Here are some of the things I’m dealing with now in my journey of healthy eating.
1) One thing that caught me off guard in this transition to healthy eating was that as my body cleaned up, it became much more sensitive to the drugs I used to ingest on a regular basis: caffeine, alcohol, and, the biggest surprise, sugar and refined grains. I never thought of sugar as a drug but now I’m not so sure. It’s so processed I’m not sure I’d call it real food anymore. Dr. Fuhrman says it’s a drug if you feel bad when you don’t have it. i.e., if you get addicted to it. I’ve got to the point where caffeine, alcohol, and sugar affect me very strongly when I ingest them, and then I feel yucky and get cravings the next day for something to perk me back up. So now I’ve given up caffeine and alcohol, not because I felt I should but because I didn’t like them anymore. And now the same thing seems to be happening with sugar and refined grains. They affect me so strongly that I’m thinking I don’t want them anymore. I don’t like the high I get from them and I don’t like the way I feel the next day. For a while I wondered if I was developing an eating disorder, but I think I’m just so much more affected by sugar than I used to be that the effect from it is magnified. I think I prefer just doing without it. Whole dates are a great sweetener, so I don’t need it anyway.
2) In addition, as my body cleaned up, the food started tasting better, much better. Now I can’t imagine anything more delicious than a pomegranate (my current passion). This, plus the large volume of food we healthy eaters ingest on a regular basis, has caused me to start overeating. So recently I’ve been reminding myself that food is nourishment, and it tastes much better when you are hungry. I can make getting my nourishment as enjoyable as possible by preparing delicious meals, and by waiting until I’m hungry to eat them. But if I go beyond that to overeating, then that’s unhealthy. It’s a balance I have to make with some mental discipline, because it’s our natural instinct to seek pleasure, and food is definitely a pleasure. Not only that, we are surrounded by it, day in, day out. Every meeting or social event I attend has food—food I choose not to eat in most cases, but it influences me and makes me want to eat something, even if it’s healthy. Part of it is physical—the sight of food causes my digestive system to secrete enzymes. My poor digestive system gets bombarded with this all day long in this society! Even at home, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen preparing meals I don’t eat, because I don’t eat lunch when my housemate and visitors do, and I’m the resident cook (because I love it). It’s kind of hard to resist nibbling but I find that can often lead to overeating.
I’ve been following Dr. Fuhrman’s advice to use light therapy to help you sleep better and fight the winter blues. You sit in front of a bright light for 20-30 minutes a day, right after you wake up. I’ve been doing my morning studying with this light. I’ve been doing this for 2 weeks now, with the exception of this weekend when I got up early to drive to Chicago on both days. It seems to be working pretty well. I’m sleeping more and my mood is improving, though I got cranky this afternoon when work was stressing me out. The real test of this will be in the spring. That is when I have the most trouble sleeping. I think it’s caused by the change of lighting. As the days get longer, I have more trouble sleeping. As I get older this affects me more. Even though the light is expensive ($200!), it's a one-time investment which is worthwhile if it regulates your sleep and mood.
One thing I wonder about is that I sit in front of a large computer screen at night. Does that mess up my sleep schedule?
Yesterday I said my pomegranate tasted better than the chocolate cake that was served at the event I attended. Claire said she can’t wait until she feels that way. Well, it depends on the chocolate cake. This cake was probably made by Sysco or some other giant food prep company. That’s true of most desserts (and entrees?) in most restaurants too. It’s made with cheap ingredients that are so processed, they aren’t really food. They are likely loaded with trans-fats (shortening in the frosting, and probably in the cake mix too), because these are the fats that are solid at room temperature and have a long shelf life. They are artificially made and are really unhealthy. They aren’t made with love; they are made for profit and marketed as irresistable.
Dr. Fuhrman has some chocolate cake recipes that are made with high-quality ingredients, and anyone who goes through the effort to make them must be making them with love. I’ll eat one of those. Does it taste better than a pomegranate? I’m not sure. But I’m willing to find out.