I’ve been pro-Real Food for a few years now. Not strict. Not biblical about it. I still eat grain. I still engage in the occasional pop tart. But our eating habits have changed drastically since 2011—when I was overly pregnant and reading the book, Real Food.
In her book, Nina Planck beautifully outlines a life that is full of foods sourced locally, prepared lovingly, and eaten slowly. It’s a non-extremist perspective of the art of slow food.
Dr. Alessio Fassano has done ground-breaking research in the world of celiac disease and made monumental discoveries about things like gap cell junctions, IGF-1, and gut microbiota. Without too many boring (but beautiful) scientific details, his discoveries point to the fact that maybe the amount of gluten we are eating isn’t good for us. And maybe our food has a direct bearing on our disease.
Our Small Group before we moved was lovely. We called it a Small Group. But really, it was a large group of dynamic people who were, in all senses, our tribe; spunky, life-filled people who loved the Lord and loved us well. And thankfully, it was also full of people who cared about their health. Best not bring oatmeal cookies to group because they would go untouched. A bowl of kale chips, though? ALL OVER IT.
My CME in December of last year pointed to the fact that for a real perspective on food, we need to look at the Metabolic Disease-free history of our world. The Blue Zone Project followed the eating habits of the places on Earth with the highest concentration of centenarians. Combine their findings with the hearty work of Dr. Ornish and Dr. Hazen, and we are left with a startlingly-clear but gosh dangit hard picture of what we should be eating.
First, our relationship with food needs to be one that looks at food as a positive experience—one of nourishment and sustenance. Aside from true eating disorders, most of us (myself included some of the time) probably have disordered eating. We grab the chocolate instead of the carrots, the French fries instead of the fritter itself. Our coffee is drowning in syrups and whip and although our hips may not feel the difference, our hearts know it. Our genes are smarter than we are & they sense the changes, the unhealthy habits, the molecular balance before we’ve even swallowed.
Second, we need to choose vegetables over every. other. (Gosh dangit.) food that exists. Over meat. Over grain. Over bread. Over fruit. Every Blue Zone had a diet that consisted of at least 60% vegetables.
And third, we need to limit meat. Our ancestors ate it a few times per month—usually in the form of fish. They did not have Type II Diabetes. They rarely died of acquired heart disease. They did not have triple bypasses or suffer lifestyle-induced high blood pressure (on the regular, exceptions are always a guarantee). Obesity was almost non-existent. There were genetic cases of these diseases, no doubt, but genetics instead of nutrition played a much stronger hand in their development. Instead, they chose beans. EVERY DAY THEY CHOSE BEANS.
Gosh dangit. Again. And again. And again.
We have a quarter cow in our freezer as I’m typing this. And to be honest, I was really looking forward to a hamburger.
But as I’ve been reminded time and again by the research, food has incredible power. It is the most powerful medicine or the slowest form of poison. Making good choices for my family means choosing foods that are not as awesome to eat as a Wendy’s frosty with French fries.
“The only way to keep your health is
to eat what you don’t want,
drink what you don’t like,
and do what you’d rather not.”
But this year, I’m counting on it being different. I’m counting on food being part of our lives—in a positive and rewarding way. Thankfully, the changes we’ve made mean we don’t have far to go. The evidence is irrefutable. But like all things in life, I’m committing to taking baby steps. Lots of them. I’ll probably walk backwards half the time. But I’ve got my eye on a goal now.
· Eat 80% plants on 8 out of 10 days.
· Eat more beans, less meat.
· Eat slowly, intentionally.
· Linger at the table longer.
· Make better, more consistent food choices.
· Serve better foods and teach our children to find more balance.
· Source foods locally when possible, organically when not.
· Be more intentional about planning regular, simple meals.
· And be more purposeful in trying new ones a few times per month.
Rid the expectation that meals need to be complex, complicated, perfect. I don’t expect the perfect soufflé or stock. We’ll have a lot of fails. I’ll end up giving my kids rice and apples for dinner. But in the midst of all those could have been better’s, I’m hoping for a few home runs.