One of the benefits of minimalism is the time and energy to embark on new discoveries. It has jumpstarts a lifestyle change toward health and wellness on other fronts as well.
I find that I am paying special attention to my relationship with food as of late. My past relationship to food was lacking. I have always struggled with eating the wrong things and eating too much of them. This leaves my body feeling sluggish and my skin less than optimal. In the past, I did not particularly enjoy the food I ate and I certainly did not look forward to cooking a fresh meal.
What follows is not a post about weight loss (though I think I’d be just fine if a few pounds fall away). I am not a nutritionist or certified health professional. My desire to change my relationship to food is about living a whole lifestyle committed to overall wellness and being the best version of myself. I want to eat good to feel good. I want to enjoy what and how I eat.
One of the best parts of my week lately has been going to our new local produce stand. I’m lucky that it’s only a mile or so from my home in East Nashville, TN. Other than chatting with the owner, who happens to have gone to high school with my Dad, I’ve found some other feel-good reasons to shop local when it comes to food.
I always look for easy ways to create a more sustainable, environmentally conscious home. Because the bulk of my produce does not travel across the country or around world these days, the carbon footprint it creates is much less than what you typically buy at the grocer.
It is also pretty cool that less travel time means I am able to purchase food much closer to the time it was picked. Buying at the peak of freshness means we have much less food waste in our home now. Blueberries that would usually last only 4-5 days are now lasting over a week!
Eating at the peak of freshness has other benefits too. The flavor is so much better. If you’ve had a locally grown strawberry, you know what I’m talking about. The sweetness does not even compare to the watered-down flavors I get at chain grocery stores. Along with better flavor comes more nutritional value. From reading on the topic, I have learned foods are more nutrient rich the closer in time they are to being picked.
I love celebrating the change in seasons. I not-so-patiently wait for the beginning of strawberry and then peach season. I equally look forward to harvest soups in the fall. Eating seasonal foods highlights the varieties of flavor throughout the year. It keeps food boredom at bay by making the change of every season feel like a treat! I savor the last bite of peach for the year while looking forward to fall root vegetables.
Because the foods offered at local produce stand change with the seasons, there is a good chance that you’ll try something new almost every season. Take last year’s adventure with Turkish eggplant, for example. I learned that some colors aren’t palatable at all, but others are quite delish. It was also fun to try out a new recipe.
On a more practical level, eating seasonally saves a ton of money! Just last week I picked up a dozen ears of corn for $2. That’s enough to feed my extended family at our 4th of July celebration. At the chain grocery store near by house, the price was double (still not a lot, but double is double after all). Going back to less food waste, I also save by my fruits and veggies keeping longer.
Eat for body and soul.
Lately I have been reading about the impact different fruits and vegetables have on the health of our skin. Adding more antioxidant rich foods to our diet goes a long way in keeping our skin and body healthy. There is also this thing called “resveratrol”. I’m still learning, but it’s found in blueberries, grapes, and RED WINE. It is super good for both your heart and your skin!
I pay close attention to how I feel after I eat a meal. Some foods give me energy while others bring me way, way down. Some foods stick with me, while others leave me feeling hungry in a short while. I haven’t had a cheeseburger in months because I realized how sluggish and sleepy I felt afterward (I’ve also cut beef out of my diet for other environmental reasons that I won’t discuss in this post).
I suffer from a really serious problem when it comes to food. I get hangry. Really, really hangry. It is probably my least attractive personal quality. While I laugh about it with friends and family, my brain actually begins to feel like it is shutting down and goes into a panic mode. My blood sugar drops and so does my patience. It has become really important to restructure my eating habits to get rid of this. No husband wants to come home to a hangry wife after a long day of work!
I’m no good at deprivation. My soul would be crushed if I couldn’t have the occasional poutine or chocolate croissant. Instead, I’m learning balance. If I have a heavy meal one day, I’ll eat lighter the next. The days of eating out many times a week are over. Yesterday I had a turkey, bacon, and avocado sandwich for lunch from my favorite local deli. Today lunch is half of a quinoa stuffed bell pepper with a side of oven-roasted potatoes. Likewise, if I eat a large lunch a light dinner will follow. It’s all about balance y’all!
Eat Only Enough.
As the typical American, I am often guilty of stuffing myself and then eating “one more big bite”. I am lucky to live in an economic condition and location where I have easy access to food whenever I need it. I remind myself constantly “I don’t have to eat it all right now”. Sometimes I listen to my inner voice and sometimes I don’t. I can tell you that I feel 100% better when I do listen.
Lately I have enjoyed “second lunch”. In an effort to allow my body to understand what “enough” food feels like, I’ve been eating only half my lunch. I put the rest in the fridge and go back an hour or so later for a few more bites. I’m lucky that I have a flexible workday so taking a few minutes for a late second lunch is no problem. It works for me because it also keeps me from snacking in the late afternoon, which I am prone to do.
Does all this mean I’m giving up the proverbial Millennial Avocado Toast? Nope! As I mentioned before deprivation is not for me. But I make a conscious choice to eat more local and seasonal foods. I hit my local stand first before setting foot in the chain store. By taking these easy steps, I have noticed the “other stuff” is quickly being replaced.
So far, my energy has increase, my skin is looking softer and brighter and my husband gets a happy, non-hangry wife. Apparently, my waistline must be looking smaller too because a neighbor asked if I had been doing the Whole 30 diet. No, no I’m not!
Get the stuffed quinoa recipe from Minimalist Baker!
Read more about eating for your skin in Mathilde Thomas’ The French Beauty Solution.