A few days ago, Hubs and I went grocery shopping. Nothing out of the ordinary. But as we were unloading our haul, which was especially heavy on the frozen meats and veggies, we realized there was no room in our freezers to accommodate our purchases. How could that be when I’d made the list myself based on items I knew we were out of? And, we’re blessed to have an extra refrigerator/freezer combo in our garage. So we should have tons of storage space, right? Hubs soon diagnosed the problem. Loads of assorted veggie burgers, patties and meat substitutes of all kinds were hiding at the back of each freezer, taking up valuable space.
For the next several minutes, we stood there holding bags of rapidly defrosting chicken, broccoli and green beans while I debated the pros and cons of tossing all my old vegan favorites. “But they taste so good,” I whined. “Remember I how loved the ‘crispy chick’n’ ones! Oh and here’s the 7-grain crispy tenders’ (by now, any current or former vegetarians out there know exactly which brand I’m referencing)! Those are my favorite! Remember how I loved them? They’re so expensive. I don’t wanna just throw away money,” I pleaded.
Hubs tried reasoning with me. “But Karen, remember how those things made you feel, how your stomach hurt all the time. You haven’t touched any soy in so long, and those breaded ones have grains all over them.”
Still I resisted. “But I used to love them,” I protested. “And you know how I hate throwing away food. It’s such a waste of money.” Then I came clean. “And, they taste so good. What if I wanna eat them again someday?” The crux of the matter – I was holding onto these foods knowing full well they were full of crazy chemicals; that they were loaded with artificial, processed ingredients; created in a lab somewhere by scientists to simulate real foods. But I hadn’t let them go because in the back of my mind I thought someday I might want to eat them again despite knowing how unhealthy they are. I wanted to keep my options open.
On hearing this, Hubs’ patience ran out. He grabbed a bag of faux meat and started reading the ingredients aloud. I think it was about when he reached “methylcellulose” or “cane sugar,” that he looked at me and asked “really? Is this really what you want to put into your body? Can’t you make something just as good with real foods?” He knows me so well. That was exactly the right button to push with me. Issue a challenge to my competitive nature, and I’m hooked. At that I promptly tossed all faux meat into the garbage and only looked back to take this pic.
Plus Hubs made a valid point – why settle for less than the best? It reminded me of a story from the Bible (Numbers 11). The Children of Israel had been rescued by God from slavery in Egypt and were being led by Moses through the desert to the Promised Land. During their time in the desert of testing, some of the people started complaining about the food they “had” to eat (literally Manna from heaven). The complainers decided they would have been better off returning to enslavement in order to have the foods they previously ate in Egypt. The upshot of this affair is that the complainers were allowed to eat some of the foods they were craving but with disastrous consequences. Click here to read more.
Be clear. I’m not suggesting I would drop dead if I took one bite of my old “chick’n” tenders. But it is important that we make wise choices each day and with each meal, choices that bring life and health to our minds and bodies. Wise choices are those foods created by God (the kind of foods with only 1 single pronounceable ingredient on the ingredient list), not scientifically engineered products filled with chemicals created by man. Wise food choices are exactly the kinds of foods that comprise the WHOLE30 and Paleo plans. Incidentally, those same whole foods are the ones identified as best for beauty in this recent study. It is important to remember why we started on the WHOLE30 program – to feel better, more energetic, maybe lose some weight and reduce/eliminate other nagging health problems (in my case to lose baby weight and decrease life-long GI troubles). In the face of this truth and the freedom the program has offered, it hardly makes sense to go running back to enslavement to former foods.
N.B. I’m all for allowing yourself the occasional splurge. But I believe in those rare instances, the indulgence should be something truly exceptional and comprised of all whole foods, not pseudo foods created by chemists. And it probably shouldn’t come from a freezer bag. For more on this approach to healthy splurging, check out this fantastic article by Melissa Hartwig where she describes her “One Bite Rule.”
Incidentally, for a couple of real food recipes that deliciously replace those sad soy substitutes, click these links and thank me later:
Paleo Leap’s Coconut Crusted Chicken Strips
WHOLE30 Thanksgiving in a Meatball
Wishing you peace, wisdom and delicious whole food meals in the coming weeks!
Wisdom of the Day:
They will turn their backs on the truth and turn to myths.
II Timothy 4:4 (Common English Bible)
Read more here.