Monday, March 28, 2016

Helping People Get on the Road to Real Food!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Spring Solstice/Easter, whatever you celebrated, over the past long weekend.  Over the holiday, I saw a lot of friends and family and was asked some of the same questions that I get asked a lot. Mainly, “How do I start shopping and eating better and cooking more from scratch”? “You must have unlimited spare time!”.  “How do you do it?" Do you ever sleep?”

I realize that many people think it is a daunting task to even enter the kitchen - let alone actually cook in the kitchen. And I also hear the time and stress crunch argument a lot.  “No time”.  “I can’t be running from market to market a couple of times a week!”  “How can I come home after a long day and start cooking dinner from scratch?”. 

Without answers and a plan, these folks end up going to a "big box", or a one stop mega mart where they pick up boxes of processed microwave stuff (I can’t in good conscious call it food), or "rotisserie" chickens, or eating lots of take out and fast food. People also fall into the habit of eating regularly at low priced chain restaurants were the food is frozen and microwaved for service - and highly processed.

When I get asked these questions, I first think, what is it that these folks really want to do?  DO they have goals around good food that they cooked for themselves or are they just feeling guilty by what they see in the - very confusing - press? Are they willing to make some changes to the benefit of themselves and their family?  Lastly, it is also important to know when folks are not willing to make changes and are pretty clear in their belief that anyone who thinks that their heavily processed, sugar laden, fast food diet isn’t good for them - and is really bad for their kids -  is a “conspiracy theorist”.  Trust me - those folks are out there!

Here I offer some guidelines for any of you who get asked these same questions and want to offer something helpful in reply.  If we can help someone make positive, healthy changes, by all means we should. And so I offer the following.

Getting Started

Many years ago, we set out to define some goals for ourselves, the way we shopped, how much we cooked at home, and the way we ate.

Basically our goals were our goals - and they remain the same:    
  1. Shopping for and cooking real food that that is humanely raised, chemical and hormone free and local and seasonal.  Making very few exceptions on the “local” aspect. 
  2. Making meal time an important time - eating together without distractions and with enough time to eat, enjoy the food, and talk to each other.  
  3. Building shopping for real food into the schedule. 

Asking the Right Questions

In order for a person to develop their own goals, it is necessary for them to look at their habits and practices and decide where they want to make changes.  These general questions can be a good start to helping individuals see their habits and patterns and what they would like to change.

  1. How often do you eat fast food in a week?
  2. How often do you eat take out in a week?
  3. Do you “Brown Bag” your lunch?
  4. Do you make menus and shopping lists prior to shopping for food?
  5. How often do you cook “from scratch”?  Would you like to do more real cooking?
  6. Do you have a - relatively - set “dinner time” for everyone? (the work on the positive power of “family dinners” is astounding!  On children, yes.  But also on all of us)
  7. How often in a month do you cook for family and/or friends?  Would you like to do more?
  8. Do you know where the Farmers Markets and Markets selling local farm products are in your immediate area?  
  9. Where do you shop for food?
Of course, there are clearly many other questions to ask and conversations to be had.  We know that if many Americans ate real food, they might be able to eliminate the prescribed medications in their lives. We know that behavior - especially children's behavior - is influenced by the kinds of things they eat. I suggest leaving those more in depth discussions for later in the process.

So, obviously you are not sitting down your family and friends, with paper and pen in hand, and “administering” the above as a test!  But asking folks to consider some of these issues for themselves will help them set their own goals.  Believe or not, we get stuck in patterns of behavior - good and bad - that we don’t even recognize after awhile.  Your nudge may be just the thing to folks thinking about these very important aspects of life.  Good Luck!

Treasure Real Food!

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