On Monday I will have my first day of school to become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. This post is to document where I’m at in terms of food, as there is no doubt it’s going to evolve as I gain more knowledge.
Yesterday Cam (boyfriend) and I went to a vegetarian food festival. We aren’t vegetarians, but we know it’s important to eat tons of veggies, and we like learning about cooking. I wonder if a high percentage of those at school will be? I’ve learned a lot by reading Michael Pollen’s In Defense of Food, recently. Will they look at my meat eating the way I look at smoking as a life choice? Who knows. Here are some thoughts on choices I try to make with food. With this blog, my plan is not to tell people what to eat. Food can get pretty political. I love creating recipes, and if I can help people to be healthier through that, then great. Also, we’re all individuals when it comes for food. What may work for me might not work for you. So….here’s what’s working for me so far.
Meat: I eat meat, and love a good burger. I eat fish. I am allergic to petting zoos, but have no food allergies. The more I learn about what truly ETHICAL meat is, the more I am making an effort to eat that way. This is relatively new. Since finishing The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollen, we haven’t bought any meat at a mainstream grocery store. We’re planning a trip to The Healthy Butcher.
However, if I’m at a a guest at someone’s house for dinner, I’m not going to be picky and demand that the chicken I’m eating was a happy one that ate grass, not corn. In terms of the foods that I avoid, I don’t think any of them are awful in moderation. If I’m out, I’ll embrace what’s there, and enjoy myself. But at home, there are lots of healthful choices I try to make that are pretty painless…even enjoyable.
White Flour: I avoid this stuff entirely. I don’t buy it. I’ve switched entirely to spelt flour, because of it’s higher protein content. So far, I’ve never made something and said, “Gee, this would taste better if it was made with white flour”. I’ve also discovered chickpeas (yes, chickpea flour, but also a pureed can of chickpeas) can work great as a flour substitute for baking. It’s one of those “empty” foods, where I know it’s not doing something for me nutritionally, and it’s not that exciting in terms of taste, so why bother with it?
Refined Sugar: Similar thoughts as white flour. Why bother? Brown sugar is definitely a better alternative, but I love using fruit, be it apple sauce, mashed banana or dates. I use agave something to add some extra sweetness.
I’m sure that all this love of white refined stuff is a texture thing….but a chocolate cupcake made with spelt flour and dates is good enough for me.
Butter + Oils: Croissants are yummy, and I have yet to attempt to ever make them. Butter makes things yummy. But butter doesn’t make my body do what I want it to do, so I pretty much don’t buy it. So far, I’ve faked a pretty good scone recipe without it. Margazine isn’t the best. It’s a man made invention, so our bodies might not be used to processing it. I’ll learn more soon and report back.
What I do opt for is apple sauce, or olive oil…canola oil, sunflower oil…or even peanut butter, or other nut butters depending on the purpose.
I think this could go on forever in terms of ingredients, so let’s get back to the big picture.
Why back to school again?
For those that know me, more school might have been a surprise, and it might seem a little ridiculous. I’ve been to film school, theatre school, and I just finished a certificate in marketing. For the record, I have finished/graduated all these programs, and enjoyed them, and got different things out of all them. I am also a professionally trained makeup artist (worked my way through my film degree with that). That’s a lot of school! Then again I enjoy school, and I think I’ll always be taking some course or other.
The decision to go to school to become a nutritionist is coming from a different place. For most of my artsy education, I pursued these things because I LOVED them despite the warnings, challenges, and lifestyles that came with them. However, with nutrition and fitness, I am very passionate and committed to these fields and interests, but the jobs that I can foresee having in this field are also something where I know the day to day is very appealing to me because of the lifestyle that comes with it, instead of despite it. And I’ve found myself constantly spending my time learn more and more on the topics…and enjoying the act of sharing the knowledge. I think it’s vital to take your health seriously, and I think we’ve often got a little more control over this through diet and exercise than we acknowledge.
Food is a journey. Whether you think of it that way or not, with the information and knowledge you take in everyday, your choices, preferences, knowledge and tastes evolve. For many, this evolution happens out of necessity; a reaction to health information. A need to avoid cholesterol, for example. Or, a need to lose those pounds that have crept up as your metabolism has slowed with age. For others, learning about food can be motivated by weight loss goals. That’s probably how any food research and learning began for me. I’m not exactly sure when, but I think I started dieting and being really aware of food choices at around 12, pretty much because I was chubby. I really wasn’t into fitness until I hit University, so super low calorie diets like the Zone Diet were what I remember trying out first. I also did the South Beach diet, which was more balanced and logical. It wasn’t until I found the Eat-Clean Diet, and Clean Eating Magazine that things made more sense to me.
At the moment, I guess I’d categorize myself as vege-curious. I’m not vegetarian. I don’t think it would be too challenging for me to go that way, but I enjoy meat, and think it’s okay in moderation, and even better if it’s ethical. In terms of vege-curious…I’ve recently become a big fan of various vegan blogs, a couple of which you will see on the left in my blogroll. I think that good vegan food can be extremely creative and good for you, and I love trying these options, and learning more about them. More veggies is always a good thing, as is more creativity.
It’s all logical. More vegetables. Less sugar. Nobody needs to go to school to learn that. But there’s more to it than that. I think that the preventative powers of food can be pretty exciting…and I’m looking forward to learning more. It’s also helpful to learn how to make all the things you should eat tastier.
Through my education, I don’t know how much I’m going to change, but it should be interesting.
Last week I was reading The End of Food, a book that is required reading for my program, on public transit, and a woman who happened to be in a nutrition program struck up a conversation with me. She said that it seemed like there was less and less to eat, the more she learned. That’s not appealing!
On a recent trip to Costco, while talking about food, my dad has warned me “not to get weird”. (FYI My dad eats very healthy overall, and is a good cook.) Do people who know too much about food become weird? Is it weird to start to wonder and question where you food comes from? I’ll stick to my rule of focusing on the choices I make at home…and I’ll use this space to share those choices when they’re tasty…and to share what knowledge I think is interesting.
How conscious are you of your food choices? Has the way you eat changed much over the years? I’d love to hear your story.