An Attitude Adjustment

21 Oct

I’ve always been unable to understand vegans who eschew wonderful things, like goat cheese and creamy, slow-churned ice cream. Shook my head at Gwyneth Paltrow’s cook books—quince paste and Manuka honey are just a few of the specialty ingredients; I believe berries from a virgin blueberry tree picked under the light of a three-quarter moon are ingredients too, but I digress. Rolled my eyes at anyone who doesn’t have any issues with gluten, but buys a gluten-free brownie just because the “gluten-free” part sounds healthier.

I thought these types of people were crazy, cutting themselves off from so many of the joys of life (like barbecue) and living a lifestyle that was inaccessible, expensive, and obsessive.

But I’m halfway through my first week on an elimination diet, and I’m revising my opinions.

I had a wakeup call last week when I went to the doctor—I’ve gained about ten pounds in the last year, have been lethargic, and physically and mentally just don’t feel like myself. I realized that my erratic and bizarre eating habits (mostly mountains of breakfast cereal and entire boxes of Teddy Grahams) weren’t doing me any favors. Anytime recently that I’ve tried to go on a “health kick,” I gave up before I began, sabotaging myself with a pint of chocolate-chip cookie dough ice cream or a lame excuse—I don’t have time, I really just can’t afford to eat well right now, etc.

Clean-eating

I called myself on my BS and decided it was time to sink some serious time, effort, and money into me. I signed on with a holistic health coach and hopped into her 6-week “Renewal Formula,” which includes an elimination diet to identify any food sensitivities. It axes a bunch of stuff, including dairy products, soy, most tree nuts, flour of any kind, chocolate, alcohol, and even certain fruits and vegetables.

The shopping list had ingredients like adzuki and mung beans and, what I believed to be one of the dumbest sexy buzzword health foods, chia seeds (REMEMBER CHIA PETS? CHIA SEEDS MAKE CHIA PET HAIR. NOT FOOD).

“Jeez. What the hell is this crap?” I mentally harrumphed, “I’m going to spend a fortune.”

But then I thought MAYBE the reason I’ve gained weight and feel terrible is because I have been so judgmental and closed off to embracing certain healthier foods and lifestyles. Maybe if I weren’t so wrapped up in the snarky running commentary that I have going on in my head—part Chelsea Lately, part Liz Lemon, pontificating on the idiocy of cartons of coconut water—then I would have the time and energy to actually prepare and eat wholesome, nurturing food.

I made this. It was pretty good. I don't even like squash!

I made this. It was pretty good. I don’t even like squash!

So I went to the grocery store. And guess what? My grocery bill was not any higher than it usually is. And with the money I’m saving from not eating out or racking up bar tabs, I can afford to buy some of the more “specialty” ingredients. I learned an important lesson—healthy and wholesome food does not have to be gross, boring, or expensive. You don’t have to spend three hours a day assembling the ingredients from a laundry and list, and then another three hours actually cooking.

This coconut broccoli soup took me about 15 minutes to whip up. And I was being pokey.

This coconut broccoli soup took me about 15 minutes to whip up. And I was being pokey.

I made about 20 servings of kitcheree , a richly spiced Indian mung bean stew, for roughly $15 or $20 total. My breakfasts, smoothies or brown rice porridge, are delicious and only come out to maybe $2 each. Roasted vegetables on greens, coconut broccoli soup, baked sweet potatoes…nothing has made me feel the need to sell plasma to recoup the cash.

Remember Strega Nona and her magical pasta pot? That's how I feel with my kitcheree.

Remember Strega Nona and her magical pasta pot? That’s how I feel with my kitcheree.

I realized too that the real reason that I was so judgmental and full of excuses about eating well was because deep down, I was really scared. Scared that I wouldn’t have the willpower to stick to a plan. Scared that I would be hungry and miserable, gnawing on a carrot stick when I really wanted a slice of pizza. Scared that my friends wouldn’t understand, would think that I was elitist or inaccessible if I ate a certain way.

Granted, I have a long way to go before the end of this program, and may be singing a different tune after two weeks without chocolate. But when it’s done, I hope to strike a balance between unbridled hedonism and bland asceticism. Because Lord knows I am not going to live a life without barbecue.

What are your thoughts? Have you wanted to make a lifestyle change, whether it’s a new workout regimen or sleeping more, but let your attitude and judgments about the change prevent you from actually doing it? I think this addresses a larger issue of being scared of failing, so sabotaging yourself before you even begin. But that’s another post.

 

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4 Responses to “An Attitude Adjustment”

  1. margaret October 22, 2014 at 9:51 pm #

    Georgia your article has been very eye opening. Me being a heart/diabetic I already have to watch what I eat or I should how I eat. I’m definitely going to look into some of the suggestions you have covered. I thought when I was told no salt or no sugar was the end of my world or a nice Waffle House breakfast was my undoing but you are right some of the holistic ways are better for you.

    • gschrubbe October 23, 2014 at 11:36 am #

      And it doesn’t have to be super complicated or miserable to eat well– we often think that a lifestyle change is going to be so much more painful than it actually turns out to be! Good luck, let me know how it all goes 🙂

  2. Tyler Lahti October 26, 2014 at 9:20 am #

    I stopped eating all meat but fish two months ago, and I have only told people as I’ve been cornered into it. When you order tofu at Moe’s Southwest, people have questions for you. I nebver know how people will receive this choice I’ve made. And my answers are never satisfying to them (health and sustainability reasons…a personal challenge…). But this lifestyle has me feeling better, physically and mentally. I got some reinforcement after hearing about my dad’s last doctor’s visit too. Heart disease runs in my family, and sometimes docs recommend some dietary restrictions. Best of all, I’m learning to cook several dishes that are new to my palate. Indian, Middle Eastern, and South Mediterranean foods are some of my new faves. It pretty exotic after years of Foosacklys, burgers, and pizza (and barbeque!). Good experience so far.

    • gschrubbe November 10, 2014 at 6:46 pm #

      Tyler that’s great! Come to Charleston and we can make kitcheree haha. It’s really interesting how when what you eat is out of some people’s comfort zones, they get freaked out, isn’t it?

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