Posted by: pendrops | October 31, 2007

and to eat*

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How did I get here? I wondered, staring at the tiny ramekin of vegan chocolate pudding in front of me. Then I laughed, well, sort of laughed, remembering my recent journey.

[insert squiggly dream sequence lines]

It all started eight months ago when I picked up a book called Plenty, the hilarious, honest and well-informed account of eating local for a year. Everything from salt to bread to wine was all grown, produced, baked, within 100 miles of the couple’s Vancouver home.

After I researched the claims and considered the health and environmental benefits of a diet consisting only of local fare, I tweaked our grocery list and began making weekly stops at the Franklin Farmers Market for all our meats, veggies, herbs, cheeses and fruits.

And it was delicious. I even prepared a meal completely from foods bought at the farmers market. In that meal, I tasted the air, soil and water of my home; it was good.

I could get used to this, I told myself as I took another bite of spaghetti squash with fresh-from-the-garden marinara. But, as I’m prone to do, I began second-guessing everything, envisioning ways to make this local eating even better.

A few months later, I came across the raw food diet. I quickly learned that foods heated over 110 degrees lose much-needed enzymes, depleting our bodies of minerals and vitamins it can’t create on its own, but can only garner from raw foods.

Makes sense, I decided as I made plans to adapt my favorites and cut out a few dishes. When I got done, however, I was disheartened at the short list of what I could eat. Cutting out a few dishes in my world eliminates nearly half of my diet due to legitimate food allergies and intolerances.

Despite this inconvenience, I went raw for nearly three weeks, living mostly on fresh veggie juices and salads. But I realized quickly that the raw diet demanded time, thought, money and kitchen appliances I didn’t have or want (i.e., a dehydrator). Seven days of soaking grains, changing the water each day, I read in one recipe book. I threw the book on the table. “Is this a pet or a bowl of oatmeal, for crying out loud!”

So, raw went stale on me pretty fast, but it had revealed the evils of meat, so I tried the whole vegetarian thing.

Now, you’d think I’d be good with that. Lots of shiny, happy vegetarians out there. Oh, but not me. No, sir; no, ma’am. I refused to leave well enough alone, fine-tuning my eating habits all the while, looking for that missing key to dietary perfection, the one thing that would make me feel better, look better, be better. Funny thing is, I never really felt bad to begin with.

Cut out all animal products, I decided one morning. So I went vegan. No more goat cheese. No more eggs. No more mayo. And I did it. For three whole days. (I’m a sucker for goat cheese. It can’t be helped.)

Back to vegetarianism. But I wasn’t finished. That’s when I happened on macrobiotics. This was way too weird for me to even try, though I did give it a hearing since it gave the okay to eat meat again. My only take-away from the yin-yang regimen was better chewing. In order to release our bodies’ and our food’s enzymes (there are those enzymes again), we need to chew better, says the macrobiotic mantra.

Chewing more can’t be a bad thing, I figured, thinking about how I often raced through meals, gulping down bites, barely tasting a thing.

But it was the third day after my plunge into half-assed macrobiotic vegetarianism, hunched over a mini-ramekin of vegan chocolate pudding (really quite tasty), that I caught the ugly glimpse of my new reality: I was cranky, tired, unhappy, bloated, confused, and severely stressed.

“This isn’t working,” I said, slamming my spoon on the table. My diet consisted of tofu (but not too much, since it affects estrogen), walnuts (but not too many, since they’re fatty), dates (but not too many, since they cause constipation), leafy vegetables (but not too many, since they cause the back door trots), fruit (but not too much, because of the sugars), carob (but not too much, because it’s a blood thinner) and an occasional glass of wine (but not too much, of course, because of the alcohol).

Not too much fun was more like it. None of these changes had enriched my life. In fact, the very thing I had done to foster freedom, health and wholeness had confused me, consumed me, and put me in chains.

So, I took a step back. What was I doing before I set off on this ridiculous journey?

Living. That’s what I was doing. Just living. Laughing. Breathing. Crying. Dancing. Listening. Working. Writing. Walking. Smiling. Eating. Drinking. Reading. Praying. Loving. And before long, I realized this food thing, this little journey, had always been about more than food.

Why do I consistently find myself on paths of change? Why do I think the grass is greener over there? Why can’t I accept that maybe this version of me is as good as it gets? In this broken, sick, dying world with this body of dust, I am at my peak.

So all these months later, with food fanaticism behind me (but still too close for comfort), I’m trying a new path. Toward balance. Toward health. Toward freedom. Because it’s liberating to just be. And to be content and thankful at a table.

And to eat. Just eat.

*If you or anyone you know wants freedom from unhealthy obsessing over food, eating, or body image, please check out this upcoming FINDINGbalance group. The FREE group kicks off Monday, November 5th. I’ll be there.

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Responses

  1. Krista,

    This is sooooo good. Such a reflection of how easy it is to tinker with life in the pursuit of perfection, only to find out that ‘perfection’ isn’t really a happy place to be.

    Thank you for your honesty, and your vulnerability. And for the plug about our groups. 🙂

    See you there!

    Constance

  2. Well said my dear friend! I love and appreciate your insight and I am thankful for your newfound freedom!


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