Isn’t that such a great title? It literally came to me in a dream. Well, not quite a dream but I was in bed. I had to jump out of bed to scribble it on a bit of paper. But anyway, let’s get into why you’re really here…
We all want to eat “better” – whatever our definition of better looks like. If you’ve read any of these Health articles , you would know that we value FOOD AS FUEL over here. We eat food for many other reasons – to provide comfort, to provide happiness, to better cope with grief… and the list goes on. But the primary purpose of food is to nourish our bodies and keep us in tip-top shape (or something close to it).
We may not think much about it, when we’re savouring all the flavours and textures as we chew delicious meals …but what you eat will directly affect how you feel, look, act and even think. We’re no strangers to those articles that list all the foods that are carcinogenic (can cause cancer) and which sugary drinks we need to stay away from; but, we are also no strangers to eating for pleasure and having this “cheat meal” because we deserve it.
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I recently decided to keep track of everything I ate for two months. It was not my first time keeping a food journal, but it was my first time taking a holistic approach to food journaling. Usually, my only thought would be to write down the food I eat and see where I can decrease caloric and sugar intake (and perhaps monitoring how many calories I lost after each workout). But, this time I didn’t focus so much on what I could decrease but how I felt after each day. So there were days that I had MsDonald’s and a blizzard from Dairy Queen and I took note of how I felt that evening and the day after. Coming to this practice mindfully, really helped me to change my diet.
I wouldn’t say I was eating terribly, but taking note of what I was eating (without the slightly judgemental lens of monitoring meals for weight loss) helped me to see what foods made me feel bloated, tired, energized, and improved my mood. We already know that food and veggies are good for you but also monitoring the time of day you have certain meals might also be helpful. A personal trainer once told em to have fruit closer to the beginning of the day, but you can have veggies all day long. Personally, I have found that having sugar (whether from candy or fruit) earlier in the day decreases my chances of feeling burnt out in the middle of the work day. I also realized that having a Big Mac with bacon and large fries – though delicious and comforting, might not be the best way for me to end the day.
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Food journaling also helped me to see which foods were optimal for bed-time, so I could get the best rest. The Big Mac was NOT one of them. I say all this to say that our HEALTH BEGINS IN THE KITCHEN. Focusing on eating more sustainably, which may include one or more of the following:
🥬Leaf 1: Eating more foods that are “organic” or have “come from the ground”, and reducing consumption of processed food
🥬Leaf 2: Reducing food waste (cooking and eating smaller portions, or having just enough)
🥬Leaf 3: Reducing waste general (using reusable containers and eco-friendly food storage)
🥬Leaf 4: Conserving energy where possible
A ZERO CALORIE KITCHEN doesn’t mean that you’re counting calories for every meal or that you are only eating lettuce leaves and carrots. The zero calorie kitchen mindset means that you are doing what you need to prioritize sustainability in your diet and mindful eating. In our home it also extended to sustainable energy use :
While it is important for us to eat “healthy”, perhaps reframing this in our mind will encourage us to look beyond “rabbit food” and to adopt the mindset of sustainable or mindful eating. Our diet affects pretty much everything – including our brain health. We may already know that consuming lots of sugary drinks and food high in sugar can cause us to gain weight, but did you know it may also increase the chances of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease? Did you know that foods high in trans fat (artificial trans fats, not those found in animals) and a diet high in carbs can both reduce memory and brain volume?
I am not saying any of this to scare you, it is merely to provide information so we can make good decisions. My mother used to be obsessed with a healthy eating article that came in the Jamaica Gleaner every week. At one point I told her to stop reading it or else “we would never eat anything”. But, now that I am mildly addicted to reading about food and its impact on our body – I get what my mother was doing. When you are mindful of the risks and repercussions you act (and eat) accordingly…in moderation.
In what ways can you improve sustainable and mindful eating?
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