From A Year of Healthy Living 2015 wall calendar by Ann Lovejoy — Our culture encourages us to think of treats in terms of eating and spending money. This year, why not explore ways to enrich your life with wholesome treats that increase your health, strength, stamina, and wellbeing? For many of us, this positive path might begin by creating a healthy relationship with food.
Sadly, increasingly few of us have this healthy relationship with what we eat. We can’t live without eating, yet too many of us either live to eat or don’t really care what we eat so long as it’s fast and easy. Being free to eat whatever we want, whenever we want it, is not a recipe for health.
Americans today are less healthy and more overweight than at any time in history. Why? As a society, we are addicted to fast food and sugar. We eat unprecedented amounts of highly processed foods, nearly all of which contain sugar and salt. Hidden sugars and salts even lurk in common seasonings, from salad dressings to meat rubs. Small wonder we are increasingly obese.
Eating too many carbohydrate-dense processed foods can create biochemical imbalances that leave many of us feeling tired, slow, and low in energy. The truth is that sugar acts like a powerful mood-altering drug in our bodies and brains, and it is very, very addictive. If you find yourself wanting to create a harmonious, energizing, balanced, and wholesome relationship to the food you live on, maybe it’s time for a change.
The key to healthy eating is not new, and it need not involve a restrictive “diet” as such. For millennia, a healthy diet consisted largely of unprocessed whole foods. Before World War II, very few processed foods were available. Since the widespread introduction of sugary high-calorie, low-nutrient convenience foods, people’s health in nations that embrace these junk foods has declined rapidly.
What kinds of food can best nourish us? Recent research supports the idea that a variety of colorful vegetables should be the mainstay of most people’s diets. As a rule, the brighter the color, the greater the nutritive value, so pick the darkest leafy greens, the liveliest-looking carrots, and beets and peppers in the deepest red. The real key? Create a regular meal pattern based on healthful common sense and stick to it. For most people, the traditional three square meals a day is still an excellent plan. Treat your amazing body with nurturing care and respect, and it will reward you with renewed vitality, balanced and unflagging energy, and a deep pleasure in daily life.
With more than 20 books to her credit, award-winning author Ann Lovejoy is one of the country’s leading experts on sustainable garden design and techniques. A popular cooking and gardening columnist for numerous national and regional publications, Lovejoy is fully committed to sustainable agriculture and is active in many community projects. For more information, please visit her blog.