Saturday, September 15, 2012

Week Three: Skittles Do NOT Count as a Fruit Serving

So, between my pantry, refrigerator, and freezer, I have around 240 food items.  This is the kitchen my kids holler in about having nothing to eat.  Nearly everything in my pantry is processed.  We may not eat enough raw broccoli, but we are getting plenty of soy lecithin and sodium acid pyrophosphate.  Most have at least fourteen ingredients, and there is an excellent chance our blood has turned to straight high fructose corn syrup.

This bothers me.

When I started this FOOD Fast, I thought that removing the items that I'm most addicted to would be enough for me to see a huge difference in the way that I felt about food.  Not having my morning Pepsi and chocolate donut; refraining from an every other day taco run; abstaining from a nightly cocktail would rid my body of the hold that food has had in my life. Doing so, however, has just increased my awareness of every other bad thing that I consume on a daily basis.

I have friends who have transitioned their lives to full vegetarian and vegan lifestyles. These are good friends who I see on a weekly basis and I continually poke fun at their eating habits. You don't eat MEAT? Not even EGGS? Where do you get your protein?? How do you survive without Chick-Fil-A??  You un-American, YOU!  I would now like to recant my ridicule.  I do think there is a method to your madness.  You won't see me giving up my double cheeseburgers cold turkey anytime soon, but I am now comprehending the error of my ways in the food department. Most of what we have eaten, even over the last three weeks so far has been processed, in a can, frozen foods, or something Hamburger Helper related. Chef-Boy-R-Dee is our best bud, yo!  But in my relentless pursuit to view food as "nutrition" instead of a "social event", I am not satisfied anymore with what my family is consuming. All the soda, chocolate, pork, fast food, alcohol (only the tall people, guys. Don't dial CPS just yet!) aside, we are STILL not eating what we should.  This fast has only begun the transformation that I want to make in our eating habits. I'm not wanting to jump off the deep end and go live in an agricultural commune and only consume organic foods from goats, cows, and chickens that make residence in our backyards, but something has got to change. I'm in the process of doing some research and coming up with practical solutions to integrate into our lives.  I've started the book, In Defense of Food and it is starting to revolutionize my ideas about what nutrition means. The gist of the book:  Eat Food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.

Our grandmas ate local meat and vegetables from their own gardens; we eat PopTarts and Velveeta. Over the course of a few generations, our foods have evolved and what we are left with now is food that has actually made us less healthy and considerably fatter. Four of the top ten causes of death in America today are chronic diseases with well-established links to our industrialized diets: coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer. These health plagues remain rare in countries where people don't eat like we do.

One thought that has really stood out to me was made by Jen Hatmaker in her 7 book:  We get to vote three times a day against this toxic food supply with our forks.

In the spirit of spiritual wisdom gained this week, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 has weighed heavy on me.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

I think week three has taught me two main things. One, I can say no to the things that I know are tearing my body down.  I've done that by adhering to the seven food rules I've set up for myself. But beyond that, I have the ability to take it a step farther and choose what I do eat. I don't have to eat out of convenience.  It takes a bit more planning and foresight and research, but each and every thing I put in my body either fuels it or tears it down.  And God has given me the freedom to choose daily how I will honor Him with my body.  The second thing that I've learned is conviction increases with knowledge. When I didn't know any better, just out of pure naivety, I didn't feel convicted about each and every little thing that I ate. The more I know, the more I research, the more I feel convicted about what I put in.  It becomes not just about doing what is healthiest, but doing what I feel is right for me. ( I SAY for me, because just as I don't feel as if living the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle is right for ME, my friends feel as if it is right for THEM.  God convicts everyone's heart differently about different things.)  I feel like I have a responsibility now to my family, to myself, to make better choices.

 James 4:17 says:  So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin.

It's about time for me to grow up and start looking at food as another opportunity that I have to make a difference.  If I make better decisions for me, then I can be a good example to others about how to "honor God with my body".  I'd like to be around as long as possible for my family and children in particular. This is another way that I can do that. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Simplifying Food: Week Two Update

First and foremost, I have to say that this week has made me realize what a BRAT I truly am. You would think something as small as a simple fast wouldn't have such a dramatic effect. After all, it's not like I've given up food all together! I've just set seven rules in place to create some much-needed healthy limits on my food intake and the rest of it is a "free-for-all". I still have so much freedom, yet I've felt trapped most of the week.  It seems all of the things I crave are the things that I've given up.  Let's recap, for those that have forgotten, exactly what I'm fasting from this month:

*No Fast Food
*No Soda/Pop
*No Alcohol
*No Pork
*No Eating after 7 p.m.
*Only One Grocery Trip a week
*No Chocolate

Which one of them has been the hardest for me to adhere to?  ALL. OF. THEM. Geez, I'm pathetic.

It seems as though I have been living a lifestyle that is way too much "on the go". So much so that I never plan ahead what my family will eat ahead of time, and making the possibility of grabbing something fast food pretty much inevitable. It's been a struggle all week, with trips to the Science Museum around lunch time to mall trips around dinner time. I'm learning that I'm not a planner. I'm a "spontaneous eater" by nature. I graze. A little here, a little there, but hardly ever a little at home. That's been changing as I've learned to schedule our outings a bit after some REALLY late dinners and really cranky kids made me realize that's not acceptable. So, I'm adapting.

Let's talk caffeine. I'm not sure how people do life without it. For years I have suffered through existence with a Big Gulp in the morning to wake me up enough to endure people, and then have refilled throughout the day.  This has been to all of your benefits. I'm really not a nice person without a healthy dose of caffeine running through my veins. I'm still getting my caffeine, but in a bit more creative ways. Since the NO SODA rule, I've been popping Excedrin tablets like their going out of style. Before you deem me a druggie, know that the lack of soda has given me daily headaches and Excedrin (that happens to be chalked full of caffeine) allows me to grin and bare it when I really want to crawl into a corner and cry.  I've also taken my morning coffee to a whole new level. I used to drink it only in the fall/winter. But having a morning java has saved my children from many near-death experiences over the last two weeks. I tell them on a daily basis, "Folgers has saved your lives again."  Not to make myself sound too ridiculously pathetic, I have started drinking water again. You know, the stuff on tap in your OWN homes that's FREE?!  I add a little Mio and Viola!  I'm finding I'm not so dehydrated all the time.  This is something I plan to stick to after this whole fast is over.

Mostly this week I've realized that my slightly reduced life is still extraordinary in every way.  There are so little boundaries and no end to my advantages. For whatever reason, I was born into privilege:  I've never known hunger, poverty, or despair. I have been blessed.  Ridiculously blessed--relationally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.  My life is so happy, it's almost embarrassing.  And yet I let little things like the fact that I can't run through a drive-thru window or grab a soda obstruct my view on reality. I can't see how blessed I am most days because I'm  not seeing the forest for the trees, so to speak. I've been concentrating too much on the few things that I can't have instead of all the endless things that I do have at my disposal. I have more food (even with all the limitations) in one single day than most of the earth's population see their whole lives. If anything is ridiculous, it's that fact. How many times do we really stop and think about that? If we did, I think it would revolutionize the way we think about food.

My husband and I are desperately trying to afford a mission trip coming up in November. We are saving money and planning on visiting Nicaragua, one of the "third-world-countries" in Central America.  I'm not entirely sure what defines a "third-world-country", but I know it involves a poverty like we cannot fathom in the United States. We see hunger, we see poverty, we see a down slide in our economy. . .But we know nothing about this level of desperation. We want to use what resources that we've been blessed with to go there and bless others. Whether that is with food, relational support, or just old-fashioned care and concern. This fast has opened my eyes to the fact that I don't know much about "need". I'm so looking forward to having my eyes opened in November to what a "need" truly looks like. It's not just a craving for a bit of fast food or a soda. It probably looks a lot more like a mom going to bed hungry so that both of her children have at least a little something in their bellies. My children don't know that feeling. I don't know that feeling.

"Tell me about the world before.  What was it like?"
We didn't even know what was precious.  
We threw away things that people would kill for today."
-The Book of Eli

Monday, September 3, 2012

I Should Be Ashamed of Myself. . .But I'm Not.

So here I am, in the middle of a FAST. I'd like to think I'm doing this for health purposes, but truthfully, it's more of an emotional, mental, and spiritual thing. The bonus is that when I couple it with certain rules that benefit my physical health, it's a Win/Win.  Of course, I'm not fasting from food completely. It seems to be more of a cleansing; a detox. I'm quite enjoying it, actually.  But I will tell you, I'm not counting calories, watching my portions, or even eating very clean.  I should be ashamed of myself. . .but I'm not.  Instead, I'm rather proud of the fact that although I'm eating some frozen foods, loads of preservatives, and sometimes going back for seconds, I am NOT eating chocolate, drinking pop or alcohol, abstaining from fast foods, and not consuming anything after 7 p.m. For the last 7 days.  That's a new record for me.  All the things that I've mentioned above are things that I have struggled with for years and the things that I truly believe have put me in the physical handicap that I've found myself in for the last 5 years.  I'm 7 days sober. So I am proud. I'm mastering these things, and as it becomes habit and second nature to refrain from these addictions, I'll slowly learn to eat cleaner and limit myself in other ways.  Baby steps, I tell ya.  This is the way to success for me it seems.

I have not been running. Ever since we arrived home from vacation, it's been rough.  Now that I've gotten over the initial withdrawals of abstaining from all of my other addictions, I am ready to concentrate once again on my goal.  No, I have not lost all vision.  I WILL become a Marathon Mom one of these days. I desperately want that for myself. Time to climb back on the horse. I plan on running this evening with my new pal, Ms. Pepper Potts.  Here she is, my new running partner.
I hope she can keep up!
So, running friends everywhere, my question for today is:  What do I need to know about running in the Fall? I've never ran in the cooler season, and I'm excited to be able to hit the pavement and not die of heat exhaustion for once!  What are some tips and tricks for running in the cold? Tell me all about it. . .