Food resolutions for 2014 part 4: Promote a Healthy Lifestyle

Hello! In absolute and total congruence with the previous post on doughnuts, here are some more thoughts on Food Tank’s Food Resolutions for 2014.

4. Promote a Healthy Lifestyle

Well, I don’t think this one really begins with doughnuts, but wouldn’t it be nice if it did? I’m going to keep it short, because I’m really no expert on exercise, in fact, I can relate more closely to the goals and motivations of a potato than I can to a fitness-person. 

However, Food Tank rightly point out that lifestyle related illnesses are overwhelming common. Obesity and related heart problems, cancers, and diabetes in particular are prevalent in developed countries where there is no short supply of food.

Australia’s Healthy Living Pyramid was recently updated to include the importance of physical activity, and research repeatedly tells us that both healthy eating and regular physical activity are important for healthfulness and as preventative health measures.

So, what can we do about it? Exercise and healthy eating are the obvious answers, but if you’re anything like me, there’s a bit more to it than just writing the words. I have been trying to keep with a fairly low intensity exercise regime but life seems to regularly interfere. To make things a bit trickier, the “just one more” part of my brain only seems to activate when I’m eating sweets and cheeses, not when I’m doing sit-ups.

Rice paper rolls

Healthy and delicious, but somewhat time-consuming, food.

My view is that healthy eating and exercise are not the solution in and of themselves, but elements of a healthy lifestyle. Before these elements become embedded in our lives, we have to create the structures to support them. Regular sleeping patterns, planning ahead, and good organisation seem to be the habits needed to support regular exercise and healthy eating. 

Often we look to ready-made solutions for our unhealthy behaviours. In particular, diets with strict rules offer the promise of results through discipline, but research has shown that for the most part diets offer only short term improvements as the old ways gradually return over time. This seems, to me, to emphasise the importance of healthy habits.

An old habit of mine was to gobble sweets after dinner, basically every night. A few years ago it was not uncommon for me and Glenn (though I’m sure he would assert that it was mostly me) to devour an entire block of chocolate in an evening. If you’re a fellow after-dinner-treater, then maybe it’s a habit you can change gradually, rather than going cold turkey (and probably ending up back on the after dinner sweets in 6 months).

Consider weaning yourself off by replacing your less-than-healthy treats with ostensibly-healthy treats. My friend Elise introduced me to raw brownies, which are a surprisingly delicious cacao date slice. If you have a food processor, they’re extremely quick and easy to make and, for me, they satisfy the after dinner sweet tooth.

Even without having a special made Sweet Thing to eat, you could keep on hand dried fruit, such as the figs, blueberries, and medjool dates below. They’re still sweet, but far less more-ish than chocolate and lollies, and have nutritional worth, too.

Figs, blueberries, medjool dates

Having some ‘special’ fruit in the kitchen to serve as a dessert may also help with moving away from chocolate and sweets. Last year Glenn and I feel in love with the pomelo (below); a giant and sweet citrus with a subtle piquancy to it. I cannot wait for pomelo season this year.

Pomelo

Even simple things, like brushing teeth early in the evening can switch the brain into post-eating mode. But it seems that we do have to be dedicated to a healthy lifestyle, and that can be what it takes to get through the old-habit-breaking and new-habit-forming shifts that are required in order to make sure we lead healthy lives. Still, I’m not there yet, but if you have some ideas or inspiration, I’d love to hear them.

-Bec

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