When Did This Road Smooth Out?

Yo, dear reader, it’s getting near the eight year mark of my beginning this journey, so I figured I’d ramble on way too long, alienate my audience by sheer boredom and maybe, just maybe, make a few interesting observations. I’ve told my story countless times, I’ve talked pain, time and time again, lord knows there’s enough pain in my past to pad out countless posts. That’s not why I’m here today, let the past stay the past for now. Instead I’m realising that things have really settled down. I’m at a stage where I’m now finding my healthy lifestyle more natural than what came before. It’s not to say that it isn’t difficult, but the more I push forward, the more of the old me I slough off, the less there is to hold me back. I still have my problems, too numerous and personal to spill all over this post, but I’m doing well. I feel now that I’m further away in life from what I was than the time I spent living those days. If that makes sense then bless your heart, dear reader, you’re a better me than me. To put it more coherently I’d say it’d be harder to get back to where I was than to stay where I am now.

Rub, sauce, stuffing, side.

I really think that the tipping point has been the abdominoplasty. I was held in a kind of limbo, closer to a hell, and when I finally reached that goal it gave me a push ahead, I couldn’t go on without it. It’s funny how we always feel these life changing events should greatly change a person. It’s the fantasy, or fallacy, dear reader, that people are binary, there are flawed and then suddenly perfect. A switch is flipped and you have a story to tell. I blame a lot on reality television, there are probably other reasons we assume this kind of simplistic sequence in regards emotional epochs, but I see my journey mirrored on these shows and it’s a mockery of reality, but people consume it and enjoy the simplistic empathy. Bitter? Sure, heh, but this has always been my journey, shared with whom I want, as much or as little as I see fit. It’s just the further in I have travelled the better able I am to decide how much to share and how much to hold back. It’s like this, dear reader: You think you know everything, then you realise you don’t, you peel away a layer and reveal a truth, you then have a choice: To cover it back up and deny or move forward with it as a truth, finding more and more layers. Life is complex, simple and just a mess of contradictions and confusion. Just keep scrapping at those layers, you can learn a lot from persistence. And listen, when people talk, not just what they say but why.

Rice, Fries, Tahini (With Turmeric), Jerk (Not you).

So, back to food, this is occasionally a food blog, If I can borrow a metaphor then in-regards food I’ve been layering. I started knowing nothing, but over the years I’ve  added to my understanding greatly. I’m not going to be a chef or some great foodie, dear reader, but I have kept my weight off, improved my health greatly and just generally learned more in eight years than I did in twenty two. I just kept poking at those layers, what foods could do, how they could be used, never settling on just one point. Never: This food cures that. Then repeating that endlessly. I’m flexible, I can laugh at a food in one breath and then use it in the next. I’ve had to learn from the bottom, I really knew nothing before I started eating healthy. I didn’t even know what eating healthy meant! Many people don’t, not really, they find what works for them and assume it’s universal. It’s why I’d never say to eat exactly as I do, all I offer is a guideline, this worked for me and maybe you can find something within it to help you. I think that’s vastly more helpful then insisting you adhere to my diet strictly.

I suppose I’ve managed to take the one aspect that has always haunted me, being the odd kid, and turned it into a strength. I’ve no need to rigidly follow rules that I’ve laid out because no one else has to follow them. I didn’t say I followed a diet plan and then lose face when I fail. I just went with broad strokes and did more than most would bother. I’ve started with foods I’d never eaten, used, heard of and made them mine. It’s taken a long time. The garden has helped greatly, a greater appreciation of where food comes from, and not in that general “organic” way we hear too often, an obsession with a label means you limit yourself. If organic vegetables cost too much for you to eat them regularly, then why not just eat cheap vegetables? You’re still eating vegetables and fruit, maybe they’re not perfect, but they’re still better than not having it. Cost is always a factor in these things, some people just can’t afford to eat organic everything and they can feel they’re failing if they buy other vegetables. I avoided that trap, dear reader, and I’m better for it. Buy the best when you can. If you can’t then second best is better than nothing.

I think the biggest benefit of vegetables is the bulk, no not  that kind of bulk!…although…, you can get so much vegetables cheap these days. A shop near me offers a selection that changes twice weekly, a few cents and you can stock up on so much goodness. Learning to prepare and store them is vital, but that’ll come in time. Start with vegetables and fruit, use them, read up on them, pair them with other foods, make all that you can make of them and you’ll make more of yourself in the process. I will say that if you struggle with eating vegetables then reduce your sugar intake, no need to be martyr, but the less sugar I ate the easier it was to eat vegetables. It happens to babies, right? They taste sugar and suddenly they want no part of that puree.  And, no, I’m not a sugar hater, if anything I love the stuff, I just hate how it makes me feel, so don’t mistake this as an easy thing for me to do.

I think you’ll probably face the idea that you need to be great at cooking food to eat a varied diet. You need to be able to match flavours and pair ingredients, right? That helps, sure, but I can’t do that consistently. I’ll often just jam a few different recipes together and eat whatever comes together. You’ll find what tastes suit you and which will keep you eating well and with ease. I have a spice rack that has been mixed and matched so many ways, many successful, some decent and some terrible, but I still couldn’t take a pinch of this and that make a make a meal that transcends home cooking. It’s not in me, but in using spices and herbs, nuts and seeds and so much else I’m giving myself a variegated fuel to run on. I’ll toss tahini with citrus and salt onto a spiced chicken breast, add a side and dump some sauce over it. It fills me, sustains me, keeps me healthy and well balanced, but that doesn’t mean it’s something I’d serve to someone else, but that’s the thing, dear reader, I’m not feeding anyone else and I’m not eating just to enjoy the food. So the more layers, again with the layers, what am I? An onion!?, I can add that are healthy and beneficial, as opposed to delicious and buttery, though that occasionally has a place, the better I am. The great thing about spices, herbs and simple sauces is that they won’t add anything problematic to your meals. Adding cheese or butter in vast quantities would be detrimental to any meal, but tahini? It’s great. I’d much rather eat too much broccoli than eat a small meal of fats and carbs that’d leave me unsatisfied. Many people look at what I eat in shock, but, see I understand what I’m eating. Quantity isn’t universally valuable. The greatest lesson I was taught was that a full stomach of vegetables would be the equivalent of a quarter stomach of fried chicken. You’d lose all the good of the vegetables, and sill need more to fill you. It takes time, but once you start you have all the time in the world. Just don’t go backwards!

Stuffing, again, I have a lot, Gravy with Redcurrant and Red Onion, Quinoa.

So, yeah, that’s my little ramble, dear reader, perhaps there’s been some worth in there for you, I hope so. The more I settle in life, the less there is to draw up for conversation. Hopeful I’ll always have something to talk about here, though. Okay, I’ll see you again soon.

P.S I could try to shoehorn this into the finished post, but we both know that that causes further incoherence and I’ve reached my incoherence quota for today. One thing I do want to further elaborate on is portion sizes. I think there’s a huge misunderstanding of how much, or little as is assumed, you should eat. Don’t think like that, but instead look at what you’re putting into yourself. Do you cover your vegetables in excessive oil? Cheese? Creamy sauces? Then that’s no good, learning to eat things as plainly as possible is best. I used to eat like that, big meals filled with empty calories, but even now my plate is full. Filled with good food. I’m not eating a diner that leaves me hungry because that doesn’t benefit me as I’ll compensate with food throughout the day that may not be as healthy. Just fill your plates with a mixture of foods, the rainbow rule is good here, as unprocessed and basic as possible. Look at what you’re taking in in every ingredient, not just the whole, but the component parts. A gravy is fine, right? Is it just fat and starch? Can it be made healthier is a good question to ask, instead of cutting down replace. I’ve lived the rule that for every bad thing I take out of my diet there’ll be two good things added. I just want to see the myth of starvation die out. I had to cut my calories, a lot, but I was grossly over-weight and coupled with that I was eating crap. Not just in meals, but in between, because I looked at the end result of what I was eating, a curry was just a curry, not seen as the components that made it up: Processed starches, flours, oils etc, that makes a huge difference. It’s why I’ve scattered my meals throughout this post. You can eat plenty and be healthy and happy, you just have to be smart and I really believe if you’re willing to start then you can’t be stupid. Okay now I’m done.