Tonight I re-read my post introducing the concept of Radventures and realized it has been eight months to the day since I wrote it. I haven’t talked about this very much in the time since, so I figure I’m overdue for an update!
It was really interesting to go back and read what was going through my head when I wrote that I was essentially becoming “raw-curious;” I’d been enjoying Gena’s blog for a few months and did a bunch of reading on the subject via other sources as well. For those of you who have found me in the meantime (welcome, by the way!) and have no idea what I mean by “Radventure,” here is an excerpt from the post in question:
…I've been giving a lot of thought to different dietary lifestyles lately, raw foodism in particular. …At the same time, I couldn't fathom how to reconcile that with my current lifestyle and preferences. Above all, I hate the thought of poisoning my body with what I choose to eat, or even the skin products I use. I only get one body and I'd better treat it right so that it doesn't crap out early!
…I think it's safe to start with this notable quotable from Michael Pollan, which I'm sure you have come across before: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."
That said, no one's diet is perfect, and yes, food is nutrition and fuel, but it is also a cultural source of enjoyment. Ultimately, my way of eating has to keep me both healthy and happy, so in the spirit of adventure, I've decided to embark on what I'll call Radventures. The R stands for raw, because that is the eating style that is currently most foreign to me and therefore peaking my interest, but whatever it is I try doesn't have to be raw to qualify as a Radventure. Anything I can do to clean up my eating habits, no matter how miniscule, is rad, after all.
And clean up I did! I systematically purged my kitchen cabinets and fridge of foods and products that didn’t meet with my new (and VERY high) standards. Not wanting to waste food, I just ate away at it, replacing each lesser food with a greater one as I went. Naturally, processed foods were out, as were frozen meals (even frozen vegetables), things with added sugar or salt and even canned goods.
I shopped first and foremost at the farmer’s market, going to Whole Foods or health food stores only for things that couldn’t be bought directly from Old MacDonald himself (most of which was organic, too). Whenever I tried a new recipe, I would adapt it so that it met with my clean eating ideals: if I was cooking with high heat, I used coconut oil instead of olive (which was expensive, high quality cold-pressed and reserved for raw dishes only); if the recipe called for canned tomatoes or beans, I bought fresh tomatoes and/or boiled my own beans.
And then, all of a sudden, it wasn’t summer anymore. The farmer’s market dwindled to the point where my options consisted of apples, jam and cheese. Furthermore, the colder it got, the less I wanted to be out there digging through what was available to me! Combined with testing for the Happy Herbivore cookbook (wherein I need to follow Lindsay’s still-very-healthy vegan recipes exactly, of course), I was forced to relax my over-zealous clean eating ambitions.
That said, even with my current “relaxed” approach to diet and overall health, a lot of my Radventure of a makeover has stuck.
See, even when I wrote that initial post, I knew myself well enough to realize I couldn’t make it an overnight thing, nor could I hold myself to it in an all-or-nothing way. That is where I have been most successful.
Then: On the flip side of this quasi-project, if I find that I'm using the Radventures to a control-freaky or restrictive end, a rethink is in order, because this isn't what raw eating is about. If it's going to make me depressed to think of life without pizza and ice cream, heretofore some of my favorite things, then pizza and ice cream I shall have. Ideally, the more Radventures I embark upon, the less I will want that pizza and ice cream. For now, however, it's baby steps. Toes in the water, not cannonballs… Best case scenario, I'll enjoy the changes I feel in my body so much that I want to build upon them and I will cast nary a glance backward at my old ways.
Now: I can’t say that I feel so very different now as compared to eight months ago, but I am definitely more in tune with how certain foods affect me. I’m not lactose-intolerant, but yeah, cow dairy gives me gas sometimes. Large doses of processed soy sit my stomach forever, whereas bananas are but a distant memory a mere 30 minutes after consumption.
My biggest habit change was to eat raw until lunch, a pattern I have maintained five days a week ever since. On the weekends, when I have time to get fancy, I’ll have oats or pancakes or similar, but during the work week, it’s green juice and fruit until lunch, along with a weak coffee doctored with hemp milk and stevia (as opposed to my former skim milk and Sweet ‘n’ Low coffee cocktail), just for sanity’s sake. Actually, just in the last week, I have replaced half of breakfast’s fruit with a small salad of mixed greens and dulse, plus a cup of miso broth. I’m loving the change and so is my body. I don’t tend to eat much fermented food otherwise, and I think my, ahem, system is appreciating its effects. The toilet, on the other hand, is likely getting tired of my fairly frequent visits.
Do I still enjoy the aforementioned pizza and ice cream? Yes. And regularly. Do I depend on a meal like that to make me feel like I’m having something truly fun to eat?
The foods I look forward to are no longer mutually exclusive of the foods that look forward to me. It’s not a black and white situation; it’s more like a Venn diagram wherein the overlapped center consists of foods I love and are good for me.
I’m still taking those baby steps—there are still plenty of days where I’m eating from outside the diagram’s center—but man, do those baby steps add up. It’s true: if you keep putting one
food foot in front of the other, it may not seem like you’re getting anywhere, but before you know it you look back and you’ve walked a mile.
Most importantly, I’ve learned what works for me (not anyone else, excellent example though s/he may be), and that’s a pretty rad venture.
If you’re still with me after all this ruminating on healthy choices, you’re a major trooper (but thank you, I appreciate it). I could go on and on, but I think I’ll put a cork in it and turn it over to you now.
How do you feel about “clean eating?” Or rather, what does it mean to you, if anything? How do you reconcile what your body needs vs. what you “want” but is “unhealthy”?
--> SUB-QUESTION FOR BLOGGERS: Has food/health blog-reading affected how you think about your own choices, for better or worse? Care to share any interesting revelations regarding your own choices/habits?