Food Issues, Wellness, and Honoring Yourself

About a month and a half ago, I wrote a blog about my attempts at eating a more low-carb/Primal diet. I was a little iffy about it, but I’d made it a solid month eating this way and saw some tentatively positive results.

Irony of ironies, shortly after I posted that entry, I fell off the wagon. Hard. It’s been a struggle finding my way back, and trying to decide if I even want to eat that way anymore.

I’ve always struggled with my weight and my eating habits. I’ve always been a little bit pudgy, and I’ve always been a volume eater. I mean, I can pack it away. It’s a little disturbing sometimes. I’m also an emotional eater. I’ve often looked in jealousy at people who stopped eating in response to stressful situations. I know that’s unfair; not eating is as bad as eating when it comes to stress responses. But still.

This time around, I knew things had come to a tipping point when I started getting angry at food. I mean . . . that is ridiculous. On closer inspection, it wasn’t that I was angry at food, it was more that I was frustrated at the misinformation and contradictory advice that permeates our food “culture” in the United States and the Western World, generally.

Simply put, we don’t know how to eat anymore.

Our airwaves, our news feeds, our web browsers are filled with ads and “advice” trying to convince us that this is the proper way to eat, or that is the only thing that will help you lose weight, or gain muscle, or do whatever it is you so desperately want to do.

It’s all “scientifically” based information. Eat less carbs. Eat no carbs. You need carbs. Don’t cut out one food group. Cutting out this food group will change your life. Eggs are bad for you. Eggs are the perfect food. Eat only vegetables. Eat only meat.

They’re all right . . . and none of them are.

Our grandparents and great-grandparents didn’t have this problem. If they didn’t grow their own food, the farms that provided the food were nearby. Food was fresh, it was seasonal, and it was largely unprocessed. Cooking and baking were necessities. You ate what was available. There wasn’t a lot of snacking, because the food had to last. They worked it off effortlessly because they didn’t sit at desks for hours on end every day. Their lives required movement.

These days, we have an overabundance of options and far too many food conglomerates vying for our increasingly stretched dollars. We’re all working harder for less, so cheap, processed food has become a necessity. We’re told this processed food is healthy and good for us, even though it’s full of sugars, salt, unhealthy fats, and ingredients we can’t pronounce. We’re so exhausted by the time we get around to eating that we just don’t care anymore. We just want something to fill the void.

Human beings weren’t meant to live like this, yet here we are. We’ve forgotten what it is to have to work for our food, and we’ve forgotten what it is like to have to have only one way to eat.

We are not necessarily healthier than our ancestors. Our nutritional information has not improved much in the last twenty years. We’ve dug into the minutia of micronutrients, but we’ve overlooked the bigger picture. We hear good news about one thing, and forget that there are other things equally as good.

We’ve forgotten that, once upon a time, we knew how to eat intuitively.

We effortlessly ate nutritional things, things that would give us strength, energy, and the vitamins and minerals we needed. We didn’t need to worry about empty calories; there weren’t any. There were simply foods that would help us and foods that would kill us. Don’t eat the latter, and you’re good to go.

Where am I going with this? I’m not sure, to be honest. I’m mostly just raging at the skies, frustrated with where I find myself and unsure what my next steps are. I want to eat healthily and I don’t want to obsess. I want to find that natural way of eating that balances nutrition with our body’s natural cues for satiation and hunger. I want to stop feeling guilty for being hungry after “only” four hours between meals.

So, these days I’m in an in-between phase. I’m focusing on whole foods where I can, and eating a little less meat for the time being. I’m trying to get my nutrients from whole foods whenever possible, but leaving room for an indulgence now and then. I’m trying to take it easy with breads and pastas, but I’m not leaving out carbs altogether.

How long will this last before I jump on the next bandwagon? Hard to say. But all I know is I’m searching still to find some peace when it comes to food.

I look forward to the day when I find it.

Roma tomatoes from my own garden.
Roma tomatoes from my own garden this year.