Living in a beach town in a “third-ish” world country as afforded me with a few exotic luxuries, but has also denied me a lot of American City Kid conveniences.
Namely fast food. I don’t mean just drive-thru, but any food that’s prepared fast. “Healthy food” is included too if it’s processed. Like cookies, cakes, breads, pasta, chips—all that can make you fat.
Although I love to cook from scratch, living in Mexico makes me have to. When there aren’t enough expats for a diverse dining industry and the grocer’s “import” section consists of one aisle (filled with mostly wine) a foodie tends to stand alone. So if I’m in the mood for a good Chinese stir fry, I‘d better have my Five Spice and hot mustard on deck.
Sure there are tons of Mexican munchies to be had but it’s a little too late in the game for me to grow a childhood connection to Bimbo brand snack cakes, thank goodness. To some this may seem like a comfort food nightmare, but I see it as a hidden health luxury, a way to keep myself on the path—that nature intended for us all.
Last summer, as a “reverse vacation” of sorts, I decided to stay in the States—which turned out to be a party for my mouth like none other. From the backyard BBQs to hotel hors d’ouvers, I indulged in everything. By season’s end, I’d gained over 10 pounds and was confused…so much for “winter weight” I thought. Yeah, I know what some people are thinking: “Shut up you skinny bitch,” but hear me out folks—the gain wasn’t the problem. How I gained it was.
Without trying, I’d been on a diet of no processed foods and had unknowingly lost a few pounds in the process. But back in the States fresh juices and salads were replaced with grocery store samples and passed plates. When I wasn’t on the run, I cut corners with the frozen foods, the ones dubbed “healthy” and “organic” that stare at you behind the freezer door, putting you into a false sense of dietary security. Yeah, they’re still processed, so at the end of the day they are mostly no bueno.
During a Swedish obesity study between 1950-2010, the citizen’s consumption of processed foods rose to 142 percent and their rates of obesity to five percent in 1980 (when processed food production increased globally) and over 11 percent in 2010.
The problem of course is that ultra-processed foods are becoming the dominant food source worldwide. Forests are being replaced with factories and healthier options can seem expensive. There is a health meme that I see pop up on Facebook every so often that says, “Don’t ask why healthy food is so expensive, ask why junk food is so cheap.” And it’s the truth.
Eliminating processed foods will not only help with weight control but also a general sense of well-being. And it will definitely change your lifestyle. It requires more consciousness of what to buy, when to prepare it, and how to store it—things that society was perfectly fine with not too long ago. We all get the same 24 hours, it’s just a matter of priorities.
I swapped the prepackaged to-fakey and instead meal prep every few weeks with a homemade sausage of my own.
This summer I am in Europe…and that comes with a whole ‘nother set of notions.
Can vegan, organic, local, biodynamic, paleo and/or gluten-free be delicious?
More mindful than accidental:
Author: Lynnette Astaire
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Author’s Own