I have been reading In Defense of Food for one of my classes and while I haven’t loved reading it quite as much as The Omnivore’s Dilemma, the third section of the book really hit me where it hurts. Namely by pointing out the importance of what we put into our body, something I tend to overlook. On the grand scale of “all things eating” I think of myself as having a pretty good diet. I eat a lot of fruit, I eat pretty lean meats and not too often, and aside from eating Chinese food too often I’d say I have a pretty balanced diet. Or at least I thought this until I started feeling generally crappy all the time and then by coincidence started reading this book. I went to the doctor last week for a complete physical and to get a shit-load of blood work done after about 9 months weird health symptoms. During my appointment he made me go over my typical diet for a day and week. Honestly it was embarrassing. Upon recounting I felt stupid and guilty for my food habits and wished my mom was around to scold me. He pointed out that with what I eat there is no way I’m getting enough calcium or vitamin D (which you need in order for calcium to be absorbed). He told me my body mass index is low and that I am underweight. On that point I argued him, I’m a small person, but at 5’ 2” and between 98 and 100lbs I consider myself a fine weight for my body and the doctor agreed. But then I got on the scale and I didn’t weigh 99lbs, I weighed 94lbs which is 100% most definitely underweight. But I eat so much, I thought to myself. No, actually, I don’t. I eat 1500calories worth of food at brunch and then I don’t eat again until 8pm. I drink a “green drink” from the juice place down the street instead of eating lunch because I fool myself into thinking it’s the same as eating a big salad. It’s not. It’s mostly water, and then the small amount of nutrients the juicer leaves behind. So while I’m not eating a lot of processed foods or fast food, I’m still not eating well. Even today I think back on what I have eaten; a bagel with cream cheese, a green juice, a banana, a small amount of yogurt, and 3 quarters of a salad from Chop’t. In 12 hours that’s it. I think I’m eating well because aside from the bagel and cream cheese this is all healthy stuff, but realistically this isn’t enough food to sustain me, nor is this providing the right about of vitamins and nutrients I need to feel healthy. Also, right now I’m kind of dizzy and just feel generally bad.
I need to eat better and I need to eat more. The best I’ve felt all year was when I was in Paris. I sat down to three meals a day and ate a wide variety of food. Sure, I gained a few pounds, but I’d rather be one size larger pants size and not feel like I need to go back to sleep all day long. I don’t like to cook for myself, but I am willing to spend more money on food to ensure I’m eating well. Most importantly from reading In Defense of Food and experiencing my prolonged feeling of poor health I realized how lucky I was to be raised in a household where good, whole food was provided and almost always cooked for me. I didn’t eat crap growing up and I always felt good. I have promised myself that when I have children I will not only learn to cook, but will provide good, whole food meals, where we all sit down and eat, together. Health is the most important thing we can have and, at the risk of sounding like a crazy foodie hippie, we compromise it by eating poorly. What we put into our body food-wise is one of the few things we can control when it comes to health. I can’t control how much hazardous material I inhale by living in New York City and I can’t control bad radiation to my body from my cell phone, because I’m not about to give that up. But I can control what I eat. I realized in the past year that feeling bad does not feel good, so now I’m going to eat better and keep my fingers crossed that all the blood work comes back normal.