You’ll be happy to know this is a project-related rant that’s about to go down here.
I’ll start with some background on the project. Basically, it’s a two part menu planning assignment.
First we had to keep track of our eats for 3 days, calculate the cost of them, and input them into a food processor. It analyzed our intake and spit out our results vs. recommendations in terms of all the nutrients you could possibly care or not care about and then we compared our own records to Canada’s Food Guide and to a budget figure set out by the Montreal Diet Dispensary. FYI my daily recommendation for spending on food was a mere $8.30 (or the cost of about 3 starbucks venti coffees, for comparison’s sake). I think the biggest thing that stuck out to me wasn’t that I wasn’t eating enough grains or that I was eating too many servings from the meat and alternatives group (big surprise, right?) but was the amount of money that I spend on my food. And I remember mentioning and posing a question about how valid an external food guide can be for you when it comes to eating healthy, so I guess this project opened up my mind and at least ignited some critical thinking.
The second part is a little bit more work but this time we are to plan a 3 day menu and then cost it, trying to fit within that spending allowance and trying best to manage to the food guide recommendations for our age/sex. We also have to comment on how we will use the leftovers we make, the food that we don’t include in the meal plan, etc. It’s a bit tedious–calculating the market order costing, thinking about how to match the food guide, etc. It dawned on me that it’s all kind of ridiculous. I get it–there are people who need meal plans, but are there?
What if we didn’t? Aren’t we born knowing how to eat? Aren’t we hardwired to like the foods that are good for us? Somewhere along the way I think I lost sight of this and started to look for the answer outside of me. A diet book. A dietitian. A magazine. A friend. Whatever, whoever, wherever. And it took what felt like an eternity for me to find out how to start to feed myself for me, but I think I’m there. Yes, I’ll read your article about going vegan and I might be swayed a bit. I’ll read a Paleo book and start to embrace some of their philosophies. But if someone tells me that there’s a plan out there, a guide out there, an expert or a whatever out there that knows better than I do what I need to eat? I think that’s silly. PLEASE NOTE that I don’t think a year ago I could have been here — I was using food for reasons besides fuel/nourishment. When I was emotionally attached to things and still active with my eating disorder, food took on a whole new power — it carried with it fear and so much more than the nutrition I know it provides me with today. There was good food and there was bad food and I was good or bad based on what I ate. Then I got to the point where I thought that there was no bad food. But what I’m realizing more and more now is that there is such a thing as stupid food. Bad might be the wrong word for it — and eating something that’s junk doesn’t make you junk, but now that I’m out of the depths of things I feel alright saying this: there is such a thing as crappy food. And if you eat TOO MUCH of it, you will feel like crap.
Sorry if you have your hand in a bag of chips or something right now and that came off a little blunt.
Common sense says this: eat real food. ED says: don’t eat food, don’t eat fake food, eat fake food to prove you can, eat only this kind of real food, avoid that food, blah blah blah. But remember something: ED IS STUPID. We are smart. If you’re eating something, ask if it’s food. Does it have an ingredient label you can hardly make your way through without getting confused or flashing back to organic chemistry? Will it last forever (food is supposed to go bad)? Did it come from the ground or have a mother? Is it recognizable? Could you buy it at the market?
Let’s just get real and honest and to the point: we should eat real food. Saying that doesn’t mean froyo and candy bars are gone forever, but it does mean that you have to get real with yourself if you want to get healthy. That goes for you whether you’re overweight, recovering, or whatever. I spent a lot of time learning by making mistakes. I guess what I’m trying to do here is to share with you what I’ve taken my sweet arse time to learn in the hopes that you can learn it a bit faster yourself. I’m grateful that I learned this “the hard way” through all the struggles and experimenting, but that doesn’t mean I can’t shout what I’ve learned from the rooftops or tell you that if you feel like you’re constantly trying new things out and not getting any answers that you’re probably en route to an epiphany and that you should keep going!
…or so you can argue with me and tell me to shut up and eat a granola bar. I have a good friend who sent me a private message a few months ago that came entirely from her heart. At the time, it caught me off guard because she called me out on some of the things she saw me eating on a regular basis on my blog that were, looking back, that stupid food that I mentioned earlier in this post. But now I get it: she was trying to reach out and help me. Not saying that I think everyone needs to get real with themselves and ask themselves if they are really eating right because I’m scared of offending someone might rob me of the chance to get through to someone who’s on the same wavelength as me: if that’s you, EAT REAL FOOD. Don’t be scared. Scared is for wussies. Get real!
I’ve held back on posting this for fear of coming off as mean or as high and mighty. I don’t think I’m better than you. I don’t think eating a candy bar makes you a bad person. If you think it does, that’s an issue. If that’s how this sounds, I apologize for not getting my point across but I have never really held back before so it doesn’t make sense to do it now.
So I guess I’ll say it one more time:
- We don’t need fancy meal plans.
- We need to eat real food.
- We don’t need a diet label — paleo? great. vegan? awesome. vegetarian? cool. lacto-ovo-pesca-vegetarian? you go girl! Regardless of your label, you better be eating mostly whole foods if you want to be healthy.
- The food guide is generic and right now I think it’s crap.
Now that I’m not scared of gaining weight, I can eat real food. Now that I don’t care if I have a six pack or not, I can eat real food that makes me feel good. Now that I don’t think froyo has some magical powers, I can go get it and leave it at that. I can make mistakes. I can eat too much and end up with a stomachache and not do it again–or accidentally do it again. It’s all good. It’s just food.
Where I’m drawing inspiration these days:
- GoKaleo–follow her on Facebook cuz she posts awesome status updates!
- Paleoista–the blog, the book, anything this gal does is legit (and I like how she emphasizes whole foods, not JUST paleo)
- Michael Pollan–love this man longtime!
- 100 days of real food–check it!
- Eat By Design
- The Whole 9
You know those rapid fire posts where you literally can’t type fast enough? That just happened. If you could follow along, congratulations. If you need a recap, it’s this: this project is stupid.
Have a good night!
What do you think about this real food approach?
Have you ever gotten to the point where you’ve had to tell yourself to get real in some aspect of your life?