastes (literally and figuratively). I find this interesting since food, in and of itself, was created for those exact things --not just for survival. Food is to be enjoyed. Food is to heal. Food is to create relationships. But, like all good things we have, it can be used to destroy things rather than build them up.

Food can do the exact opposite.

Food can isolate a person. Food can become an addiction. Food can be a catalyst for crime (starvation) or for gluttony (obesity). Food can separate people and destroy relationships (guilt for not eating one way; arguments over what a person should eat). Food can cause disease. Food can be used to control. Food can destroy your body, rather than keep it healthy.

Back in the day, the majority of a woman's time was spent in the kitchen. Until microwaves, instant dinners, dehydrated potatoes, convection ovens, dishwashers, and frozen fish fillets, women actually took the time to plan meals and spent time making them. For many women, it was just a way of life; if you wanna eat, you gotta make it! Modern conveniences (and I will include processed food in this category) have made it so easy for women to resent food prep. [And yes, I'm mostly referring to women, and if you can't stand that this feminist is okay with some gender definition, than pretend I'm saying "men", too, m'kay?] If something takes longer than an hour or two, it is deemed impossible! Order the pizza! Call in the take-out! We can't do this!

I am a woman in the modern-conveniences-have-robbed-us-of-perspective camp. I can't stand the idea of making a meal in more than 45 minutes. How many cookbooks have I purchased with the promise of "healthy meals in 30 minutes or less?" A lot. How about you? The irony here is that I don't even work outside the home! I'm here all day! All. Day. Long.

I know, right?

But seriously, it's one of my biggest challenges: What Do I Make For Dinner Tonight? And every single evening around 5PM, I would start to get that nagging feeling in my gut (still do. In fact, it's already after 4PM and do I know what I'm making tonight? Not remotely) and then I would cringe because I, once again, failed to plan ahead with the meal-making. I have amazing friends who plan 30 days in advance. 30 days! I have amazing friends who plan just a week or two in advance. But that's awesome! Sometimes I will plan the morning of instead of the hour before. That's still better, right?

Anyway, my point is that food prep, at least for me, has always kind of been a dreaded experience. It's not just that I'm bad at cooking, either. I have picky eaters. I don't know how much to make. I don't know who will eat it. And on, and on, and on...

My next door neighbors, Liz and Matt, have followed through brilliantly on the Nutritarian way of eating. Liz said something in Relief Society that I will now re-hash and quite possible butcher because it obviously won't be word-for-word. Basically, she said that before she started eating healthier, if her boys wanted cookies, she would throw a bag of cookies (that she had bought at Walmart) at them and it was done. But now that there is no processed food in the house, when her son asked for cookies, she realized they would have to make them. Gasp! But since she loved her son, and she wanted him to eat something that would be good for him, she jumped right into it. Sure, it took some time to whip up those raw macaroons (which her kids loved), but she did it! And guess what happened in the process? She and her son enjoyed some bonding time while making those cookies.

See, it wasn't just about the "cookies." It was about the relationship. A woman (who works outside of the home, btw), took the time to make food from scratch in her kitchen with one of her sons.

Pause and think about it for a minute. Then remember what has been said about eating together as a family. Think about that, too.

This may not be what you were looking for when I said I was going to talk about my food journey, but it has made me realize that maybe getting back to healthy eating has more than just the obvious benefits. But to appease those who want results and details, here's a list of what my Nutritarian-based eating has done for me and my family:

1. Better bowel movements. Yep. Had to be said. Indigestion is gone, bm time in the bathroom is just as quick as a #1 trip, and my kids don't have sick tummies.
2. Discussions about the Word of Wisdom around the dinner table.
3. Asthma (for #1 and for me) is so much better. We can breathe!
4. More energy.
5. New found desires to garden and buy fresh produce.
6. Noticing the difference between how it feels after eating sugar/processed foods and after drinking a green smoothie.
7. Money spent on meat and dairy (although we still purchase some dairy) is now spent on fruits, veggies, seeds, nuts, and cool things like "goji berries."
8. Consistent morning routine that I feel AMAZING about (I mean, quite literally, makes me feel like I'm a fantastic mom): Up at 7AM for scriptures, prayers, green smoothies, and (if I remember ahead) home-made lunches before the kids head out the door at 8:15AM.
9. Clearer skin (yes, I still get zits in my 30's), less hair breakage, fewer headaches (in fact, I've had one in about a year. It was right after I ate 2 slices of a meat lover's pizza), better sight, and although it's in the testing stage: better control over Depression.
10. Family dinner Preparation: #2 loves to cut tomatoes (although she won't eat them), #1 can make vegan pancake mix in the blender, #3 likes to stir things, and #4 likes to fetch ingredients.

Food is about more than food. The adage, "you are what you eat" is an absolute truth, you know. What you choose to eat, how you choose to prepare it, where you choose to buy it, how you choose to eat it --these are all seemingly silly choices that actually have myriads of consequences.

It still blows my mind.

Part III will deal more with what I actually eat, so don't quit on me now! :)


Julie said...

I enjoyed this post a lot. So good.

Mother of the Wild Boys said...

Ditto what Julie said. Looking forward to post #3.