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  • Writer's pictureThe Useless Runner

My friend, Mr. Ice Cream

Gluttony [noun] ~ /ˈɡlʌt(ə)ni/

"habitual greed or excess in eating."

So, where do I start with this one.

I will start with a very simple truth: I struggled with food all my life.

This is going to be an extremely sensitive subject. It was for me (and at a level still is) and currently is for a lot of people who have struggled (or are struggling) with food and controlling that impulse to just 'eat'.

You see, when you were a kid, you simply did not care about the stuff. You left that to your parents. They were the ones putting food on the table, they were the ones working and making ends meet.

I was born in the 80's in South America. Back then there was little awareness about nutrition. It was more about logically understanding what was bad, and what was good. This takes me back to my grandparents town. A very small place in the middle of the mountains, where we spent all of our school holidays, easter, christmas and new years. I have over 25 cousins, and the joy it brought me as a kid to go to this little town was amazing.

We had a lot of fun playing out in the park, the playgrounds, going to the river and enjoying the outdoors. And we also ate a lot of great food.

Grandma always cooked everything from scratch. She used to make this amazing corn bread, and a breakfast soup we call 'Changua'. It was basically a soup with onions, potato, eggs, milk and coriander. A lot of these memories remain so vivid to this day, because they remind me of a simpler time, when playing outside was normal, and cooking was part of our daily lives.

I was never truly aware of what I ate, I just ate what was given to me. Of course I had certain preferences about some foods like everybody does, and I was never overly concerned about how much of those foods I ate.

But there was just so much time you could spend in this beautiful little town. After the holidays we would go back home, back to school, parents back to work, and the monotony of our daliy lives would start all over again.

It was not until I was about 13 years old that the word 'obesity' rang a bell. It was probably the first time I remember to have gone on a 'Diet' after visiting the nutritionist and being told that for my age and height I was in the obese category. Nobody asked me or my parents about my eating habits, or why I was eating the things I was eating. Nobody asked me or my parents what types of food I was eating. Nobody asked me how I felt, nor was it explained to me what effect the foods I was eating had in my body and the way they were processed. I was simply told that I was fat.

It was all pretty standard in terms of what was prescribed back then, and still is to this day in the majority of Medical Practices. I was put on an extremely low fat diet, moderate protein, and a lot of whole grains and brown bread, as well as a ridiculous low amount of calories. This did not last long, and sure enough I was out of it within probably 3 weeks and back to eating the same way I had been eating growing up at home.

To offer some perspective here, I am not against low fat diets, nor I believe that there is only one way of eating that fits everybody. It would be stupid and naive for me to asume that, or even believe it.

There are 2 foods that I always enjoyed the most growing up, and to this day I still do (not in the vast amounts I did before): White bread and Ice Cream.

At home my family even had a joke about it. Our kitchen had 2 entrances, and a side hallway that directly connected both sides of our flat. Most times, when going to the living room, I would go through the kitchen doors and grab some white bread and coca-cola as a snack. I did this a lot, without even realizing it.

Even to this day when I go back home to visit, my dad would ask if I am going through the kitchen in a jokingly way.

I also had heaps of sugary foods for breakfast, as a snack in school and in the afternoon, and also for dinner. I was constantly in a sugar overdrive, gaining weight and becoming the metabolic mess I am today.

I have gone through every diet under the sun trying to lose weight and be healthy, and I have made mistakes, a lot of them. I was very polarized and looked at it from a single lens, and it took a while to see the full picture.

The process has been long and I have found a baseline that works for me, and have found tools to help me succeed at doing the sport that I love. I have always enjoyed sports and is part of who I am. I can finally train hard and push limits I never thought were possible for me. All of this has been a very slow journey, but a very rewarding one. I have met people who have taught me great things, and from whom I have learned a lot without them even realizing it. I have built something around me, with the help from others, which enables me to improve every day, and the most important thing of all: I am conscious of my choices.

People don't talk about these things. They don't socially gather with their friends or family and say how messed up their eating habits are, or how bad their cravings are, and how the enjoyment of eating is something they reward themselves with just because they can, or how they struggled all their life to control their apetite. This is something so socially neglected, that people feel embarrassed to even discuss it with friends or even close ones.

My main issue with food had been that I ate too much of the bad stuff, and this caused me a lot of metabolic deficiencies which I carried into my adult life. But there are people out there really struggling with a whole other reality, and we need to be able to talk to them, ask them how they are doing, offer a helping hand, and try and give them a support system. A support system like the one I was able to built with help from others.

Don't be afraid to ask. Believe me, it goes a long way.

I am a firm believer that most of the issues some people have with the way they understand food, are due to a long vicious cycle of just eating the wrong stuff. I am not even talking about 'low fat' Vs. 'low carb' or anything of the sort. I am talking about the tons of processed junk we have today, the processed oils and fake plastic food we get at the supermarket. The continuous propaganda advocating for all these miracle pills, drinks, foods, powders, teas, cereals and all sort of shit under the sun that promises to fix you and make you healthy. The whole 'heart healthy' crap we are fed every day.

If you asked me, the answer is simple: Go back to basics.

Something as simple as remembering those holidays when I was a kid and visited my grandparents in that small beautiful town in the middle of the mountains. When my grandmother baked the corn bread, made the soup, took the eggs from her back garden, and bought the butter and milk right at her door step still bubbling and warm. When we walked to the market to buy fresh meat. When she cooked everything naturally and we did not care what it was. We ate it, because grandma made it, and by design, it was delicious and healthy.

Re-living those days takes me back to a place where things were simple. A place where I was happy.

Nutrition is simple. We just made it overly complicated. We can change that with good habits, with good friends and a lot of patience. There is no magic pill.

And now that I have your attention. I want to ask you something: How are you doing today?.

Thanks for reading.

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