Sunday, November 10, 2013
Wow, what a hot heavy topic. The U.S. diet industry is worth 60 billion dollars, so I realize that I'm not going to be making any informational breakthroughs here. To be honest, I'm not even sure HOW to approach the topic of food, other than by stating that I think it's interesting that the word "diet" has two different meanings:
1. as a verb, to restrict oneself to small amounts or special kinds of food in order to lose weight
2. As a noun, the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats
I would like to focus on the latter, as the more I learn about the simplification of choices, the more I realize that habits and structure play a significant role.
There are so many choices to make when it comes to food. I would argue that what you put in your mouth is one of the most difficult choices you make in your life. Just how many books, articles, magazines do you think there are out there, solely dedicated to the topics of food, nutrition and the "best" foods to eat? The fact that it is a societal norm to have to make that decision at minimum three times per day, means the most difficult decision making of your life, is made at least three times a day! Talk about stressful!
When I was in a grocery store in the U.S., I remember marvelling at a whole aisle dedicated to sauces and dressings. There were so many variations of mustard, and pesto and Italian salad dressing... I absolutely loved it! But, it was also extremely unnecessary. I remember in my first year of university I had a roommate who ate Cheerios every morning for breakfast, a grilled veggie, cheese and meat sandwich for lunch and salad with some kind of meat for dinner. She would also buy a six pack of muffins from Safeway every week, freeze them, and eat one a day for a snack. Without fail, these were her meals for the week. Being an individuals who adores change and variety, I thought this was simply depressing. Looking back however, I can see how this sort of schedule worked for her, as she was quite the 'Type A' personality and with her scheduled meals, came her 7am daily workout and scheduled evening homework time etc.. and she excelled with all her activities! I took on more of an "I do what I want when I want" kind of approach and therefore often missed workouts and only did homework when it was necessary. Hm, what is this telling me?
I think simplifying my meals might be something worth looking into, or perhaps even eating the same thing for a few days in a row (gasp!)... I NEVER do this! So, maybe it could be a good idea? Streamlining the options could be a start, but how about streamlining the ingredients, too? I have always really enjoyed learning about nutrition and micronutrients and for a period of about 5 years, on and off, I was a vegetarian. I dipped into veganism for about a month straight, and then on and off, but it has always been a lifestyle that I've been interested in transitioning into permanently. Veganism does not necessarily have to be simple though which I think is a common misunderstanding. In fact, items such as Oreos and Famous Amos cookies both have vegan ingredient lists, yet I wouldn't consider the contents "simple". Therefore the diet I suppose I am searching for is "plant-based", which indicates exactly that; items from the plants that make up the majority of your diet. One step further, even, would be eating only raw plant-based foods to get rid of the cooking process altogether.
Obviously, the concept of simplifying food choices is multi tiered, starting with reducing the amount of overall meal choices to only eating raw, whole foods. Here is a great article written by a true minimalist, Joshua Fields Millburn, on his take on diet, which I think is pretty awesome. The concept of eating food solely for the purpose of fuel is something to consider, compared with a stereotypical European outlook, where food is important for social gatherings and is often the focal point.