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?

Food!

Heidi’s homemade donuts!

I am going to side step from my dedication to old running buddies for a minute.  The holidays are fast approaching and a lot of people seem to have food on their mind.  Well, I can relate because food is always on my mind.  I really don’t like the words “binge” and “detox.”  These words seems to be flying around.  People tend to “binge” on Thanksgiving and Christmas and then “detox” when it is all over.  I know that I really don’t like over-stuffing myself.  I have never been one to eat more than I can handle at Thanksgiving.  Maybe that is because I am quite the picky eater.  I don’t like homemade stuffing, gravy, sweet potatoes, yams, cranberry sauce or green bean casserole made with cream of mushroom soup.  I guess you can say that I actually end up eating like a bird.  However, I will admit that dessert is by far my favorite part of the holidays (but, you guessed it, I don’t like pumpkin pie).

As I was brushing my teeth last night, I considered what would happen if I had an injury that prevented me from doing any form of exercise.  I would probably become a giant blob.  Not that I am a bad eater (far from it actually when you compare me to most Americans), but I do have that awful obsession with pastries.  And even though I am usually involved in semi-healthy snacking (sesame crackers, bananas, berries, Kashi bars, nuts), I am a very frequent snacker.  Yep, I wouldn’t want to find out what happens if I stop exercising.

However, I don’t diet and I will not diet (and it did take me quite some time to accept this).  You know what?  I didn’t even “diet” to lose baby weight.  At least not “diet” in the way that most Americans do.  Why would I just eat protein without any carbs?  That makes absolutely no sense.  What in the world is up with the juice diets?  How can anyone just live on juice?  Obviously someone who doesn’t exercise.  I am on a pescatarian “diet”, but it is not one of those fad diets.  I just choose not to eat any meat besides seafood.  I also choose to eat mostly whole foods and limit the processed food.  And one good thing about not eating meat is that it limits restaurants.  There is no reason to go to a fast food restaurant now because most of the options include some type of meat.

Of course I am not a perfect eater (I think I already mentioned that).  I really, really love any type of baked good (unless it has pumpkin in it).  Chocolate is my favorite thing in the whole world.  Fortunately, processed baked goods are not very yummy when compared to the homemade version.  That makes it a bit easier to substitute a few healthier ingredients.  And it is kind of nice having a lactose-intolerant husband because that keeps my options limited.

My adversity to the words “binge” and “detox” stems from my mother.  Yes, she taught me how to be a runner, but she definitely didn’t leave behind any words of wisdom when it came to food.  I have her food/exercise journal that I often browse through.  The word “binge” seems to appear on quite a few pages.  On the other pages I notice how she limited her food intake during her many “detox” episodes. I suppose I am just trying to do the opposite of everything unhealthy that my mother did.  I am hoping to live beyond 44 years.

Sure, you might say that I will need to “diet” when I get older because my metabolism will slow.  Let me just tell you now that my metabolism is already slower because my thyroid can’t seem to get it right.  So, I will just look at you and shake my head.  How about just eating right all of the time?  I believe that doesn’t mean that you have to turn your nose up to unhealthy treats all of the time.  Just keep it all balanced.  These experts keep talking about a balanced diet.  That is a diet I think I can do.  Balance it with a bit of activity.

If you must know, I don’t count calories.  I do check my weight every now and then.  Gosh, it is almost funny to realize that I weigh less (and am a hundred times healthier) than I did back in my early twenties when I always seemed to be “dieting.”  Once again, I feel like I need to mention that I love scones, muffins, brownies, cupcakes and cookies!  After running 10 miles on a Saturday morning, I deserve a scone and latte!  I suppose I kind of base my eating on my activity for the day (or not).

Does all of this “non-dieting” make me an evil monster in the woman world?  Probably.  Oh well.  I can’t go a day just eating vegetables… sorry, I would have to say that I am weak in that area. Non-disciplined.  Non-motivated.  You definitely won’t find any inspiration from me.

Beer.  Beer is good.