Amen, Krishnamurti. This society is exactly that: profoundly sick – and in more ways than one. However, chances are that if you follow food blogs and if my last post resonated with you, then you probably fall into the camp that is making an honest effort to “be healthy,” but you’ve bought into fundamental belief structures the medical community and media have fed us about obesity and health that are simply untrue and incredibly dangerous. All that “calories in and calories out” poppycock. And that a diet – whether it’s calorie restrictive like Weight Watchers or food-type restrictive like Paleo – will combat “obesity” (Nope. The rise of dieting paralleling the rise of obesity is no coincidence, my friend). The truth is this: There are far too many myths out there parading as facts. We need Gilderoy Lockhart up in here to wipe our minds clean with his signature memory charm… ‘Cause 60 or so years of conditioning is proving seriously difficult to overwrite.
Sure, there are plenty of people who can’t afford to live on anything but fast food and maybe their bodies are not as happy as they could be. There is a great deal of literature floating around on blogs and on YouTube and in doctors’ offices pointing out the hazards of such lifestyles. Yes, I think we all know that human beings do need fresh food to really thrive. But there is nowhere near enough about the other end of the spectrum. Why are we so quick to assume that if one extreme is causing problems, the other extreme must be ideal? How did we become so drastically out of touch with balance? Most people don’t realize that there even IS another end of the spectrum that is equally unhealthy and just as big a problem. And sadly, the worst offenders are doctors and authority figures in the media because they deeply influence American society. Orthorexia is real. Eating disorders are everywhere. A good deal of the population is paralyzed with fear regarding what to eat and how to care for themselves, and it’s doing more harm than good. Ironically, dieting and overexercise more than often lead to exactly what we’re told they’ll protect us from: obesity and dysfunctional, burnt-out bodies. Being attractive by today’s standards is actually often a sign of poor health because being thinner than one’s set point means infertility, risk of sudden heart attack, damaged joints, chronic inflammation, raised cortisol, suppressed immune system, frequent colds and infections, early onset of arthritis, asthma, autoimmune diseases, and lost sex drive. When I speak of balance, I refer to a happy place between thinking food choices play no part in your state of health and thinking food choices completely determine your state of health. Neither extreme will make a person happy or whole.
In my somewhat epic last post, I questioned what qualifies as an unhealthy relationship with food, I challenged you to be the authority on you, and I told you a bit about my own treacherous journey over the last few years. What is my advice to you? Eat what makes you feel best, and be honest about that. When I determine that for myself, it sometimes very well may be organic produce. Because it tastes really good and it makes me feel really good. Other times, it very well may be the richest chocolate chip cookie I can find. Because it tastes really good and it makes me feel really good. We are not static beings. In fact, nothing in this world is static. We change constantly. And this “all or nothing” attitude towards how we nourish ourselves is extremely damaging. I know it is often really difficult to take a step back and get back in touch with what you want to eat after you’ve spent so long eating what you think you should. I say: relinquish the guilt and try your best. I believe we always know deep down when we’re lying to ourselves. If you’re having trouble deciding if you want something or not, ask yourself, “what would I choose if I were fearless?”
For me, the balance is in making sure that these food choices do not define who I am, that I don’t spend too much of my time thinking about food, that I don’t obsess or fret or fear, that my preferences are honestly based in what I enjoy, and that they remain NOTHING MORE THAN PREFERENCES. They are not rules. I have no rules. In a hazelnut shell, that is the line between healthy, happy Desi and unhealthy, sad Desi. Over the last year, I’ve been eating everything apart from the foods affected by my autoimmune intolerances: gluten and certain dairy products. Other than that, I admit I do tend to eat foods my great grandmother would recognize as food, unless I have a craving for something else. I’d have to have a non-existent learning curve to deny that this makes both my skin and taste buds happier. When I have the choice, I honor this preference simply because every time I spend money on food, I’m casting a vote. It’s a responsibility that I don’t take lightly. After all, it is votes like mine that will eventually eradicate GMOs, antibiotic and hormone usage, pesticides (all of which are damaging the environment and many believe are reliable recipes for global famine), and re-establish organic food (which ironically is what has been “conventional” food since the dawn of time) as available for even the poorest of Americans. Organic food is both a God given right for all humans and animals alike, as it is a kindness to our environment. Still, I don’t let my mere lack of enthusiasm for the alternative be a source of anxiety or fear in my life. If someone is kind enough to have me over to cook me a meal, I won’t turn it away for fear it might contain an ingredient of which I’m not a fan! Think how isolated I would be! How many doors would close! How small life would become! To me, Love is as important in the preparation and consumption of food as whether or not it is, say, GMO-free. And that love and joy that comes from partaking in a social and communal activity far outweighs the imagined benefits of eating in fear, disconnected from our brothers and sisters. The biggest difference between the current Desi and the Desi from two years ago: The choices I make regarding anything come from a place of Love rather than Fear. I don’t need people to agree with me or understand me. I feel at ease and at peace with everything as it is in this moment, although I recognize that the world can still change for the better and I plan to play my part in that. What frustrates me the most as I gush to you in this post is that I don’t know how exactly to advise you to reach this place of fearlessness and ease – whether we’re talking about your relationship with food, your health, your body, your job, your relationship, you name it. Why? It’s different for everyone and only you can honestly determine when Fear is no longer influencing your decisions.
Will my recent revolution affect The Palate Peacemaker? Yes, but not as you might think. As you know, my blog hasn’t really delved into many disordered belief systems since it consists primarily of personal anecdotes married with yummy recipes. This show will go on. However, it is going to expand. The Palate Peacemaker has been a haven for me to serve my health and my life after I was diagnosed with food intolerances. I used to believe that meant only considering my food choices. Now, I realize that flourishing health and fulfillment in life is a much more complicated recipe than I’d originally imagined. Food is a very yummy component, but too many people (myself included) have placed far too much value on diet alone. Balance and happiness in life come from caring for ourselves as a whole – not as disjointed fragments. Our emotions, our thoughts, our belief systems, fresh air, sunshine, laughter, our personal power in providing for and healing ourselves are all key players. I often feel like a pioneer in a modern city, and it is beyond empowering for me. I’ve moved away from conventional modalities of body care, mental care, and environmental care, and I feel like I have the best of both worlds: the wisdom of our ancestors plus the ever-evolving technologies of today. The Palate Peacemaker will no longer be geared to only the food-intolerant few who are desperate to make peace with their palates. Rather, it is for anyone who feels at war with their physical, emotional, psychological or spiritual palates in any way whatsoever. This blog is about Peace: finding it, harnessing it, growing with it, spreading it in every way possible.
I’ll leave you now just as I found you, with this:
“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”-Jiddu Krishnamurti
If you’re aiming to be well adjusted to this profoundly sick society, then this blog is not the place for you. If I lose you as a reader, no hard feelings. I wish you peace. For those of you still here, I will continue creating in the kitchen and sharing those creations with all of you, in addition to everything else I have learned about health and happiness in my life. I am so grateful and excited to connect with you.