For a Different Reason

November 18, 2009

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.

This post has been submitted for Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade.

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  • Erica November 18, 2009 at 9:41 am

    Love this post- thank you for putting it up. I feel exactly the same way. Its so funny because my husband is still a fan of a few more processed foods, so I do hit those aisles, but none of it is for me! When he is on work travel, I stay completely on the outside aisles (with the exception of oatmeal and nuts/beans) and it always makes me smile. My body loves this clean eating!

  • Michelle @ Find Your Balance November 18, 2009 at 10:03 am

    I am surprised at how I no longer crave junk. Usually. It’s been a long and slow road but as my body is cleaner, it just likes to stay that way!

  • sangeeta November 18, 2009 at 10:19 am’s this way, first your mind decides what to choose then your body becomes so used to the good stuff that it refuses the ‘other stuff’…..
    i feel so much at peace with myself when i practice what i think is right…regarding food choices.

  • cathy November 18, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Great post! We have, of course, really revamped our diet in the last year and a half, and it was indeed much easier than expected. I still crave sugar – I have a major sweet tooth – but not necessarily the gloppy, overly-processed form of sugar that you find on the candy aisle. We haven’t totally given up processed foods, but we do limit our consumption of them. It’s changed the way I view my food and the way I taste things.

    Still evolving here, but going in the right direction!

  • Daily Spud November 18, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    You know, I think that I am perhaps arriving at a similar place. It is an evolving process for sure but I do gravitate more to natural / minimally processed products now.

    One big change in the past year, for example, was switching back to buying whole milk instead of low-fat / slimline / nutrients-removed-and-then-added-back-in milk. I now baulk at buying anything that has a low-fat (or similar) label splashed across it. Nina Planck’s Real Food book was, I think, as real eye-opener in that respect.

  • Lori November 18, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    Erica – Thanks! It is amazing how good it makes you feel. It’s taken me a while to get here, but I’m enjoying every minute of it. 🙂

    Michelle – It really surprises me too. I definitely think slow is the way to go so you can witness the changes.

    sangeeta – It does provide a more peaceful feeling. I enjoy that part of it so much.

    cathy – I guess I should say my sweet tooth is still alive and well. Ha, ha! Like you said it is just a different choice of sweet now. I am still in the evolving process as well.

    Daily Spud – I just finished the book and couldn’t agree more. It was really a turning point for me. We are moving up the fat ladder with milk, no more skim and I’m way over anyone who tries to mess with the fat in my cheese. Ha, ha! The thought makes me cringe. 🙂

  • Emily November 19, 2009 at 6:03 am

    That’s interesting that the motivation of why you’re avoiding something has such an effect on whether or not you even want it. Congrats on sticking to your new food values!

  • kat November 19, 2009 at 7:33 am

    We really have found ourselves shopping only the outside of the grocery store too. It seemed like it would be a hard challenge to get away from so many thing but really just doing it over time has made it easier

  • oysterCulture November 19, 2009 at 9:29 am

    We’re totally into minimally processed foods now some by accident, and some deliberate and its amazing how your tastes change – we do not drink sodas and they taste so incredibly strong now. Burger King and McD’s we refuse to go to and its funny, I used to crave a burger and fries from there every so often – no more!

  • Tangled Noodle November 19, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    Well said! What I love about your posts and approach to healthy eating is the absence of preaching – you offer yourself as an example of someone who has come to a state of mindfulness about your food choices, but I never feel like you’re ‘telling’ me to eat this way or that.

    I’ve also found a natural progression in the way I choose what to cook and eat, and it has indeed meant a turn away from heavily processed foods. That’s not to say it’s been completely banished but I’d like to think that I’ve found a happy balance in my food choices that work for me (and for my husband).

    Thank you for helping us along the way with your great insight (and, of course, delicious recipes!)

  • 5 Star Foodie November 20, 2009 at 6:41 am

    We’ve learned to ignore the candy, and now even my daughter only wants to go to the organic section to pick her favorite breakfast foods and healthy snacks.

  • Lori November 20, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    Emily – I was surprised too. I guess maybe I place more value on my new decisions than simply getting to or maintaining a certain wait.

    kat – Yeah, I think that is the key, time. It really is a work in progress.

    OysterCulture – Yes! We are the same way. We gave up sodas while in Brazil and McDs and BK are no longer options either. If I’m going to have a burger it has to be a tasty restaurant style with fresh, natural ingredients. 🙂

    TN – Thanks so much for your kind words. That makes me feel so great because that is my goal. Everyone is on their own journey. I think it is all about what is right for you at the moment, although I still feel strongly about what I believe. You just can’t expect everyone to be at the same place as you are at the moment. That’s just how I look at it, I guess. So glad I can help in some way!

    5 Star – That’s great! Kids would definitely present a whole new set of challenges. She (and you) should be proud! 🙂