Tuesday, 20 January 2015
DAY 3/7 VEGAN CHALLENGE (HABIT)
Why do we do the things we do? That's a million dollar question; a question that sounds so familiar that it's lost its impact and become rhetorical...unanswerable...unless we pause for a second and truly start to analyse the internal and external conditions that shape who we are.
Why do we eat the things we do? We're all born into specific cultural contexts and our eating habits are shaped right from birth. We eat what's given to us and perhaps only start to question it - if at all - as time goes by and we are able to make our own choices. As trivial as a topic such as 'eating habits' might sound, it's staggering when we fully realise just how much of an impact it has on our lives - from the way we feel, to the way we look, to the way the environment and global population is affected, to the way certain industries thrive or decline. As consumers, we hold more power than most food advertising companies give us credit for and every day we can make the choice to buy foods that will love us back and do more good than harm to our bodies.
All that said, here are the top 5 eating habits I think are worth cultivating:
1. Eat at least one vegan meal a day: this is for the non-veggies :) I'm under no illusion that every single person taking part in the 7 day vegan challenge will decide to drastically alter their diet at the end of it. But perhaps the challenge might inspire you to eat less animal products and incorporate a plant-based meal or two into your day. Whether this is using almond milk with your morning cereal or choosing the potato salad option at a lunch buffet or having a hearty bowl of rice and vegetables for dinner. Every little choice makes a difference.
2. Cook with less oil: I struggle with this one. Did you know that 1 tbsp of oil contains about 120 calories? This adds up over time, especially if used in the way we Nigerians love to use it in cooking ;) I've started making oil-free salad dressings and cutting oil out completely in some meals during the week. Healthy fats from foods such as avocado, nuts and seeds are great in moderation and actually vital for Omega 3 and 6 which the body needs. That 10 gallon bottle of vegetable oil that we get through in a week? Not so much!
3. Cook with less salt: I'm not saying cook up tasteless meals but it's important to find the right balance. If you've ever suffered from water retention - bloated and puffy face, stomach etc. - then chances are that your sodium intake is too high. Here's the little bit of science behind this phenomenon: the more sodium is ingested, the more the body holds on to its water stores in an attempt to counter the imbalance. Aside from water retention, high sodium intake can lead to high blood pressure and osteoporosis. So, yeah, excess salt ain't so great.
4. Drink more water: this is the perfect follow-on from the last point. If the body doesn't receive an adequate daily supply of fresh water, then it holds on to the little it's got and also causes water retention and bloating. The wonderful thing about the body is that the more water it has coming in, the more excess water it is able to flush out. It literally flushes out the system and allows trapped fluid to escape more easily. Whether we lead an active or sedentary lifestyle, our bodies thrive on water! When I realised I needed to drink more water, I bought myself a large water bottle in my favourite colour which I now carry everywhere with me. If you find drinking plain water an issue, then flavour it with fresh fruit such as lemon slices, orange slices and berries.
5. Eat more whole foods: which is another way of saying ditch the processed stuff. Prioritising our health and caring for our bodies will always mean choosing the whole, fresh apple over a box of apple tarts. I'm trying this new thing where over 90% of my groceries come from the fresh produce section. I'm striving to always have a fridge that could give the rainbow a run for its money. Stock up on the whole, fresh, authentic stuff and experiment with formulating mouthwatering dishes from them.
Day 3 of 7. Hope you're doing great and feeling motivated!
Suggested reading: Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer