I know that my recent post, a poem, may have seemed quite intense. Reading it back to myself, over and over, I’m feeling a little self conscious of having put out such a raw written piece, but I felt I needed to do it; not for myself but because I feel as though I’m not the only one who has these feelings toward food and self.
I was recently watching Eat Pray Love and Liz, the main character, said something that hit it home for me:
“I’m so tired of saying no and then waking up in the morning and recalling every single thing I ate the day before, counting every calorie I consume so I know exactly how much self loathing to take into the shower. I’m going for it. I have no interest in being obese, I’m just through with the guilt.”
If I understand the whole psychology of American women’s food guilt correctly, this is how I would break it down:
We want to be healthy, so we count calories, fat content, sodium, etc; over analyzing the nutritional content, if we look at it at all. What people forget is that there is an ENTIRE other section of the nutritional label — ingredients.
Concerned with how much fat we might be consuming, or making sure we can stay within our caloric allowance, we don’t look to see what we’re actually putting in our bodies — the thing that we are so concerned with in the first place.
“If you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid products that make health claims. Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a strong indication it’s not really food, and food is what you want to eat.” — In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan
I found In Defense of Food to be incredibly educational and eye openning. (As you probably already know, seeing as I’ve talked about it in more than one post!) Though I have taken so much from the book, the one thing I hold true to is his rule to avoid anything with more than five ingredients, and anything you can’t identify or pronounce.
Take granola, for example. Healthy enough, right?
First look at the nutritional facts: your normal healthy eater would probably think this was great; minimal calories, low fat. Now, look at how many ingredients are listed; then look and see how many you can pronounce, how many you can identify. Though this certainly isn’t the worst you can find, this is probably a common item in the average “healthy” American’s pantry.
Now, look at this granola:
Though the fat content might turn most people off, you can easily identify pretty much every item listed in the ingredients: a very good sign. Any whole food is good for you. Period.
If we are following Michael Pollan’s rules for eating — which he himself says are not supposed to create a specific diet regimen, but act as ideas to keep in mind when zig zagging through the dizzying maze of aisles in the grocery store — we pretty much pass with flying colors.
I honestly have changed the way I view food by looking through my kitchen and starting over. (Which, by the way, was really easy.) I strongly urge you to look at the ingredients of everything in your kitchen. Bread, soup, butter, cheese; anything and everything is at risk to be an offender, and usually is.
I don’t intend to preach, but to pass along the information that has truly changed the way my body looks, feels and works. Switching to a less processed diet and being more concerned with getting all my fruits, vegetables and whole foods, has changed me mentally and physically for the better, and I know it can do the same for you!
The power of whole food is greater than you could ever imagine, and worth every penny. If you don’t believe me, you can believe Nina Planck, author of Real Food, What to Eat and Why. She created the first farmers market in London, has done so in D.C., and ran the famous Greenmarket in NYC.
“For the Farmer’s Market Cookbook, I wrote recipes for beef, lamb, pork, poultry, even rabbit — and ate them all. Without really trying, I stopped thinking about food and started tasting it … I never meant to lose weight, only to eat more real foods … and tastier ones. The pounds did their proverbial melting as I swapped rice and beans for roast chicken, bacon and cheese.” — She also discusses how her health woes, bad digestion and moody feelings magically disappeared.
Though I choose to not eat meat, she makes the point very well. Real food = healthier you, in every way possible. Just try it, I promise it’s not hard.