MUSINGS ABOUT WHOLE FOODS
As I consider food and where it comes from, I am just like most people, I would like it to be as healthy and nutritious as possible. I would like it to be as close to nature as possible. The problem is that we don’t live in the Garden of Eden where eating all clean, pure, organic, natural, whole…and whatever other adjective you want to use to describe it, is the way food is anymore and many of us are becoming food-phobic as a result. This is my take on why that is.
I am a middle-aged woman living with my husband. Our children are on their own and choosing what to eat for themselves. We have a good income and if I really wanted to, I could shop exclusively at a local food coop here. Last week I purchased a small pot roast that was from a local farm in Minnesota. It was from exclusively grass-fed beef. It was 3x’s the cost of the pot roast in the regular grocery store’s meat section. It was delicious and suited us perfectly. However, as I endeavor to keep a balanced budget, I have realized that if we are going to eat roast beef and if it has to be local, grass-fed etc. It will become a treat instead of a staple in our dinner menu. This has me thinking.
In order to eat what we like to eat and make sure it meets the criteria of whole, clean food, our grocery bill for two people in one week would very literally be about 3x’s more than it is already. Dean and I can’t possibly imagine that much of his income going exclusively toward food but I can tell you this, I fight a mental battle every single time I get groceries. The expensive roast I bought was delicious but were I feeding our children too, I would have had to have had a bigger one and back then, could never have afforded it. Should I buy this bag of cheetos once in awhile? What about soda? Hmmm…lettuce? Regular? Organic? Does it matter?
In addition to this, I love to watch Ellen every day. She makes me laugh and I need to laugh. But one thing has stood out to me where food is concerned and that is how celebrities are dictating to us what really healthy eating should be like and they see themselves as using their platform wisely in doing so. As we watch and enjoy the celebrity culture we are so fond of, we are continually hearing that we SHOULD EAT EXCLUSIVELY “health” food. Ellen is vegan and she is clearly very healthy but here’s the deal, being vegan is VERY difficult without an intense commitment to label reading, paying more to make sure it meets the criteria, and quite often isn’t readily available. Most of us don’t have the budget to support it. Ellen’s budget allows not only for whatever food she can cast her eyes upon, but she very likely has a personal chef who fixes that food for her as does Oprah, and many others. She can live that way without obsessing over it. I cannot.
I have realized that I have to find a moderation or I am in danger of developing orthorexia.
Those who have an “unhealthy obsession” with otherwise healthy eating may be suffering from “orthorexia nervosa,” a term which literally means “fixation on righteous eating.” Orthorexia starts out as an innocent attempt to eat more healthfully, but orthorexics become fixated on food quality and purity. They become consumed with what and how much to eat, and how to deal with “slip-ups.” An iron-clad will is needed to maintain this rigid eating style. Every day is a chance to eat right, be “good,” rise above others in dietary prowess, and self-punish if temptation wins (usually through stricter eating, fasts and exercise). Self-esteem becomes wrapped up in the purity of orthorexics’ diet and they sometimes feel superior to others, especially in regard to food intake.
Eventually food choices become so restrictive, in both variety and calories, that health suffers – an ironic twist for a person so completely dedicated to healthy eating. Eventually, the obsession with healthy eating can crowd out other activities and interests, impair relationships, and become physically dangerous.
I am daily grateful for the education and experiences I have been given about eating disorders because I find that in midlife it isn’t a lot different than it ever was. Peer pressure is just as dangerous here in mid-life as it ever was in high school. I still want to eat food in as natural a way as possible but I have realized that I will never be able to give it the intense focus that it would take for me to do it exclusively. The rest of my life if much too important to me.
I realize these are just ramblings but…hopefully, it’s food for thought for you too.