I’m really healthy.
I’m on that gluten-free, that green juice, that apple cider vinegar shit. My squat game is proper. My yoga practice is on point.
I’m as healthy as can be – except for one thing. I’m a food faddist.
Thefreedictionary.com defines a food faddist as “a person who adheres briefly to different diets,” often with a missionary-like zeal. A food faddist might isolate herself from friends who “don’t support” her lifestyle or, alternatively, try to convince said friends that they, too, should live off carrot greens and lemon juice. This is why “faddist” and “fascist” sound so much alike.
In regards to my own food faddism, it’s taken years to realize that maybe what I’ve always considered to be a concern for my personal health and well-being is simply a deep desire to come off as someone who has her shit together more than you.
Maybe that’s a lot to put down so early in a post featured in this frothy blog of mine. So here’s a list!
Food Fads I’ve at One Time Called “The Only Way to Live:”
I embraced the big V for political reasons but gave it up because it was messing with my health. I used to get nauseous just looking at meat; now I can easily shove morals aside and tear into a steak (or a duck, head, lamb, baby animal, etc). My point here is that vegetarianism has a reputation for being very healthy, and it is for a lot of people. But for me, I mostly felt gassy and very, very cold. For six years.
2. The Paleo Diet
The Paleo Diet postulates that humans should only eat the food available to humans during the Paleolithic age. Despite advances in technology and civilization, our physical bodies – especially our digestive systems – haven’t evolved much since the invention of fire. So to achieve optimum health and wellness, we should feed our bodies the food it was consuming during the Paleolithic era. This means reducing processed foods, grains, dairy, and refined sugars, and ignoring that most cavemen died before age 35.
The Paleo diet advocates for a lot of clean meat and organic vegetables, the closest approximation to the un-manipulated, non-GMO diets of our ancestors. Who, apparently, also had access to coconut flour, stevia, chia seeds, agar flakes, and something called kudzu.
This diet has done incredible things for people. I am not one of them. I recognize that this is mainly because when I ate paleo I was still a vegetarian. As a result, I spent my stint as a cavelady making a “paleo pancake” I found on Pinterest, wherein one mashes together one banana and one egg and cooks it on the stovetop. It’s not exactly a staple crop.
this was not me
3. Juice/Smoothie Fasting
Flashback to Winter 2012. I am speeding in my car, gnawing on my fingernails, cursing, spinning with hunger. I’m racing home to plop a bag of frozen cherries and six kale fronds into the blender. Though the heat in my Honda Accord is turned up to the max, I am shivering.
I keep at it for three days before I say fuck it. I had been promised a glowing, brand-new body, cleaner than holy water and hotter than the cast of True Blood. Instead I just ended up with a pasty face and a stomach that couldn’t break down solid food for a week.
4. Only Eating Mangoes.
Don’t do this.
5. Only Eating Nuts.
Don’t do this either.
6. The Bird Diet
Essentially you eat tiny things throughout the day, mostly raw, mostly vegan. The idea here is to keep your metabolism up without taxing your digestive system – it’s the “gatherer” part of the hunter-gatherer prototype. Like a little adorable bird pecking around the trees with its adorable little beak.
Except – critical physiological point here – I’m not a bird.
In this phase, I would eat the frosting off of cupcakes, the cream out of oreos, and the cheese off of pizza – because I wasn’t eating bread, right? Unless I was drunk.
8. No Fun Ever.
Today, nearly everything I eat causes intestinal distress. Dairy, gluten, soy, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, you name it, I can’t digest it.
It turns out that by spending years eating (and not-eating) in erratic patterns, I’ve messed up the delicate balance of flora in my gut. Which means that in my quest to be healthier than thou I’ve actually just made my body worse.
For health advice, I don’t listen to what my body needs or feels. Instead, I turn to the experts: livestrong, pinterest, and my mom’s old copies of Prevention Magazine. I scan Huff Post to find out which new Amazonian superfood is going to clear up my skin. In fact, I just took a break from writing this paragraph to read an article about an herb-and-fruit infused water that would “literally flush all the fat right out of me.”
Nevermind my broken digestive system. Nevermind my neuroses. Nevermind that I don’t really even know what we mean when we say “detox.”
I think about the future sometimes, when it’s just me and all the other health freaks left. Everyone else dead from eating bagels and drinking milk. From not getting into kombucha.
“I knew it was all spiraling out of control,” one of us will say, steaming a single carrot.
“Good thing we followed the principles of healthy living,” someone else will say, sipping a turmeric shot.
We’ll all agree, and then go to bed. It’s nine PM., and an early bedtime is, we’ve read, the key to a long life.