I had a conversation once with a guy (on a first date) who was older than me. He said, in so many words, he was already considering selling his house because he would be getting older one day and had to prepare for that. He was overly concerned with falling off a ladder while decorating for Christmas. Now, I’m no longer in my 20’s but I’m also nowhere near retirement. This conversation sealed the deal. No second date. Not. My. Type. While I totally agree that things need to evolve as we age, I would have loved a conversation about fun choices that maintain health and happiness versus fear of falling without any plan to maintain strength. Sigh. Evolving with age doesn’t need to mean envisioning ourselves in a mechanical recliner to boost us up instead of using our own leg muscles to do this. I like to walk. I like to garden. I like to eat seasonally. These, to me, are fun things that also happen to support good health over time. If that guy would have talked about these types of things in the fun way that I think of them? Date two would have likely happened. Instead, back of the line for him.
I also once had a patient consultation with a family regarding weight management. There was tension between parent and child about the lack of veggie consumption by the child. Guess who else wasn’t eating their vegetables? Guess what that child was seeing versus hearing? We had a gentle and good conversation about this, and eyes were opened all around. It turned into a fun session with some great results over time.
These are the type of stories that are on my mind as we enter “resolution making season”.
Here are seven totally do-able things you can start integrating into your day. In fact, I predict they are going to seem so easy and common sense-y that you are going to try and talk yourself out of doing them. I double dog dare you to try them (bonus points to me for the reference to the movie “A Christmas Story”! 😉 #hohoho). Here. We. Go.
- Keep a food log. Do it however you like. Take pictures (not to share on Insta, but to review in totality at end of day). Write it down in a pretty notebook with a swirly pen. Type it into your notes section on your laptop, or scratch it on a napkin. Just start paying attention to the things you are eating throughout the day. Yes, you have to write down that piece of candy you snag at the co-worker’s desk. Yes, if you are cruising that store for samples, you have to write that, too. Why? Because what you are “choosing” may be more willy nilly than you realize. You may also see a pattern you can then address. I once had a patient do this and she came in and announced she had no idea she was going days without eating a fruit or vegetable. Understanding your current situation helps you focus.
- Organize your kitchen – pantry, freezer, fridge, dishware, gadgets. Clear off the counter. Make it a pleasant place to be. Turn on music while you scoot around and prepare/organize/cook. We like when people make food for us. Start to like it when you do this for yourself. I find that if my work space is the way I want it, it’s way more fun to be in it. Think about where you mix things, how close the table is to the plates and silverware, and so forth. Make zones. Put the spices somewhere near the stove top so you can add while cooking and easily grab while following a recipe. Organize your cabinets so the pots and pans you like to use are easy to get to. Donate the things you aren’t using. Make sure you own measuring cups. Measure the cups and bowls you eat out of most often to help with portion control guesstimates. Stock your kitchen with great options. You get the gist. Make it easy to make it better.
- Eat foods you like that serve a purpose and taste good on a daily basis. Obviously, there are foods we know are not the best choice nutritionally speaking, yet we eat them anyway. However, if that is your daily routine, that treat isn’t such a treat anymore, is it? I am loving the #foodwaste and #farmtotable presence in food conversations lately. We need to eat to live. We have a limited number of natural resources – maybe the whole “clean eating” trend really means “simple ingredients with a purpose”. If heart disease is the number one cause of death globally, and we know what foods help keep our heart healthy that also taste delicious to us, let’s give that a go. Save the party foods for the party.
- Consider your portions. If you like the taste of something, that’s the part where you chew. Gulping down vast quantities of food sort of skips this. Savor your choices. If you need to lose some excess weight, this is a key idea. Pair decadent choices with other types of foods to balance out the meal/day. Fried chicken? No problem. Here are a couple of options: maybe 3 pieces instead of 4 (or 2 vs. 3), take the skin off, and/or eat it with a salad with a zingy vinegar-based dressing. We hear cooking chatter about pairing acid and fat in a dish. Not only could this type of pairing help balance out the meal in terms of calories, it would be delicious. You don’t have to give things up completely, just shift the amount.
- Tweak what you are doing in small ways. There is room for not being perfect. In fact, that’s part of what life is all about, isn’t it? There’s a balance that can be struck on what our fun selves and our responsible selves need and want. Pick a route that allows for a little wiggle room.
- Visit a farm. Go have fun. Talk with a farmer. See the plants and animals and how much care is going into the daily routine on the farm. Remember what life was like when we were all on a farm and/or closer to growing our own food. You can find them if you look.
- Grow something edible. Whether it’s a basil or mint plant, a tomato plant, or some other option, commit to caring for something you can eat. Reconnect with the steps it takes to do this. And then try to envision being in charge of all your favorite foods. It may help give just a wee bit of perspective.
What will you do new for you?