New Years' Veggies

New Year's Veggies
I know I just posted about brownies, but this is really what I've been up to. Veggies, more veggies, sometimes brown rice, smoothies, and then more veggies.

I've always been a healthy eater, but I fall off the wagon in at least three situations: stress, boredom, or celebration. Summer is a horrible time in the celebration category, if that makes sense. No routine, lots of vacations, lots of "special" treats. Fall and the beginning of school gets things on track a bit, then the holidays strike. And the everlasting darkness and dreary rain find me digging through drawers for my "big" jeans.

For the last two months, I've been keeping a food journal (I use an app called My Fitness Pal. Silly name.), going to physical therapy for my back, and exercising as much as possible. Here's what I'm learning and embracing:

The Western diet is killing people, and I want to actively resist it. These days, I respond with what verges on anger when I see the candy at kids' eye level or the huge cookies they display in the checkout line at the grocery store. Everywhere I look, there are empty carbs, loads of sugar, and misleading messages about what's healthy. If it's got more than five ingredients in it, be suspicious.

Eating lots of vegetables requires commitment. Shopping, washing, chopping, prepping, and storing takes at least four hours every weekend. When I'm standing at the sink doing my least favorite task (washing and spinning lettuce), I remember this is a choice I'm making and a way of life I want to model to my children.

The lowfat craze had dire consequences for many Americans. In fact, lots of journalists, researchers, and nutritionists directly blame it for a surge in obesity. We forgot how to eat holistically, how to love avocados and olive oil, how to focus on the good things we can put into our bodies instead of just avoiding the bad things.

When I think I'm hungry, sometimes I really want to have a cup of tea, call my Mom, or tackle a postponed task. Even though my life is amazingly rich and good, I still operate from a place of deficiency sometimes. As in, "This is the last moment I'll ever have to myself. I'd better celebrate with a snack." Usually, what I really need is to stop and be mindful, paying attention to my anxiety, fears, or fatigue instead of trying to avoid those feelings.

Counting calories, temporarily, is very enlightening. The usual cautions hold here--don't go nutso over this or become enslaved to it. But guess what? 10 Triscuits have a lot more calories than 5. And drinks? They're loaded.

Geneen Roth's rules make sense. You know--the Women, Food, and God lady? I really recommend her book. Her rules aren't about what to eat, but how--sitting down without distraction, not in the car, eating when you're hungry, enjoying the experience.

I have a few special pieces of pottery that I use for meals. They're out of reach of my kids, just for me, crafted by a local potter that I love. I have a small, deep bowl for yogurt, a wider one for pasta or salad, and a small plate for sandwiches or veggies. I wash them right after use and return them to their places, and they make my meals more mindful and beautiful.

A little bit of exercise is better than none. I'm a recovering all-or-nothing-a-holic. Nursing a back injury, early winter nights, and being busy has forced me to get creative about exercise and be thankful for even 10 minutes when I can take a quick walk. And I take those chances whenever I can.

What about you? What are you practicing or learning in your quest for health?