Back when I still worked at Ye Olde Office Job, my tiny Finance Team had an ongoing joke about the answer to any question always being no. All three of us were/are abnormally nice people who tended to be overly accommodating of the needs of others, but in secret, when we were sure nobody else was listening, we used to practice bellowing with authority: The answer is no!
Need a spreadsheet made? The answer is no!
Donation amounts need to be tallied and reported at the next staff meeting? The answer is no!
Can we please mail out the charitable tax receipts by the end of the day? The answer is no!
Is it possible to– NO! The answer is no!
(Yeah, I know it’s not very funny, but to our simple accounting department sensibilities, the idea of being Make Believe Jerks to our coworkers never got old.)
Well. It’s been a year and a half since I left my day job, but I’m finding that dirty, two-letter ‘n-o’ word creeping back into my daily existence again, especially when it comes to food. My awareness of this sneaky phenomenon peaked when I read Kathy’s recent post, 50 and Fat– or 50 and Fit? (Weighing in on Mid-Life) and again when I encountered a brief aside about “Kimberly [Snyder] disapproving of cashews” in this post from Housewifing Around. Kathy spoke of her mother basing many of their conversations on foods that she either could not or would not eat, and something about that wagging-finger, “disapproving of cashews” comment burrowed its way into the rotten core of my soul and annoyed me enough to start writing this post. 😉 Is food really the enemy? Do I need to start being a real jerk to sustenance?
Most Foods: The Answer is No?
I’m sure we’ve all encountered “revolutionary” eating plans before that promise amazing results but demonize major nutrients. There are low-fat diets, low-carb crazes, no-carb devotees, detox programs that require abstinence from tropical fruits, fermented foods, flours, refined sugars, and even mushrooms– the list is truly endless. I’ll guiltily confess that my youngest sister and I once spent two weeks fearing the sweet wrath of carrots, potatoes, and tomatoes on the advice of one fad diet book, and I’ve also gone for several months before, honestly convinced that one of the worst foods I could ever eat was a banana. For real. Obviously, a diet based on cupcakes and diet sodas is going to take you nowhere fast, but I’m highly suspicious now of any so-called “healthy” program that demands its followers to deprive themselves of fruits or vegetables. Apricots are not the devil in disguise, am I right or am I right? (Unless you have a serious apricot allergy, in which case, they probably are the devil in a squishy orange disguise.)
I started on the Beauty Detox Solution last year-ish, very much in love with the whole concept. (This again? Yes!) For once, I didn’t have to find vegetarian substitutes for the “lean chicken breast” recipes in Food Book #1, and for once, I didn’t have to omit cheese or milk from any recipes, either. (All of Kimberly’s recipes are vegan.) I didn’t have to worry about finding an acceptable stand-in for “cashew cream” desserts or soups– because, as you just discovered, Kimberly “disapproves” of cashews due to the high possibility of them containing toxic moulds. (Have I ever told you how allergic I am to cashews?) And finally, finally, I didn’t have a dietician or nutritionist recommending pounds upon pounds of tofu or soy to satisfy the vegetarian contingent of readers. (Seriously. Soy will not save the world. A girl can only pound back so much edamame before her very bowels transform into long tofu dogs. Go on: Ask me how I know this.)
The Beauty Detox Solution seemed to offer a seamless, well-researched solution to all of the questions I’ve ever had about what I eat. I didn’t need to consume 10 pounds of lentils every day after all! Low fat yogurt was not a requirement– huzzah! The BDS spokesperson was an impossibly beautiful woman with a blindingly large, genuine smile, and I gravitated easily to the idea of prioritizing whole foods and becoming the best person I could possibly be! In retrospect, this was the honeymoon phase. I was practically giddy with love!
Kimberly makes a lot of recommendations in her book. True, most of them are small and simple steps that can be incorporated over time to achieve optimal health, but if you were to make a list of everything she suggests to do in her book (which I did– don’t judge), it ends up being a pretty lengthy list. (Then you go and read her blog and find out you also need to install shower head filters, buy organic eco-mattresses for the best, most planet-friendly sleep, and possibly even stop touching money. After all, it’s disgustingly dirty and contaminated. The answer is no, my friend!)
Originally, the super geek in me (the one who loves to make spreadsheets and cross items off To Do Lists) was pumped to tackle each of these recommendations, one by one, until I emerged from the process as a Radiant Goddess of Gastro-Intestinal Perfection!
(Aside: I should try to rustle up one of my earlier fertility charts so you can see just how OCD I am about graphs. I recorded everything I possibly could about my body every day– temperature, heart rate, secretions, cervical position, dreams, bowel movements, glasses of water consumed, mood, moon phase, etc.– and then color-coded it all. A RAINBOW OF FERTILITY! The Gigantic List of Things to Do with the Beauty Detox Solution was right up my alley.)
Gradually, though, my love for the Beauty Detox Solution began to fade. I lost the spark. I no longer felt the good vibes. I just wanted to be done with food combinations and excited about eating spontaneously again. I was tired of being the person who needed to schedule 1-hour blocks of time before and after eating an apple, and don’t even get me started on eating out at restaurants. Me: Can you believe they put both pecans AND avocado on this salad? Clearly, they haven’t read The Beauty Detox Solution and don’t realize you shouldn’t put two fats together in one meal. And wait– is that extra virgin olive oil in the dressing? A third added, albeit healthy, fat? Don’t tell me that’s balsamic vinegar, too– crikey!
“NO!” was beginning to permeate every aspect of my life. Can I please have a cup of warm water with lemon juice right before breakfast (and not 30-45 minutes before)? Is it possible to put flax seeds on my oatmeal instead of on my salads? What if I feel like peanut butter on a cardboard-esque Wasa cracker? Are the omelet sandwiches I made on marble rye bread acceptable? THE ANSWER IS NO!!!!! Like a rice racist, I seriously considered tossing the (white) sushi rice in our cupboard before the thrift-conscious side of me won that particular battle. Penny pincher vs. white rice finger pointer-atter. Any food with a dates-base was suspect, and I often found myself spouting the words “But Kimberly says…” like a knee-jerk reaction to anything that contradicted her Beauty Detox bible.
Enough of that. I don’t care what the gorgeous lady says: this girl’s gotta give.
I’ve decided that, for me, simple is truly better. I need to relax! Dried figs aren’t going to kill me! After reading The China Study book, I’ve found my newest touchstone when it comes to food:
“Eating should be an enjoyable and worry-free experience, and shouldn’t rely on deprivation… The recommendations coming from the published literature are so simple that I can state them in one sentence: eat a whole foods, plant-based diet, while minimizing the consumption of refined foods, added salt and added fats.” (p. 242, emphasis added)
So much easier, yes? Even looking at these words makes me breath a huge sigh of relief! It’s kind of painful for me to admit this (because I’m abnormally nice and don’t enjoy disappointing people), but maybe the principles of the Beauty Detox Solution aren’t as clear-cut fabulous as I first thought they were, at least for me. (Disclaimer: many/most of the principles still are great, but I’m no longer trying to combine them all into one and achieve super-humanness.) Maybe I can go on without eating meat or dairy but not feel so bad if I’m not regularly consuming raw sauerkraut, too. Maybe it’s okay for me to enjoy some non-sprouted breads every now and then or to put two types of seeds on my salads. (Such a rebel!) I should be able to enjoy hummus without hearing the words “beans are Mother Nature’s “oops!”” (because they naturally combine proteins with starches) echoing in my brain. Heck, I might even dip crackers into hummus and not fret that I’m messing up the sacrosanct food combinations even more. Whoa. Can you feel my diet rebellion picking up speed?
Maybe I’m weak, maybe I’m stubborn, maybe I’ve failed at Shimmering Goddess Lessons, or maybe I’m just cranky, but I’m sick and tired of organizing such a huge part of my life– eating– around the word ‘no’. I’d much rather say YES! to whole foods, YES! to fresh fruits and vegetables, and YES! to foods in their unrefined, minimally processed states. That’s it! No need to break things down into a million sub-rules or minor clauses. Just eat clean food. Period.
What do you say?
Are there certain “diet rules” that really chap your ass?
Are you consumed by “following the rules” or “sticking to” a particular eating program?
Are you a serial wagon-falling-offer like I am, at least when it comes to food plans?
Are you one of those mystical beings who seriously only eats food for fuel and never gets caught up in emotional eating? (And if so, can you be my guru?)
PS: Lest you think that I’m just going on a rant to somehow justify a lack of weight loss or a general state of unhealthiness, the last time I checked, I was halfway back down to my pre-harbour weight. Yes: I’m ten pounds lighter than I was in December, and I’ve done this by embracing the KISS motto: Keep it simple, silly. 🙂