eat real food.

i've been thinking a lot about food lately.

i know, i know. surprise, surprise.

but come along with me on the rambling journey that will be this post, won't you?

i was at work yesterday when one of the girls came up and started gabbing about an impending vacation  and needing to lose weight because she'd have to wear a bathing suit and on and on. and everyone started throwing out ideas. what worked for them (and there is value in that) and hadn't she had success in the past with cutting carbs?

two quick thoughts: (1) i want to live each day as though i could slip on a bathing suit at any moment. that's what i want to feel like in my clothes. and yes there's some vanity to that. but it is also the knowledge that my bathing-suit-ready-body is a healthy body--and a healthy mind, to boot--a mind that knows i look good in a bathing suit and that how i look has very little to do with how i actually look, but how i feel. am i making sense? and (2) if cutting carbs worked for this person in the past then why are we back here? having this conversation all over again? doesn't that get tedious at some point? all the losing and gaining, losing and gaining? i tell ya, it sure isn't good for the heart.

i kept both these thoughts to myself. and i walked away. now i know, just walk away. time is too short and i don't know these people well enough to dump all of my (ostensibly condescending and judgemental) ideas on them.

{don't you just love the word ostensible?}

but here's the thing, as i walked away, it hit me! here it is, here's what to do...want to look good in a bathing suit? want to lose weight? want to live in your best body? here's the crux of it:

eat. real. food.

eat real food!

that's it! that's all there is to it.

eat real fruit. eat real vegetables. cut out all that stuff that comes hermetically sealed in plastic wrap. or that might just survive the end of the world. (because take note, hermetically sealed foods and bed bugs will be all that survive).

wine and cheese grow better with age, yes, but most other foods do not. and all that stuff put in there to keep the foods kickin' (for years and years) will age you, exhaust you, deplete your system, and trick your brain into thinking it's delicious. ah, it's all one great monetary conspiracy by a food industry that has no concern for our health! it boils my blood, i tell you. but i'm gonna let that one go. (for today).

i've finished babysitting now. for the most part. that was the job i let go of. for a whole host of reasons. in large part because there was an increasing sense that i was living someone else's happy life. i want to raise children. but my own. and i have some serious work to do (and some serious money to make) before that will be possible. i don't regret any of the time i spent babysitting since college. some of the most vital and important experiences of the last three years were at the hands of two-year-olds. i learned innumerable things (that's a whole post unto itself).

but for now, i will say this: i noticed that some of my worst eating happened while babysitting. one could look at this statement and ruminate on exhaustion and lack of power and where i am in life and many of those thoughts would be true and right, but really it comes down this: processed foods.

it wasn't that the food i was eating was bad or calorie dense, it was that it was in someway unreal. alphabet cookies, big-bird cheese crackers, elmo mac-and-cheese. all good, all tasty, all non-existant in nature. and all this got me thinking. why? why is processed food like this so prevalent and so overwhelming in the youth market? isn't this a dangerous precedent to set? why can we all agree that children need a good and strong education but we can't all agree to feed them the best possible foods? (hey school districts the country over, i'm talking to you).

thank God for people like jaime oliver, no?

of course i could go on and on about eating real foods. how it's also about eating simple foods. about how this way of life demands a little more work and a little more time, a little more effort (and dare i say, experimentation) in the kitchen.

someone recently said to me that new york city is all about convenience. why go to riverside park when central park is a few blocks away? uh, maybe because you want to see the gardens and get a glimpse of the hudson?! if new york is all about convenience maybe that's why i'm often not keen on it. but i think this thought short-changes the city: new york isn't all about convenience, it's all about whatever you'd like it to be about. but for many people the city is in fact about immediacy, ease, and getting what we want as soon as we want it. convenience. i'm really not so keen on this convenience thing. yes, there's a time and a place for it, but if i live my life and it's dictated by this demand--this convenience, i cut myself off from countless experiences. from the subway ride to riverside park on which i might just meet that elusive love of my life.

convenience. an ugly word. one that might just be making america fat. you want something sweet?! and you want it now? go for it, get a snickers, after all their slogan is in fact why wait?

i spent two weeks in mexico, many years ago, living with a family. oh, how reverently i look back on that time. there was a lot of life in those two weeks. the food, oh the food! the high-quality milk and ergo vanilla ice cream! the bags upon bags of bread--and white bread, at that! yes, i remember the ruins of ancient cultures, the classes and car rides in which the musicality of the language both overwhelmed and inspired, but the food, i tell you!

i have spent the subsequent ten years in search of food like that. because apart from its unbelievable taste (unbelievable, i tell you), i actually lost weight there. in mexico. i lost weight eating more food than i've ever eaten in my life. and yes, i was sixteen. and yes, i was quite small to begin with. but puberty had just begun and i was suddenly struggling with the knowledge that i couldn't eat whatever i wanted (bowl upon bowl of pepperidge farm goldfish and real coca-cola) and remain trim.

just the other night i pulled out some corn tortillas, stuck them right on the burner, let them get some good charred spots and then spooned some guacamole right on top. it took all of two minutes. i wasn't expecting much, so you can imagine my surprise when i bit in, and thought for the first time since those formative few weeks in cuernavaca: this is it! i am tasting mexico!

and it was then i realized: the food was good in mexico. and it was pretty simple. high quality, real food, and simple.

and not terribly inconvenient. did you catch that part where i mentioned my guac filled tortillas took all of two minute?

two minutes, simple, and real? no plastic wrap in site? take that convenience! take that america! take that processed foods!

it's possible to eat well here.

after all, the experience is what you make of it.