The Poison On Our Plates

First things first, I don’t believe everyone should follow one specific lifestyle.

As a first generation Haitian-American, I grew up eating beef, pork, seafood, chicken, and so much rice. I’m talking rice every. single. day.

Growing up on Flatbush in Brooklyn, I loved a Jamaican plate of curry goat with rice and peas. Don’t get me started on festival and escovitch fish, that was my obsession!

Ben and Jerry’s were my bffs. For lunch, it was totally normal for me to have a pint of ice cream (half baked was my weapon of choice).

Applebee’s had an apple crisp that inspired what was like a monthly pilgrimage for me. That’s in Times Square y’all. Me, in Times Square eating dairy (cause you know it came with ice cream).

My appetite for fast food was insatiable. At 13, I could eat 10 little White Castle burgers for lunch, easy! Big Macs and Junior Bacon Cheeseburgers were par for the course.

By the age of 15, I stopped eating beef and pork, but could still put down an Entenmann’s chocolate cake dolo!

Then all of a sudden one day, I started to have skin issues 😱. The reckoning! My body finally got my attention, it went for my vanity.

Somehow Dr. Perricone’s “The Perricone Prescription” showed up on my radar. This kind of coincidence later became the norm in my life. I get these impulses and clues that help me on a certain path I’m on. This time is was in a book I ordered on Amazon. I’m not recommending the book, it’s just the one I happened to read.

Anyway, it was the first time I made the food/skin/body connection. He introduced me to the term and category “anti-inflammatory foods”. He prescribed eating things like pumpkin seeds, wild salmon, oatmeal, and Greek yogurt. It was the first time I really thought about what I ate.

My skin improved dramatically with the side effect of my body becoming more toned even though I wasn’t particularly active at the time. Now, I’m one of those people that gets a prescription and stops taking it the minute I feel better.

I kept this new lifestyle up, but eventually my addiction to cake, and ice cream just became part of it too.

I had the discipline but not the mindset.

My diet was better than average but little did I know, I was setting the bar pretty low.

Recently I’ve been experiencing another wave of awakening around wellness.

I learned the importance of just taking a walk, and getting sun whenever possible. I learned that the anxiety or sadness that’s always just there in the backdrop of life, kind of just accepted as personality traits after a while, can be attributed to deficiencies in iron, magnesium, vitamin D, B12, or an out of balance microbiome (which can be addressed with prebiotics/probiotics and some lifestyle changes).

I learned that a good multivitamin makes a difference, and the importance of getting those omega 3s in religiously. Personally, I’m quite intuitive and all about vibe, feeling and flow but after all the doctor’s appointments I’ve had recently, it’s safe to say if we don’t remember what it was like to truly feel some semblance of good because of chronic deficiencies, or inflammation in the body, then it’s safe to say the picture we’re painting about ourselves and our health is incomplete.

So much of how we show up in the world goes back to what we put in our bodies. So much of what shows up in our bodies goes back to that too. We’re just talking about food today, so imagine how this compounds with trauma and a roller coaster of emotions, repression, suppression, fear. Poison on poison on poison. We start crafting these self-narratives, never taking into account the very real effect our food has on our feelings.

I started noticing how often I would pick up a snack bar, or some kind of chips and little by little I saw the patterns and unconscious rituals my body would go through without much of my mind involved.

We’ve all been guilty of treating food as entertainment, as relief, as a reward. It really becomes something to pay attention to when this behavior is a full on lifestyle.

It’s a little painful to face this, at least it was for me, because it’s not in line with who I believe I am. Most truths are avoided to delay or never face that kind of discomfort. Too bad that doesn’t make it go away. Instead, the truth continues to fester quietly until one day it blows up.

One day I took a moment, and stopped to notice I wasn’t hungry. There was usually no need for me to be grabbing that extra on-the go bar or chip of the moment.

Not to mention, we’re constantly spiking insulin by consuming every couple of hours from breakfast to almost bedtime.

Pavlov’s dog comes to mind, and suddenly the ubiquity of Starbucks, Duane Reade, and McDonald’s have taken on an entire new meaning.

Why am I writing this? Everyone knows what to eat and what not to eat, but food products have been marketed to us since we were crawling. We have this emotional attachment to food. See the term “comfort food”, for example. It’s something I’m not completely immune to, and have found a way to negotiate a small amount of it into my life here and there. A treat vs a lifestyle. I’m still working on my mindset to get to the point where I accept that anything slowly throwing my body into all kinds of confusion isn’t a treat.

The business of food is so big and it’s so woven into who we are. Eating can sometimes even be a means of expression when you get social media involved. Our own bodies’ cues are ignored and eventually silenced.

Every time we eat, the bacteria in our gut is fed. Now there’s good bacteria and there’s bad bacteria.

Next time you pick up something you know you don’t need just ask yourself, which ones are you feeding? How many times have you done that today? How many times this week?

“The body keeps score and it always wins.” Brené Brown

The choice is yours.

Photo: Tarik Carroll

Ehlie Luna