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Food is an Intensely Personal Choice

The following is a guest post by DC Ecowomen Board Member Programs VP Jen Howard.  

It is also a confusing and guilt ridden choice. Do I want to be a carnivore, vegetarian, vegan, or some mix? Which is better organically grown or locally farmed? I can’t always afford organic/free range options and I don’t have time to go to farmer’s markets on the weekends, so am I doomed to mass produced meat and chemically ripened veggies from the grocery store? My husband is a picky eater (no fish or beef, no green leafy anything, no squash, eggplant, or broccoli, the list goes on) so what can I cook that is healthy that we both will eat without getting repetitive?  Also, fast food is good, it just is, and some Monday mornings I just “need” a greasy egg and cheese biscuit to face the day, am I supposed to feel bad about that? Could I ever get the same emotional fulfillment from a juice blend or oatmeal? (This might be a good time to mention that I am an emotional eater and thus I eat even if I am not hungry. Yet another challenge I face.)

I have been struggling with these questions for a long time so I was really excited about attending DC EcoWomen’s “Overfed Yet Undernourished” workshop last Thursday. Drs. Threlkel and Windsor from the Restorative Health Center for Integrated Medicine walked us through common deficiencies and then demonstrated some easy recipes that focus on getting those vitamins and minerals back into our diet. Their goal was to teach us how to listen to our bodies, realize what we need, and find healthy alternatives to the greasy egg and cheese biscuit.

Some things that I took away from the workshop:

1) Almost everyone is deficient in vitamin D and even if we all lived in the tropics and played beach volleyball every afternoon in our bikinis we would still not get enough.

2) Sugar is a drug. Anyone that has tried to give up sweets or go carb free knows this in their hearts but it is nice to have professional validation.

3) There is basically a mineral war going on in your body all the time. Calcium, magnesium, and folate work together and against each other (in a very complicated molecular biology, organic chemistry kinda way) to trick your body into absorbing more minerals. Once the balance of power shifts in any one direction the other two suffer.

4) Magnesium helps relax muscles, lowers blood pressure, and reduces PMS cramps. It is also found in dark chocolate hence the chocolate carvings that hit once a month. In general cravings are signals that your body needs something. If you aren’t listening carefully enough to your body you might overeat trying to satisfy it without realizing what it wants. Listening to your body is a skill that takes practice so next time you have the munchies for no reason take a few minutes to figure out what exactly your body is saying to you.

5) You can make chocolate brownies healthier by substituting black beans for the oil and eggs. WHAT!!!!! Mind blown.

Like I said at the beginning, nutrition is a personal choice and one I am sure I will continue to struggle with. However, Drs. Threlkel and Windsor helped me have a greater understanding of how the food I eat influences how I feel on a day to day basis, how to think about my food cravings and determine what my body is really asking for and find healthy substitutes, that no one diet is right for everyone, and my husband may never be an adventurous eater but I can trick him into eating leafy green vegetables using a juicer!

If you’re interested in reading more about women’s health and nutrition, check out our blog post on Malnutrition in American Women or check out our resource page on Healthy Communities.


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