I found myself standing in the supermarket checkout lane surrounded by candy of every kind. It felt strange at first considering these were varieties I haven’t regularly seen for the past two years. It is amazing how taking note of this tiny experience in my day sent my mind on a journey, evaluating how I’ve changed.
What surprised me about this situation above was that I didn’t want any of the candy. Not even a tiny craving emerged. Why? Well, because I automatically evaluated what it was made of – industrialized, processed ingredients.
Two years ago as when I began my journey to eat fewer processed foods I didn’t have those candies often, but it was for much different reasons. At that time they didn’t represent processed ingredients, they represented calories and fat which my brain automatically equated to weight gain.
This way of looking at these items, of course, didn’t make me want them any less. I just knew I couldn’t have them. I wasn’t giving them up willfully. They were considered off limits. That kind of thinking left me feeling deprived.
Last week in that checkout lane, I didn’t feel deprived at all. I simply didn’t want those processed, industrialized foods in my body.
Let’s be clear, though. I’m not saying I don’t ever, or won’t ever, eat candy (or some of the other foods I plan to mention later). I’m just experiencing a completely different healthy eating perspective which is leading to happier eating and fewer feelings of desiring something I can’t have.
I have new reasons not to want it and it has nothing to do with weight gain or outward appearances. It is almost overwhelming how freeing this perspective feels to me. I no longer feel like I’m denying myself.
And this isn’t just about candy. I feel the same way about almost every aisle in the center of the grocery store. My basket doesn’t turn down the cracker and cookie aisle and the only reason it finds its way to the cereal aisle is to get oatmeal. Is there even a soda aisle anymore? I tend to blow right by it.
The important part is that I’m not purposely doing this. It is happening naturally because of my goals to eat fewer industrialized foods and to know the source of what goes into our mouths. I don’t feel like I’m avoiding a temptation like I used to.
Even though I’m still eating for health, it is a much different force that is driving me. It is true health, not just avoidance of gaining weight, aspiring to lose it, or even reducing risk of a chronic disease. It also goes beyond health. Environment, animal welfare and economics all come into play in my choices these days.
I feel like we ate well in Brazil in terms of health, yet everything was completely new and meals always led to some sort of discovery. I was concerned how it would be when we returned to the US and I fell back into familiar patterns of shopping and cooking. My biggest fear was returning to bad habits that I’ve discovered and identified through all my personal research the past two years.
Part of me is in disbelief of just how easy shopping for food and making choices have been since we returned. When you eat simple, natural foods shopping is a lot less stressful experience. There is no internal struggle of I want this, but I shouldn’t have it. I don’t buy it because it doesn’t align with my beliefs and values, plain and simple. The choices I’m making are for a different reason and that seems to make all the difference.
Have you made any recent healthy changes which ended up being a lot easier than you were expecting?
Photos of rice grains and rice terraces (view from our bungalow) in Ubud-Bali, Indonesia.
Lori Rice is a freelance writer, recipe developer, food photographer and nutritional scientist. Fake Food Free is a creative outlet that allows her to connect with people from around the world who share a love of travel, food culture and cooking.