The town where I am from hails the existence of sailing vessels that reach as far back as Captain John Smith who explored the waterways of the Chesapeake Bay in search of profit from its shores. To this day, generations of families carve out a living from the bounty of the bay with the help of their sturdy diesel workboats. Local tales claim that a well-crafted workboat can outlive its owner. The workhorse of the bay, the elongated outboard motorboat of the Chesapeake endures tempests and arduous work days on the 200-mile estuary.
On occasion, as a boat oscillates through the waterways checking crab pots, there is the chance that an unsuspected obstacle may emerge from the murky saltwater. Slowing the boat to an idle, the waterman often finds a nylon rope or some other foreign object entwined in the propeller. Removing the obstacle requires a little ingenuity mixed with a handful of determination. Over the years, I’ve known watermen who dive into the choppy waters and remove the obstacle by hand while fighting against the current. Like the resourceful watermen, remove the obstacles that try to prevent you from staying on course with a lifetime of healthy eating.[bctt tweet=”find a way around obstacles that try to prevent you from staying on course with a lifetime of healthy eating.” username=”DeniseSultenfus”]
Remove the Obstacles in Your Way of a Lifetime of Healthy Eating
The tight-knit community of Eastern Shore watermen views boats just short of a family member. They are well-cared for, protected, and maintained. A malfunctioning boat forced to maroon is a useless tool to the waterman. Our body, while far more complicated than a boat, is designed to help us navigate through the sea of illnesses and come out afloat. Fueling your body with foods derived from nature is an investment in your health. You can choose to fill your body with foods that nourish and heal or foods that will eventually make you sick. Natural health practitioner Ann Wigmore subscribes to the theory that:
“The food you eat can either be the safest & most powerful form of medicine…or the slowest form of poison.”
If you fuel your body using the typical Western Diet, you will invariably suffer from obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, diet-related illnesses, and cancer. Often the barriers standing between you and healthy eating are time, cost, and cooking moxie. Overcome one or more of these obstacles that prevent you from a lifetime of joyful real food eating.
Obstacle 1: Healthy Eating Takes Too Much Time
Undeniably, healthy eating takes time to prepare. Meal planning and meal prep are paramount. Each household must decide how to manage the unavoidable washing, chopping, pureeing, and thawing. In due time, all participants in the meal prep process will connect with food in a way that ripping open a box and pouring processed food into a pot does not: offer.
Divide the meal prep tasks among family members; even young children gladly wash produce, husk corn, and measure ingredients. The benefits to the family approach to mealtime prep are twofold: everyone learns how to cook and gains an appreciation for real food. Every family has a real food skeptic; the one who looms in the shadows of the kitchen hoping that soon this nightmare of healthy eating will end. Remain calm. Even the skeptic will notice the changes in your family’s health and attitude toward food.
Obstacle 2: Healthy Eating Costs Too Much
Author Barbara Kingsolver clarifies ” shoppers who are most daunted by the high price of organics may be looking at bar codes on boutique-organic prepared food, not actual vegetables.”
A little-known farming secret: local fruits and vegetables are less expensive when they are in season. Almost always, supermarkets feature in-season produce in their sale flyer. You’ve probably noticed that in:
- March-April bundles of asparagus and baskets of leafy greens hit the produce stands
- May-June supermarkets stack pints of strawberries and the highly underrated rhubarb
- July-September the garden is plentiful
- October – November (or a killing frost) boasts the family of cruciferous vegetables, hardy leafy greens, pumpkins, varieties of fall squash
(Availability of vegetables and produce is subject to growing zones)
The idea is to follow the growing cycle and buy over and above what you need for your table then freeze or preserve the rest. Did I suggest that you “preserve” food? Today, the idea of preserving food is a radical idea. Tie your apron (if you don’t own an apron, then you should buy one), roll up your sleeves and learn to preserve food. You are wise to follow in the footsteps of your agrarian ancestors who stockpiled food in the summer to prepare for the barren garden months of winter.
People with backyard chicken flocks offer high-quality eggs at a reasonable price. Over the years, all of my children earned spending money by selling eggs from our backyard flock. My youngest daughter manages the coop these days, and her motley flock of organically raised hens can’t keep up with the demand for fresh eggs.
- Create a list of vegetables, produce, meat, and eggs grown/raised in your region and the harvest months. My list above reflects a small sample of the growing/harvest for the Mid-Atlantic states.
- Find a local source for fresh eggs; and I promise, you will snub the factory produced eggs that line the shelves of your supermarket.
- Shop the local farmer’s market and don’t be afraid to ask about their farming practices (conventionally grown or organically grown) As a former market vendor, at the end of the market day, I slashed my prices by more than fifty percent. Most market vendors will do the same.
- Try your hand at freezing and preserving food.
- Get to know a local farmer. If you live in a city, a farmer’s market is your best practice. I have a farmer friend who grows mushrooms. Every week, he drives 1.5 hours to sell his crop at a farmer’s market in Washington, DC and returns home with an empty truck.
- Meal plan on Sunday afternoons, glance ahead at your calendar and design meals to suit your busiest days.
- Try your hand at gardening. Novice gardeners can start with container gardens, and before you know it, your entire balcony or patio will resemble a colorful palette.
- Plan a meal once a week that features beans or legumes. They are an inexpensive, versatile staple. I prepare my beans by soaking them according to the Weston A Price method.
- Make your bread, seriously. Invest in a grinder and a bread machine, teach everyone in the house how to operate the small appliances (pressing buttons). Whether you are grain free or all grain, high quality, real bread is nearly impossible to find in the US (Whole Foods is no exception) so you are better off making your own and pocket the money you would spend on counterfeit healthy bread. If you have to buy bread then go for a loaf of sourdough, at least you will benefit from the fermentation process.
- Buy in bulk. You can join forces with family and friends by splitting quantity, hence, price, of bulk items.
- Establish a habit of eating at home
- Join a rewards program like Ibotta where you get cash back for shopping
Menu plans that showcase seasonal produce and vegetables honor your health and your food budget. The best advice anyone can offer a consumer who wants to establish a healthier lifestyle and save money: cut your umbilical cord from the grocery store.
Obstacle 3: I Don’t Know Where to Begin
Start with changing one meal and begin with breakfast. The first meal of the day is often easy to prepare because you are well-rested and energized. The breakfast menu presents fewer choices which will reduce meal prep related stress.
Need some early morning meal inspiration? Look around the globe and see how other nations fill their morning plate. Americans hold a limited breakfast food mentality: cereal, pre-packaged baked goods, and drive-thru breakfast sandwiches. Try a traditional English breakfast: fried eggs, breakfast meat (nitrate-free), and fresh bread (not store bought unless it is sourdough). It’s fine to eat hummus and veggies for breakfast or pan-fried free-range chicken with pesto. Breakfast like the Greeks and enjoy olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggs, and cheeses.
Try a breakfast bowl
Obstacle 4: I Don’t Know How to Cook
Perhaps your unwillingness to learn to cook is entrenched in your politics or worldview. Maybe you fear that learning to cook will somehow compromise or contradict your preconceived notion of womanhood? I am sorry to say that you’ve been hoodwinked by political agendas. Neither economic status nor professional success can change the fact that we are creatures designed to eat. Cooking is a necessary skill.
Here is a little tough love (with love). It is inexcusable for anyone who has access to media not to learn to cook real food. At any time of the day or night, you can watch cooking classes on youtube. If the internet is unavailable, then visit a local library because ALL public libraries offer free WIFI. Books are available with step by step instruction on how to prepare simple dishes made with fresh, wholesome ingredients.
In reality, cooking is the thread that tightly knits families and communities around the kitchen table. No one says that recipes need to be complicated to be healthful and tasty. Start with basic recipes and build your cooking proficiency from there.
Obstacle 5: Availability of Healthy Options
You may be reading this article from the northeastern corner of Iowa, and the only supermarket at your disposal is the small town supermarket chain. At your local store, the attentive staff stocks one shelf of organic produce that has clocked more miles getting to your small town than a flight attendant. Non-perishable organic items occupy small three shelves on an inconspicuous aisle.
I’ve got you, girl…
For fresh produce and vegetables, visit your local farmer’s market. Your corner of the world may fall short of providing organic (not to mention affordable) produce and vegetables so show some garden grit and create your own farmer’s market in your backyard garden. Plant seasonally and harvest from your patch of soil.
You may have to initiate an organic and natural food co-op delivery to your area. Sometimes all it takes is a phone call.
Excuse-Proof Healthy Eating
The cost of fresh produce, meats, and vegetables, if purchased wisely, are well within the average American food budget. We can overcome the obstacles that prevent us from a lifestyle of healthy eating. The keys to a lifetime of healthful eating are to:
- select simple, wholesome recipes
- shop prudently and wisely for fresh produce/vegetables/meats (stick to the clean 13 rule)
- begin your real food lifestyle with the easiest meal of the day: breakfast
- learn how to cook and eat home
- seek out various ways to acquire organic and natural foods