I will always remember when the dietary script flipped in my life. About 5 years ago, I was walking away from Chaco University with what’s known as the “Boss Juice”: a pickle jar filled with ice, a shot of wheatgrass, and a large Green Cleanse juice (celery, cucumber, spinach, lemon and parsley).
I caught myself thinking “delicious!” after a swig of my green, bitter, sweetness-free slurry.
When I was in my teens, you could buy candy bars for 25 cents each. Not wanting to carry change around in my pocket, my daily after-school snack regimen was simple:
one crisp $1 bill = 4 candy bars.
Every day for years, I ate four candy bars as a pre-teen and teen. Now, I was blessed with a high metabolism and was an active kid. I was more ‘beanpole’ than overweight, in any fashion. Since there were no obvious repercussions to this dietary choice, the equation was easy for me at the time: sweet candy = pleasure.
Fast forward to my 30’s. No longer an active daily athlete and metabolism hitting the typical wall for people my age. There was a definitive cause and effect relationship with food that been obvious for years. I was no longer eating multiple candy bars per day, but I was in the midst of the dance between diet and health. If I make a certain choice for what I consume at lunch, it will affect how much energy I have for the next few hours of work. If I skip breakfast, I will lose all motivation by 11am. Have sugar for a snack, and I knew I would pay dearly within 15 minutes.
This has become an acute daily exercise for me in my 40’s, where there are clear costs and benefits to everything I consume. I’m thankfully allergy-free and I don’t think I have any particular sensitivities. However, for 10 years I have been checking in with myself after I eat something, and that has produced real insight into how my body processes food.
It also gives me insight into how important ingredients are.
I can eat two identical-looking dishes and have two completely different bodily reactions to them. Ingredients are important – the devil’s in the details!
There are items at my own café that I have to really avoid (see: Lentil Burger), but something at Chaco that’s illustrative of foods that look alike but create different results is our yogurt bowl.
I’ve never been a yogurt and fruit person because my body doesn’t like dairy or sugar. However, it does like the live cultures present in yogurts. The Chaco version is a cultured, live coconut-based yogurt, and my body actually sings when I have one for breakfast.
I’ll bet my 12-year old self never could have predicted that.
Chaco Canyon Organic Cafes