Throughout the early part of the year, especially when the weather begins to warm, many of us make personal promises in hopes of becoming the best versions of ourselves—about health, happiness and responsibility. Sadly, a few weeks later, most of those self-improvement pledges are broken.
Not too long ago, I made a resolution that I plan to keep: to make the world around me a better place by being a better me.
Where to begin?
First and foremost, I resolve to show up for myself. It’s easy to get distracted by the things the outside world does not provide, so I plan to focus instead on what I can give myself everyday. The better we are to ourselves, the better we feel and look, and the more positive the energy we radiate.
How does that translate? As a chef, I am constantly surrounded by food, so I must be mindful of every meal, snack or taste. Deciding what to eat is one of the most intimate and important decisions a person makes. And it is vital to honor the body’s strengths and limitations. When we do, we give ourselves a gift: eating mindfully improves our mood, mental clarity and physical wellbeing.
Of course, sometimes we feel like eating whatever looks and smells delicious, ignoring nutrient value, fat content or ecological ramifications. But finding the place between eating to live and living to eat actually feels better. Each time we nourish ourselves, we grow more powerful.
Plus, with rampant allergies and inflammatory foods that are chemically laden and processed, learning how to say “No, thank you!” is essential. One strategy is to decide what a fast and furious “food checklist” looks like in advance, so that responsible choices are simplified in the moment.
My mental checklist looks something like this:
1. What is this made of? Whole organic ingredients or elements that I know are not good for my body?
2. Where do these ingredients come from? A large food factory or a small kitchen or farm?
3. Have I been eating too much of this? That especially includes coffee, nightshades, alcohol and saturated fat.
4. Does the production of this food hurt the planet? Some examples might be mono-crops, factory farm animal products and genetically modified ingredients.
5. Lastly, because balance is everything, I ask myself: When was the last time I treated myself to this? Is it worth it? Will saying “yes” or “no” cause me stress?
As you move forward this spring, remember that only you can put yourself first. Choosing food wisely is a great way to do that everyday.