Living Whole by Randi Saba Donahue

Eating for Life Manifesto

Posted April 22, 2011 at 5:00 pm

by Randi Saba Donahue

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Many people would consider my eating habits odd and overly healthy. I consider them fresh, feel-good and tasty. I love everything about food — the tastes, the smells, the colors, the preparation.

Chronic digestive issues led me to a strong connection with the “fuel” I put into my “machine” and I realized the need to be vigilant with my diet somewhere in my early 20’s. Truthfully, I struggled with digestive issues since the start of high school, but they came to a peak in college (turns out mass-produced sorority food and a great football team is a little tough on the tummy). While for some this realization may have felt like a curse, I turned it into an opportunity for continuous learning and research. I love that food has the power to nourish and heal.

My current-day nutrition philosophy is very much common sense-based. Do what your body tells you and eat according to what makes you feel good, both physically and mentally. It’s as simple as that. Or is it?

Many Americans have not only lost a connection with the source of our food, but have also lost touch with their inner nutritional voices. We are not supposed to feel chronic pain or discomfort every time we eat, but most times we ignore these sensations. When we reach this point, we ignore that our bodies are screaming at the top of their lungs to give it a rest. This threshold is different for everyone, but common for most.

I had been at my threshold for a while when I finally discovered I had a major intolerance to gluten. I had been eating a wholesome diet for quite some time, including what I perceived to be healthy “whole wheat” in abundance in my regular diet. But around the end of last year I finally listened to my body —despite many people telling me it was all in my head. I have been almost completely gluten-free for five months now, and virtually every symptom has disappeared.

I rarely eat meat, and if I do, ideally it is grass-fed, hormone-free and humanely raised. I stick to a mainly plant-based, whole food diet. I limit my dairy intake, but love cheese way too much to eliminate it altogether. I drink wine on a regular basis. When I go off course my body tells me with headaches, tummy trouble, moodiness and lethargy.

It seems strict, but over time, I have learned I cannot control all situations and a certain amount of flexibility is needed to maintain my eating sanity. The flexibility in my nutritional diet comes mainly at social times. Social interaction is a fact of life and can be as important for some as food. It gives you stories and laughter and support. It’s how we celebrate and grieve. It also pretty much always includes libations and food.

While in most situations I can find good vegetarian and gluten-free alternatives, sometimes it’s just not worth it to be stressed or upset about making that choice especially when the hard fact is the American food regimen still places animal protein and bread at the center of our diet. That said, I control the amount and type of meat and gluten I eat when I am in my home environment and do the best I can when I am out and about. I remain faithful when it comes to avoiding high fructose corn syrup, mono-sodium glutamate, and many other preservatives in processed foods, and this is easy for me because I just avoid processed foods all together. Highly refined foods, sodas and high sugar fruit drinks are out of the question.

I don’t believe that any one diet mentality in its black and white form is right. I do know that it is a proven fact that when you decrease the amount of processed foods, animal fats, preservatives, and sugar in your diet and increase the amount of whole foods and plant sources you consume, you will lower your cholesterol, maintain a healthy weight, gain energy, decrease your risks for non-genetic diseases and sickness, and play a critical role in environmental healing.

My hope for the American diet is that we throw the fad diet books out and start listening to our bodies:

  • Don’t stress, just listen.
  • Do a little bit at a time to put your health and nutrition first.
  • Feel the difference and then let it grow.
  • Do not skip meals!
  • Stop with the sugar-free and fat free crap!
  • EAT REAL BUTTER!
  • Put the ciggies down!
  • Cook most meals at home!
  • Enjoy that glass or two of wine but don’t drink it mindlessly.
  • Choose water or herbal tea over soda (diet soda is just as bad as regular).
  • Give your body a break from digesting complex animal proteins every now and then.

Commit to one change at a time, and sooner than later your body will be singing your praises and you will start to feel good about your relationship with food and enjoy the energy and satisfaction it can give you.

 

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Currently 2 Responses

  • 1.
  • Great insight Randi. Any recipe ideas?
  •  
  • Michelle Adams
    Mon 25th Apr 2011
    at 9:45pm
  • 2.
  • Amazing insight Randi. I can't wait to hear more. Maybe some recipes?
  •  
  • Michelle Adams
    Mon 25th Apr 2011
    at 9:42pm
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