31 July, 2018
by Jesse Rosenthal
I’d wager that most of us could use a ‘reboot’ every once in a while. I know I certainly do, once, twice, or even three times a year. Typically, a specific attribute of my life triggers in me the desire for such a change. Something feels out of balance and eventually I realize I should probably go ahead and get on this now, remembering high school procrastination and its repercussions. Most recently, my diet stared up at me from behind a plain turkey sandwich and whispered “I’m not terrible, but you know darn well I could be better — and that you’d probably feel better if I was.”
Mental health, relationships or social life, physicality, day to day activities, balance of work and play — there are countless names for the various arenas of life that need balancing, and if you’re anything like me, these labels and the aesthetic surrounding them can feel kitch, even condescending at times. Yet over the course of the past few years I’ve been witnessing a realization within myself. I do have the urge to rebalance the elements of my life; the urge to ‘get healthier’ in simple terms — and instead of rolling my eyes at its connotations, I can redefine ‘getting healthier’ for myself, and pursue it in a way that makes sense to me. Health is subjective and important. So why not approach it as such? If the language of health bothers you, make up your own that holds the same meaning, but gets there in a way you actually like.
For me, regarding my diet, this came in the form of realizing that I want to care more about the food I eat. I can whip together a sandwich or a stir fry, and it does the job. But not only do I find myself missing nutritional elements I feel are important in creating an ideal diet (large amounts of fiber, smaller amounts of sugar and salt, minimally processed foods, etc.), but I also feel pretty bored with what I’m eating, and that to me is a sad thing: a denial of the privilege I’ve been given to afford good food. So I started to do a little spring cleaning. I cut out a few things (synthetic sugars and fats, and alcohol), and began contemplating the foods I most care about. Foods that help me to acknowledge what a blessing it is to be able to consume genuine nutrition.
Salmon is Number One for me in nutrition. From A-Z I am frankly obsessed with the fish. Of course they taste delicious, and are packed full of B vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and a slough of antioxidants. But beyond this, they’ve been a centerpiece of the Pacific Northwest’s biological makeup for thousands and thousands of years. These anadromous fish travel from freshwater to salt, and back, to spawn and die; providing a unique nutrient exchange between biomes that are imperative to the fertility of the Pacific Northwest’s forests and wetlands. The Indigenous Peoples of these lands quickly caught on to the importance of salmon, growing to regard them not only as an indispensable food source, but as a spiritual crux displaying the circularity of life and the notion of death yielding rebirth. Salmon are utterly beautiful, and in danger in some cases thanks to climate change, overfishing, habitat loss, and the like. The simultaneous importance of this fish and its relatively precarious state in modern day make it a food I cannot cook without the devotion of 100% of my attention. Farmed fish is out of the question, and only salmon I catch and process myself, or sustainably harvested fish are on the table. Thus, when I eat this food I am so passionate about, I enjoy it more — cherish it. Furthermore, at the end of a meal of salmon I find that because of my reverence, I’ve eaten a proportionate amount of food rather than gorging, and slowly: two habits I typically have trouble with if I’m not extra attentive.
I’ll be the first to admit I’m still working on this practice of caring for the food I eat. I’ve got a ways to go— but progress is being made. Afterall, acknowledging that I’m the kind of person who needs a good reboot every once in a while, simply means I know I have growing to do as a human being. Don’t we all.