How To Have A Positive Relationship With Food

Just eat your vegetables, people.

In my office, I keep a list of all the things I eat every day. It’s a giant fat book I’m supposed to turn pages through each time I eat. I am a huge fan of my favorite food, beans. On paper, it seemed like a simple thing to take note of, but I quickly discovered that each time I opened the door and moved into a new room, a different list was drawn up and in it, I found more names of food I should not have eaten. On top of that, I noticed a huge red circle next to the name “beans.” That’s the one for food the government deems “dangerous,” so to speak. I started looking into whether “boring” beans might be on that list, just below the beans I’d eaten every day for weeks, but no, it got no bigger. What kind of food is actually dangerous, anyway? A lot of people ask about protein, but I rarely get that question. I find the word “balanced” to be quite interesting. How about that word? It’s one I don’t see a lot of people talk about these days. It suggests a level of health rather than weight, and, of course, it doesn’t have the “weight” part to it.

Some people talk about “protein” as being in the vein of a diet that’s based around eggs, milk, or some kind of animal product. That sounds about right to me, but of these three, it makes sense that I’d be most attracted to animal products. What is protein supposed to do, though? I remember the first thought that kept running through my head: “Oh, that’s what it does for us.  It makes our muscles grow!” It’s not that I’m a meat hater.  I eat meat and vegetables (all plant-based). This is how I became a vegan a year or so ago, when I felt a bit hungrier for animal products and discovered that the ingredients in veggie burgers really don’t mean anything. This isn’t a vegan blog, however, so instead, a bit of meat has been added to the story here. I don’t think I had a lot of time to spend thinking about meat before I started blogging–I spent a significant portion of the week either sleeping, surfing the Internet, or taking care of business. It doesn’t make sense, to me, to spend a significant amount of my time in a healthy relationship with food as if eating it was anything other than about taking care of my body as best I could. This is what food does for me. It sustains and heals it. Every day I get a breakfast of white beans and oatmeal (I like to call them “soy scramble,” because they are just so freaking good) and eat it again after lunch. My lunch? Two eggs and a sweet potato. No, really. Lunch is almost identical to dinner. The only change is that I’ll usually have a light dinner of quinoa, mushrooms, a bit of roasted tomato, some green veggie juice, a glass of wine, and an apple. At night, this is where I finish everything for the day to make sure I didn’t eat anything that day. My body can only handle so much sugar, and I never eat more than 1/2 cup of sugar per meal, so I don’t consume excessive amounts, but I certainly need to check my intake once in a while, just to make sure I don’t become dangerously unhealthy, like what happened to myself for years in a relationship with sugar (see also:  “the man eating the sugar.”) I get a big glass of wine with dinner all the time and then, I usually have my tea and one or two cookies, along with a few bites of protein-enhanced food, which usually ends up being some plant-based meat.

It’s all been well and good during my long-running marriage to an Atkins diet, but what’s going to happen during our time apart?

It all started out so innocent. I’d gotten through a long semester of medical school without having to go into labor, and was spending time with my friends at the University of Iowa.