What Shall We Eat, And How Shall We Eat? - Ecotrain's Question of the Week
It's Friday the 13th, and I was going to write about food anyway. - That's not really true. But since @ecotrain has another interesting Question of the Week, shared again with @dreemport where today is the only day we can post our response, I thought sure, I'll write about food!
Normally when I write foodie posts I like to point out how great something tastes, which good things it includes that makes it healthy, and also where it comes from, what cultural stories and traditions are hidden within a certain dish, possibly the location where you can find it... these kinda things. But the question regarding an optimal diet? No way! That is waaaay too complex of an issue to tackle. Even my sister, who is a trained nutritionist, says that you could fill libraries with it. Libraries she has frequented for years, and I'm sure she's going to add to eventually.
In the Meantime We Still Need to Eat!
However, for all those who are deciding what to cook for dinner tomorrow, all this theoretical knowledge is far too removed. It's a question of cost, availability, often also prep time, and not lastly taste preference. At the same time it should be healthy too! So what are the best guidelines? What should we be eating to be healthy and vibrant? A low carb, high protein diet? Or rather an entirely plant based one? Or is it best to just make sure everything is pure and organic? Or is it best to have a good diversity of things?
Right, and this is where I'd have to provide some type of answer... except for I have no clue about either dietary direction. Each one I mentioned has its own merits, and I can understand the reasoning behind each one of them. More than that, I can actually feel their effects. For example how tired I get, not to mention hungry not much later, after eating a huge pasta dish. On the other hand, greasy meaty food feels awfully heavy, making me feel anything but vibrant. Looking at chemicals in our food, such as pesticides, hormones, and preservatives, it makes sense that they can't be good for you, no matter if they are plant or animal based. So perhaps the last point is the most important one: everything in moderation, including the good stuff. But is that really the best way to go?
Listen to Someone who Should Know!
So much info, and I still don't know what's best to eat! Who shall I ask? Who can I trust? Who do I usually listen to? Personally, I like to leave this decision up to whom I consider the highest authority in this regard: my own stomach. (Okay, maybe it's my guts. Or my palate. Whatever!) Somehow I have a deep trust in my body's wishes. I guess it happened the first time I fasted, or rather afterwards, that I got in touch with my body's own desires. They are usually very precise in both dishes and ingredients as well as the quantities it requires. And I suppose it always has been, but after years of overindulgence it got harder and harder to understand these wishes. But I believe it is a pretty safe bet to be in touch with what the body wants, and fasting will get you in tune with them.
Interestingly, my cravings have been very strange at times, not at all in line with what you'd normally consider "healthy". For a while I had such a strong desire for Genovese pesto (basil, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic and salt), that I ate it several times a week for months on end. At first I thought it was the pasta I wanted, which I also like quite a bit, but then I discovered that it was in fact the pesto. At first it was your generic store-bought pesto, but once I got into growing spirulina, I started putting it into my own pesto. That way pesto got so cheap that I really started eating a lot of it! So much for diversity...
Another thing I felt pretty surprised about, but then went along with it, were occasional cravings for what my wife calls "weird animal products". This could be liver pate (or skip the pate, just fry up some chopped liver with some onions), or tripe tacos, which up to this date are among my favorite choice of street food. Other times its pork rinds, tongue, ear, or nose, as well as other innards. One Hungarian specialty I love, and I still need to write a post about, is (pork) kidney with (beef) brains. I've never had a craving for any of these things that persisted as long as my pesto addiction, but quite often I feel a strong desire to eat some greasy tacos or something of the kind, that I really can't see myself going vegetarian.
Since I brought up vegetarianism, I should also mention that I have followed vegetarian diets for extended times without claiming to be one. Usually when I was traveling with a vegetarian I thought it would be better not to eat meat stuffs in front of them. It worked amazingly well, even when covering long distances on bicycles every day.
Staying Vibrant is Not Just About the Food
Before wrapping up my eat what though wilt philosophy, I should add that being healthy and vibrant is not just a question of our diet (though it is true, we are what we eat). Another important factor is your lifestyle, your activities, your daily routines. For example, when I'm at home with my wife in Mexico City, we tend to eat ... let's say amazingly healthy: fruits with yogurt and granola in the morning, a sandwich around midday, a righteous salad in the evening, and maybe some cheese and wine at night. Of course I don't make the same thing every day, but typically 3-4 times a week. Plus all three dishes are very modular, so I can make them with a myriad of ingredients. Yum! Unfortunately, our lifestyle there happens to be quite sedentary, and as a result I often don't feel vibrant at all.
So to conclude the QOTW I'm still going to say I don't know. In fact, I'm pretty sure most of us don't know, including people who have studied food all their lives. At the same time, I would also claim that deep down all of us know exactly what it is we need: it happens to be exactly what we want! For me right now this happens to be a roll of stuffed cabbage... another Hungarian dish that I still need to write a post about. But let me do that next time.