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  • Jason Wood

You Are NOT What You Eat

If it wasn’t organic, I wasn’t eating it. My relationship with organic produce started shortly after my close call with colorectal cancer in 2015. At first, organic was a preference, but it soon became a requirement.

I was convinced that just one bite of conventional produce would flood my body with pesticides and toxins. These things would simply add fuel to my body’s perceived revolt against me, thus leading to an early death.

Not only did I think I was keeping my body clean, but I also liked the feeling of superiority it gave me. People don’t gloat about shopping at Safeway but they will sure as hell let you know when they’ve been to Trader’s Joes or Whole Foods. Am I right? I thought that my dedication to organic products made me better than others and for someone who was battling with insecurities, I would take any leg up I could get.

This relationship, rather obsession, with organic produce, escalated to the point where conventional produce caused intense anxiety. I would panic that I was contaminating my body. I feared that others would perceive me as a failure at maintaining a strict diet. Thus destroying the little sense of self-worth I thought I had.

I remember crying in the grocery store parking lot one morning when they were out of organic bananas. I didn’t have time to go elsewhere and I sure as hell wasn’t going to eat the regular bananas, so I decided not to eat that morning.

Then there was the first Thanksgiving after we moved to Denver. I visited approximately 3 Trader’s Joes and 6 Whole Foods in an attempt to buy nothing but the cleanest, organic ingredients for the feast. Talk about an expensive meal!! Rather than unpacking, or exploring my new city, I drove from store to store on a mission to eat, and thus, be the best.

Diet culture instills in us the belief that we are what we eat. If we eat “good” then we too are “good” and if we eat “bad” well then you better get to the gym and start a detox, ya bum. This is a narrative we need to change. I believe it begins with practicing intuitive eating. What I eat does not define me, it simply fuels me.

I still try to buy as many organic items as possible but my reasoning has changed. I’ve gained knowledge of the environmental benefits of organic items, but let me be clear, organic is no longer a requirement. I’m no longer eating organic items because I think they make me a better person or will provide total health. And if the store is out of organic bananas, then the conventional bananas will suit me just fine.

This leads me to my final point. It’s okay to want to eat “healthy” but it’s all about finding balance. Never sacrifice your mental, social, or emotional health for your physical health. Realize that one meal, one day, one week, won’t make a big impact. Your health is much more than a salad for lunch or a carb-free dinner. It’s about living your life the way you want to live it.

And most of all, remember you are not what you eat!


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