This could also be called: Put Good In, Get Good Out
I think it is safe to say that we’re all stressed out right now. Whoever you supported in this election, you probably know people who supported someone different, and thus you’re pissed off, being pissed on, or just generally depressed. The holidays are coming up, meaning that families are going to be getting together and bringing all these wonderfully diverse opinions to the dinner table. If your family is anything like mine, you know fur is going to fly and people are going to get upset.
These are the times that test our resiliency, as well as our coping skills. I am a huge advocate of stress eating. However, recent research into nutritional stress has made me change the way I look at my snacks and treats.
I exercise a lot, and I used to diet far more than was good for me. The result of this has been a very loose approach to food. I have learned that the minute I feel deprived is the minute I begin a new cycle of binging, dieting, and feeling terrible about myself. Thus, I have tried in the past to cover my nutritional basis and avoid processed foods. However, after that, I would eat as much ice cream and homemade cookies as I wanted.
This outlook isn’t anything unusual. In America today, we have this belief that a calorie in is a calorie out; AKA as long as I’m eating my salads, three cookies won’t hurt if I’m burning the calories. Sadly, recent studies have shown that this is not the case. High levels of processed sugar generate a stress response in the body. The results of chronic sugar intake mirror the effects of chronic stress, including skin problems, heart disease, mood disorders, and depression. (For more info and sources, watch the short powerpoint presentation!)
This is what is being defined as nutritional stress. In Thrive, a book by Canadian Ultra Marathon Champion Brendan Brazier, the emphasis is on foods that decrease your body’s level of stress. These are foods that have a high nutritional content, contain minimal sugar, and are easy to digest. By consuming these foods, Brazier writes that he had a much faster recovery time than when he consumed a conventional athlete’s diet. Something that stuck with me, were the stories of the recovery time he would need after carb loading for a big event. When I used to run marathons, I tried and failed miserably at carb loading. Consuming all that extra food made me sluggish, tired, and unable to perform optimally.
The most striking part of this whole nutritional stress hypothesis, is that nutritional stress is an equal player in our body’s overall level of stress. Basically, every human person can handle some level of stress without breaking down. This stress is composed of physical stress, emotional stress, mental stress, and nutritional stress. If we have a truly happy and fulfilling life, an unhealthy diet might have very little effect on us. But if you combine an unhealthy diet with a stressful working environment, and perhaps a terrible backwards momentum in national politics? Everyone has a breaking point. Not eating optimally can bring us closer to that breaking point and lower our resiliency.
Thus, I have being thinking about the teachings of Brazier. Food that is crappy for me might make me feel good in the short term, but will actually make my bought of the blues longer. After the election, I splurged on vegetable juice at the co-op, envisioning positive change with every sip. The sugary treats I did buy were made with maple syrup, such as Sugar Plumb’s vegan cheesecake. I spent some time in my kitchen, making a carrot miso soup. The cool thing about cooking healthy food with sustainable ingredients, is you can reflect on the goodness you are adding to the world with each step. When I bought my carrots, they came from an organic and sustainable farm, which is helping the local economy and the planet. The co-op pays its workers well, and I always chat happily with the cashiers before I leave. It feels good to contribute to their livelihood. When I was making the soup, it was awesome to think about how I used minimal packaging to produce it. As I have mentioned before, cooking homemade meals is one of the most radical and subversive acts we can perform in this modern consumeristic society. Finally, as I settled down to watch a documentary with my hot cup of soup, I knew that what I was eating was going to fuel my body well, lower my stress, and taste delicious.
I am starting to slowly get rid of my snacking cookies, brownies, etc. around my house. I have noticed a positive chance in how I feel, and how fast I recover from work outs. I want to snack more on fruit, nuts, dates, and maybe learn how to pop amaranth. I would like to keep my weekly treat splurge, but the treats I buy are going to contain natural sugar, like maple syrup and honey. This may take a while to figure out how to do budget wise, but I am convinced that I can, and will learn to increase my health and stay on a budget.
Put good in, get good out. I like applying this philosophy to all aspects of my life right now. From the people I talk to, to my work outs, to my books and movies that I watch, I’m trying to fill myself up with positive things. I will continue to acknowledge the negative things, ignorance is no way to live, however I only need to give these things their due. No more, no less. One way to fight the bad in the world, is to actively go out and support the good. If we put good into the world, maybe we can start getting some good out. While this isn’t all I want to do to be a politically active citizen, it is certainly a good start!
This week in updates:
So I have been under a decent amount of stress lately. This election has triggered some reactions in me, bringing up old fears and grievances, and has made me doubt the comfort of friends and family that I would normally turn to. When you have suffered, or know other people who have suffered from sexual harassment and assault, you have a very limited tolerance for those who do not understand. Darth Cheeto’s attitude towards women, especially women in uniform, has hit me pretty hard. Seeing friends and family not care about that attitude, and normalize it, makes me question how much they really care for me, women in uniform, and women in general.
It’s funny how sometimes the emotional stressors are the ones that hit us the hardest. They can make us cry, sleep less or sleep more, eat less or eat more, and make it hard to just face the day. That’s what I’ve been dealing with a little bit lately. As a normally bouncy morning person, I know something is wrong when all I want to do is lay in bed and stare at the ceiling. For most people that is probably normal in the morning, but I usually love waking up, reading a book, and getting my sweat on at the gym. I think this nutritional stress work has been really positive, and beneficial, as well as all the documentaries on Netflix. My new book is called Farmacology, and it has me dreaming of urban farming plots. I do hope all of this hate ushers in a new era of civil rights, and a cultural revolution. I honestly believe we need to stop worrying so much about money, and start living more simply, and with purpose. Looking at the documentary Happy, in the US, max happiness can be obtained with an income of $50,000. Why do we waste so much time wanting more? Instead of thinking that money can make us happy, we need to invest in ourselves, our health, or communities, and our world.
That’s my rant for the week!
The Recipe: Easy Carrot Miso Soup with Oven Roasted Tofu
I am so happy with this! Who knew carrot soup was so easy and delicious? Plus, carrots are one of the cheapest organic veggies money can buy. If you follow the advice of Miller in Farmacology, you will not peal the carrots before you roast them.
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- Black pepper and salt
- 2 heaping tablespoons brown miso
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- 2-3 pounds carrots, washed and chopped
- 2 pounds tofu
- Preheat oven to 375. Chop the tofu into cubes and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place the cubed tofu on a baking sheet. Do the same with the carrots, adding in a dash of the freshly ground black pepper. Roast both of these in the oven for 20-30 minutes, turning the tofu every 10 until the sides are brown and crispy.
- When the carrots and the tofu are almost done, saute the garlic in the remaining olive oil. Combine all ingredients in a pot, except for the miso and scallions, and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Now add the miso, and blend. Top with chopped scallions. Enjoy!