a little talk about food

Among all the things I am welcoming back into my life, food is surprisingly causing me some consternation.

For the past five years, our diet had been getting more and more restricted. I like exploring food and cooking so at first I welcomed the push for more nutrients (this was about five years ago, I guess). Juicing? Sure! More vegetables? Right on! But then the restrictions started: Much less dairy (not really a problem). Lower sugar (fine, okay). We were already vegetarian so meat was not on the table, but then soy got cut out. Hmm. Then corn. Then almost all fat (which is really hard to do when everything else is so restricted). Then most grains, then we went gluten-free. Then the vegetables started getting restricted. No cruciferous veggies. Low roughage, but high fiber. Then extremely low fiber. No eggs. High salt. This became a problem for me: what the hell to fix to eat?

During the last year, I am not sure what we ate other than, no joke, quinoa. That’s the main staple I can remember. Sometimes some peppers, maybe? Other than that, I have no recollection of anything else being prepared. But just quinoa, with or without vegetables, with or without anything else on it. That’s… not very balanced. I was not happy about this but T. had all kinds of digestive issues and although I really think we should have seen a nutritionist or something, there were all kinds of reasons not to do that as well. So I did the best I could, which really wasn’t very good, and we weren’t eating very well at all. I had no idea what to do at that point.

Anyway, so now that’s not a problem in my life. I can eat whatever I want, and have been, for the past two months, once I got over the initial part of the terrible cold. This has been fun. I go to the store, look at everything, and just get whatever seems good. A miracle! Thankfully I lean towards healthy options anyway, but still, it’s nice to be able to choose whatever I want, whatever seems like a tempting option at that particular moment.

Now I’m starting to settle into a “new normal” and am having trouble figuring out what I need to eat on a regular basis. I’m still feeling somewhat low-energy and I have trouble concentrating (although that’s getting better). I feel like I’m drugged when I wake up in the morning, and my eyes are puffy when I first get up (which has never been a problem for me before).

As I’ve been adjusting to feeding just one person, I’ve been leaning a little bit on pre-prepared foods (knowing that this was always only a temporary solution as it goes against everything I hold dear!). I’ve been drinking a little more alcohol, maybe one-two glasses of wine a week (since I hadn’t been drinking at all, anything is more than what I’d been drinking). I went on a temporary meat adventure, thinking maybe I needed more protein and iron to recover from everything. I’ve been eating out more, too, as I’ve been more social. I’ve been eating more, in general, although I don’t notice that I’ve gained weight – I lost quite a bit when I was sick, so maybe now I’m just back to normal.

I am, at heart, the Queen of Moderation, so now it’s time to figure out What The Heck To Eat, that will help me get my energy and concentration back, keep me at my regular weight, and also taste good and allow me to get back into cooking.

My thoughts on this:

  • I’ve discovered that I like a glass of wine sometimes. Not every night. Not even most nights. Just sometimes. Same with any other alcohol. I had a good time trying all kinds of things for a few weeks, but now I’m settling back into my old self and I don’t need much alcohol in my life. But it’s nice that I can.
  • I will remain my usual mostly-vegetarian. That has worked for me for the past 18+ years. I just don’t love meat, for all kinds of reasons.
  • I do need more protein, though. I feel better when I have more protein. So welcome back, tempeh!
  • I think I’m going to try and bring two pieces of fruit with me to work every day and eat those before I have any other snacks. I’ve been doing that this week and it’s been nice. Also, a banana on the way to work and a pear for a snack, are pretty tasty.
  • Starting this weekend, I’m going to try and have a giant portion of veggies every night. I’ve been working my way back to this and have had huge portions of haricot verts the last couple nights. So delicious, with some smoked salt and a little bit of Earth Balance. Yum.
  • I have discovered that my bread addiction has been broken, over the past two-three years of severe wheat rationing. I don’t need to invite that back. So I’ll limit bread/baked things. Although sometimes it’s fun to make these things.
  • I think the biggest thing is I need to be aware of my salt/sodium intake, as I think this has dramatically increased without my really being aware of it. So, I’ll phase out the pre-prepared foods, and try to get salads and such when I eat out. This eating-out thing feels very strange to me. I mean, of course I ate out sometimes during the past few years, but not often. So to have it be so casual, feels strange. I need to come up with something healthy. Maybe just the salad option (dressing on the side! the woman’s mantra…)

I’ve always had a fairly healthy diet, and I almost always choose whole-food healthy options, so I’m not too worried. However, I’ve been off-kilter the last couple months, and just need a few reminders to get me back to a new healthy normal diet.

This DOES mean that I get to try all kinds of new vegetable recipes, though!