Friday, August 21, 2015

eat: a manifesto

I believe everyone can use a good manifesto. Here's one of mine.

When I first wrote about my intentions for better health two months ago I named four big goals that I wanted to achieve in the coming year. I wanted to get better sleep, to move my body, to breathe more (reduce my stress), and to eat nourishing food. Each of these goals requires some pretty hefty changes to my status quo, but tackling the food I eat is one of my biggest hurdles to improving my health.

I couldn't just write a post about my intentions with regards to eating nourishing food. This one needs a manifesto. I'm not outlining an eating plan here, but more of an eating mood. Feel free to borrow it, improve upon it, or ignore it and write your own. 

Food is delightful.

I adore both brussel sprouts and butter creamed with sugar. I am moved by both lentils and ice cream, preferably really hard ice cream that you can bite into, filled with chocolate bits. And peanut butter. While I am committed to eating in a way that makes me feel well, I refuse to live in a world where some foods are valuable and others are evil. Food is about nutrition and so much more. I adore cooking for my family and friends (and I like to think I'm even good at it.) Sometimes this means that I create salads filled with vitamins and minerals and other times it means I bake a pie. I don't want to live in a world without pie. I do, however, want to have energy and feel vibrant in my body, so most days I will choose the brussel sprouts and lentils.

Advice is sometimes helpful, sometimes not.

Oh, advice. Isn't it everywhere? I mean, I think my neighbour would offer his two cents if I mentioned my goals to him, and he's an accountant. Advice can be lovely and often gives me all sorts of ideas. For example, I have a friend who gave up grains, sugar, dairy, and legumes and she feels amazing! It's definitely something for me to think about, but we're not the same person, and what works for her might not work for me.  I've read a great book about optimal eating for folks with fibromyalgia and it's filled with just as many restrictions, including avoiding a whole handful of fruits and vegetables (on account of their inflammatory properties). Again, something to think about. My naturopathic doctor has advised that I stop eating entire categories of food as well, so it's something I'm seriously considering (she says with an eye roll).

I have also received advice to not change how I eat. Maybe, they suggest, just maybe stop eating so much sugar (point taken), but everything else in moderation is the way to go! They can't possibly understand making such a radical change when it comes to food. While I give them points for recognizing how hard changes are to make, they don't know what it feels like to live in my body, with  my chronic pain and slug-like energy. It might not make sense to them, but radical change might be the answer for me.

Either way, the choice is mine to make.

Kill the day with one incredible breakfast.

This idea comes from a dear friend of mine, who suggested that in the face of all these changes to the way I eat, just start with the best breakfast possible. It's a win-win situation: I get to nourish my body with wholesome, real food while at the same time being able to feel the thrill of a victory. If I can't change everything at once (because that much change is just damn hard to do), at least I can win with breakfast. I am going to win at breakfast!

Shame is never the answer.

Have you ever read Rachel Cole's work on being a well-fed woman? She knows what she's talking about when it comes to feeding ourselves. You won't find any recipes on her blog, but you will find exquisite encouragement to feed our hungers, and none of her strategies include shame. I'm going to make a lot of changes to how I eat because my body deserves the chance to feel good. But I won't be perfect. There is just so much pressure to eat purely and the flip side is to demonize those times you eat a hunk off that gorgeous baguette. Let's declare right now, right here, that there is no one way to eat. Shaming impure eating (whatever that actually means) doesn't become us. 

My body deserves the best food possible.

It sure does. Sometimes that means a basket of organic peaches from the market (heaven) and sometimes that means scalloped potatoes cooked for me by my mother (also heaven). We all deserve food that nourishes us and I'm so, so fortunate that I can afford to fill my house with such good things. My health is the only thing that will sustain me long enough to live many, many more years and there's no playing around. In my life right now that means making food preparation a priority in my day, something I'm able to do right now as I'm taking this break from school. I will remind myself every day that I deserve food that nourishes me.

Now, go and eat something good.

Be well!

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