Or how I stopped worrying about looking good naked
Really enjoyed this. You’ve captured the rat-race of “wellness” so well. And the contrast with real food, with its nearly mystical way of binding us together. “We both smile at each other, enjoying the smell and the way it holds back, waiting for us to celebrate it.” I’m sure your daughter will have fond memories of those precious moments together. Thank you.
I'm no expert here, but I've generally found satisfaction with my health by always keeping an elective physical challenge in the distance (say, a marathon in the Spring). This helps me to calibrate my diet and physical activity toward preparation for that event. Usually, this means I stop drinking alcohol within a certain window, and then too much fried food, then too much food at all, and so on.
The physical event used to be a competition with others, but about 15 years ago (I'm 49), I started increasing the distances and therefore being unable to compete with others in any noteworthy way. Then, my competition became my own mind - my will to keep going. Once I stopped competing with others (perhaps akin to giving up the "naked standard"), life became much more peaceful and richly experienced.
So deliciously vivid!! Can I come over for bread?? I can practically taste it! While reading this, I imagined similar family rituals around the world, over hundreds of years... making tortillas, pasta, naan, paratha... And just like you’ve painted here, this isn’t an unhealthy diet, no, it’s nourishment, gratitude, togetherness. I’m just as guilty for treating food, at best like an inconvenience, at worst like the enemy. Coincidently, I got my cholesterol numbers back this week and they’re pretty terrible. Yet I’m a vegetarian, practice yoga, lots of walking, avoid excess sugar (unless it’s a good IPA, guilty!). Apparently the occasional omega-rich salmon I cheat with isn’t powerful enough to combat the over-easy organic eggs I simply MUST have. Those families all over the world for hundreds of years didn’t worry about cholesterol. Would it be so woo to stop stressing and enjoy a good meal? To treat food as nourishment, gratitude, togetherness?
Bread was once the root of all evil in my life. Butter was a sin. Sugar was refined trash. From pre-pubescence to just shy of a year ago. Celery in between meals was my only indulgence. I ate celery in volume till my body felt stalky and brittle. I worked out three times a day, seven days a week. I sent my body into upheaval. My gut rejected me, my hormones became devilish. My best friend use to bring home a muffin for me after my marathon training days. I would throw it away when she wasn't looking. It took years acknowledging my toxic relationship to my own body to even start working on it. And when I started working on it, that lasted years too. I am still working on it. But recently I've been enjoying the foods I feared. Last week I rubbed a homemade sage butter over a spatchcocked chicken. This morning I am savoring the most scrumptious muffin I could ever dream of. I don't count calories and I only exercise once a day. I ask myself every day, multiple times a day, "how can I honor my body right now?".
Our relationships to our bodies are precious and delicate. Thank you for sharing your story Latham - your words pulled me into the kitchen with you and your daughter. Thank you for making bread with her and teaching her too to honor herself.
I loved this Latham. I’ve also struggled with body image as a man. Wanting to be more muscular, less skinny, lanky. I succumbed to some pretty unhealthy eating habits (extreme cycles of bulking and cutting).
One thing I’m in search of now is food that makes me feel good. This tends to be whole foods & often healthy (but may also include a piece of chocolate cake from time to time).
Appreciate you sharing :)
You are an interesting man.
Oh man Latham. I think you speak the feelings of so many people who want to be healthy inside and out. Compassionate towards others and towards the earth, but unsure about how to be that to our own selves. Thanks for sharing this part of your journey. I’ve found the conflict in recovery as well. Sober “old timers” who know and preach the sayings by heart but are angry and sick in the body and head.
Carry on with creating the wonderful family memories and lessons. 🙏❤️
I swear I've imbibed actual nutrition from the bread you made through the ethers just based on your description of it. In the "too woo for science" category, writing like yours is an actual form of food, and the food for the spirit idea is cliche, but more true than we acknowledge. There is food food, and then there is impression food, the ingredients we feed our minds, imaginations, and psyche. I'm more focused there in terms of nutrition than I am actual food, although I have solidly healthy eating habits but without fear of going astray now and then. Exercise, read good writing, eat stuff that comes out of the ground. That's pretty much my health care plan.
I loved reading this!! As the daughter of a man who has been vegan all my life and who is very particular about his diet... what I wish he had modeled for me about health is that everyone’s health journey is so unique.
That it requires deep self knowledge and deep trust of your body. That your body will tell you the foods it likes and the foods it needs and the movement it wants. You just have to listen. That my body is not my enemy on my health journey, it’s not the thing I have to fight... it’s my ally. It’s my friend.
I think the way you are eating is the way. We shouldn't be guided by societies norms, but learn to feel what we need. I never used scales, diets or whatsoever, always try to eat the things my body is asking for. And this means different things in different seasons of the year and my life. I like the documentary about the Blue zones on Netflix, which gives an idea on how to eat and live so you can become old in a healthy way...
Thanks for this. I don't have any insights or wisdom to offer, but I will say that this is a topic that's been on my mind a lot as I work on finding some reasonable intersection of health and enjoyment of life, food, and connection with others. I know that who I am isn't defined by what I weigh, but there's still a part of me that wrestles with this on a regular basis.
"I walked the cream stucco stores, all exactly the same, in search of some forgotten elixir." encapsulates perfectly at least 90% of my Whole Food trips... Beautifully written, Latham.
"Eat like your ancestors" is piece of advice (advice-ish?) I got from an evolutionary biologist that stuck with me. If your grandparents are Inuit, your ideal diet will likely be different from those whose grandparents are Kalahari Bushmen. If your ancestral line traces through the Isles of Japan, you'll likely feel better with food different from those from the plains of Europe.
The interesting and super complicated predicament comes from our grand melting pot of a modern continent full of modernity and worldwide travel. A continent where an Inuit and a Kalahari descendent could move to, fall in love on, and have a baby. What will that kid grow up to eat? What will his or her ideal diet be?
But anyone who claims to have the latest-and-greatest-solve-all-the-problems diet is automatically suspect in my eyes. They are either lying or have no idea what they are talking about.
“The loaf presses back against the knife, but it eventually succumb.” A fitting end to this beautiful piece.
Food porn. Hedonistic. I can smell that bread coming out of the oven.
What lovely memories to make with your daughter! You know I loved every well thought, well phrased clause in this entire article.
Reminds me of Nats I Reckon: "My Mac and cheese may not be the healthiest, but sometimes joy is healthy too." If nothing else came from me joining Foster other than getting to read your writing if be happy. I'm also trying to get my daughter to appreciate making stuff in the kitchen and thereby have a healthy relationship to food. The alternatives are scary.
Didn’t realize we were both bread bakers. Very cool! I’ve never had any obsessive eating tendencies, but giving up drinking has made me healthier in every way. Better sleep, better exercise, clearer head. I’ve also dropped 17 lbs based on that alone. I didn’t love learning that I was lactose intolerant, but adjustments there have been good overall (plant based protein powder really sucks tho). My general wellness philosophy: exercise intensely but not harmfully, eat to satisfaction but not for comfort, seek resilience in relationships not just within, plant something every year and harvest it gratefully.