Thursday, December 13, 2012
Way back in August, when I was immersed in holiday life, I posted about food. I talked about how my body reacts negatively to certain foods, and how hard it is to wade through what to eat, and why, and how. Food is a very personal topic, and everyone has their own set of values relating to it. You only need to take a glimpse into people's shopping trolleys to see the diversity in what people eat. Sometimes people's food choices are influenced by cost, sometimes by convenience, sometimes by taste. For some people it's more important to eat organically, while some choose to avoid additives. Some choose low fat foods, some choose foods that are unprocessed. Some people have food intolerances, and some are committed to eating ethically and humanely; others choose to eat local foods wherever possible. Usually, it's a balancing act between one or more of these factors.
It can be very difficult to prioritise your values around food, deciding, for example, whether it is more important to keep the weekly grocery cost low or to buy organically, which can cost more. These priorities will change often, depending on what is going on in your life. When I was pregnant, and horribly morning-sick, we bought more convenience foods than we were comfortable with, because I was unable to face cooking and the bulk of it was left to Nath (who is a wonderful cook, by the way, but rushed off his feet during those months!) I used to be a big believer in buying low fat foods, and now I only buy full fat foods, including cream, butter and good animal fats. The points-counting me of years gone by would be horrified.
Our loose priorities at the moment are as follows: unprocessed and additive free, low in sugar, local, ethical, organic, affordable, gluten-free (for me), protein-rich. We assess our shopping list based on these values, and it is far from a rigid set of rules. Some items may not be organic, but are local, for example.We do the best we can within our constraints.
Learning to listen to my body has also been very significant in determining what we buy and how we cook. I am becoming sugar free, after realising the negative health impacts of sugar. I say becoming, because this is proving to be a hard nut to crack!! Similarly, I have learned that it is gluten that makes me feel bloated, sore and lethargic, so I am staying away from gluten at the moment. I find it hard to resist my own cooking (I know, it sounds so conceited, but when you have put love into baking something, its very hard not to take that first, straight-from-the-oven bite!) but I have noticed that when I eat things that my body doesn't 'like', I hurt. I get cramps. I bloat, noticeably. My weight can rise by up to three kilos in a day. I get very, very tired, often just lying on the couch in the afternoon. I play less. I yell more. I have headaches and restless legs. I don't sleep well. My motivation disappears. I get cranky, and flat. I fart more (sorry!) and my skin looks awful.
When I eat well (for my body), I have so much energy. I feel fantastic. I move easier, my stomach is flatter, I have motivation to get moving and do things. I don't get the 3pm slump, I sleep better at night and my mood is improved (just ask my kids). I still falter (often, actually) but at least now I can examine how I am feeling and know that it is not normal, and it is because of what I put in my mouth.
My heroes are still my heroes. Sally Fallon, and her 'bible' Nourishing Traditions - what a resource this is. Jude Blereau, the wholefoods queen. Quirky Jo, a fellow Thermomix user who eats gluten free and largely sugar free - her blog is a go-to often for me.
There is always someone who will tell you, don't eat that, this way is better. Your food journey is yours and yours alone. Try things out. Make mistakes. Learn from them. Decide what your priorities are, and hold on to them. Nourish yourself. Food is more than a fuel, it is an expression. It is a gift from you to your body.