Food For Thought on Food

Food is one of the many joys of life we get to partake in. We are free to choose, to taste, to cook, to buy—whatever we want. There are countless kinds of vegetables out there, thousands of kinds of fruits (seriously there are over 7500 types of JUST apples) and yet I see majority of people in the good old US of A, eating nothing that resembles what FOOD actually is.

Food is defined as any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink (or that plants absorb), in order to maintain life and growth. If we go into your typical grocery store and take a trip down the aisles, you’ll be met with colorful packages, products, and streamlined foodstuffs that are meant to make our busy lives easier. Pick one up, turn it over, and start reading the ingredients. You will likely find 20-30 random things that if, you were making said item at home, you’d never put in it. The truth is, none of these processed, chemical-laden, artificial-sweetener-filled, pieces of crap will maintain life OR growth. In fact, they often contribute to processes that do the complete opposite over the course of your life. THAT is the reality.

Now let me just take a second here to say that I’m not trying to be a whistleblower. I don’t want to demonize corporations, or start a witch hunt on the government. I TRULY believe that somewhere in the late 1800s when they decided to start packaging meat (this was the first thing to get processed, packaged, and shipped out) they did not intend for things to get this crazy.

Actually, they created canned foods primarily for military use during World War I. By World War II, they created frozen foods, modern families enjoyed the luxury of refrigerators & iceboxes, and suddenly ‘convenience food’ was a thing. Thanks, Industrial revolution!

As they grew in popularity, corporations who offered these convenience foods had to evolve and keep up with the demand. Leaving room for other companies to develop their own MORE convenient foods. How do you do so in a cost-effective way while still offsetting the potential product failures? Use cheaper (aka more highly processed) ingredients and preservatives to keep that shit fresh.

Lo and behold, 45 years later, our country’s population is the sickest it has been since the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock and all had scurvy. Think about how sad this is: in our society, it is almost certain, that if you end up making it to your elder years, you’re probably going to die from some sort of cancer or chronic disease. I actually made that up before I had any information to back it. Turns out, post research: it’s true. Now, for some statistics… According to the CDC:

·      As of 2012, about half of all adults—117 million people—had one or more chronic health conditions.

·      Seven of the top 10 causes of death in 2014 were chronic diseases. Two of these chronic diseases—heart disease and cancer—together accounted for nearly 46% of all deaths

·      Obesity is a serious health concern. During 2011–2014, more than one-third of adults (36%), or about 84 million people, were obese.

Now I don’t know about you, but those all sound like a shitty-ass ways to go, and if there’s any possible way to avoid any of those things, I’ll pretty much do anything.

The fun, empowering, exciting part is that ALL of those things, are preventable by changing your diet. The terrifying, scary, and thing no one wants to do, is change their diet. I’ve heard every line out there “I just love cheese too much” or “I’ll literally die from boredom.” Yeah, yeah, yeah. We get it. You love food. You’re the only one who has ever loved food more than having a good bod.

Except you’re not. Sorry.

I love food too. I love healthy food, I love fried food, I love vegan food, and I love cheese burgers. But you know what I love just as much? Myself, my life, having energy, my flowing creative juices, quick wit, having clear skin, maintaining a good mood all day, pooping 3 times a day …. Should I keep going?

You see—our priorities get a little franked up every once in a while…okay, for pretty much our whole lives if we’re not careful. Also, eating healthier, and changing the bulk of your diet, doesn’t mean giving up all edible pleasures in life for the rest of your life. But I see so many people run the other direction, giving a big “Fuck you” to the yogis and vegans of Instagram by eating steak and grits and McDonalds and pop tarts. The problem there is, doing that is a lot like  poison and expecting the yogi’s and vegans to die. If you think this is ridiculous, I’ll give you my Facebook password so you can see the ‘healthy-food-shamers’ that I went to high school with.

Seriously though, I’m proud to admit I haven’t given up cheese, meat, pizza, or sugar in their entireties. I have had multiple attempts at veganism, vegetarianism, macrobiotics, etc. So how did things change you might ask?

1. I changed my relationship with food.

2. I Started nourishing myself from the inside out. (More on that in another post)

I dropped the stigma that I have to label my diet, and therefore label myself. Labeling helps some people find their "tribe" but all I see are the things I can't do, more so the foods I can't eat. The RULES. You see, there are 4 personality types when it comes to rules: Upholder, Questioner, Rebel, or Obliger. Me? I was born a rebel. If anyone told me anything about anything that I didn't already think myself, I'd do the opposite, say the opposite, or just reject it completely. Sometimes I still do if I'm not careful. I've since morphed myself into a Questioner, and ultimately subscribe to no rules except for my own. This is the ultimate diet freedom. 

I REALLY love plant-based diets. Like LOVE. I enjoy plant-based protein more than meat, I love having a plate full of beautiful veggies, and I love getting creative in the kitchen and dumping the old meat and potatoes idea. The problem I personally came across was that while I could eat this way most of the week, sustaining it was hard especially in Portsmouth, NH. I was still only 25, I still enjoyed going out and the scene of a town, and vegan restaurants are hard to come by in New England. So I was mentally torn up about it. I stressed about it. Started losing sleep over it. Until suddenly I realized something: who the hell cares? Seriously. Who on this God given earth actually cares what I, Kelli DiFazio, am eating, except for me. The answer: No one. 

There are no Plant-based Police who are going to come bang down my door when I add a sprinkle of Feta cheese onto my bowl of roasted veggies and whole grains. So therefore, why am I freaking out about 'cheating' on my plant-based diet? Guys--the thing is, we don't have to give up anything completely. Life is not black and white like that, and when you can fully embrace the idea of YOU DOING YOU, you're fucking free. 

So in my new found freedom, I adopted a roughly 90% plant-based diet, and didn't eat meat for almost 4 months. I had some cheese every now and then, and an egg or two on a weekend here and there, but I never took myself so far off the wagon that I had a hard time getting back on. If I accidentally ate some chicken on a salad without realizing (which happens when you stop caring so much) I'd think "ew chicken" and move it off to the side. I wouldn't throw the salad in someones face, or go chug 7 green juices in front of my vegan friends, or kick myself the rest of the day, I just moved the fuck on. Oops. This way of thinking about food trickled down into every food group, I knew how to eat clean, not eat sugar, not eat meat, but sometimes I'd screw up. Oh well. The next meal, I was back to my version of a plant-based diet, which in turn was BASED in plants, but had some space for the other stuff too. After all, I never claimed to be a vegan. 

We spend a tremendous amount of time beating ourselves up for the various screw ups in our day-to-day lives. Skipping workouts, over-indulging, etc. It's all relatively pointless. Forgive yourself quickly and move on! Just remember that YOU make the rules for your life. The rest are just guidelines.