The topic of consumption is an incredibly controversial one, with everyone having an opinion to throw in. That, of course, includes me! I’ve got a couple of ideas for other posts based on the various facets of consumption, but in this one I wanted to talk about food.
I was a vegetarian from age 12 to August of last year (that’s ten years). For a year and a half or so of that, I was a vegan. For most of that time, I didn’t eat a particularly healthy diet – I’ve only started paying attention to that in the last two or three years. Being a vegetarian or a vegan in small town Missouri isn’t an easy task – when I was a vegan, I weighed about 95 pounds. Everyone has an optimal weight for their height, and there are people who weigh that much at my height and are perfectly healthy, but trust me when I say that that wasn’t healthy for me.
When I was sick, I didn’t always have the energy to cook vegetarian recipes, & we don’t have the grocery budget for buying everything pre-made. In between that and rethinking some of the ethics that made me become vegetarian in the first place, I decided to re-try eating meat. Matt eats meat, so I could just eat what he cooked.
I braced myself for digestive pyrotechnics after hearing horror stories from other lapsed vegetarians, but I actually reacclimated without any trouble at all. In fact, I found myself feeling better than I had in months after I started eating meat again. Whether this was because of the meat or because of supplements (which I started taking at the same time), I don’t know – but since then, I’ve experimentally cut out both of them, one at a time, and found that going without either makes me feel crappy. (I now eat meat about once a week, always organic & hormone free, and preferably local.)
This is why I don’t think it’s okay to judge others for their diet. We’re all different, and peoples’ bodies react differently to different foods. Certainly there’s a general rule of thumb for healthy (living off of deep-fried foods, soda, and potato chips is all around a bad idea), but attempting to micromanage what other people eat – it wastes your time and it annoys the other person. You can’t tell by looking at a person what their budget or energy levels are like, and to assume that they could or would want to eat the same things you eat is asinine.
My personal food philosophy is to focus on adding good instead of limiting myself. I don’t have any “no” rules, with the exception of high-fructose corn syrup (which plays havoc with my blood sugar). But just by virtue of how they make me feel, there are foods or groups of foods that are pretty much nonexistent in my diet. For example, I only drink soda on very rare occasions, but that’s not even an effort because it just tastes gross to me any more. We went out to eat last month & I ordered a Coke without thinking about it. When I started drinking it, I almost gagged. I still love fresh made Italian cream sodas, though! (Which, really, are in an entirely different category from Coke & Pepsi & the like anyways.) I eat Ben and Jerry’s (chocolate fudge brownie, represent!) on a regular basis and I don’t feel guilty about it. I eat healthy the rest of the time and hey, I enjoy my ice cream. Focusing on feeling good and eating good food with the occasional indulgence is a much better tactic than guilt and shame, in effectiveness & as far as how it makes you feel.
Here’s my food/diet staples, in case you’re curious!
- Supplements. Every day I take magnesium (morning and night), fish oil (morning and night), a vitamin B complex, and a multivitamin. I feel noticeably ickier without taking these and find myself getting sick more often. A few notes: the fish oil capsules have orange oil in them, to prevent those absolutely disgusting post-fish-oil burps. (Which apparently not everyone experiences, since roomie had no idea what I was talking about. But if you do, then you know why that’s an improvement.) They’re a little more expensive that way, but totally worth it. And the multivitamins are gummy multivitamins. Which I’m sure will earn some eyerolls, but you know what? I hate taking gross horse-sized pills and these are delicious. So there.
- Lemon water & green tea. I’ve always liked lemon water in small quantities, but when I saw in a post of Gala’s that it actually has health benefits, I made it a point to start drinking it more. I had a hell of a time finding a way to make it palatable in large quantities until I thought of mixing it with green tea, which as you probably know, has tons of antioxidants & is basically magical. So now I do 1 cup of water + juice from one small lemon + 1 cup of green tea (sweetened with honey or a touch of brown sugar while it’s hot), and throw some ice in there. It’s still a bit of an acquired taste, but it’s not bad or unpleasant at all. After we got back from my grandpa’s funeral, and I’d been eating crappy road trip food for several days, I drank my concoction before bed – my skin looked noticeably better the next morning.
- Tea in general. I’ve become a bit of a tea addict! I must have been drinking crappy tea before, because it always tasted watery and flavorless. I recently discovered Yogi tea – their Bedtime tea is delicious and relaxing, and their Vanilla Spice Perfect Energy tea is another regular of mine. I just received my first order of Zhena’s Gypsy Tea the other day – I got sampler tins of the Coconut Chai & Firelight Chai, and a full sized container of the Ambrosia Plum, plus they sent samples of Earl Greater Grey & the Coconut Rum green tea. I’ve tried everything but the Coconut Rum & love it all! I definitely plan on giving the Chocolate Chai and Raspberry Earl Grey teas a go, but they were out of stock when I placed my first order. I also regularly make my own chai concentrate (based on this recipe).
- Fresh fruits & veggies. As many as I can eat before they go bad! My favorites are nectarines, blackberries, apples, and strawberries. For veggies: bell peppers and tomatoes.
- Smoothies. Trendy, yes, but delicious & can be made nutritious as well. Last year for a while I was making green smoothies every morning (some variation on strawberries + bananas + spinach + random fruit) and I’d like to get back to that, once fruits get back in season/cheaper. In the meantime, I discovered a spiced pumpkin smoothie recipe and is so good (plus pumpkin is high in antioxidants & potassium). It’s like drinking a liquid pumpkin pie. My slightly-tweaked version is 1/2 c pure pumpkin puree, 3/4 c whole milk, 1 tbsp honey, a dash each of nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, brown sugar, and cardamom, and a couple of ice cubes – just enough to chill it. Stick in blender and enjoy! (Or you can check out The Perfect Smoothie Formula & come up with your own recipe.)
What’re your dietary staples? Any particular thoughts on food consumption to share?
(Comment rule for today: Food & diets are a touchy subject for everyone. I am not looking for diet proselytizing or advice & any such comments will be deleted. Feel free to share about what you eat, but don’t get preachy.)