I’ve not made it any secret that I love the primal diet and think it is the bee’s knees. Researching and studying all the ins and outs and whys & wherefores of whether or not it’s good to consume so much cholesterol, fat, animal products, and lots & lots of produce has revolutionized my life and the way I think about food.
I love it because it is so ridiculously simple. So basic and so, well, duh. Eat what you are designed to eat. Ignore everything else. Eat to live, and not to be entertained.
Oh boy, that is still such a challenge, truth be told. Food is entertainment. I’m an American. I live in a land of opulent affluence and food is how we celebrate, express, pacify, mute, and create. And we’ve done this for so long that having food be just food and not a form of expression, creativity, or a soapbox for other propaganda is completely foreign.
The primal diet has been hard for me. Because I use food to fill a lot of empty spaces in my life. Boredom. Loneliness. Boredom & loneliness. Dinner should be something exciting, not just another piece of beef with steamed veggies, all topped with butter. (sounds really good, though, doesn’t it?) An exciting or new dinner recipe is a change to the humdrum, day-to-day blah that creeps in and overwhelms me when I’m not being careful to get enough variety or outdoor activity, community, or mental stimulation.
But I’m learning, growing, changing. Following the primal diet has helped me to identify and acknowledge my obsession with food, and my need for food to be entertaining. And sometimes, slipping up and not following those simple, easy guidelines allows for the greatest breakthroughs.
Saturday evening before dinner, I ran out to the store with my lil boy in tow. We picked up milk and a few nonessentials. While we were loading up into the car to head home, he began signing “eat” & “more” like mad. Whining, whimpering, eat, more, eat, more! My poor bubba was so hungry!
What to do? I had dinner laid out, but unprepared, at home. Should I go back in the store, buy him a banana? Maybe yes, that’s what I should have done; that’s what die-hard primal parents would’ve done, I’m sure.
But I am not die-hard. I hit up a fast-food drive thru on the way home, just around the corner from the grocery store. I bought him a kid’s meal, complete with soy-laced hamburger and vegetable-oil-fried-processed potatoes, and plastic useless toy.
As I was driving up to the window, an unbidden thought consumed me, and caused such a change in my heart, with so much emotion, that I was literally weeping as I drove away.
I am so incredibly, consumingly thankful that I can feed my hungry child. I don’t have to listen to him cry out and beg for food, knowing that there is none to feed him. I live in a land of over abundance and plenty, and perhaps there is A LOT wrong with our food sources and practices, but I can feed my child when he is hungry. This is a luxury, this is a blessing, this is cause for great joy!
I can hear the die-hards in my head, telling me that yes, I should’ve gotten him something from the grocery store after I had already left and buckled him into his car seat. Or I could’ve let him fuss and beg until we got home and given him something paleo-compliant. I know very well how sub-par that kid’s meal is nutritionally.
But suddenly I don’t care what anyone else may say. I don’t care. I find myself changed by this understanding that I am so fortunate in what is available to me. I am so fortunate that I can choose organic produce, I can choose grass-fed beef & butter. I can choose what I feed my son, not if I feed my son.
Since then, I find myself judging a lot less, and having a lot more grace, for the person I am relentlessly the hardest on: myself. I will not make the best meal every evening, and I will not always make the best choice in a given situation, and I will feed my child drive-thru hamburgers and ice cream when he asks me, though it really is horrible food. (Ok, maybe not every time he asks me, but you are catching my drift here, right?)
All this is ok. Just as eating to be entertained isn’t healthy, refusing food or disallowing food when you or your child is hungry, just because it isn’t optimal, that too is very unhealthy.
Eat to live. Food is just food.