I LOVE Thanksgiving. The only other holiday that even comes close in my book is Independence Day. The two are actually tied for my favorite holiday, but no others really compare all that well.
Of course Christmas is great, but who needs the stress and awkwardness of reciprocal gift-giving? Thanksgiving has everything Christmas has, without presents and commercialism. That's why it's way better.
My birthday is pretty fun, but as you've probably gathered, I'm not really all that interested in getting more stuff than I have (one of my requirements for leveling-up in my Game of Life is to purge at least one thing per day), and I'm not a huge fan of being the center of attention in a large group of people for longer than my part of a conversation.
The 4th of July is comparable to Thanksgiving in that there is a huge seasonal feast involved, and gathering of people you really want to spend time with. Plus The 4th has fireworks and bonfires and roasting marshmallows and summertime parades and of COURSE, the best event EVER, the Maxwelton 4th of July Egg Toss!!! In case you didn't know, my brother is a reigning champion.
This year will be our first Thanksgiving that we don't eat things like rolls and white potatoes and stuffing and regular pies and all that. Yesterday, The Paleo Mom posted a great Recipe Round-Up to cover all the bases for Thanksgiving dinner, without straying from our Primal lifestyle (too much, anyway).
In case you haven't looked at any of the info on my Blogroll about the lifestyle, it pretty much involves eating only REAL food. Therefore, if it's prepared before it gets to my house (with a few exceptions), we avoid it. If there is an ingredients list, we typically avoid it (again, with a few exceptions - some things aren't very practical to attempt to prepare yourself, like seaweed, wine, our favorite dark chocolate bar...).
That means we eat a lot of produce, nuts, expeller/cold pressed olive and coconut oils (NO seed oils or vegetable oils!), and animal products except for milk (unless it's full fat or heavy cream).
One of the things that is hard to express to friends and family about this whole thing is that it's not a diet...it's a lifestyle. There is a HUGE difference here...I am starting to get asked the same question over and over now, since it has been almost 5 months since we started this. That question is, "are you still doing your diet?" Yes, yes I am...but it's not a diet. It's how I live. I don't ask you whether you're still eating your insert-food-choices-here. And we don't "cheat" on our lifestyle, either. We make conscious choices about certain indulgences, and probably feel physically worse for it later, but we move on. No guilt, no stress about it, because it wasn't a "cheat" in the sense that a candy bar is a "cheat" on any other diet program. Because this isn't a diet program. There is no finish line. This is long-term, for life, for my own personal health and the future health of my children.
This post is going a lot more into detail than I have mentioned about our lifestyle before, but I thought it was probably time to go ahead and kind of explain the basics first, and refer you to my Blogroll (and future posts, just be patient). It's not just about food being "healthy," or whatever everyone wants to call it. I get that a lot: "oh my gosh, your lunch is so healthy, I wish I could do that in the morning before school!" It's about making conscious choices about where our food comes from, too. What does our animal product eat during its lifetime? Because it has been shown time and time again that what our food eats is what we end up eating as well. Most of that is corn and soy - industrial crops, processed meals, etc. Our goal is to stick so as much grass-fed meat and animal products as we possibly can.
There are some more extreme measures that we haven't taken yet, in order to get more acceptable pork products, like ordering more meat online, but for now we have a nice local source of beef and chicken and we do well with that from our local farmer's market. It's nice that we can get it from a farm that's just across town. For now, we're okay with getting the best label bacon from Trader Joe's - it may not be grass-fed, but let's face it - pigs eat anything and everything, and finding a corn-free soy-free source of pork is impossible in all of the grocery stores we have here.
As far as produce goes, there is myriad evidence that soil quality and nutrient content directly affect the quality and nutrient content of produce grown in that soil. Now, from a science-oriented point of view, this all makes sense. But we all know how mass media and politics can skew anything the way they want it. Without getting into opinions about that, let's just leave it at this over-simplified example - the color of hydrangeas is dependent on nutrient content and pH of the soil. Keep a potted plant in the same pot forever, without extreme fertilization, and it won't do so well. Soil quality directly affects the quality of what's growing in it.
Also, to go back to the statement I hear time and time again about friends and colleagues who idly state, "I wish I had the time/budget/knowledge/insert-excuse-here to pack as healthy of a lunch as you..." It's not about "I wish" this or "this is my excuse" that. It's about priorities. Nerd Fitness posted about that a while ago, I think I may have linked to it in a previous post already about prioritizing rather than making excuses. Sure, we can make any excuse we want and it sounds great and all, but what it comes down to is that whatever it is we're making an excuse about just plain IS NOT A PRIORITY. If it were a legitimate priority, whatever internal conflict we have would be solved by now.
Now, Mark's Daily Apple (see link under Blogroll) has tons of references for papers written about the above issues regarding food source and quality. The Paleo Mom also has some great information, as does Chris Kresser and Robb Wolf. Please, if you are at all curious, I encourage you to click on one or more of the links and do a quick search for whatever information you are curious about. Chris Kresser and Robb Wolf also have amazing podcasts that address these issues from science and medicine points of view.
Random thought to end this post - a couple weeks ago, on a Tuesday, a colleague greeted me at school early in the morning. As most people do, we ask, "how's it going" or "how are you" or something to that effect. We both asked that of each other, and both of our responses were something along the lines of, "ugh, it's Tuesday, so exhausted already, still dragging from the Mondays yesterday," or whatever it is that we say to express our dissatisfaction with being at school at 7 am on a Tuesday morning. After that person left the room, I realized that I just lied. I realized that in fact I was not actually exhausted. I didn't really have any complaints about how I felt in general, just about the fact that I am just sick of school and over the whole thing at this point. It had nothing to do with it being a Tuesday, just general "I'm sick of this place." No actual physical exhaustion or lack of sleep or hunger or anything...it was an automatic response to say something like "ugh, so tired," or whatever it is that we say on Mondays and Tuesdays. For the first time, I realized that I had spoken those words out of pure habit rather than how I actually felt. In fact, I physically felt great. Probably better than at almost any other previous time during school these last few years. I was finally getting enough sleep, satisfied with my lifestyle habits including eating, exercising, recreation, etc. The only thing that could use modification is the fact that graduation is still 6 months away. But everything that is under my control, I am satisfied with it. There was no real reason that I should have said anything along the lines of "ugh it's Tuesday and I'm so tired." What a lie! And it feels great to realize that it was a lie, and that we say things like that out of habit - and now I try not to say that anymore, unless it's legitimately how I am feeling!
Anyway, wow, what a long post. If you're still reading...thanks. Haha; hope you enjoyed my general ramblings.
And as always, please see the links in the right hand module of this blog, they have been most helpful throughout this whole journey of learning about food and lifestyle.
Thanks again ladies and lads; until next time. Happy Thanksgiving!!