The Most Complicated Relationship
Warning, rambling post ahead…too tired to reign it back in.
Like many people I know, I have a lifelong complicated relationship with food, as evidenced by the following:
- My mom will tell you that I have been something of a picky eater since I was a kid – I don’t eat fish or shellfish (except tuna, and I do mean real tuna like ahi), I dislike most raw vegetables in general and have a strong distaste for raw onions in particular, and I dislike a number of cooked vegetables too (cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, turnips, beets, etc.).
- I long ago came to terms with the fact that I am unquestionably an emotional eater.
- I also long ago came to terms with the fact that I am lazy, meaning I am the target market for convenience food.
- I have recently discovered that I am also a little bit of a foodie.
- I have also recently decided that, for the most part, I don’t really like the idea of putting chemicals posing as food into my body.
- I do not really enjoy cooking except on very, very rare occasions.
Can you see what I mean by complicated?
I bring all of this up because I am fighting hard against stress-eating this month. Some days I win and some days I lose hard. But actually fighting against the impulse is a new thing for me. In the past, I would have just thought, Self, you are stress-eating. And we know this and it is not good for you. But the stress will end in X days and then you will stop, and I am an exhausted brain, so I am not going to even try to make you behave. Enjoy it while you can. Clearly not the most healthy attitude, but really, it’s so much harder to force yourself into healthy habits when you are a frazzled bouquet of nerves and thoughts and worries nestled on a pillow of exhausted. I learned today that there may actually be a biological reason* that most of us crave sugar and fat when we have bad emotions: Our ancestors had to work a lot harder for their food, and sugar-fat-protein held them over through lean days and weeks and months but that stuff was hard to get. When they finally got it, they were very happy, and that biological response may actually be programmed into us. They did a STUDY with SCIENCE that says so!
Regardless, I can’t use that argument. To me, that’s the same as saying prehistoric men had a biological interest in spreading their manly seed far and wide, so it only makes sense that men cheat on their significant others now. That’s a bullshit cop-out. I’m not going to pretend that perhaps some men feel the urge to cheat more than women do, but they have brains and the mental ability to tell themselves no – we are not all just giant intuitive ids running around doing whatever our instincts and urges tell us to do all the time. And so I can’t use the prehistoric happy food excuse for my own personal lack of control. If I would just try harder, I tell myself, I could avoid the bad-for-me food that tastes sooooooo good (and tastes even better when I’m sad or mad or stressed out). And then I argue with myself, because why do I want to live a life eating things that I don’t really enjoy? I’ve said I’m kind of a foodie; food is a hobby and a joy and a pleasure for me. Eating raw carrots and celery all day takes all the joy out of it. On the other hand, eating nothing but cheese and bread and chocolate (which is what I would really, really want to eat at all times if there were no other mitigating factors) would very quickly land me in the hospital with heart disease, and that diet definitely would not help with my weight problems any.
So what’s a girl to do? I see awesome people blog about food that looks like real, good, tasty, non-processed food all the time, and I want that, I really do. But apparently they go shopping every day or something? And also have about a million dollars to spend on groceries and endless time and energy to cook? Because they eat endless varieties of things and make those things with all the most all-natural, organic, grass-fed, cage-free, whatever-else food, which costs a friggin’ fortune. And where do they get the energy and time to put all of those amazing meals together? Who has time to make pancakes for breakfast for just themselves on a work day? And Kath (of the previous link) really does that, too – that’s not a fake blog post or anything; she just is one of those people who can somehow throw together different, delicious, amazing meals every day of the week without thinking about it. I’m so jealous!
I want to have a diet that is all of the following:
- Delicious and decadent and fulfilling (I dislike most raw vegetables and adore cheese, so…yeah)
- As much food as I want to eat (some days I am just a ravenous pit from start to finish!)
- Low enough in calories that I can lose weight
- Good for me – few, if any, chemicals or hormones or other unnatural crap
- Good for the environment – local when possible and, again, few-if-any chemicals or hormones
- Varied often so I don’t get bored easily (currently I eat the same thing for breakfast every single day and one of about 6 or 7 frozen things I buy for lunch – both routines are getting old)
- Super, super easy to prepare – I hate doing much more than pouring a bowl of cereal or heating a frozen meal in the microwave
- Easy to buy and store – we only shop once a week and we live in a condo with a small kitchen so we don’t have room for lots of freezer or fridge storage, and I certainly don’t want perishable food to go to waste
- Inexpensive, especially right now when we’re living on only one full-time salary
That sounds to me, honestly, like an impossible combination of requirements. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe someone out there knows the way. If you do, please please pretty please give me the answer!
*Side note on that article: The end of it is all about trying to reprogram your body to get its happy from other sources. The last way to get your happy through non-food means? “Rub yourself the right way.” It goes on to explain strategic massage of foot and back areas, but that’s CLEARLY not what they intended to imply with a heading like that. Made me giggle to myself a little – hey, it would certainly be another legitimate non-food way to feel happier, right?