New Year's Food Resolutions

Launch yourself into dietary health

According to my oldest nephew, who runs the gym in a college town, the first two weeks of the New Year are total chaos at work. Hordes of us show up, resolved to be fit, irritating staff and regulars with our passing health whim. By mid-January we've given up and returned to our La-Z-Boys and cubicles, patting ourselves on the back that at least two weeks of exercise beats zero weeks. Maybe if we put that Rascal scooter on our Amazon Wish List...

Well, I'm here to encourage us non-exercisers (and if you are a regular exerciser, you can just feel extra smug while you read the rest of this post): exercising isn't the only way to improve your health. Diet is the other. And New Year's Diet Resolutions have a better shot of becoming habits.

Check out these possibilities and just pick one or two:

  1. Dump one processed food product permanently. It could be cake mix or pancake mix, storebought cookies, instant oatmeal, protein bars, anything! If it's something you could make easily at home, try it. I would love love love to get my family off breakfast cereal, but they gag over anything porridge-like, and I gag over the thought of having to cook every morning.
  2. If you can't afford organic dairy, at least go hormone-free. As Prevention put it in their article entitled "7 Foods That Should Never Pass Your Lips," growth hormones lead to "higher levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor in milk. In people, high levels of IGF-1 may contribute to breast, prostate, and colon cancers." Eeks! When it isn't Bellevue Farmers Market season, our family tries to stick to Organic Valley (pastured products) or at least Tillamook (hormone-free).
  3. Pick the one food your family eats regularly and make sure it's the best you can afford. If it's salmon, stay away from the farmed stuff. If it's ground beef, go for grass-fed or switch to buffalo. Going with the farmers market options may cost you more in the short-run, but hey--you may get to avoid the Rascal scooter later, and that's a savings.
  4. Eat vegetarian for one dinner a week. If you already do this, try two meals. This can defray the cost of Resolution #3. Our family regularly does breakfast burritos or lentil soup or homemade mac & cheese. If you must have some meat, it could just be some Skagit River Ranch bacon thrown in for flavor.
  5. Stay away from soy. As I've noted in this blog, 90% of soybeans grown in America are genetically-modified to resist Round-Up. Processed soy has been linked to hormone issues in people and possibly to the rise in food allergies. This is a toughie to eliminate because the American soy surplus, like the corn surplus, motivates the food industry to find millions of uses for it. Other than the tried-and-true fermented soy products (tofu and soy sauce), we stay away.
  6. Serve two healthy vegetables at dinner. Potatoes, corn and bagged-lettuce-salad covered in soybean-oil-based dressing don't count. In fact, you better add a third vegetable to the meal to make up for them.

If you have food resolutions for the New Year, feel free to share. My personal ones for 2011: (1) switch from canned tomatoes to boxed--per the abovementioned Prevention article; and (2) dump the seed oils (canola, safflower, etc.) for olive oil, butter, and Skagit bacon fat.

Happy New Year!