Did I mention I'm staying at the Kripalu Institute this week? It's in Lenox, MA (in the Berkshires). I think the story is that it first opened in the 70's as an ashram. There is a lot going on, and I highly recommend checking it out online to see if there's anything you'd be interested in attending. I don't love the dorm-room-shared-bathroom-thing, but I can get past it for a few days. Next time, I'll be saving my money and staying in the annex (hopefully).
Kripalu serves primarily organic and as many local foods as possible, and although they do serve some meat, it is easy to be a vegetarian here. I'm not a vegetarian, but I eat (and drink) a lot of vegetables----so every last lingering bit of my two-month burger and pizza streak has been eaten up by vegetables. Lots of them. I love it. It doesn't hurt that everything tastes good--but I realized how much work goes into preparing healthy food. If you were to fill a plate with all healthy home-prepared foods, that would require quite a bit of prep work. It's definitely easier to pop some chicken nuggets and fries in the oven for 20 minutes (or better yet, just buy them at McDonalds on your way home). Even add a can of green beens or an apple.......so much easier.
But it's simple to eat heathier (I didn't say easy, just simple!)---you plan out what to eat, and then you do it. What if it takes longer to prepare? Or what if you ease into it by partially healthy and partially processed foods? If you look at it as a chore that eats up your free time.....it will be. I see it as a cycle that you probably have to experience for yourself to believe.
You are tired after work so you grab whatever is easy because you need to rest and you don't want to use your evening free time preparing food. So the processed food perpetuates more tiredness and the food is not satisfying your nutritional needs---and you keep doing the same thing and feeling the same way. But if you add some veggies throughout the day, you are eating energy from the sun (chlorophyl closely resembles hemoglobin---another topic). Chlorophyl and vitamins and minerals and enzymes give you energy and this does two things for you. First, it motivates you to eat more healthy foods, which gives you even more energy. Second, your extra energy allows you to feel like you have more (energized) hours in the day that you don't need to use for rest--so cooking and preparing foods can even be fun. (Petra, can I use your name here? K, thanks) Ask Petra, if you know her and if you want to ask about this phenomenon----adding healthy things is easier than it first sounds, and it does change the way you look at food and how you feel and look. No one said you have to be perfect---Rome wasn't built in a day!
I read a book a few years ago called Food, Breath, and Sound by Bri Maya Tiwari, and it helped me to change my view on preparing foods from a chore to an enjoyable activity. I'm not saying I've done this----I rarely cook anything or prepare recipes (unless it's some weird new idea I can buy a new kitchen gadget for). I want to though. For now, until I can see how to fit it all into my life, I'll just eat all this great stuff at Kripalu to get inspired and when I go home, I'll mostly eat my raw veggies and salads and juices (and go to Aladdins for the Mediterranean salad at least once a week.....and hit the Wegmans salad bar when I need some variety or am inching toward the drive thru).
The point is that you can nudge yourself toward healthy habits by exposing yourself to different and healthier ways of life, and then trying things bit-by-bit.
...to be continued