This is the time of year when people decide on or announce what their New Year’s Resolutions will be. You may already have a few in mind but right now I’d like to suggest a few that center on your food- and no, none of these resolutions are “lose weight”.
As you decide what will do next year (even if you fall short) remember you can resolve to take action anytime of the year and setting specific goals with deadlines will help you get where you want to go. 2012 won’t be better for you than 2011 was just cause you want it to be. You have to plan and act on that plan if you want to make a difference. That said, here are my suggestions for what you can set as goals or resolve to do in 2012 with a little help from the Simpsons.
It should be common knowledge by now but when you cook your own food at least you are more in control of the process of how it’s made and how sanitary the conditions are where you food is made. It may seem odd but if a study found Fast Food Fountain Sodas Contain Bacteria Found In Feces what do you think is in your food? Also there are many health benefits to not eating pre-prepared and processed foods like avoiding harmful substances like the large amounts of sodium found in frozen meals and high fructose corn syrup.
The California Mom who sued Nutella for its overhyped nutrition claims figured out the product was loaded with sugar and saturated fat by reading the label. Whether you agree with the lawsuit or not how will you know what you’re eating if you don’t read the label? You could always eat whole foods which are better for you anyway and we all know broccoli doesn’t have a label, which brings us to your next potential resolution.
Eat Less Processed Food
This is perhaps the grandaddy of all food resolutions, particularly if you’re trying to lose weight- Eat Less Processed Food. It’s the elephant in the room and the one thing most people who speak about nutrition and food aren’t willing to say. You can change your weight and change your life by not eating or even reducing the amount of processed food you eat. That includes cold cuts, pizza, McDonalds, cheese, white bread, and basically anything that’s sold in a box, a can or most of your conventional supermarkets.
This is not to make arbitrary distinctions. You know what processed foods are. There are the foods that are sold to you that are not whole foods and are not readily recognizable as food that grew from the land. They are not fresh fruits and vegetables. Eat less of these and you’ll be doing your body several favors on multiple levels like reducing your cholesterol, blood sugar levels, risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Grow Your Own Food
More of us can do this than we think. The fact is many fruits and vegetables are genetically modified or grown with harmful pesticides. I have also witnessed a lot of distrust for organic foods. I won’t argue that point here but I will say if you have such a distrust for the food supply and don’t trust organic foods you are definitely a candidate for growing your own food.
But we all can. If you live in a food desert and you think good, organic food is too expensive or not readily available this is for you too because buying seeds is cheaper than buying whole foods. If you live in an apartment but have a spot above your kitchen sink near a window than you have room. If you have potted plants near the entrance of your home you have room. Certainly if you have a lawn you have room. This is more accessible than you know and is becoming more necessary than you know. The skills you learn in growing your own food may be some of the most valuable skills you ever develop. The process of growing your own food will get you closer to nature, especially if you’re working with the soil, and that alone can lower a person’s blood pressure and stress levels.
You can start small and grow your own spices or garnish like cilantro or basil. Check out my interview with CanarsieBK for a peek into the life of a person who grows their own food or go to his website urbanorganicgardener.com to learn how to grow your own food right now.
Eat Less Meat
This can be a tough one for a lot of us. Obviously vegans and vegetarians need not be concerned with this one as they already probably have several reasons why they don’t eat meat. I won’t tell anyone to become a vegetarian or vegan (I’m not a doctor) but if you eat meat you should consider it.
Find out more about what vegans and vegetarians know because overall they tend to be more healthy than meat eaters. If your health is a major concern of yours you should not only consider this but become a vegetarian for at least 1 day a week.
You also don’t need to eat meat at every meal. You have much more to gain than you stand to lose in forgoing bacon at breakfast, hamburgers at lunch and chicken for dinner (or breakfast!) . If meat wasn’t subsidized in the US it would be unthinkable to eat like that cause most of us couldn’t afford it. Many of the world’s resources, including forested land and especially drinkable water, are diverted to raising livestock for meat consumption that simply doesn’t have to happen. So becoming a non meat eater or eating less meat drives down the outrageously destructive factory farming industry.
BONUS: Be Grateful For Your Food
Besides the fact that so many people don’t have any and you do, and you have choices, you should be grateful for you food because it also makes you feel better. If you take your time to eat, savor and appreciate your food it aids in digestion. Eating in a hurry or without even tasting leads to indigestion and heartburn.
Part of being grateful for your food also involves knowing where your food comes from. I have news for you friends, food does not come from “the store”. This kind of thinking has led to runaway environmental damage, massive and deadly food recalls, depression, poor health and wellbeing on a daily basis for many, and costly prescription pill intake for “managing” chronic long term illnesses.
Food doesn’t come from a store, it comes from the land and if the land isn’t in good health your you and your food will not be healthy. It’s that simple.