The problems of food in America…

I pointed out in a previous post about my problems with chemically processed food additives like soy isolate. Then I tried to not eat that type of stuff even though I’m a vegetarian. Turns out I kinda mess up my diet and general health in the process.

Fundamentally, I’m fairly lazy in the food prep department. I try to make lots of stuff, but like most people I’m tired when I get home and don’t want to deal with it. While I’ve removed virtually all processed food from my diet, I didn’t really replace it with anything much. Salad, fruits and vegetables, which is good for you, but I still didn’t eat much of it. End result was large weight loss due to reduce caloric intake. But I recently realized that one component missing from my diet was iron.

The multi-vitamin I take is geared towards men and contains no iron; they assume men eat lots of meat and don’t need it. In the past few weeks I ‘forgot’ to make my beans that I usually make, and before I knew it, the amount of food with iron in it has dropped to almost zero. The result has been anemia, odd taste/smell sensations which can all be attributed to a nutritional deficiency of some form or another.

Since I became a vegetarian the amount of iron I eat has always been low, but never this low for this long. The impact on my health on my recent diet changes has been striking. Losing weight in a nice even pace, but I’ve had sleep disorders and a host of other issues that can be directly correlated to lack of some specific nutritional component or another. Being a vegetarian in a non-vegetarian culture is really difficult. Even though I’ve been doing this for about 14 years, I still struggle. The abundance of food in America is positive because people shouldn’t have these issues I brought on myself recently. Rather this abundance causes other issues that I’ve had to deal with up to this point. This culture I’m in makes it difficult to come up with rational choices on what you eat simply because you spend so little time dealing with it. You order it or buy it, eat it then do the next thing. Doing the ‘next thing’ is the American culture I grew up with. You go to the ‘next big movie’ or buy the ‘next big game/shoes/phone’. All those things take more time and resources then ‘food’ in America does. So quality food is really secondary much to our determent.

I’m being fairly reductionist here, but it seems obvious to me that the American culture relies on buying prepared food in some form or another. Canned food, sauces, frozen dinners, pizza, etc. You buy it because its easy to make and gets the job done. Each of those has issues with them (salt, preservatives, etc) that wouldn’t be there if you prepared them yourself. But the culture does not revolve around the kitchen, so no one wants to be in there. And if you go out all the time, then you have no clue what you’re really eating… giving the restaurant owner keys to your nutritional intake as well as your pocketbook.

So, how do I fix this? First change my multi-vitamin, at least that’s easy. Second, spend more time in the kitchen and get the rest of the family there too. I’m used to the format that if I’m cooking, Kirsten can do something else or visa versa. (I almost always clean the dishes, BTW). Also I need to get Jacob helping out in the kitchen more. I’m not sure I can fight this ‘next thing’ syndrome. That seems much harder then normalizing my diet.

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