The time has come to confront your food. At Change Food we are challenging you to ask the difficult questions, swap your old habits for better ones, and commit to healthier choices in 2016.
We have five health tips that will make this year your healthiest one yet.
- Make Health Your Bottom Line
TEDxManhattan speaker Stefanie Sacks says “our health is nobody’s bottom line but ours.” We have to take ownership. Our present health is a result of the choices we have made along the way. In her talk, How Small Changes in Food Choice Can Make BIG Everyday Differences, Sacks gives three things that every person and family can adopt to create healthier daily meals. The first is prioritizing health above all else.
Sacks compares the human body to a luxury Mercedes car. The vehicle requires high dollar, premium gasoline to run optimally. Yet we often feed our bodies artificial sugars and empty-calorie junk foods for fuel. Why are we treating our cars better than our vital organs?
The body can only run as well as the fuel it receives. Invest in your health with high quality, whole foods.
- Commit to Change
What does it take to commit to new food choices? Small changes. Sacks affirms, “small changes in food choice can and will make big everyday differences.”
It is important to set yourself up for success by breaking down the barriers. Time and access hinder many from moving forward in their health goals. Set aside time to develop a nourishment strategy.
During Sacks’ talk, she quotes Robyn O’Brien, who says, “If we don’t plan for eating healthfully, then we better plan for illness.” Time can be on your side. Start small by carving out fifteen minutes every day to make breakfast. If your time in the morning is already limited, you can make a breakfast casserole that can last throughout the week or prepare overnight oatmeal. By cooking for yourself, you know exactly what is in your food and you are in control of what’s fueling your body.
Though circumstances may seem difficult, every barrier can be broken. It is up to you to do the planning and make the commitment.
- Get an Edible Education
Cost and confusion are two other barriers preventing nourishment. Sacks wants all to have access to an edible education so we can become skeptical shoppers. She says, “an edible conversation….needs to happen if we’re going to get healthy and stay healthy.”
Begin by questioning the foods you choose. What are you really paying for in that box of cereal? How much sugar is in one serving? Is it truly heart-healthy as the banner indicates or is it just a marketing tactic? Marketers have found numerous ways to mislead a customer into thinking their products are healthy while the food is merely candy in disguise.
One good resource for finding honest product information is the Environmental Working Group’s Food Scores database. It lists nutrition, ingredient and processing concerns. All you have to do is scan the barcode into the app.
Many people are quick to place whole, unprocessed foods into a category out of their price-range. It is true that foods labeled as organic have higher costs, although there are numerous farms around the country growing high-quality food without the certified organic label at more affordable prices. Start by talking to merchants at the famers market and ask how their food is grown. You can also shop near closing time when sellers are offering discounts on their items.
When you are armed with an edible education, there is a better alternative for every average choice.
Our health begins with a healthy food supply. This supply is achieved when foods are raised with sustainable and ethical standards. One way to guarantee that your ingredients are of high-quality is by subscribing to community supported agriculture (CSA).
Dr. Robert S. Lawrence suggests CSAs in his TEDxManhattan talk, Effects of a High Meat Diet on Public Health. When you join a CSA, you become a stakeholder in a local farm and receive a share of the crops each week. These can include all vegetable farms, fruit orchards or pasture-raised animals.
Investing in a CSA is also a way to invest in larger changes to the food supply. Dr. Lawrence says that “if enough of us on the demand side influence through our choices, we will transform the food system and the supply side will follow.” Even if the food is more expensive, your health is worth it. You pay the farmer now instead of paying the hospital later.
- Meatless Mondays
The World Health Organization recently advised all to reduce consumption of processed meats and red meats as they are correlated to colorectal cancer. This is reason enough to adopt Meatless Monday into your routine, but Dr. Lawrence adds a few other persuasions.
Our high-meat diet has a direct impact on public health. The animals we eat are raised in hazardous environments that endanger our health with contaminated meat, degraded water supply, and antibiotic resistance. Americans lead the world in animal protein consumption, with nearly four times the amount of the global average. We simply do not need all this protein for a sustainable diet.
Make a pact with your family to go meatless on Mondays.
And when you do eat meat, choose ones that are pasture-raised from sources you trust.
Are you ready to commit? Break down those barriers so that healthy food can be a part of everyday life for you and your loved ones. Once you have the knowledge and make the plan, everything else falls into place.
Brittany Barton is the creative behind SparkleKitchen.com. Brittany offers real food recipes, sustainable living guidance and inspiration for others to become more sparkly versions of themselves.
Change Food aggregates the best of the best already working toward healthy food change, amplifies their voices through our events and programs, and advance their work and the goal of the food movement – to provide healthy, safe, delicious, fair food for ALL. To learn more, visit ChangeFood.org. Follow and support us on Patreon.