Quote of Inspiration

I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Atilla and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.

Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Report: Processed Food

I didn't eat processed food for one week. Well, I admit to having a bite here and there of the kids' ham and cheese melts (and by bite, I truly mean tiny sliver). But, I ate no store-bought bread, no cereals, no treats, no candy, no cookies, etc.

I ate scrambled eggs, fruit, veggies, home-made turkey chili, home-made pumpkin bread, butter, milk, yogurt, peanut butter and drank a lot of coffee.

Here is what I found:

1. On the two days that I ate only fruits, veggies, peanut butter and oatmeal, I felt great. I lost 5 lbs. in two days. I didn't have big dips in my blood sugar levels. When I was hungry, I felt hungry but I didn't feel shaky/weak/confused/agitated. I simply felt hungry. I didn't feel cravings for foods, because when your only option is another hard-boiled egg, well you just don't want it that badly. When your option is Oreos, there is a much stronger pull.

2. On the days I introduced more carbs (albeit non-processed carbs) like rice, potatoes and home-made baked goods, I gained back the weight I'd lost and felt much more bloated. Much more.

3. When I ate too much, even if the food was unprocessed, I felt bloated and overly full.

4. When I was eating so well, on days one and two, I didn't find I needed to drink so much water. In fact, I only drank about 40 oz. on those days and still lost the weight and felt less bloated and lighter.

Overall, the experience taught me several things. One, I was eating a lot of processed food that I wasn't even thinking about: lunch meat, crackers, bread, a treat at Starbucks, etc. In addition to eating a ton of processed food, that left little room for fruits and veggies. I ate nearly twice as much fruits and veggies this week than in previous weeks. Second, food is food. If you eat too much of it, no matter what it is, you will feel unwell. Third, just because something is homemade and "unprocessed" doesn't make it healthy. Perhaps if I stuck to a much more rigid definition of "processed" it might make a difference (like not using wheat, dairy, etc.), but for my purposes, I simply meant no added ingredients I couldn't pronounce and stuff found in a box or can. I made lemon posset, for example. It has sugar, cream and lemon juice. That's it. And I ate it. And it's just simple junk food. It's not "healthy" because I can name all the ingredients.

In the end, I went from 138.6 pounds to 135.6 pounds. That's fine. It doesn't feel drastically different, though. Maybe because I've been eating lemon posset and home-made pumpkin bread slathered in real butter........

Still, the experience was extremely helpful in allowing me to see that it IS possible to live without processed food, that I WILL feel better with a diet richer in fruits and vegetables and that my blood sugar is directly linked to crap.

And now...........we're going to trick-or-treat and I'm going to wolf down some dodgy mini-Snickers bars.


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