Some Lessons Learned

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.