Many people I know have a funny relationship with food: they are on constant diets, yet continue to gain weight. I’m not counting people with real health problems, but those consistently obsessed with weight loss and dieting (although I suppose this could be considered a real health problem psychologically).
We are a nation obsessed with our image and one of the most obvious ways to control our look, short of surgery or buying new clothing, is to control what we ingest. The problem as I see it, is that when we stop listening to our bodies and rely on special diets, we deprive ourselves of what our bodies actually need. If you don’t have strict enough control, you end up bingeing when you are confronted with the food your body craves.
Each of us is in fact a unique individual with special needs only our bodies understand– not a diet book that can supposedly work miracles on millions. If we can stick to real foods (fruits, vegetables, grains), without too much added salts and sugars, staying away from processed goods (which just make you crave more), our bodies eventually regulate and notify us about what is required for continued function. Of course, I’m no nutritionist.
There is one woman in particular I run into every month or so on the street: oh Stacey! You look like you’re losing weight!
It may or may not be true. This greeting, or, “Wow, you’re looking great,” are two common conversation starters people like to provide when it has been a while between sightings (and continues our obsession over our bodies). Every time I see this particular woman it is the same statement, followed by, are you on a special diet? Every time I see her I provide the same secret answer.
She asks, one because it is polite I suppose, but two, because she has a litany of legitimate health problems, many of which can actually be solved if she can create a healthy relationship with food. She is looking for the secret. Sure, I tell her. I’ve been frying my eggs in leftover bacon fat. I eat pork chops, roasted chicken, yogurt, cheese and a lot of vegetables, raw or sauteed in olive oil… You know, whatever is around.
Well you must cook a lot, she counters. I make lasagna, that’s it.
Well, that’s good, I say, that you cook. But in my mind I’m reminded of weekly food calendars, with hers looking something like this: Monday, lasagna; Tuesday, lasagna; Wednesday, lasagna… In the time it takes to make lasagna for a week, could she make, say maybe some chicken? Or in even less time some fish? Or really, anything other than lasagna?
Sure I cook (not as often as most people think), but most of what I make are quick meals that take just as long as opening a can and setting the microwave– and even faster than heading to a restaurant and placing an order. If it’s a food that takes longer to prepare, I make enough for leftovers I don’t mind eating cold or which can be reheated easily on the stove top (I don’t have a microwave).
So the secret special diet is that it is not a secret at all. It’s one people generations before us followed because there was no alternative: eat foods with ingredients you can name, know where they come from, or how they are produced or grown. Avoid processed and packaged food and drink, stay away from corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and bypass the advertisements telling you to load up on sugars, starches and new “low-calorie,” “all natural” treats… And maybe one other thing: Follow the variety seasons offer.
As I ate my breakfast this morning I thought about her question and was inspired to take a picture. Was I glad I was not eating lasagna? Yes. Was I glad this meal took all of 8 minutes to prepare? Yes.
There is no recipe to this meal because by the picture I think it is pretty straight forward:
an egg, however you like it
a piece of cheese
slice of whole grain toast with butter
some other veggies or fruit, if available
fresh herbs, if available