I was on my hands-and-knees this morning, wiping sticky quinoa off the floor, daydreaming about the arrival of my Roomba (WTF? Since when did *I* start daydreaming about appliances?), contemplating whether I should have saved my money and committed to the fact that I need to sweep the floor more often than I care to do, when the state of my life hit me. And then I stopped.
There it is. I needed to commit to the change instead of trying to find an easy solution. So often, with the availability of technology and convenience items, it is simple to avoid change. (Will I be sending my Roomba back? Hell, no. But I will thank it for its inspiration by doing a choreographed lyrical piece to “Mr. Roboto” upon its arrival.)
If you’ve read my About page, you know that I’ve recently resigned from my career as a high-school English teacher to stay at home with my son—a huge change for someone who, until a few years ago, never saw herself with kids. Every day I’m experiencing something that forces me to think differently about my situation and my new career as a stay-at-home mom, or, as a friend calls herself: “Household Engineer.” Defining my place in MY world and determining my niche in the larger world is becoming a bit of a challenge. Now I understand the difficulty many have with making changes to a healthier lifestyle even if they are resolute in their decision to do so.
There are a number of factors one must overcome in the world of American eating to truly make a change. I’ve decided that my family will eat and live a certain way, and I am strong in my opinions, but my confidence if often shaken by:
-Processed and convenience foods (It’s cheaper and healthier to make my own snacks but it’s so much easier to buy a box of crackers!)
-Advertising (You’d think every food manufacturer follows healthy practices; I constantly have to check ingredients to see If the company’s claims of “organic” are true or not.)
-Prices (We’re living on one income now. On two incomes, buying that expensive organic product wasn’t a big deal; now it is.)
-Desire (Most of the time, I have a strong desire to buy/eat/live what I know to be the best for our family. But it can also feel like running uphill with two feedsacks of quinoa strapped to my hips.)
So, how does one commit to this change when faced with so many challenges?
1) Define why you want to make a change. Are you hoping to eat healthier because “you should” or because you’ve looked into the facts about American eating habits? If you’re making a change based on peer pressure or guilt, it will never work. You have to own it. Do you LIKE eating take-out all the time? Do you ENJOY fast food and can’t live without it? Do you turn up your nose at the organic/slow/local food movement? THAT’S FINE. Own it. Live it. Talk about it. Don’t feel guilty. (I certainly hope that isn’t the case and that you’ll stick around and read up on some facts, first.) 🙂
If you’re thinking of going veg, those with a commitment to the treatment of animals oftentimes fare better at sticking to this choice than those who are doing it mainly for health reasons (::raises hand::).
2. Decide your parameters. Will you change your habits only at home? Will you choose restaurants and travel accommodations based upon your lifestyle choices? Will you stick to your ideals at holidays? When we ate a vegan diet, Hubs and I always made sure to bring our own food to family functions, to make choices based on OUR choices. It was tough, at times, and took the fun and relaxation out of events. (I mean, who wants to spend every holiday meal explaining (again) what you do/do not eat, why you don’t eat those things, and how your health is?) At some point, Hubs and I resigned to not worry too much about our food choices at certain functions, the philosophy being that enjoying good company trumps fighting over food any day. We do what we can, when we can, but don’t stress over Grandma’s baked chicken that definitely DID NOT come from an organic, ethical-treatment farm.
3. LIVE IT. This step is a combination of #1 and #2. Part of living a decision is owning it, talking about it, PUTTING IT TO ACTION. But don’t get snotty and don’t assume everyone knows what you know. One thing I realized (and what fueled creating this blog) was that not everyone was as concerned with GMO’s as I was. Not everyone was reading about vegan issues. Not everyone had seen Food INC. And some people had, but changing their buying/eating habits just wasn’t of interest to them. When I finally got that through my elitist skull, I backed off in my approach to explaining my lifestyle and got much better feedback in return 🙂
Please share in the comments! Why do you want to eat and live healthier? What challenges have you faced?
Good luck and healthy eating! I hope this blog is a resource for you in your journey towards better health.