As I write this, I’m seated on a train headed back to DC from New York City. This basically means that I can’t keep making up excuses about not having time to update the blog. I do have time (four hours to be exact), and I can’t keep delaying something I wanted to share for a while. No I’m not with a child, for those who are so eager for me to procreate. The news is a major change of my lifestyle. It can simply be summarized as my own food revolution, mostly inspired by a celebrity chef.
But before I talk about the chef and his effect on me, I would like to go back in time to when the journey downhill all started. The story of my deterioration began with my first pay check. Yep, you heard me right, it all went downhill when I got my first pay check, and decided to be fully independent by detaching myself from my mom’s home-cooked food.
I thought dinning out and paying for whatever junk I put into my body was all it took to show that I made it into the adulthood world. So I quickly replaced mom’s Magloubeh‘s and Mlukhyeeh’s with fried chicken and big Mac’s. Please note that I’m talking about the early 90’s, the decade when Amman got introduced to the fast food industry with the advent of what I like to call the ” junk food firsts”, the first McDonald, the first Burger King, and the first Subway.
Yep, back then it was cool and hip to be seen devouring American food. It was empowering to be able to leave with my coworkers during lunch and delve into KFC’s “Zinger” and Arby’s curly fries. Yes, I made it , I thought to myself. I’m an emancipated woman who had just distanced herself from fresh produce and organic farming. Of course, that’s was when I started raking the calories, no surprise here. It was also when I started to feel lethargic, easily irritated and moody. While my downhill journey was just beginning, Amman Junk food stores kept mushrooming.
My deterioration continued for almost a decade until I decided to put an end to the fast food era. Not sure what made the first change. It might have been my moving to a region in the US where health awareness was widespread, or it might have been the fact that I turned thirty and felt my body deteriorating. I started watching my diet and began doing some moderate exercise. This slightly improved my well-being but not to the level that was needed. I knew there was something still wrong in my eating habits. Getting rid of junk food was simply not enough, for some reason.
However, in the past few months or so, I got a brand new inspiration. This might sound a bit cheesy and borders on the cliche, but I don’t care. My inspiration came from a TV reality show. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, a mere reality show has changed my life. The show is called Food Revolution and it is about British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver who went to the most obese city in the US: Huntington, West Virginia to try o change the school’s lunch system. In his show he promotes healthy eating, and encourages the love of cooking. Nothing new, no? True, but the most striking thing for me was the issue of processed food. Yes, that was the missing link. Since I moved to the US, I had fell hard for the convenience of American living by buying whatever processed food I could find to make a quick semi-tasty meal. I thought when in Rome, buy processed. My freezer was filled with frozen pizza, chicken nuggets, potato wedges, pasta meals and others. At least, I was not eating a Whopper, I thought. Little did I know how some processed food can have even a worse impact than some of the nastiest junk food out there.
It was really until I watched this show, and realized how important whole food cooking is that I ultimately decided to make a drastic change in my life. I made a conscious decision to only eat food that is made from scratch. It was easier than I thought. I gathered all the cook books that I owed and made weekly grocery lists to achieve the goal. I didn’t stop here. I made sure to double the size of our moderate garden beds to include a large variety of vegetables that I can grow in our backyard. I rode the now yuppie wave of organic food, and even took the time to watch Food Inc.
The result was remarkable. Not only do I feel better, but I look better. I lost almost 10 pounds mostly by focusing on wholesome food. I have to admit, cooking from scratch everyday can be a burden but the sense of sataifaction that I get after I finish any meal is usually my ultimate pay off. The most fascinating part for me was how I came full circle by actually embracing the home-cooked food that I rebelled against in my early twenties. I found myself looking for my mom’s recipes and making sure that I include them in my weekly meal planning. Yeah, yeah, mothers are always right!
Before I end this rant, I’d like to leave you with this TED talk in which Jamie Oliver talks about the show and his food revolution. I encourage everyone to watch it until the end.
Disclaimer: I never got to finish this post on the train. I got distracted and lost my inspiration. On a positive note, I managed to finish this post two days later, right after I devoured a shrimp linguini made by yours truly and yes, totally from scratch.
Jamie rules! We’ve loved hiim since “The Naked Chef” series. I applaud you for your newfound resolution. However, breaking Jeff from Big Macs may be tough! Good luck.
Tash! remember when you used to tell me i ate my paycheck 🙂
Anyway im in sulaimani and already started on this track, i went to the grocery store and bought all the ingredients of a healthy life and started cooking my food.
i also got a bicycle to excercise 🙂
Natasha, I rarely comment, but this post definitely makes my list of most important posts ever!!! You know I am a true believer of this lifestyle change and I am so glad you’ve made the change! I hope we get to cook together in July!
I have a friend who has a simple and invaluable rule of thumb: she doesn’t east anything people couldn’t get or didn’t eat 200 years ago — no sugar, no processed food, no feed-lot hormone-pumped meats.
well done your article is very interesting one.I like that I hope you will carry on this .
great article natasha, I personnally feel the exact same way since you and I are from the same generation from amman. In my first year of work and eating fast food I gained 10 kilos that are still stuck on my body and can’t get rid off 🙂
Good for you!
I had the same experience in Jordan but only because I worked at a junk food store for a year and it took me another year to fix the Iron level in my system.
As for grocery shopping try the Farmer’s Market, not only for organic foods but also seasonal and way cheaper than in regular stores 🙂