Digging up roots, hunting animals, picking berries, and raiding bee hives – eons ago the choice of food used to be obvious and was molded by the immediate environment. Those who lived in the arctic climates, for instance, fished and ate a lot of whale fat.
That’s right. Before we humans could write and pronounce the word “vegetarian” we were eating well in an enormous range of climates. And we did it without drive-throughs and air-conditioned restaurants.
Now days, we use different skills as we stalk through grocery stores to find the best food for ourselves. (Hint: it doesn’t come in hard-to-open packaging. That is not what teeth were made for.)
Do meals really have to have several paper or plastic wrappers and serving dishes, each with its own little lid? Does food really need to be greased up with poly-unsaturated oils masquerading as healthy? Is it necessary for foodstuffs to have a shelf life of years? Can a well-rounded meal be satisfying without a large, sweetened beverage? I’m just asking.
I hope starting afresh is appealing. It makes sense to replace all the old fast food blunders to reveal a new healthy, energetic, and pain free human under the rubble. The implementation of the better nutrition will provide the best raw materials and fuel for us, and the healing of our wounded bodies and brains will follow, naturally.
But how do we do it? How do we start anew? Or, as I often hear, “What the hell do I eat?! I had the same question when I was confronted with a list of foods to avoid. I could look at a list of recommended foods but somehow it doesn’t quite translate into a plate that can take the place of what I was eating before.
Now I’ve learned my way around this way of eating bad and sketchy food and I’ll share a few of my hacks with you here.
Instead of chucking our favorite foods out the proverbial window (a recent invention in human evolution, by the way), there is a way to introduce sanity and erase the guilt that has recently been associated with satisfying and tasty food. I think this reasonable approach will make food decisions simpler while avoiding food boredom. (See, I caught you. You were thinking ‘boring” weren’t you?)
For myself, avoiding constant headaches was all it took for me to dump gluten. I can assure you it wasn’t will power, and it wasn’t the gluten-free hype (which was low-key at that time). It was simply avoidance of nasty and distracting symptoms that couldn’t be ignored.
With reflection, I realized that I had been eating to just survive from one meal or snack to the next. Beyond providing the obvious essential vitamins, I had not explored the importance of eating with purpose or plan. And little did I know how, once these principles worked their way into my day, how simple healing food could be.
I’ve never been a perfectionist kind of person, so it is easy for me to veer off track. I needed to make decisions simple to insure avoiding symptoms and healing old damage. I was also trying to avoid the inevitable complications that would arises when old customary habits got me into trouble. Not only my diet, but my method of food choice needed to be reorganized.
That’s how I came up with this method of the food carousel or mix and match. This little trick can easily become the obvious plan for your personal program. So simple you will wonder how you overlooked it.
It came to me that when we look at a project, the way to digest it is with interchangeable packets much like Legos.
Here’s how it works: make a list of the foods you like, the foods that give you a good feeling. You will come up with your own categories. Mine are “Sauces/Spices”, “Meats”, “Eggs”, “Vegetables”, “Tidbits”, and “Refreshing”
You are going to take apart the customary and traditional foods and write down all the components. For instance, if you love Italian meatball sandwiches, write down
Italian flavored tomato (marinara) sauce
Grated Parmesan cheese
Each of these components go onto a card. Remove the card from the stack if you don't or can't eat it. If you don’t handle cheese well, don’t keep that card. If you also don’t handle gluten well, leave out the bun card. Now you will have 2 items.
Italian flavored tomato sauce
Then you realize your favorite Italian sandwich place always serves this sandwich with a little side of lettuce and vinaigrette dressing. But you prefer a creamy dressing and more vegetables on your salad. So, write down:
Lettuce and veggie salad
So, if this is all you have at this early stage, you already have a meal.
But you may be thinking, I’m not going to get full on this because there is no bun and no cheese. I know they don’t agree with me, but it doesn’t leave me with enough food for a meal.
Here’s my answer: Eat enough of what you like and tolerate. Instead of 3 meatballs, have 5 or 6. Instead of a small salad, have a big one. And add a lot of the creamy dressing you like. It will be nutritious because it will be made with the avocado mayonnaise you’ve bought or made yourself. Avocado and olive oil in your salad dressing will provide your mitochondria engines with correct fats to turn into energy. And up the flavor with fresh basil leaves and thyme.
Your new meal includes:
Several meatballs (warning, meatballs typically contain bits of bread. If you are sensitive, leave out the bread and add an extra egg to help hold it together).
Lots of marinara sauce, make your own or seek out a brand that doesn’t include a sweetener (Glen Muir has one).
A hardy salad with your favorite veggies (and olives, if you like)
Plenty of your favorite creamy dressing.
The components are portable, each in their own containers and when you serve yourself at lunch, you have a very fresh and tasty midday meal.
And this sample example is just the beginning. When making the meatballs, make lots of them, freeze them or repurpose them. Get creative. I recommend playing with your food (in spite of what your parents told you). List all the components of your favorite meals and see how creatively you can recombine them.
Put meatballs on a plate with pickles and mustard or some of your creamy Italian dressing directly on the plate with the meatballs. Mix it up.
Remember you can take items from one traditional combination and mix it with another. For instance, mix marinara sauce with ground meat and spices to make a sloppy Joe, or a meatloaf. Why not?