Posted in Self Acceptance

When the Universe Speaks, Listen

Sometimes the Universe speaks to me. You might call it God. I call it coincidence, but it’s fun to think the Universe is speaking to me. The day I decided to quit dieting, the battery on my scale died.

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Credit Wikipedia Commons

This is significant, because another first step to intuitive eating is letting the scale go. You might need to take a sledge hammer to it, or give it to a charity thrift store, or if the Universe is so aligned, let it take the juice from your battery. Because if you’ve been dieting almost your whole life, you won’t even know how to feel until you step on that thing. Sometimes I’d step on it twice in the same day, because using the bathroom might have changed the number. TMI? Anyway, that’s how I’d know how to feel about the day ahead.

So when the Universe spoke, and my battery died, I put it in a closet, and there it’s been ever since.

But as it turns out, there are several ways to measure your body and how it makes you feel for the day. And at the same time that I was trying to imagine what the scale would say if it hadn’t been rendered mute, I was learning the fine art of body acceptance.

The first few days of eating intuitively I went crazy with bananas and avocados. And amazingly, what was supposed to happen, happened. By the fourth day, bananas and avocados were no longer the forbidden fruits. They were just bananas and avocados. Eureka! I mastered it! This was going to be a snap.

That fifth day I had a hot fudge brownie sundae for lunch. I repeated that three times in the same week. But none the following week. A few months later I had another and realized that craving had probably run it’s course. So yes. I was getting it, but how many foods was I going to have run through? How many foods had I even forgotten were on my forbidden list? How long would this take?

Cream cheese? Why had I stopped eating cream cheese? Was it forbidden, or just disliked? Unlike a diet, these intuitive eating books didn’t offer a complete turn-around in 30 days. There was no 8-day foolproof detox for my diet-brain, and my list of demonized foods was long.

Donuts. Cake. Chocolate chip cookies. Sour cream. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Hot chocolate. Butter. Cheese. Mayonnaise. Ice cream. Candy. Full fat lattes. Pie. Pancakes. Toast. Fried chicken . . .

 

Fried-Chicken-Leg
Credit Wikipedia Commons

Oh . . Fried Chicken. Golden brown, steaming hot, perfectly seasoned, juicy, crispy, battered and fried chicken. For six months I ate chicken from every grocery store, family restaurant and fast-food chicken place I walked into. Colonel Sanders found his way into my hottest fantasies. I had chicken fingers for lunch. Deep fried chicken for dinner. Broasted, nuggets, tenders, wrapped sandwiches, wings, pretzel-bun sandwiches, salads; I couldn’t get enough of the stuff. Until eventually I did.

 

But along with all my other food exorcisms, this took a toll on my pants size. Like I said, there are other ways to measure your body than with a scale. And while I think I could have learned to accept my body at any stage along the way, that goalpost kept shifting. Just when I was about to accept my body, it changed. So okay . . . let’s accept this size. Fried chicken for dinner? You bet!

What I learned is that the only way to fully accept the body you’re in, is to be in the present. This bears repeating.

The only way to fully accept the body you’re in, is to be in the present.

Because at any time your body can change. You could lose a limb. You could contract a disease. And yes. Your weight could change.

You only have the body you are in. Right now. You can never have the body you had ten years ago. You don’t know what body you will have ten years from now, or even tomorrow.

This is the body you are given today. This is your Universe. And it speaks to you.

Listen.

Peace . . .

To follow this story from the beginning, check out The View From Here

Posted in Lore

Seeking Peace and Balance as a Diet Junkie

UntitledI am a diet junkie.  Any new nutrition fad fascinates me.  The latest power food?  Tell me!  If you walked into my house, you would find diet cookbooks in every room — low-cal, low-carb, paleo, flat-belly, DASH, vegetarian, vegan — have I missed any?  You might think a svelte, muscular woman would walk out to greet you.  Let’s skip the Match.com body-type description, and just say . . . I’m not.

My mother fought with food all her life.  She often said she could live on a good loaf of crusty bread with butter.  After the loss of her son and quitting smoking, her eating was out of control.  She was the first person I knew to have a gastric bypass.  Many things have changed since then, but I think I can safely say that surgery is still not an easy way out, by any means.  I watched her recover, and although she was so pleased at the weight loss, she was often tired or ill.  There were certain foods that never agreed with her again.

Soon after the bypass, she developed a lactose intolerance.  One day they diagnosed her with diabetes.  When my father died, suffering from a broken heart, she malnourished herself.

She would look at pictures of momentous life events and remark not over the day itself, but, “Look how thin I was there.”  Or, “Oh my, I was heavy.”  She tried hard to be a good role model for me, and I think she succeeded.  But children notice things like that.  I think I joined her on my first diet when I was twelve or thirteen.

After a stroke that left her too weak to walk on her own and unable to keep most food down, her weight plummeted.  She joked that this was one way to lose weight.  And she was right.  When she took her last breath, she was tiny and frail.

My mother was a vibrant woman in life.  I spent most of my life living in her shadow.  Until the shadow was gone.

And all the things I had watched her do, and say, and be, became relevant.  Because at some point I stepped into the light and realized I belonged there.  People began to say, “You are JUST like your mother.”  And I was so proud, because she was everything I wanted to be.  But I was also so afraid, because of all the things I watched her fight. *One day, I said to myself,

“It is so wonderful to be just like Mom.  But I am not her.  I will live my own life, face my own demons, and clear my own hurdles.”

UntitledI think it was at that moment I veered off her path and started to live my life.  In the year that followed, I lost 45 pounds.  Life and I began a beautiful new relationship.  I got a tattoo of a dragonfly, symbolizing the change from nymph to agile predator.  No longer content to hide unnoticed, I was spreading my wings and meeting life head-on.

However, habits die hard, and I am still fascinated by this food thing.  I’ve found an ebb and flow between the control it has over me and the control I allow it to have.  Therein lies the peace.  Balance is not a thing — it is a constant shifting of yin and yang.

What I’ve learned is that there are many ways to feed yourself.  You can feed the body, feed the mind, or feed the emotions.  All three need to consume their own diet.  You can substitute one for another, but to do so is not healthy and will never produce good results.  It is also true that sometimes you need to let the mind, body, or emotions go without before you can truly feel the pain of hunger and know what is needed to satiate . . .

A good cry . . .

A good book . . .

or a good meal . . .

While one cannot substitute for the other, I have seen all three go quite well together, if necessary.

Peace . . .

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Meal by Meal:  365 Daily Meditations for Finding Balance through Mindful Eating by Donald Altman

Available on Amazon.com

 

Posted in Room and Board

Totally Non-Judgmental Happy Foodie

Last week I added a new category to my blog.  Rants.  I questioned whether to add it, as it draws attention to the fact that my pendulum sometimes swings farther than I would like it to.  My goal here is to seek all things peaceful, balanced, whole and precious.  Then again, my blog is titled WholeyJeans. (Someday I will blog about the misspelling, but I digress).  While ranting may not be considered peaceful or precious, it is a part of me on my road to balance, and as such, a part of the whole me.  And so the category was created.

The comment by insearchofitall, in which she concluded, “My sister has become a food fanatic and we can no longer share a meal. So sad. I’ll take the Buddhist path. All things in moderation. Pass the French rolls please” really got me thinking.  My pendulum began to swing back, and I felt the need to post a response to my own blog.

I am fascinated by diets of all sorts.  Food documentaries captivate me.  Nutrition arguments entice me.  Everyone has the answer, and in my quest for balance, I want to hear it and judge for myself.  Please note that I use the word ‘diet’ in both senses of the word; weight-loss system and way of eating.

Here are are some of my findings:

  • waterEvery diet says that water is good.  It doesn’t matter if you’re detoxing, fasting, gorging on protein, or cutting fat.  Water is good.  Drink it.  It is the stuff of life.  It is the fountain of youth.  It is also the easiest way to fit in a few extra steps daily.  Drinking water = trips to the bathroom.  Nice, right?
  • The other thing that every diet tells you to eat is vegetables.  There are different levels of vegetables depending on sugars, fiber, and nutrient density.  Everyone agrees green leafy veggies are a go.  Add a rainbow of vegetables to that, and you’re going to find a pot of gold at the end.
  • Most diet programs include fruit.  Some encourage it more than others.  Again, there is that sugar/fiber/nutrient thing.  Fruits, like vegetables, are plants, but tend to contain more sugars.  Sugar is a four-letter word.  Okay, it’s five, but you know what I mean.  This is why some opinions begin to part at this juncture.  However, everyone seems to agree berries are the most virtuous of fruits.
  • Let me back up the sugar truck a few meters.  We have a sugar for everyone!  There are slow sugars, fast sugars, artificial sugars, processed sugars, refined sugars, and natural sugars.  There are sugar crashes, sugar rushes, sugar addictions, sugar cravings, and sugar daddies.  Did I say sugar is a four-letter word?  It is also an eleven-letter word.  Unavoidable.  Carbohydrates are sugar, and they are found in vegetables and fruit.  Oh!  So sugar is good?  See what I mean?  How is the average nosher supposed to decipher all this stuff?

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  • The problem with vegetables is that everyone wants to doctor them up with butter, margarine, oils, cheeses, dressings and gravies.  If you can eat your vegetables naked, you will reap their full benefit and flavor.  I mean go ahead and wear clothes if you want, but don’t put anything on your vegetables.
  • Legumes are good, right?  Opinions are mixed.  Legumes are a plant, so vegans love their protein content.  How could you possibly feel guilty eating a bowl of lentil soup?  Well, legumes are full of carbohydrates, and low-carb eaters aren’t a fan.  Please note that cocoa beans are not legumes.  I know.  Bummer.
  • Is dairy the dreaded animal secretion, or a vital food for healthy bones?  It depends on who you’re listening to.  There are different beliefs on this, and many options for those who decide against dairy.
  • But if you can stand the heat, head into the kitchen to talk about meat.  People are passionate about their animal protein.  Arguments range from protecting the planet to regaining your health, restoring the food chain, and compassion for life.  Both sides of any discussion have points for each of these values, and will fight, seemingly to the death, to defend them.

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All of the diet plans I have ever read say that you have finally found the last diet you will ever need.  Search ‘last diet’ and Google will find no less than 233,000,000 results for you.  Using this as a guide, you should have no problem eating healthy until the day you die.  And in the end, you will die, and I guess whatever diet you are eating that day will be your last.

Look, I’m just an average girl trying to eat reasonably well.  I try to know what is behind what I put in my body, and make my choices from there.  Of course I want to do better.  I want to do a lot of things better.  Cheers to that, eh?  Recently our temperatures have dipped, with the windchill bringing dangerously cold weather.  I am craving refined carbs like there is no tomorrow, and since I guess there might not be, I go ahead and indulge a bit without guilt.

Unless you are a food priest of this or that nutritional following, you do not have all the answers.  I like to live my life like that; not having all the answers.  When you live without all the answers, you are always questioning, always learning.  I don’t want to find the last diet I will ever need.  I want to taste new things and try new combinations, dining with family, drinking with friends.  I want to live, love and laugh with all my other *totally non-judgmental happy foodie friends.

Bon Appetit!

*Thanks for the title idea, Mary!

Posted in Room and Board

Holier Than Chow

Diet and nutrition have been elevated to a passion equal to that of religion.  People don’t just share recipes for fun anymore.  They share recipes the way they pass out propaganda listing the benefits of a virtuous life.  The recipes include organic, locally grown ingredients, with instructions for storing it in an environmentally friendly method.  Cooking anything else for your family will guilt you down to a loathsome, uncaring, gluttonous scum of the earth.

lunch bagBack when Mom packed my lunch she bought white bread, spread on Miracle Whip, slapped a piece of bologna in it, then packed it up with Fritos and a pop.  (Read “soda” if you live outside Minnesota.)

That’s right.  My bread was not whole grain, my sandwich spread had lots of ingredients she couldn’t pronounce, and the lunchmeat — well, we don’t want to know.  The sandwich sat in a brown paper bag until it’s internal temperature was 87 degrees.  But boy, was it good with those Fritos tucked between the doughy-white slabs of Wonderbread!  To top it off, the packaging all got tossed in the trash because there was no such thing as recycling.

I’m not saying I want to go back to that, but eating food was fun.  You had to go to church if you wanted to feel guilty.  Not anymore.  There are food priests among us, folks.  These are people with deep-rooted beliefs who feel that if you are not eating what they are eating, you are doing yourself — NAY! The WORLD a grave disservice.

It is the food priest’s mission in life to save your nutritional soul, and lead you (kicking and screaming) to health.  But wait!  There is no eternal life, here.  We’re all dying in the end.  The goal is to die as healthily as possible — perhaps biking to Whole Foods.

saladThe rite of worship is the meal.  It is in the planning, buying, preparation and consumption.  Oblivious to other shoppers, meditation of labels takes place smack in the center of each isle.  Children are indoctrinated in front of the bananas, blocking all access from other food clergy and heathen alike.  Trips to organic farms are carried out like pilgrimages to the holy land.  The meal is consumed in solemn reverence of the plants that sacrificed their life.

Yummm . . . animal secretions . . .
Yummm . . . animal secretions . . .

The food priest also hears confession.  They use scary phrases such as “animal secretions” as euphemisms for wholesome sounding ingredients like eggs, milk, and honey.  “Refined sugar” equals cookies and muffins.

MMmmm . . . FLESH!
MMmmm . . . FLESH!

“Flesh” is the definition for roast beef or turkey breast.  The cuisine of our mothers is smugly called “Comfort Food” like a poisonous secret.  Sins are encouraged to be confessed using these terms, the worst of which is pink slime, and punishable by up to a full month of liquid detox diet.

Unsought counseling is very often the first indication that you have encountered a food priest.  You may experience unwelcome scrutiny over your cheeseburger with grilled onions and fries.  The evangelist may laughingly toss out the nickname of “foodie” as if adding an “e” to a word makes it harmless.  Druggy.  Achey breaky.  Owie.

In severe cases, you may be required to refrain from eating food prepared in certain establishments.  If it is suggested that you discard of kitchen utensils that have ever touched prohibited edibles, it is very possible you have encountered an actual nutritional cult.  This is dangerous, as you may never enjoy eating again, leading to any of a multitude of eating disorders.

Ellen

Look, I’m glad we all have our religion, democracy, and plenty of nutritional models to choose from.  I’m not picking on anyone.  Personally, I tend to be nutritionally non-denominational.  I love my congregation, as we welcome vegans, ovo-lacto vegetarians, omnivores, Aktins followers, and anything in between.  We “pin” recipes, listen to each other rave about menus, and share samples.  When faced with a meal, we EAT it, ENJOY it, and share in each other’s company.  No one is moping, or preaching, or judging.

I try to do what I think is right for the world, my family, and my body . . . most of the time.  Admittedly, I sometimes feed my disposition (which is often a pepperoni pizza with chocolate chip cookies for dessert).  pepperoni pizzaHow very lucky for me that I have that choice.  You may choose to indulge in pomegranate.  Some people can only choose from rice or beans.  Some can choose from thirst or unclean water.  I’m pretty sure some would choose GM corn over starvation.

Which brings me to corn, and anyone who knows me well has heard me say, “Don’t get me started on corn!”  So yes, I know the sermon.  You’re preaching to the choir.  And sometimes the choir is fed up (literally).  I’m just asking the food priests to please stop trying to shove their communion down my throat.  If I want it, I know where to find it.