Food Mysteries

At least alligators don't have to worry about what to eat... they just grab whatever slithers by...

At least alligators don’t have to worry about what to eat… they just grab whatever slithers by…

Food is just a mystery to me.  I can’t seem to figure it out.  I came from a meat and potatoes family and it was almost funny that I turned the tables and refused to eat certain foods that I was raised with.  At first my family just made fun of me and then they started making me BBQ chicken when the entrée was pot roast or beef ribs.  They didn’t raise their eyebrows any more if I opted to only have the salad or passed on the bacon.  It was obvious that my tastes were changing.  Not only my tastes, but also my views on food.

I pretty much always knew that fast food was a fast way to heart disease.  Yet, that thought never stopped me from consuming crap during my twenties.  Hey, it was fast, easy and very tasty.  My three pregnancies were an excuse to eat whatever and whenever until I finally started to realize that my unborn baby was eating exactly what I was eating.  Yeah, that might have screwed them up a bit, but I somehow ended up with a child who isn’t a fan of french fries (totally not my response to fries), two that absolutely love seaweed (not my favorite delicacy) and one that loves baked goods (okay, she might have gotten that from me).  As parents, I suppose we still have a chance once they come out of the womb.  They obviously see what we eat and eat what we feed them.  It is up to us to do the right thing.

Just over one year ago I decided to cut out all poultry, beef, pork, lamb, buffalo, kangaroo, ox, snake and deer (okay, so maybe I never even tried half of that…but it is true that I have tried kangaroo).  What I am trying to say is that I sort of became a vegetarian, but I can’t really say I am a true vegetarian because I still eat seafood.  If I try to tell someone that I am a “pescatarian” they just give me a strange look and say that they never heard of that religion.  Seafood is a mystery to me.  I love my omega-3s (my healthy fish fat) and I trust that the Mediterraneans know what is going on.  I also somehow believe that my mom’s family has roots in the Mediterranean region.  And you know what?  I love me some seared ahi and couldn’t commit to giving it up.  Plus I figured that this is MY diet so I can eat whatever the hell I want.

That’s why I can say that sometimes I feel like being a vegan.  I know I am not a vegan in the definition that vegans have for vegans, but remember that this is MY diet so I can take a little bit of veganism if I want (just like I took a little bit of vegetarianism).  Maybe I could just call it pescavegarian.  I tend to bake things that are dairy-free because my husband is lactose intolerant.  That means that I buy tofu sour cream to make that chocolate cake or use almond milk mixed with vinegar to add a bit of “buttermilk.”  Then there is that little known fact that I often order soy lattes and drink almond milk in my cereal.  I choose to eat the soy or coconut milk yogurt.  I thought I was doing the right thing for my health.  It didn’t seem like too much of a mystery.

Then the matter of soy came to light.  Soy has become a new mystery.  And darn it, I like soy lattes better than non-fat lattes.  I tend to include tofu on our weekly menu at least 2 times a week.  Those soy beans are pretty darn good too.  Then I recently became diagnosed with hypothyroidism.  I learned that certain foods (including soy) may have a negative impact on thyroid function.  Of course soy is a discussion of debate, but there is no point risking additional thyroid issues with overconsumption.

This is MY diet and I will do what I see fit for my body regardless of what anyone else says.  I am pretty darn open-minded, so I often do my own research and then decide what will work for me.  And I don’t need to label it vegetarianism, veganism, paleoism, or whatever other terms mainstream society is using these days.  I will just call it the “Heidi diet” and I am set.  This “Heidi diet” is always in a state of flux because I am constantly learning new things about food.  Some of these new ideas only make food more mysterious, but sometimes it does make sense (like avoiding McDonald’s at all costs).

Did I mention that when you include fitness into the mix that there is an entirely new mystery to be resolved?  It is called what to eat while on the run.  Um, I am talking literally here.  How many calories to consume before a run, during a run and after a run.   I have to figure out what will keep me satisfied and what won’t cause tummy troubles.  They tell you to eat sugar, but then you wonder if you will go into a diabetic coma from eating so much sugar.  Make sure you are getting those electrolytes too!  Sometimes I get it right and I feel great.  Other times I slam into a wall (not literally) and feel like I am a sputtering engine trying to chug up the street at super slow speed.

Fortunately my family doesn’t mind my compulsive need to solve these food mysteries.  They try the chocolate mousse made with tofu (even my meat-loving father was impressed) and aren’t taken aback when my daughter asks my stepmom with surprise:  “you have never had tofu before??”  My husband just goes with the flow and tries everything I put on his plate, while my daughters aren’t always so laid back.  Yet, we encourage them to try and then move on from there.  Eventually I hit a home run (for some reason my baking experiments seem to have more success).  It is definitely a learning process and new mysteries are often sparked by new ideas.  I don’t know if I will ever get it right, but what exactly is right?


2 thoughts on “Food Mysteries

  1. Lexie says:

    Hi Heidi! First off – congrats on your half ironman! One word: AMAZING! I also wanted to comment about this post. I know exactly how you feel. Food is certainly a mystery to me as well and I often struggle trying to figure out what’s the “right” thing to eat to fuel my body for longterm health and for the activities I do (just did a 50K hike a few weeks ago and carried about 20lbs. of food b/c I didn’t know what would be provided at the support stations). Of course, as you know, I follow the guidelines veganism, but even within that there is wide range of mysteries (whole foods, junk food, raw, gourmet, low-fat, high-carb, juicing, smoothies…the list goes on). Like you, I am most concerned with my health, but also with what gets me through the next workout. I have been listening to the Rich Roll podcast (he’s a vegan ultra-endurance athlete) and watching videos from Tim VanOrden (a raw vegan ultra runner). They are both a wealth of knowledge (in terms of nutrition and fitness) and I’ve been able to try out some of their tips: organic baby food pouches instead of gels on long runs, beet juice to help increase muscle power and recovery, combine HIIT and core training, etc. Please keep me (us) posted as to what you find works and doesn’t work on your journey, mysteries and all!

    • I am slowing starting to figure things out in regards to how to eat during endurance activities. I have been using Hammer fuels because they focus on complex carbs. However, some of their stuff does contain soy and/or milk. I finally started making my own vegan energy bars that actually work very well with my stomach (just not easy to eat during activity). I have to test one new thing at a time and see how my body reacts. Thanks for the tips! I do remember reading an article about the vegan ultramarathoners (I think it was in Runner’s World). It is great that so many people are talking about it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s