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I've had the interesting experience of going hungry lately. Going to bed hungry, waking up hungry, and not getting enough to eat in between.

This isn't (yet) due to extreme financial reversals or climate change or the rather startling cost of groceries. It seems to be because I'm undergoing some kind of metabolic shift, resulting from massive dietary changes I've made over the past year. I could eat, but I just...don't. I have hardly any inclination. When I do eat, I enjoy it.

So, here's what I notice about a significantly reduced caloric intake:
  • I feel unusually clearheaded
  • I've lost a lot of weight (well, duh! I mention it only because of the degree of reduction that it took to make that kick in)
  • The food I do eat tastes really, really good
  • I have a lot more physical energy, and a more steady-state energy level all day long
  • I'm in a really good mood all the time--to kind of a manic degree, actually, the hungrier I get
  • I get very physically and emotionally uncomfortable the minute I cross some line of hunger that I haven't defined yet
  • I seem to need about an hour less sleep than ever before
  • Little annoying symptomy things like joint pain and candida and sinus blockage have vanished

I'm not advocating anorexia and I'm certainly not celebrating world hunger. But as a person who has never experienced any sort of calorie shortage--in fact, rarely less than a caloric excess--in more than fifty years of life, I'm bowled over by the simple equation of reduced caloric intake with overall improvement in health and well-being.

ETA because of concerns expressed (and pentimentoed back out again, but the internet is forever, so thank you!--you know who you are): I'm watching myself pretty closely, as eating disordered behavior is something I'm keenly aware of. I am definitely not starving--rather, living close to a caloric edge that is unknown to most Americans, and certainly unknown to me.

For now, I'm assuming that this is a good change, arising naturally from major life-detoxification. But I am watching.


Oct. 4th, 2008 05:31 pm (UTC)
Michael Pollan talks a lot about food traditions, and the lack thereof in American culture. French women eat as their parents ate and do well because their food traditions are long, rich, well-established and proven to maintain wellbeing.

French food traditions are encoded into meal customs, portion sizes, food-labeling practices, and law. The French, collectively, agree to protect their farmland, value local sourcing (look at wine and cheese appellation law--you can't call it champagne unless it comes from Champagne). Employees and schoolchildren get two hours for lunch--enough time to go home and eat a hot, homecooked meal. Dinner is little short of a sacred ritual. There is no such thing as artificial cheese-food (at least, I didn't see any on the grocery store shelves last time I was there in 2003).

So in France, eating as your parents ate is an excellent plan, and a fundamental basis of life. In our world, unless your parents were immigrants, eating as they ate is a total crapshoot. Americans have no traditional bread or cereal, no traditional oil or fat, no traditional fermented drink (okay, maybe bourbon whiskey), no traditional and very few food preserving traditions. We threw away what was native to the continent when we got here, then systematically adulterated and corrupted what we brought with us.

In my own case, my family on both sides came to this New World and forgot their English and Scottish and Norse traditions literally centuries ago. The most traditional thing I can remember eating in my life (not counting Thanksgiving dinner, which is arguably the exception) is...


*thinks some more...*

um...I'm drawing a big blank. Cookies, maybe? Pie? Baked potatoes with butter?

Donuts! Donuts! Donuts are, apparently, a great American food tradition. The French who visit here think rather highly of donuts. And a good donut is a fine thing.

Wow, I do go on! You always get me thinking.



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