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Sane eating and healthy living

Sorry for the delay in getting our latest Cravings Tribe post up on the blow. This week we’re tackling chapter 4, Freedom by the Forkful, and taking a closer look at willpower, sane eating, and the ways our need for love and peace in our lives can keep us tied to high-fat comfort foods that make us feel good for the moment but drag us down over the long haul. I can see that at play in my own life. Back when I wrote this chapter of Cravings years ago, I was working out of my house and able to make time and space for my daily meditative morning ritual of “mindful oatmeal.” In addition, I’d often take time out of my day to chop up some veggies and make a green drink or start a pot of soup or  do some other prep so I could have a healthy, home-cooked meal ready by dinner time. Although life was still hectic, our diet seemed to have a good measure of sanity. When I began working outside the house almost three years ago, however, all of that changed. Aside from cutting out my mindful oatmeal routine, I have become much more reliant on pre-made foods, easy meals, and take out, none of which leave me feeling very healthy and happy after the eating is over. The reality is that eating healthy can take a lot of time and energy. It’s easier to eat fattening comfort foods. And so our challenge now is deciding if we’re worth the time it takes to do the shopping and chopping, prepping and planning required to create balanced meals in a peaceful atmosphere. No more eating on the go, munching in the car, standing at the counter with one hand in a bag of chips as you scroll through emails. (Guilty here!)

To be honest, the winter months don’t work in our favor on this front. I know here in upstate New York the cold, gray days make me less likely to stop at the store on the way home to pick up fresh produce and other ingredients I need to whip up something healthy. On cold winter nights, I’m much more likely to serve up a big bowl of pasta or order in a pizza. So we have to find ways to make it easier to do what’s good for us. Can you use your lunch hour to run out and grab some healthy ingredients for dinner rather than eating at your desk? Can you make a couple of meals ahead of time on the weekend, so you have something ready to go on a busy weeknight? Can you look at your schedule and plan a menu that will be realistic when all those events marked on your calendar roll around? I know I’m a great one for planning a healthy menu filled with lots of fresh veggies and unusual grains, but, come midweek, I can be found digging around in our basement freezer and pantry, hoping to find a bag of frozen string beans and a box of rice pilaf instead. Best laid plans…

This week, take some time to look at your calendar and your fridge and put together some meals that are fresh and healthy but not so hard to make that you’ll give up before you get started. Look for nights when you’ll have time to eat in peace and at a nice slow pace. Make the cooking itself part of your mindful practice. And never underestimate the power of simple foods — a side of fresh steamed broccoli with a squeeze of lemon, a plate of roasted carrots and cauliflower, a bowl of brown rice or a plate of salad piled high with healthy toppings. What’s your favorite healthy food?

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