For weeks now I’ve been seriously rethinking this obsession I have with food and my weight. Specifically it’s occurred to me that for almost all of the past decade, my obsession with controlling (unsuccessfully I might add) what I eat and don’t eat has centered primarily on weight loss. This focus on weight and not on health has caused me to become unhealthier. Yo-yo dieting, pre-packaged diet meals, low carb, low fat, sugarless…you get the idea. My quest to lose weight devolved into me eating man made substitutes for food and came at the expense of eating food the way it was intended to be eaten.
It’s time for a change, a real change – an “I’m about to turn forty so I’ve got to start taking this seriously” change. I’ve been heading in this direction for years now, but eating for health was far down on the list, somewhere behind carb and calorie counting and fat monitoring. And while I’ve never been a lover of junk food and have always preferred fresh fruits and vegetables over sugary desserts – when it comes to food, the choices I make every day are made unconsciously, out of habit, and with very little regard to health and where my food is coming from.
But my body was already sensing this, and has been putting me on alert recently. It now refuses to tolerate certain foods the way it used to (dairy, wheat and caffeine for example.) And after watching Oprah’s Food, Inc. episode on Wednesday, I thought, well, this is surely a sign. But, how does a cash strapped, about-to-be-40-woman eat good, life sustaining foods on a tight (like Mariah Carey’s dress tight) budget? I’m about to find out.
Years ago a struggling artist friend of mine shared with me the story of how he saved up enough money to buy his home while making only about $8 an hour. He was a vegan, and even as a vegan, he spent only $20 a week on food. And no, he didn’t steal anything.
So, can it be done in 2010? It may not be as impossible as you think. In my case, I only have to shop for myself, and I’m fortunate enough to live within a few miles of a great farmers market and a Trader Joe’s. Years ago I ate a largely vegetarian diet (until an unfortunate incident where I was accosted by an irresistible piece of chicken – no seriously), so cutting back on meat and poultry isn’t out of the question for me. I certainly won’t be able to go all out organic on $25 a week, but by buying fruits and vegetables from local growers, stocking up on beans and eating less – which is one of my goals anyway – I think this is doable.
One of my goals is to remove refined sugar from my diet and when I eat meat and poultry, limit it to grass fed and cage free. My only other rules include: buying products with five ingredients or less listed on the label, avoiding artificial flavor and color, eating preservative free products and avoiding caffeine. No calorie, carb or fat counting, and no obsessing. Even as I write this, it’s a relief to set a food related goal that isn’t tied to weight loss. It feels really good to make a decision for health for myself.
I’m going to do this for the month of February and keep you updated on my progress. So this weekend, it’s off to market I go. I’ve already got some great, healthy foods in my pantry – dried beans, agave nectar, gluten free oats, so it might not be so tough to stick within the allotted budget this week. Talk to me sometime in the middle of February when all the beans I’ve been consuming turn on me, and that irresistible piece of chicken tries to friend me on Facebook…
Did anyone else see Oprah on Wednesday or watch the documentary “Food Inc.?” What are your thoughts on the whole conscious eating thing? Share them in the comment section or on our Facebook Fan page.
Grace is a blogger and Women at Forty editor who lives outside of Atlanta, GA. She shares her weight loss challenges and experiences weekly in our Health & Beauty – Fit at Forty section.