real food diet

I say the word diet very loosely - diet, as in we all have a diet of whatever it is we consume to nurture our bodies everyday, just to keep us ticking along. I eat what I want. But, I'm not very big. Some people might say I'm small, but I'm certainly far from teency -- indeed it does depend what country or city you're in, and to whom or to what standard I'm being compared. And while I do exercise, sometimes a lot, I can no longer bring myself to actually think of a diet, as in the forbidden word, dieting. I seem to have found a formula that works - exercise only because I like it, and more importantly, when I want to - and then to eat only real food, and whatever I find tastes really, really darn good, and I don't worry too much about the portion, just that I am full, and fully content. Now, when I think about it, it probably sounds a little strange. What is real food anyways? If a carrot is real food, then is carrot juice fake? In a way - yes, if it came from a bottle, and not from your juicer. It seems the more I learn about cooking, and the traditional diets cultures have developed worldwide, the more I find that there is very little which people have traditionally consumed which is refined or processed much more than a washing, or a pressing. Some foods are aged, such as wine and cheese, or meats. Other foods are eaten raw, or dried before being sold. But it's not real complicated. Except that these foods often require...actual cooking and this singular fact terrifies and intimidates seemingly a vast majority of the North American population. Things really only get complicated upon entering into a modern gigantic supermarket, then things get tricky. In traveling, I have been into grocery stores with very few items actually resembling the bounty of a harvest or a beautiful cut of meat. Sometimes it seems that everyone is terrified of food resembling what it actually is! There are no pigs feet or snouts, but several brands of hot dogs. A locally prepared sausage is one thing, but a hot dog is designed to do exactly that; not resemble it's whereabouts one bit. This is a sad state. Suddenly, it seems that real food can be extremely hard to find. Try finding bulghur. Aisle 1, or aisle 28? I love a good challenge, but let's be realistic, this can be seemingly impossible. Even though bulghur is perfectly good for you, has lots of fiber, and cooks pretty quickly, finding it can be like searching for truffles in Antarctica, when you should be in Italy. The problem then must be the marketability of the name; it just doesn't have the right ring to it. That must be it. Nor does the package (if you can find it) have a cartoon character, a distinctive logo, or an exuberant theme song. If I wanted breakfast cereal, this would be an entirely different matter. But to me, these are not anything resembling real food most of the time. There are hundreds upon thousands of cereals all with incomprehensible multi-syllabic ingredient lists, and mushed up grains coated with sugar. Do I really need more omega 3's, protein, and vitamins added to my breakfast? Shouldn't the foods I eat, already have these nutrients, if these nutrients are good for me, and really a necessity? Instead of purchasing fad-foods with lots of stuff added into it, I try to eat the stuff with good things in it, that don't have to be added in because it has been already stripped of all nutrition. And interestingly, more and more, I've been finding that I can eat the elusive, whatever I want, as long as well, it came from real stuff. I eat a lot of butter. Not on purpose; it just happens. I generally enjoy cookies made from scratch with butter, eggs, and sugar, much more than purchased sandwich-style cookies or rolled pastries. To me, homemade, or purchased items that have ingredients I can easily understand and pronounce, just tend to taste better. Organic tomatoes can be like candy, and positively addicting. Quality eggs give pasta a beautiful golden hue. But even better than that, these kinds of foods seem to keep my palate satiated, and my clothes from getting too tight. I think even a bit of calories of probably burned just cooking, baking, and cleaning, because that is what is necessary to eat real stuff. In theory, I could probably be smaller with fewer fat calories in my yogurt (6% fat), or ice cream (no clue, but I make it with 35% heavy cream), or even my cappuccino's which Jeff expertly prepares using homogenized milk. But would my hair be as shiny? Would I have as few wrinkles? But seriously, in all honesty, would I be as happy? If I have a choice between a filet mignon, and a rib-eye, you can bet I will pick the rib-eye. No question. It has glorious flavour, and gorgeous fat. Who needs botox when it keeps those lips from dwindling? OK, and add in few curves here and there. But just a few of course, hopefully in the right places! I certainly can't resist my Baba's (Ukrainian for Grandmother) perogies, and I shouldn't have to. They are made with love, and a tradition of the family. To deny that, is to deny a part of oneself. Sure, I'm not walking down a couture runway anytime soon, but this is a diet that works. My size hardly changes, and I do eat quite a bit. But really, I look a lot better with some food in me; meat on my bones from meat, fruits, vegetables, bread, fat and sugar included, they are just a part of really eating, and for me, really living.


Tom Aarons said...

Hi Gail. I heard the idea a while ago that the way to deal with supermarkets is to browse the edges, because that's where the real food mostly is. And it's true. Fruit, veg, bread, meat - most often, its around the edges of the store! Hope it helps with the diet!

gail said...

Yes, that's exactly it! I just find it rather peculiar that cereal, canned pasta sauces, frozen pastry dough even count as "food". Edible yes, enjoyable - potentially - but hazardous for our health in mass quantities.

gail said...

Essentially, still eating desserts, and rich foods too - but eliminating prepared junk (usually with extra calories, but not calories of quality that add to any real flavour. ie. eating homemade chocolate mousse, but not pudding from a box, if you catch my drift :) Then it's not a diet, just what I eat (so a diet nontheless)- changing the terrible connotation of the word.

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

Amen Gail!

It took me a lot of years to come to that decision. Life is ment to be enjoyed!

(I remind myself of that as I am pedaling at the gym!)

PeaceKeeper said...

God love ya Gail! You're are an inspiration to underfed, over processed, unhappy people everywhere. My "diet" is much the same now....well, maybe not the part where I'm OK with sugar;) I really enjoy your writing and your passion.

gail said...

peacekeeper - thank you for the kind words! I couldn't agree more about the sugar controversy, since there is absolutely nothing nutritional about it, but it just makes baked goods work so much better.

I do like to experiment with other sweeteners including honey, maple syrup, but they aren't exactly any better for us either (minimally perhaps). I do like using stevia for certain things; it works especially well when used in conjunction with sugar, but it depends on the use of course. But in the end, I figure baking with sugar is better than purchasing a cake or cookies with sugar + several additional additives, and unusual fats.

Mr. Rosewater said...

Gail - Couldn't have said it better myself. It is hard to understand people convinced of a fad diet when the answer is much, much simpler than that. Eat good food with good ingredients, ingredients you can pronounce, exercise, maybe not religiously but certainly regularly, and consume in moderation. You may not get those extra curves by eating a ribeye, but you will get them from eating a ribeye every night of the week.

I love to indulge in homemade treats myself, from madelines to cheescakes, made with good ingredients that can be traced back to an actual cow or goat or bird or plant.

The scourge of the American waistline is not calories or carbs or fat content, but from overprocessed foodstuffs that have very little relation to the plant or animal they originally came from. Oh, and we are pretty damn lazy, too.

Thanks for the great post!

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