"God showed me something small, no bigger than a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand… and it was round as a ball. I looked at it with the eye of my understanding and thought: 'What can this be?' And it was generally answered thus: 'It is all that was made.' It was so small I thought it might disappear, but I was answered... everything has being through the love of God." --Julian of Norwich

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Food and Me #3: Catching up

I should pick up where I left off.  I apologize for the delay.  I left you just at the point where I returned from my study abroad.  Up until that point in my life I think I had ascribed to a pretty common belief:  food is just fuel.  I didn't spend too much time preparing, thinking about, or eating my food.  Basically, I only ate because I had to in order to go and do the other things that I valued more like reading, studying, hanging out with friends, etc.  But after I had lived abroad, suddenly I began to realize how wonderful simple foods could taste.  So I tried to recreate a few of the recipes that my señora had cooked regularly, like that wonderful fresh salad, a saffron chicken dish, eating fruit for dessert, and so on.  I even began making my own baguettes (rather ambitious for a girl who mostly baked blueberry muffins from a box).  In my senior year of college, I found cooking and baking to be important work.  It kept my feet on the ground and gave me something physical to do while I worked on pretty abstract studies in English Literary Theory.

As I moved to New York, between my first years of teaching, my budding romance with Clint, and long commutes, I didn't have a lot of time for my food.  I began shopping regularly at Whole Foods, but often that just meant that I was buying Amy's Organic frozen dinners or pizzas.  McDonald's has a brilliant, but sinister plan in New York: they put their restaurants right by the subway stops.  Way too often I would stop by for a quick bite on my way home, when I was too tired to think much about food.  I went through various food fads/fasts, weaning myself off of coffee (which I had become addicted to in Spain), giving up refined sugars for Lent a few years.  I knew that I felt better when I avoided these things, and I began to notice how things like High Fructose Corn Syrup are in a lot of things that you wouldn't guess, like sandwich bread.  But ultimately my self control wouldn't last and I'd be back to eating these foods again.

Perhaps the biggest major change I made in these years was trying to cut out a lot of the "whites" in my diet (white rice, white flour, white potatoes, granulated sugar) and change them for "browns" (brown rice, whole wheat flour, sweet potatoes, raw sugars).  A friend had bravely emailed me that she noticed my skin was breaking out a lot (which it was), and she had the same problem years ago.  Through exercise, change in diet and visits to a dermatologist, she had improved her skin a lot.  I was game to try it.  But it isn't a change that happens overnight.  At first whole grain foods seem bulky and dry in comparison, but after a little while, you begin to crave them and the "white" foods seem pasty and unfilling.

This basic diet continued to grow as Clint and I got married and came here to Regent.  As a full time student, I was a different kind of busy, and I was able to spend more time on cooking and finding good recipes.  Both Clint and I were really happy with the progress we had made, but there was one catch.  After five years of progress toward a better diet, I was still having migraine headaches, and if anything they were getting worse.  They lasted longer and longer (up to four days, once or twice a month) and were more debilitating.  I was willing to do anything to get them to stop...

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