I have a complicated relationship with food. And the more I learn about food, the more complicated the relationship gets. Back when I knew nothing, I ate whatever I wanted, had pretty bad mood swings, and never really felt right. Over the last two years, I've been learning more about food -- what's in it, what it does once it's in my body, where it comes from. This is thanks in large part to a friend and a book she lent me.
However, I assure you, the more you learn about the Standard American Diet (SAD, for short), the more frustrated you will become. That's if you care, I guess. Some people I talk to don't care. That's frustrating as well.
All this is an intro to the story of what happened to me this last Saturday morning. And it's probably good that I've had a few days to digest it (haha... so to speak). The husband and I were invited to a birthday breakfast for a family member. The scene -- a local restaurant with all the standard breakfast fare. Now, I had been thinking on and off for a week about what I should order at this breakfast. I love breakfast foods, so I was excited. However, I also knew approximately what all was on the menu, so I was also having trouble thinking of something I could both eat and enjoy.
I'm not allergic to any foods, per se. However, choices on the menu involve many of the following, all of which I try to avoid if possible:
*white flour (toast, pancakes, biscuits)
*nitrates and nitrites (bacon, sausage)
*sugar/corn syrup (pancake syrup, jellies)
*MSG (gravy, sausage)
*hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (margarine, hash browns, and probably anything cooked on the griddle)
However, since it was a special occasion, and I am not perfect, I had decided ahead of time to have French toast, bacon, and an egg -- if the restaurant had peanut butter and honey for me to put on the toast. (I wasn't about to put the pancake syrup on my French toast -- pancake syrup is mostly corn syrup with some artificial maple flavoring. I've never been to a restaurant that offers real maple syrup.)
So, before ordering, I asked the waitress if they had peanut butter and honey. She assured me they did, so I ordered, thinking, "Oh, won't this be tasty! And so much protein!" Well, unfortunately, after I had ordered, but before my food came, the waitress returned with little packs of peanut butter (made with hydrogenated oils, but I was mentally prepared for that), and several packets of this:
What. The. Hell. You serve your customers "honey sauce" when they ask for honey. Seriously?
So when my food arrived, I spread my French toast with peanut butter and sprinkled a little table sugar on it. That's how much I hate corn syrup. Here is the sweetener hierarchy I carry around in my head (ranked best to worst):
White sugar/brown sugar/powdered sugar
So then, foiled by a cheap, inconsiderate restaurant supply manager, and helped along by my pregnancy hormones, I fell into a deep funk. At the birthday breakfast. Great.
However, to be perfectly honest, this funk comes upon me pretty much any time I eat with this set of family members. They eat the SAD to a tee -- so much so that I have a hard time finding things to eat when I'm at their house. This makes me sad, because I like them, and I like spending time with them, but so often that time involves food I can't/won't eat. It also makes me sad because I want them to live long lives, filled with happiness and a sense of well-being. And that simply cannot be achieved on the SAD. Even if they don't contract any of the major American diseases (heart disease, diabetes, cancer), they will be forever plagued with weight problems, fatigue, mood swings, digestive problems, chronic colds/allergies, and so many other problems. I see these problems eliminated in my own life when I take charge of my eating habits and don't just let the SAD happen to me.
(I know this is long. If I had written it on Saturday, however, it would be approximately the same length, but all angry rant. Consider yourselves spared.)
If you've read this post and are interested in learning more, here are some good places to start:
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig
A blog that explains the basics