I’ve never been one to go on a “health kick.” I used to hold the impression that people who ate only organic, all-natural foods free of genetically modified organisms genuinely thought that high fructose corn syrup was nasty stuff killing our insides. I thought the all-natural idea was too exaggerated. Did it really make people that much healthier?
I especially didn’t find this organic idea appealing because I really enjoy my favorite foods, like red velvet cupcakes from the Chocolate Moose and fried mozzarella sticks from a small drive-in back home in Indiana.
But about six weeks ago, I was required to drastically change my diet, per my doctor’s orders. I have an extensive list of 26 foods that I can’t even think about eating, ranging from wheat to citrus and from oats to coffee.
So those cupcakes and cheese sticks aren’t an option anymore. Neither are Starbucks stops on Sunday mornings or a pint of Ben and Jerry’s after a long day.
But instead of pouting about the no-cupcake rule, I figured I might as well fully embrace the healthful side of life.
In my six weeks of experience, I discovered a few things about so-called “health nuts,” who really aren’t so nutty after all.
No. 1: It’s about knowing what’s good for you.
True health-conscious eaters don’t eat a specific diet because they feel like denying themselves of all enjoyable food. It’s usually because they have discovered what’s good for or harmful to their own bodies.
Some people can eat all the Red Robin fries they want. Others just can’t. So a person who decides to forego the fries and eat all-natural isn’t on a healthier-than-thou kick. They may just want to take care of themselves.
No. 2: It’s about research.
If a particular food is harmful to you, you need to know if it’s in the food you eat.
I’m now one of those pro food label readers who will pick up item after item from store shelves, searching for a product with just the right ingredients.
And some of those ingredients can be sneaky, like dextrose, maltodextrin or citric acid. People who have certain intolerances have to do their research about those easy-to-miss ingredients.
No. 3: It’s about being adventurous.
Admittedly, my desperate search for comfort food eventually turned into an adventuresome attitude. Like the time I really missed freshly baked cookies and tried vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, non-GMO chocolate chip cookie dough. But it actually did the trick. Now I’m willing to try just about anything.
For lunch, sometimes I’ll drink a raw vegan rice protein shake that is free of gluten, solvents, GMOs, radiation and artificial flavors, preservatives or colors. Does a bacon cheeseburger even begin to compare to that?
So maybe it seems like those health store shoppers eat some wacky things. But perhaps they are experiencing more of the foods the world has to offer, foods like quinoa, dried dates or freshly ground almond butter.
By turning my restrictions into an opportunity for a more healthful lifestyle, I guess I’ve joined ranks with those nuts of health, if you will.
And even though I could really go for a Cook-Out milkshake, I’ll just stick with my Soy Dream “frozen dessert” that The Collegian staff makes fun of me for eating. It’s better for me anyway, and the teasing gives me an excuse to play my healthier-than-thou card — but just this once.