For many of us (both with and without eating disorders) learning to be conscious of what exactly we’re eating can really be helpful in switching to a new, healthy lifestyle. I know that for me, the more I understand the actual ingredients in processed foods, the less appeal they hold for me. Seriously, when a food item’s ingredients have ingredients, you’re treading into some scary (and often deceptive) territory.
“Natural Ingredients” does not actually mean that the contents are “natural” in the sense which you or I would like to believe that they are. The umbrella term “natural” also encompasses things like Genetically Modified Organisms, fluid from animal’s anal sacs, and also many other really unhealthy and unethically obtained items.
A good rule of thumb is that if some of the ingredients in the food item which you are about to purchase are A). Not actually food items, but are instead, chemical compounds, or B). listed under umbrella terms such as “natural and artificial flavours, colours, or ingredients”, someone is trying to pull the wool over your eyes, and that item is best left on the shelf of the store. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t (or even that I don’t) ever eat these sort of foods, but I am suggesting that when doing so we be fully aware of the fact that what we are consuming is not actually food.
In my opinion, food should be made up of things found in nature which have encountered very little processing or alteration by human hands. Most of the food which I keep in my home as staples have 3 or fewer ingredients, and it’s reassuring to know that these sort of foods would have fed my ancestors without them thinking something strange was going on.
Way back in January I was shocked by the ingredients on a package of two bite brownies at a convenience store. They had no fewer than FIFTY ingredients, whereas the ones I make from scratch at home contain maybe six. Seriously, this is the sort of bizarre laboratory produced food that your average person is eating these days! Most people are more afraid that a whole wheat pita will make them fat than they are concerned that the majority of the food they eat on a daily basis has been developed in a science laboratory, with many individual ingredients that they would never dream of adding to a recipe at home.
I find that focusing on eating foods which are ACTUALLY found in nature, are nourishing and nutrient dense, really helps balance my cravings, keeps my energy levels high, and generally helps remind me that as humans we are intrinsically connected with all life, and that the more alive our food choices are, the more alive our lives will be. This has helped me so much in not obsessing over the size of my body, or how many calories I eat.
It’s so much more fun to eat and live to fuel vibrancy, than it is to be constantly obsessed with how many calories I eat. Connected and aware eating is a huge part of my spiritual journey, and disconnected eating really is one of the last barriers which I have placed in my own path. I over-came drug and alcohol abuse in the 1990s, I overcame nicotine addiction in the early 2000s and I am almost done with this whole battle I’ve had going with food since I was a small child. I deserve to be vibrant, awake and healthy, and I am becoming so.