“Isn’t that expensive?”
“What do you eat?”
“Can you eat this?”
I hear these questions a lot. The first refers to my weekly menu of organic and whole food choices. The second refers to the fact that I don’t eat meat or dairy, and the third question is usually asked as the questioner holds a bag of cheesy corn chips to my face. All in all, I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding about maintaining a healthy eating style.
Let’s break these down.
Is eating healthy expensive? No. Remember, I’m a working class man. I don’t have the means to eat lavish meals. You can eat a lot less and get the same nutrients if you eat right. Sure, I love french fries and cookies, but they are empty calories that will make your body crave more, so you’ll eat more — that’s expensive.
Another thing about the expense of a healthy diet – really, not eating healthy is expensive. Of course, in the short term, fast food burgers and fries are cheap, but in the long term, it adds up on your bills and your body. Health care for heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure gets costly…not to mention the diet remedies and pills.
Here’s a tip: cook once and eat twice. Let’s say pasta’s on the menu tonight. Make a bunch and eat perhaps a quarter of it. Tomorrow for lunch, use those same noodles but pour some oil and vinegar on it and mix in some veggies. Then for dinner, use the same noodles to eat another tasty dish of pasta. Or you could make a pasta sandwich by frying some of that goodness and flopping it on a bun. Bottom line, you make something last without buying anything new.
More on this strategy: check out Meal Planning Made Simple ebook by my health coach wife, Terra Milo.
What do vegans eat? I always find this question to be the most difficult to answer. It’s much easier to answer, “What don’t you eat?” That’s simple – meat and dairy.
But, since the question was asked, I’ll answer it. The simple answer is, “Everything but meat and dairy,” but then people often respond, “So, like salads and beans?”
Put that way, it does sound atrociously bland. And since the cheeseburger is a staple to our American diet, I admittedly have some explaining to do.
My wife Terra and I enjoy cooking, and we enjoy cooking new things and experimenting with the beans, and the grains and vegetables, and the fruits, and the less obvious or more foreign. Once in the kitchen, committed to preparing something, the possibilities are pretty limitless. Take last week’s menu for instance:
- Homemade Pizza
- French Fries
- Roasted Root Veggies on Quinoa
- Chips and Guacamole
- Oatmeal-Peanut Butter Balls
- Buckwheat with honey
- Lentil Soup with Coconut Bacon
…and the list goes on.
If you’re willing to have a little fun with your food, you realize there’s actually more to eat than what the “normal” menu suggests. I know we’re not supposed to play with our food, but we do.
“Can you eat this?” It’s not really a question of can. I can eat whatever I want. In fact, I’m pretty lucky – I’m not allergic to any foods. Also, I’ve not signed a contract with Satan that restricts me from eating certain things. For instance, I technically could eat a bag of potato chips, and once in a while I do. But on a regular basis, I choose not to.
Stealing another page from my wife’s book, I tend toward the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of the time, I eat whole foods, stuff I usually prepare at home, and 20 percent of the time, I’ll go for that bag of potato chips.
It’s more of a matter of choice rather than a matter of submission. In fact, I see it as me having control of the food instead of the other way around. I know that Swenson’s Galley Boy with the olive on top tastes amazing, and I know that Krispy Kreme cream stick is out of this world, and I could let both dictate my behavior, but I choose not to.
This brings me back to the beginning. There’s a lot of misunderstanding about food. What is food? What should we eat? How much should we eat? There are different philosophies out there, and mine is just one of many. My eating habits fit me, and they might not fit you. But, like anything, there’s plenty of misinformation out there. There are plenty of chances to eat too much of something that is not beneficial.
I challenge you to question the norms of eating and the popular foods. Don’t let the Pop Foods boss you around. Try Indy or Punk or Jazz Foods for a while and see how you feel.