From my granny’s pecan pie on Thanksgiving to the cornmeal fried catfish at the restaurant off the square in my home town, I not only like food, but I like it when the food I eat makes my body work to the best of it’s ability. Different types of food make me emotionally feel differently as well as affect my physical state of being.
When I have that pecan pie—rich, nutty pecans coated in the gooey dark cane syrup filling—endorphins are released in my body causing me to have a brief food high. We’ve all felt that burst of energy after consuming sugar. Sugar is in everything and pretty easy to overload on. After eating that pie, I crash quickly.
Besides energy crashes, there’s also the beauty aspect of how food affects one’s life.
I think my vanity comes through most when I talk about my skin. I may not be strutting down the runway or doing makeup commercials anytime soon, but when I was younger I had clear skin. My skin was one of the things I could count on to look good even if my hair was a curly, frizzy mess. When my hormones changed, so did my sensitivity to certain foods. This in itself was a major hit to my confidence.
That’s when the breakouts started. They weren’t just regular breakouts, however. I would get red dots around my eyes, but they only appeared sometimes. As I began to observe what I ate and my mom experimented with different food eliminations to help me figure out exactly what was going on, I realized a few things. I break out on my cheeks when I’m stressed, and I break out on my forehead and my hairline when I’m hormonal.
The breakout on the eyes? From the food experimentation, I was able to figure out that those were from eating dairy. Ice cream, cheese, quiches—those all resulted in breakouts around my eyes when I ate too much.
Not only that, but (according to my family) I become a menace to be around when I eat too much dairy. As in, “don’t get to close to me or you may not have a head for long” menace. So why didn’t I connect the dots before? I was breaking out and incredibly irritable? What had I missed?
Dairy is in everything. For me it was impossible to avoid when I wasn’t actively trying to. Now that I know that I need to, I am able to make the decision whether or not to have that slice of cheese on toast. More often than not, I just choose to not.
I choose water over soda because water keeps me hydrated, plants over potato chips because my skin will thank me, and I try to keep as little dairy in my diet, not because I have an allergy, but my body shows signs (more mucus production, breakouts under eyes) of not processing it correctly.
Good food can benefit you, but you have to be willing to listen to what your body is saying emotionally and physically. You are truly the best judge of what works for you. It’s your body and your health, so take control of it. The fact is, there’s no reason not to when a books like Leanne Brown’s Good and Cheap exists. This darling little cookbook depicts how to eat healthy, feel-good food on a budget. It has things as simple as different ways to cook oatmeal, to the more complicated pulled pork.
The great thing about Brown’s book is that buying a copy benefits those who can’t afford a copy, but need this book. Free copies of this book get distributed to low-income families. So, while you’re leaning and observing how food affects you in an economical way, that book you bought is sewing its way into the bellies of people in need. And doesn’t that just give you a warm, fuzzy feeling?
Eating good food is a choice, and it’s a choice that you are able to make. You’ve just got to be willing.
Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.