Sunday, December 28, 2008

Healthy Planet, Healthy You

Boy, I really wanted to add another rhyme to the title, like "Healthy Planet, Healthy You, in 2002!". But of course, I'd be a few years off.

It's hard to believe that it's nearly 2009! This last year has been one of changes for me--big changes. First, I quit my job to go out on my own with my writing career. Exhilarating. Wonderful. And scary. Worth it? Absolutely. But that just wasn't enough fear for me to feel in one year, so then I decided I was ready to be a mom. And poof! Just like that, I was "with child". (Must be that healthy vegetarian diet!).

Which brings me to the point of my post--healthy eating and a whole foods diet. Now, if you read all the studies, statistics, books, magazines and other information that inundates us on a daily basis in regards to losing weight and being healthier, you can easily become overwhelmed. I know I am. While information about what's healthy and what isn't is beneficial, I think it can all get to be a little bit much.

Recently, I've been reading Michael Pollan's, "In Defense of Food". I find his philosophy of healthy eating simple and astute. Ready? Here it is: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." That's it! Simple? It would seem so until one heads into the local grocery store and finds 20 "ingredients" listed on popular favorites that you can't pronounce. Pollan states that we should shop like we were with our great-grandmother. If she wouldn't be able to recognize the food item or ingredients in it, that's our cue to leave the food on the shelf.

For the past couple of months I'll admit I've been doing more of a grab-and-go style of eating than is healthy. On top of that, I've been seriously craving sweets and letting myself have them with a little too much abandon. Oh, it starts innocently enough. "Just a couple of hard candies after lunch with a cup of cocoa." But then later in the day the cravings get worse and I feel like crap after plowing through a bunch of cookies or leftover sweets we have in the snack cupboard. "But I'm pregnant! I can't be held responsible for these horrible cravings!" And, I don't know if you are like this or not, but the more I try to restrict myself, the more I want something. The problem is that if you eat a lot of junk, it's taking the place of good, healthy foods that your body really needs. This can set off more cravings and additional craziness in the kitchen.

So I'm trying a new tactic, one that for the past few days I've been doing it, has been working beautifully. Forget what I "can't" have and focus on all the awesome foods that I haven't been making room for. Mangoes. Fresh pineapple. Dried figs. Fresh vegetables prepared in a new delicious marinade. I thank my friend who kindly sent me, "Vegan Express", a new cookbook that is giving me lots of inspiration! And amazingly, so far, after eating lots of fruits and veggies and healthier meals, my sugar cravings are nearly gone.

On top of the wonderful way that you'll feel if you start eating healthier, eating a plant-based, or even decreased meat diet has many benefits on the planet. Global warming is being attributed to, in part at least, the amount of land that is being used up by animals which will later be slaughtered. Methane, produced by animals (ahem) gas, is seriously hurting the atmosphere as well. It might seem funny, but it's actually a really serious problem. Read more about it here. So, we can actually save two of the most important things that we have at our disposal--our health and the health of our planet--by choosing to eat in a healthy, more responsible way.

And on top of all that, it's yummy.


Steph @ Greening Families said...

I had a serious sweet tooth with both of my pregnancies. After talking with my midwife, I increased my protein intake and, lo and behold, the cravings for sweets dialed way down.

My midwife's recommendation was to keep the protein intake at 80-100 grams/day, FYI.

ChicChick said...

Thanks for the info, Steph. I've no doubt that my less-than-steller protein intake has something to do with it. I've noticed though that cutting out white sugar completely and using only natural sugars like maple syrup, honey and fruit juices seems to help a lot.

Of course, for me the sweet tooth is not a new issue--it's a lifelong companion!