I have spent a month eating real food. Nothing that does not come from nature, not processed, preserved or packaged. I have never gone this long without sugar, flour, butter, milk or bread singularly, let alone all together. Before January 31, 2017 I had periods of intentionality about food but none anywhere close to as disciplined as this.
Some of the lessons I’ve learned during Whole 30 are directly related to science, nutrition or the cognitive processes surrounding food. But some have nothing whatsoever to do with that.
One of the lessons I have resisted learning is: slow = good. Real food takes time. Not unlike real relationships, real career progression, real learning, real discipline, or real change. These things are not quick. I am by nature a person bent toward efficiency. Protein shakes win over chicken breasts. Dishwasher over hand washing. One of many symptoms of our McDonaldized society is we want our food to be fast.
I can’t tell you how many times this month I was irritated because I was hungry and not at home. I couldn’t just run to Starbucks, a drive through or even a grocery store and get a “meal” quickly. I could pick up a banana but it wasn’t going to satiate my hunger and I found the lack of convenience frustrating. I confess I often felt like my convenience was being thwarted for no reason at all.
The frustration with the lack of convenience and need to cook is not unlike my irritation when things fail to be convenient or quick in other areas of my life. My children have just not gotten that talking back is unacceptable. They still try it. Despite having been given the same lesson for 11, 10 or 7 years now. Their learning is taking too long. So is cooking, it just takes too long.
I want my relationships to work now. At times, I have refused to try to learn new things especially if it takes me more than 5 minutes to grasp the process. I want my body to work now. I find rehabilitation to be a slow and exasperating method of healing. Why can’t I just go running now? My response often is: “Fine, then I won’t do anything.” It’s sort of like preferring to go hungry than make one more piece of chicken or fry one more egg. I’ve done that more than a few times this month. Laziness trumps effort. Immediacy trumps slow consistent work.
But that is not how real life works and it’s not how my food should work either. Life is a series of failures/mishaps. When those failures are going in the same direction eventually the result will be success. Whether that success be relational, financial or health-related we must consistently work toward it, for long periods of time without seeing results before we get to see the “win.”
I’m not sure what March 2nd will bring me. I’m not sure if the numbers on the scale will shift. I’m not sure I can maintain this slower, authentic approach to food long term. But life on life’s terms is not fast. Perhaps I should continue taking food on food’s terms. Real. Healthy. Slow.