I just had a nice little snack of couscous with flax seeds and agave nectar. That sentence makes me want to punch myself in the face for being such a hippie douche, but I must admit that it was both tasty and satisfying without leaving me digestively impaired.
For much of my life I accepted that the act of eating was something that would leave me curled in a distressed ball of agony. As children, my brother and I dubbed these episodes “intestine squeezes,” because it felt as if our entrails were tying themselves in knots and having seizures. Today this would probably be diagnosed as IBS, but I have since realized what it was (and probably, what most IBS actually is) — eating garbage will trash your body. Growing up we were not allowed to have much sugar, but almost everything we ate was processed. We also went out to eat a lot, and not to any of these all-natural locally-sourced totally-organic jerk-off restaurants (which, despite their overkill on self-congratulation for serving real food, must actually be congratulated on serving real food). There was a summer where I ate grilled cheese and french fries from a diner for lunch almost every day. I never got fat, but the food had its revenge by leaving me doubled over for hours on end.
The decade after that is mostly a blur of cafeteria food and prepared food eaten out of my car between school and work or work and school. By the time I left college and had a 9-to-5, I was subsisting on frozen burritos and sour cream. When I met the Russian lover, I warned him that I almost always had painful cramps after eating and I probably had some condition. He brushed it off, and several weeks after he had been cooking for me and taking me to restaurants that served fresh, quality food, I realized that it had been ages since I’d spent hours in fetal position after a meal.
Of course. Duh. Processed food is the devil, and high fructose corn syrup is his bride. But how many of us really know that? And how many of us make choices that take this into account? Among those of us who cut our hair and don’t live in painted vans, I mean. Even though I “knew” the food I was eating was bad for me, I didn’t know what else to eat. It’s like dating an abusive guy that you just can’t leave, because he’s too familiar and the alternative is what? Even a brief stint working at Whole Foods didn’t change my fundamental approach to eating. That only came when I had the way I ate fundamentally changed for me, and I could notice the changes that made for my body.
The couscous is a new venture; when it comes to starches and grains, we’ve been white rice and potato people, with the occasional pasta mixed in. That sounds pretty healthy until you listen to the health nazis and they tell you that those are the worst of the good things you can eat. So now I’m on a mission to try all the various grains and such that the hippie nazi health douches recommend: quinoa, bulgur wheat, brown rice, wild rice, buckwheat, etc. The couscous is already a winner with me; it tastes good, it’s practically easier to make than cold cereal, and there is something about the texture that’s fascinating.
This is where the Paleo diet people come in and writhe around moaning that grain is the root of all evil and we should be eating like cavemen. They may possibly have a point from an evolutionary biology perspective, although I still feel like the whole fad is the creation of some guy who had a bad breakup with a vegan. The Paleo diet, if you didn’t know, is basically the inversion of the vegan diet (which by now we are all intimately versed in because those killjoys will just never shut up about what they can and cannot eat.) Paleos and vegans will agree that fruit and vegetables are awesome, and dairy is bad. But that’s the extent of their commonalities; Paleos shun any food borne out of the agricultural development of our species (grain, potatoes, legumes). Their ultimate food fantasy is the drive-thru from the opening sequence of The Flintstones.
Well, those hardcore Paleo people may all have tiny asses and exemplary bowel movements, but I think a little bit of flab and some occasional constipation is a small price to pay for a life that includes real pizza.
If you ordered a Paleo pizza, you know what you’d get? A tomato.