January 26, 2012 Leave a comment
The most remarkable thing about this journey is how it has affected my soul. When I first started my goal was to lose weight. But where I ended up instead, was so much better. And the weight fell off. This journey led me to unexpected places. Like farmers markets. And farm tours. And to cultivating a garden of my own. I have a deep appreciation for food now that I’ve seen the whole picture, from seed to plate. And when I say food, I don’t just mean ‘food’. I mean everything from seeds and plants and animals that “only have one bad day”; to climate and fertile soil and clean water and organic, sustainable farming; to creating recipes with appreciation for the ingredients; and then cooking and sharing meals, relaxing and making memories with friends and family. Even after the food is gone from our plates, it’s sitting in our full bellies, nourishing us. I mean “FOOD!” I didn’t know it could be this good and, this nourishing. I’ve changed from the inside out. Deeply. This journey moves my soul and now I’m in tune with the natural world. It’s a part of me and I’m a part of it.
So if you want to lose weight AND be healthy and you’ve tried everything else… I have a little suggestion. Something you probably haven’t tried. Just learn to love nourishing food. Reconnect with it. Get to know it really well. Try a… I was going to call it a “farm-to-table diet,” but I hate diets. And I hate when people call eating well a “lifestyle”. I mean it is, but it sounds so cliché. How about… a farm-to-table journey to health. If you learn to eat well, the weight will fall off – and you won’t feel deprived or starved. Our entire family slimmed down in one summer. Except the picky one that needed to gain a little. She did.
Read some articles about all those foodie things I italicized above, and blogs like this one and dozens more like it. Subscribe to facebook pages and blogs like health.com, Slow Food USA, 100 Days of Real Food, Harvest Moon Grille/Grateful Growers and Mark Bittman. I suggest this book: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and other books by Nina Planck, Michael Pollan, Alexandra Zissu. If TV’s your thing, try watching some food shows. Set your DVR to record “Dr. Oz” (he has Oprah’s old spot) and “The Chew” on ABC and Extra Virgin on the Cooking Channel. And watch Food, Inc. Don’t let the politics deter you. Understanding where food comes from and how it gets on your plate is the first step to eating well. Ignore the politics, unless of course you feel passionate about it.
Visit a farmers market or two. Try to find one that is a “producers only” market with food that comes from within a 50 or 100 mile radius. Start shopping there regularly. The best one in the Charlotte area is (Matthews Farmers’ Market.) In fact, some might say this is not a good time to start farmers’ market shopping, because we’re in the middle of winter and there’s hardly any food. First of all, that’s not true. There’s plenty of food. There’s just not a wide variety of food. But I think it’s the best time to get to know the farmers’ market – before it’s busy and crowded and there’s food everywhere. In the winter, farmers’ markets are quieter. The farmers, vendors and market goers will be more relaxed, less busy and open to conversation. And you can watch it grow into spring.
Locate some organic, sustainable farms in your area where food is grown without chemicals and animals are treated humanely. Most of them offer free scheduled tours. This is a great opportunity to find out why sustainable food costs more. It’s also a great way to spend a day with the family. Farms have a way of reminding you what life is all about. Kids of all ages will love it. It’s such a fun learning opportunity. (Also good for getting a reluctant spouse on board.)
Start small. Read one article a day. Subscribe to one blog. “Like” something food related on facebook. Cook one meal from fresh, whole ingredients. I’m telling you, this journey is nothing like a diet. There’s no calorie counting or eating low fat (fat is delicious and doesn’t make you fat – google it). This journey is eye opening and it’s fun. It changed my entire family. We’re all better because of it. I thought it would be nice to hear a kid’s point of view, so I’ve asked my daughter Haleigh (she’s 12) what she has enjoyed the most about this journey. So I’m stepping away from the keyboard now and letting her write it in her own words. This is what she has to to say:
“Eating healthier isn’t as bad as it seems – like eating vegetables all the time and not eating cookies – because there are also good things, like I get to go to the farmers’ market every Saturday. That’s fun for me and also the food from the farmers market tastes better than from a store. Healthier food makes me feel more focused and fit. Unlike junk food which makes me feel lazy. At lunch when I see people all around me eating cookies and chips and I’m eating carrots and a sandwich, it makes me think I’m much healthier than my friends and I’m going to be better off in life. Even though they sometimes make fun of me and stuff, because my mom’s such a “health freak” I’m thinking well at least my mom cares enough not to feed me junk food all my life.”