Monday, March 26, 2012

Healthy Living Quick Tips

A lot of us talk a big talk about local, sustainable food, and how great we all are for patronizing our favorite independent co-op or whatever, but it's hard not to address the elephant in the room: eating healthy is hard.  And I don’t mean that it’s hard if you’re lazy or if you’re not really committed to it or anything like that.  It is, but sometimes it’s also hard even if you’re really trying.  Sometimes you've been good all week, but now you're meeting up with an old friend and the only place around is TGIFriday's.  And sometimes you're on your way from work to class and you only have time to grab some French fries.  And don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favor of cheating once in a while- but only if you really want to.  If those afterthought French fries didn’t even taste good to you, that just isn’t fair.  So instead of hiding the wrapper in the glove compartment and pretending the whole thing never happened, I’ve come up with a list of low-stress steps we can all  take to try and minimize those moments.

1) Plant a garden.

If you have a yard with space to really do this right, that’s fantastic.  It can be a wonderful hobby, as well a fun learning opportunity for kids.  Anyone who loves being outdoors knows time in the garden can have a therapeutic effect, and now there’s more research than ever showing how gardening can have a significant positive impact on mental health.

If you don’t have the space and time for the whole thing, though, something as a simple as a potted herb in the kitchen window can add freshness to homemade dinners and save money.  A huge pet peeve of mine is going through the fridge and throwing away vegetables because they went bad before I got around to using them.  The more vegetables you grow yourself, the fewer you have to keep around in the fridge!

Your local grocery store, hardware store, or of course farmers’ market are all great places to find low-maintenance plants and tips on caring for them.

2) Keep healthy snacks at work.

If you're lucky enough to have access to a refrigerator where you work, plan ahead and keep it stocked.  A bag of salad and a bottle of home-made vinaigrette (canola oil, balsamic vinegar and a pinch of oregano or thyme is all you need) can be a great secret weapon to supplement to a lunch that would otherwise be mostly processed carbohydrates.

As for quick morning snacks, the best one I've found for the workplace is a clementine.  You can keep a whole box of them there to last the week if you have the space, or if not they can be brought in from home one at a time.  They don’t need refrigeration and they’re so small they can be eaten as quickly as a handful of chips.  Not to mention, they’re delicious!

Check back next week for the rest of the list.  In the meantime, what's your favorite trick for healthy eating when you're not home?

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