Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Evolution of Diet

I've spent a great deal of my adult life shaming myself for my food choices. The expression goes, "When you know better, you do better," and that may be true for many things, but where food is concerned, it has been a long, gruelling road.

I ate fairly healthy growing up. I was no stranger to a good treat of baked goods or potato chip, true, but over all my mother prepared good solid meals for our family. The one especially important nutritional thing she did for me was ensure I was a breakfast eater (unlike herself). None the less, I always had an affinity for junk food, especially the salty, crunchy wiles of the potato chip.  In high school, I would sit and scarf back a bag of Doritos with a chocolate milk at 7:30am for my breakfast.

Once I left the nest for University at 18 years old, I was FREE! Free to eat freezer junk food for supper because I didn't yet understand that cooking nutritious food was not actually any more expensive. On campus, I frequented the residences' food hall because they were the only spot on campus that served poutine. Vending machines provided a full belly when I had only a few dollars to spare or was running short on time. My first year was a whirl-wind of junk food because I had neither the time, energy, nor money to figure out food.

And, as you can expect, the pounds started to pack on. First it was the freshman five, and by third year, it was closer to thirty. And I couldn't *see* it.

Fast forward to graduation. I had stomach issues - bloating and discomfort - and I really wanted to make improvements. I had made some headway with a healthy lifestyle but it wasn't enough. I saw a naturopathic doctor who tested me for food sensitivities and gave me a brief education on nutrition and proper diet. The kind of drastic changes she gave me scared me, but I made an effort in earnest to change. Unfortunately, I didn't do much research to back up my changes which meant it was easier to back slide into bad habits.

Now, I am desperate to make some changes for good. Baby Bird is so new to this world and especially to food, and we have the opportunity to see that he never has to have the poor relationship with food that we (K. and I) do.  Maybe he won't have to crave junk food like it's calling his name.  We can make sure he leaves his nest knowing how to shop for and cook healthy choices.

My personal relationship with food is transforming. Recently, I watched Hungry for Change  (which you can watch on Netflix as well), and also listened to a radio program about how the food industry strives to addict us to their products (listen here). They synthesize tastes and textures formulaically to make sure that when we put their food in our mouthes, we can't stop. Truly, it has become 'Frankenfood'. This has begun to transform me in two very specific ways:

  1. I am more forgiving of myself when I just can't seem to stop eating this crap.
  2. I am able to turn off the cravings more easily because I think of exactly what is in the products I'm eating and how empty it is nutritively. An example of this is the bottle of Pepsi that has been in my fridge since the weekend. Typically, when pop comes into my house, it doesn't last more than a day or two. I grew up with pop in my house, and I drank it like water. Lately, though, I get the craving for pop. Then I think about how sickeningly sweet it is, how many empty calories and chemicals it contains, and I just can't bring myself to put it into my body (at least not as frequently as I once did).
So, welcome to the evolution of diet at The Bird's Nest.  It's not going to be easy, but I just can't live under the control of my food anymore. It's time to break free.