We are at a very interesting and confounding point in our human evolution: Never before have edible items been so readily available. At the same time, never before have diet-related diseases been the number cause of death. We have access - easy, ready access- to food, and yet we struggle so much with making wise food choices. Why can’t we help ourselves do better? Make smarter choices, take better care of our nourishment, and reduce our path toward disease. (I know that sounds a little grim, but we are definitely not headed in the right direction!)
Pay attention to what you are putting in your mouth. Pay attention to the foods you are eating and drinking. Put your devices down. Do one thing – eat – at a time. Mindless eating is one of the sources of consuming too many calories. Use this time to connect with your food and with your people.
Learn where your food comes from. And I don’t just mean which grocery store shelf it can be found, but perhaps where it grows, and how it came to be in your grocer’s hands. Or, better, grow it yourself if you can. Befriend the people who do grow food items and supply your food chain. Make it person and invest energy to understand how that food came to you; making it more meaningful will help you to understand the value of the food you consume, and reduce the mindlessness of eating.
Try new foods. Discover new flavors and textures. Play around with new cuisines. There is a whole world of flavors out there: try a new spice, or variation of a food you already love. Try a new fruit or veggie (so long as it is ripe; the imported stuff that looks pretty but tastes like plastic is just not worth it.) Take a course to learn how to prepare a new cuisine. Visit different restaurants. Get out of your food groove and discover something new. Take a virtual trip with the foods that are on your plate. Not only is this an amazing way to discover foods and flavors, but it might even inspire you to get out of your groove and go on an actual adventure.
What happens in the kitchen more greatly impacts your waistline than what happens in the gym. More than any weight you lift, jump you make, or class you attend, your efforts (or non-efforts) in the kitchen directly impact your weight and your physical abilities.
Take time to eat with tour family. Pay attention to the quality of your food. Talk about this with your family so they too learn about what food really matters. Food is not and should not be an after-thought.
What’s in season? We are mostly familiar with what’s in season in the States. What about wherever in the world you are? One of the greatest adventures being overseas is delving into the marketplaces and seeing what’s good eating right now. Take advantage of what you can enjoy that just came into the market. Take the guesswork out of the unknown/new food: make a list of recipes that can help highlight that fruit or veg and rotate through them.
Be able to pronounce what you eat. Micheal Pollan said it best: ‘Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.’ Put the package food down, and improvise a bit. It doesn’t have to be Instagram worthy, it doesn’t have to be haute cuisine. It doesn’t have to be straight from the earth, either. But if you can pronounce it, if you can identify all of the elements of it, likely it is less processed. And that is a good thing.
There are no bad foods, there are no good foods. There are more nourishing foods. There are more nutritionally dense foods. There are more environmentally-sound choices. Eat the foods you like; take pleasure in what you are eating. Think about the food you purchase, think about the food you create. Be cognizant of food you might be wasting; do not, however, feel beholden to any of these foods. Invest your time and energy into the foods you enjoy, and then you will find pleasure in what you are eating (and cooking!). Very important and read again if you need to: Food should not be a source of guilt.
Know what you like, not what you’ve last seen in Instagram. Eat what you like, even if it is brown, taupe, or beige. (There is, though, something to be said about the colors that Ma Nature contributes to her bounty, and each is linked to a phytonutrient that can’t be found in any pill.)
You are not the same as your neighbor, as your friend, as your spouse. you will not eat the same. Pick the foods you enjoy. Pick the foods that make you feel your best. Share this food with your neighbors, your friends, your family. Respect the food you eat, learn about it, and understand what it can do for you. Eating better fuels you better, and fuels your family better.