Sunday, July 14, 2013

My Food Education

Up until about four years ago, I never really thought much about what I put into my body. If it tasted good, I ate it. Realizing this was the worst way to be an adult ever, I started finding ways to eat healthier and joined a gym. Before, I rarely ever looked at the produce aisle, and after some good old-fashioned sucking it up, it was my best friend. Fruits started to replace desserts. Veggies turned from monsters to the things that made my body and my soul feel good. I started having more energy and brain power to get me through the day. I started re-training my brain to eat healthier than ever and felt great about it.

And then I watched Food, Inc.

Eating, what was a thoughtless activity in the past, is now a full-blown thrice-daily moral dilemma. In 7th grade my worst nightmare was public speaking. Now it's going to the grocery store. Suddenly buying all those colorful foods that gave me confidence made me an accomplice in big-agri-business earth-destruction. That pepper? Doused in pesticides. That chicken? Raised without sunlight and pumped full of chemicals and antibiotics. That milk? In 20 years I'll have a third leg, and humans aren't even supposed to drink it anyway. Wut? The food that was supposed to make me healthy could potentially make me sick!

Now every aisle I walk down now basically whispers, "I'm killing you slowly, and there's nothing you can do about it." 

Seems drastic, doesn't it? I never thought I would be this person, who take stuff like this so seriously. Why can't I just buy the damn hamburger meat without having an existential crisis at the deli? 

Because I've been ignoring my health for too long, and it's time to take control of what I eat. What's the use of eating fresh, healthy produce if it's showered in pesticides? If I'm going to do it, I'm doing it all the way. Is that a surprise to anyone who knows me? NO! All or nothing, baby. 

So now I'm looking at labels for ingredients, buying organic when I can, growing my own tomatoes and red peppers. I even make a special trip to Whole Foods when I can, and most of the options I buy there are offered at my grocery store, which makes me happy. Coconut juice replaced soda. I've cut down on processed food and use almond milk instead of milk most weeks. When I have a say, we eat organic chicken.  

Today, when I went to buy beef for stir fry, I realized they didn't have an organic option and had a First: I didn't buy it. That never would have happened before, because I was clueless. 

Seventeen years of formal education, and at 24 I'm having to teach myself how to eat. 

I'm still in the beginning of this food education. I've read a couple of books, perused some blogs, and had some conversations. Matt still loves his meat lover's pizza and treats. I still indulge in way too many things. We eat out and try to make healthy choices when that happens, and we still have a long way to go. But I'm proud of the steps I've taken so far to take control of my food choices. 

The grocery store doesn't scare me quite as much now, because I'm training myself to throw healthier, organic options into my cart. (Whole Foods is a whole different story. I feel like I need a translator to tell me what all those things are!) It takes me twice as long and is more expensive, but if I can prevent a serious disease 30 years down the line by taking 20 extra minutes today, you bet I'm going to do it. 

Does anyone else have a similar story? I would love to hear it, or suggestions for books/websites! 

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K La said...

I started my food education at age 17 and ten years later I am still learning how to eat.

But it's been so worth it! I love coconut water! I love sweet potatoes and mangos and everything else I wouldn't have tried eleven years ago. Not only that, but I wouldn't have my second daughter if I kept eating the same things I was eating 2 years ago.

Naazju said...

The bishop's wife in our ward told us that they had been trying to have a child for SIX YEARS before she finally changed her diet drastically (and began to include things like green smoothies in it) and was able to conceive and carry a child full term. It's crazy what our bodies can do when we take care of them!

Some things I've learned in my own life:
Always try new things. If you don't like something now, you may like it prepared differently or in a couple of years.

Have colorful meals. (For example, don't do chicken with rice and cauliflower. Instead, have ham with sweet potatoes and broccoli. Not saying chicken and rice and cauliflower are bad, it's just a really bland-looking meal and isn't giving you the variety of vitamins and minerals you could be getting.)

Eat slower and smaller portions. Your body takes a while to tell you you're full. If you're actually having a family meal and sitting down and chatting/doing multiple courses (nothing crazy, just start with just the salad on the table until everyone has finished eating before moving on), you'll find you're eating less which is what our family's problem is. :D

Eat/stock up on things when they're in season because that's when they're most likely to have been grown naturally.

I think the biggest thing is that you're trying. You're aware, you're checking out different things, you're researching. Don't stress out too much, and keep up the good work!

I think the biggest thing is trying.

Naazju said...

Huh, it's weird that it repeated that last sentence. :/

Tiago said...

Something I have learned during this years is that European fruit is not as good as American, but American in not as tasty as Latinamerican. I stayed in a rent apartment in buenos aires last holidays, and the fruit was spectacular, I couldn´t believe it; but after staying in Buenos Aires I traveled the country of Argentina and there fruit was even better!! Same thing I experienced in Uruguay and Brazil. I assume that in those countries where the farm is much important than here, they use less unnatural products than here.

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