I watched the Documentary No Impact Man. It’s the story of a family who decided to try to have no net impact on the environment for one year. They went HARD CORE. They gave up all transportation except walking, bikes and scooters. They turned off the electricity in their New York City apartment. They used cloth instead of toilet paper. I mean they went hard core. He was very clear that he was not saying that everyone has to do this, just that he wanted to draw attention to the problem, live a life in alignment with his principles, and encourage people to do what they can. Still, I looked at my recycle bin and felt woefully inadequate.
I wonder if people feel this way about their eating. So many extreme diets and food plans are shoved our way – we are told that the secret to health is to:
- give up all carbs
- eat no wheat
- eat no dairy
- eat reconstituted soy protein bars and shakes 5 times a day
- drink a thin chocolate laxative drink twice a day
- eat a diet predominantly comprised of food made of a breakfast cereal
- give up all processed foods forever
- eat vegan
- eat macrobiotic
- eat a raw foods diet
It can make you doubt that basic, balanced, healthy eating can ever work. I once allowed myself to be talked into a “cleanse” during which I gave up wheat, gluten, meat, sugar, caffeine and dairy for three months. I did not feel good. I did not lose weight. I did feel like I was back in my eating disorder. That experience helped me decide that I was going to find a way to be healthy and sane. I eat very well, I exercise a lot, I am in great health. If my occasional fast food lunch kills me 6 months early then I can accept that. I talked before about what happens if I’m wrong and I die of fatness.
So may I suggest that if you feel like you’d like to be healthier, just be healthier a little at a time. Check in with your body, if you don’t feel good after eating a particular food maybe eat something else. It doesn’t mean that you have to commit to a strict eating plan for the rest of your life. Feeling thirsty? Have some water. It doesn’t mean you have to drink 250 ounces of water today and spend the night on the toilet. Feel like going for a walk? Go. Don’t try to plan how you are going to workout for the next seven years, don’t wonder if it will really burn enough calories to be worth it. If you think you’ll feel good if you go for a walk, just go. If there are habits that you want to start, start one at a time. Celebrate small victories.
I still think that there is a place in the world for a life of making lots of healthy choices and some not so healthy ones, remaining balanced and healthy not just physically but mentally as well. It’s just a suggestion. It’s certainly not as sexy as all those “lose 100 pounds in 2 minutes by eating only steamed lettuce and shrimp” diets, but it works for me.