How You Are What You Eat

Today’s Lesson: When you’re feeling yucky and low energy and like you have control over nothing in your life, you can always control what and how you eat. I used to think this also extended to working out but I’ve learned, through multiple bouts of debilitating back pain, that just isn’t always the case.

But back to food :), a favorite topic of mine.

About three weeks ago I checked out Nina Planck’s well-researched book, Real Food: What To Eat And Why and boy! What a good read! I cannot recommend this book enough! It really changed my perception on food: real food is food that nourishes your life; industrial food is food (GMOs, full of dangerous pesticides and fertilizers, grown unsustainably, etc.) that is bad for the planet and for our bodies.

Even though I always knew this, I’ve always felt guilty that I eat meat, knowing the impact of that industry and the poor quality and nutritional value of meat and dairy products once they hit my table. Also probably thanks in part to occasional supercilious comments from friend and family vegetarians whom I happen to love.

One thing I particularly like about Planck’s work is that she illustrates the importance of meat and dairy products in meeting our nutritional needs but draws a clear line between sustainably and industrially raised animal foods.

This is exactly what the industrial cattle ranches near me look like.

Sustainably raised animals live happy lives on green pastures where they can roam about and daydream (I may be anthropomorphizing on that last point but I’m pretty sure they do). As Michael Pollan once said on Oprah, these animals “live happy lives and have one bad day.”

Now, I know the blogosphere is wild-crazy with critiques of this quote, of Pollan himself and of everything to do with Oprah and what she eats but guess what? I just don’t agree with those critiques – even the ones voiced with civility. I believe what he says is true. Having grown up near and toured industrial egg and cattle farms, I can tell you that those animals are NOT leading happy lives and that if they are indeed daydreaming, they are dreaming about being pastured cattle and chickens. I would be all for eating meatless to prevent them from having to go through the horrors they face in those facilities.

But, and here’s the but…we have the opportunity to buy pastured meat and dairy products from local farmers who are happy to have their customers stop by anytime and check out the clean facilities and happy animals. I don’t feel guilty about eating products that come from these places. I pay more and it’s worth every dollar.

I truly believe these pastured cows are happy. Plus, their nutritional value is much higher than their industrial counterparts. Says something, doesn't it? As the adage goes, we are what they eat.

The nutritional value from these animals is much, much higher, especially in their content of healthy Omega 3 fats and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) – the nutrient essential for reducing body fat. This makes sense, no? I don’t know about you, but the times in my life when I ate a meatless diet I was certainly “fuller” and didn’t feel as good/lean/energetic/happy. I know everyone’s experience is different and this is mine. I recently discovered that it is also that of my favorite workout guru, BodyRocker Zuzana (something she discusses in this post).

I get it now…my ancestors (think thousands of years back) ate meat, among other foods. I’m designed to eat a huge variety of foods and I’m done feeling guilty about it. I am doing so responsibly and occasionally (I don’t eat meat every day).

Thus, I FREE myself from feeling guilty over my chosen diet.

I don’t believe anyone should be made to feel guilty over what they choose to eat if their choices are made thoughtfully. We have brains and should use them. Of course, Planck might add here that a brain fed with a diet rich in Omega 3 fats from pastured animal foods might think a little more efficiently. 😉

More on me getting back to me to come.

Have you been feeling like yourself lately?

Photo credits: 1. We Heart It; 2.; 3. David Kretzmann; 4.; 5. Gillespie Show Cattle; 6. We Heart It
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4 Responses to How You Are What You Eat

  1. Mom says:

    You go girl!!!

  2. Maren says:

    I need to look into getting my hands on this book. I don’t like feeling guilty for my diet. I was vegetarian for a little over a year but was sick all the time! It was one thing after another. As soon as I started eating meat again I was healthy. Not even a cold since switching almost 6 months ago. I don’t think vegetarianism is a bad diet, other than being sick I felt great. But something wasn’t good for my body. I need the meat.

    • Teresa says:

      It really is a great book. I totally understand where you’re coming from with the whole vegetarianism thing…so didn’t work for me either. Maybe you’ve found the same thing…that even though many friends/colleagues/family may be vegetarians, there are a lot of people who’ve given it their best shot and just didn’t do well with it. I’m so tired of feeling ashamed to admit that, like it’s some sort of weakness or something. It’s not my choice, it’s my body’s. My husband’s, too. He developed more and more migraines without lean meat. I really think it’s about finding reputable sources for your animal products and using them sparingly. We do the whole Meatless Mondays thing and eat meatless a lot of the rest of the time, too (for example, yesterday). I’m really glad to hear you’re feeling better. That’s so important. Chase health!

  3. Pingback: Dinner So Gross | Teresa Tastes & Travels

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