It seems like everyone I talk to is “trying to eat healthy”. Some are trying to lose weight, others to “eat clean”, some want to reverse the effects of aging and almost everyone wants to increase their energy.
I find people’s non-stop talk and judgement of food annoying. Even more annoying is people trying to sell me crap made in a lab somewhere that’s allegedly healthy. “This $10 shake is the same as eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables,” people brag. Or you could just eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables. Just a thought. As Michael Pollan said, “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food”.
I know, easier said than done. Like many people, after years of inattention to my diet I’ve recently made some major changes. My efforts are an attempt to address some health issues I have, which we all know can be a huge motivator. But it’s not been easy — nowhere does the “scarcity” concept impact me more than my relationship with food.
It’s always interesting to me how some of us struggle with food and others don’t. I have friends who forget to eat. Let me assure you, I’ve never forgotten to eat. Sometimes I forget I already ate, but that’s another story. Making dietary changes is particularly difficult for those of us who struggle with food issues.
I was talking to a friend today and she said, “I’ve cut out all the sweets in my diet, but now I’m eating fruit all the time which isn’t good either. It’s a like a whack-a-mole game, I stop eating one thing and something else pops up.”
This description is so perfect. You find the strength to stop eating one thing and something else sneaks in. You stop eating wheat, but you binge on gluten-free crackers. You stop eating dairy, but you overdo it on soy. You give up tequila, but start drinking beer. It’s like there has to be something that has to replace that comfort food or that particular mouth feel, something to be a new food obsession.
As part of my efforts to address my health condition, I’ve stopped eating wheat, dairy and soy. I know, it’s so Portland, but my doctor strongly suggested it. It’s made a huge difference in how I feel and has dramatically reduced some problems I was having. But…no more bagels, no more peanut butter cups, no more cheese and (sniff) no more beer. (By the way, if you suggest that there’s a “good” gluten-free beer I may have to stop talking to you. There’s not. If you think there is, you aren’t a real beer lover.)
Like my friend, I’m realizing I’m replaced those little obsessions with new ones. How do we replace the obsession with something healthy? Or just get rid of them altogether? Well, that’s something I’m working on. And being aware of what’s happening is helpful in disrupting it. I’m not there yet, but improvements in my health have been a huge motivator in keeping the effort going.
A couple of things I’m trying is logging my food just to look for patterns. We have a farm share and also started subscribing to an imperfect produce box, which is bringing more variety to my diet. When I feel myself feeling deprived or craving something, I tell myself I can have it tomorrow if I still want it, and that often makes me get over myself and then I forget about it. And recommitting to regular yoga and meditation practice is helping too.
We’re all a work in progress. If you’re struggling with eating more healthily, make one change at a time and then make another change tomorrow. Smack that mole with a hammer and move onto the next one. All those small changes will add up so keep trying.
And remember, you are perfect the way you are, regardless of what you eat or how you eat. Eat healthier for you, not because you “should”. Now, go eat some veggies!