hange is never easy. It’s always more comfortable to remain in our routine, even if that means blindly continuing on an unhealthy path. But if you’re craving change, there are several small ways to jumpstart your own food revolution that are relatively painless. Mostly, it starts by simply being aware of what you put in your body, where it comes from, and the kind of eater you want to be.
In an essay, Gary Hirshberg paints a dismal picture: “All of humanity ate organic food until the early part of the twentieth century, yet we’ve been on a chemical binge diet for about eighty years—an eye blink in planetary history—and what do we have to show for it? We’ve lost one-third of America’s original topsoil; buried toxic waste everywhere; and polluted and depleted water systems, worsened global warming, and exacerbated ailments ranging from cancer to diabetes to obesity.”[i]
The silver lining is we each have the power to make small changes in our life that will contribute to better health without letting the supermarket shelves dictate our eating habits. Even if you’re relatively unsure about which path to choose and hover between eating meat or not, giving up dairy or not, or simply starting to cook your own meals instead of eating out, you can make conscious changes that work for your current lifestyle and the lifestyle you ultimately want to have.
Here are a few simple ways to change how you interact with food:
Remove the temptation. If you stock ice cream in your freezer by the gallon or buy mini bags of your favorite chips, they will most likely be eaten. Instead of trying to talk yourself out of opening the bag of chips, it’s far easier to not bring them home in the first place. It’s ok to treat yourself now and then, but remove them from your shopping list to give you a head start.
Eat less red meat. Even if you plan to remain an omnivore, eating less red meat is good for your health and the environment. When you do have red meat, aim for grass fed beef, which is lower in fat and the animals themselves are healthier and better cared for.
Add whole grains. Whole grains pasta has come a long way from the tasteless, dark brown noodles you may remember trying years ago. Today, in the pasta aisle alone, there are dozens of new brands made with whole grains and even rice and quinoa pasta for those requiring gluten free options. Aside from pasta, grains like quinoa and farro pack an impressive list of health benefits and keep you full longer due to higher amounts of fiber.
Buy organic. Organic farming excludes the use of manufactured fertilizers and pesticides, instead relying on techniques such as crop rotation and compost to control pests and maintain healthy soil. Support your local farmers by shopping at the farmers market or choosing organic produce whenever possible in the grocery store.
Spend more time in the kitchen. Cooking your own meals is one of the simplest and cost saving ways to control what you put in your body. Restaurant meals are notoriously high in sodium, fat and calories, so even cutting back your normal weekly intake will help. Aim to cook more of your own meals and pack a homemade lunch whenever possible.
[i] Hirshberg, Gary. “Organics—Healthy Food, and so Much More.” Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-And What You Can Do About It. Ed. Karl Weber. Public Affairs, 2009, pp. 48