I have been thinking a lot lately about the food that I eat. Over the past seven years I have put on more and more weight and am currently the heaviest I have ever been. Once you start gaining its easy to keep going, especially when you live an “office life”- get up go to work, sit all day, come home, sit all night, rinse, repeat.
I remember in college I would walk everywhere. A 30 minute walk was not a big thing for me and very often you would see me running for the bus all while carrying a big bag of textbooks.
The thought of doing any of those things nowadays is insane to me. I think things like “well I don’t have time” or “I’ll do it later” or “what does it matter anyway? He likes me the way I am.”
But I don’t like me the way I am. And I know something has got to change.
Exercise has always been a drag for me. I remember when I was a kid I would lie in bed trying to think of what story I could tell my P.E. teacher or my mom so she could write me a note so I could get out of P.E. class. I remember being in the swim team and physically dreading going to practice. I had to talk myself into walking into the locker rooms and changing.
So I really believe that the way you feel about exercise starts in childhood. If you hated it then, chances are you will hate it now. If you were a procrastinator then, chances are you are a procrastinator now.
But maybe it is possible to break yourself from your routine.
And one of the first places you have to start is looking at what you eat.
When I was in college I took a class called “Fetish”. Ok…get your mind out the gutter, fetish does not always have to do with sex. Fetishism actually goes back to the 1700s in West Africa. The Portuguese, upon landing on the African shores, were fascinated with how the West African tribes would become fixated with inanimate objects. They believed these objects were magical or were touched by the gods and so they would be attracted to them.
I think modern American society has a fetish. I think Americans are obsessed with “things” and “foods” and other physical objects. Living in this capitalist society it is easy to get caught up in our material possessions. We say we “need” something, when we really just “want” something.
For example Rob bought three different types of ice-cream and it is sitting in our freezer right now. He said we “needed it”, I told him no, I think we “wanted it”.
Food is in incredible abundance in the good old U.S. of A.
I remember when I first came to the U.S. and I ordered my first entree at this restaurant. When the plate came I didn’t think it was mine. This couldn’t be what I ordered, this could feed an entire village in Kenya. The portions are OUT OF CONTROL!
“Supersize it”, endless buffets and all you can eat are what Americans know best. With food in such abundance and all the worst food being the cheapest it is easy to start becoming a little obsessed. The grocery store is another example of fetish. Have you ever noticed how bright and shiny and new everything looks? Well that is an illusion. Real fruit and vegetables are not sparkly when you rip them from the vines. An apple is never perfectly red. A banana does not ripen over night and a real chicken is not the size of a large rodent. The grocery stores are lying to you. They are polishing fruit with wax and pumping livestock full of steroid and throwing out all the fruit that doesn’t look perfect. But have you ever picked some fruit off a tree? Sometimes the ones that look perfect don’t taste as good. And sometimes the ones that look beat up are actually the most delicious. But in your grocery store these fruits and vegetables do not even make it to the truck.
The other crazy thing is that the grocery store is SET UP for you to be more attracted to certain things and less attracted to others. Take a look at the lighting the next time you walk in the grocery store, and the placement. What do you see when you first walk in? Soda? Hot dogs? What do you have to search for? Fruits? Vegetables?
When you go to the fast food drive through- what is the cheapest thing on the menu? A salad? Or a supersized hamburger?
Our lifestyle is set up to sit in a cubicle all day like a caged rat. We get 30 minutes to run out to lunch. Where can we get lunch in 30 minutes? A fast food chain. What is the cheapest thing on the menu? The worst thing for you.
So what I am saying is…we are set up for failure. We are not encouraged to exercise as kids and then we are taught to be frugal. In order to be frugal we must eat what is cheapest. The cheapest thing is the worst for you. Our grocery stores even encourage us to eat food that is not really food. Food that has ingredients like “solanin”, “high fructose corn syrup” and “monosodium glutomate.”
But we ARE what we eat.
If you find yourself eating nothing but bread, you start feeling like a big hamburger bun.
If you eat nothing but meat, you might start feeling a little piggy.
If you eat nothing but processed food, you might start feeling like a TV dinner.
Variety is the spice of life but so is making healthy food choices. Dieting is not the key here, but just paying attention to the facade and not giving in to the fetish.
Taking up that walking you used to do in college is a good start.
Or jump in the pool and do some laps.
Stay away from the processed and keep your portions in control.
I read lately that 6 small meals a day are better than 3 large meals. Another great word of advise was “Eat your breakfast like a king, your lunch like a princess and your dinner like a pauper” because doing it the opposite way around is not helpful. You burn less calories at the end of the day than at the beginning.
And my final thought: eat what is in your genes. Have you ever found out your genealogy?
This is something that really interests me.
In that same Fetish class we had a discussion about how people from different areas of the world are healthier when eating a certain diet. For example, people that live on islands are more healthy when sticking to a diet of grains, rice and fish. So if somewhere down your genetic line your family was living on an island off the pacific, maybe you would do better by increasing your rice, grains and seafood.
You can actually take a DNA test that tells you what your genetic make up really is: http://www.dnatribes.com/
I realize that my Pakistani genes are really strong. My Dad’s side of the family are from Kashmir, a region in the north of Pakistan and on the border of India. When I eat Pakistani food not only do I feel comfort, I feel healthy! You are what you eat so when you eat things that your ancestors were eating (before the invention of ‘the perfect plate’ and ‘supersize me’) then you are probably eating better.
And I am still thinking about that ice cream in the fridge. But I want to break the fetish chain.