January is almost over, so by now you’ve had about all you can stomach of New Year’s resolutions, weight loss commercials, killer ab videos and the onslaught of guilt-inducing, get-your-butt-in-shape media messages. I’m a vegan chef, but I promise that this is not a ploy to convince you to go vegan. I have a theory about the obsession with losing weight: You’ve got to lose it. The obsession, that is. There is no magic wand for getting in shape. It takes will, curiosity, and a strong desire for change. Full disclosure: I am a vegan chef, but before I lose you, I promise that this is not a ploy to convince you to go vegan. Rather, this article is about taking responsibility for yourself, your body, your well-being. A few simple steps can shift your course. That may or may not include eating meat, but I’ll get to that in a bit.
In an ideal world, we’d all sit down at the dinner table with our family and friends every night to feast on a plant-based, unprocessed meal made from whole foods, sourced locally, or even grown right in our own backyard garden… Ah to dream!
The reality of today’s family dinner is that it continues to fade, a casualty of an overworked, over-scheduled, and over-stimulated society. In fact, 50 percent of the food dollar is spent outside of the home. If you sense your good health slipping away, it’s most commonly what you’re putting inside your body. So many of our diseases, illnesses, and weight-related issues may be reversed or remedied simply by eating a real, whole food diet. That’s it. I swear! Meat was never meant to be a nugget or a McRib, fruit was never meant to be a Starburst. And as nostalgic as they are to our childhood, we should NOT be mourning Twinkies!Now, what does that mean? First, it means eliminating all processed foods. NOW. They are truly horrible for you! If you turn that box around and read the ingredients it better read like a recipe or you better throw it away! Stop eating fake food! That goes for all food. Meat was never meant to be a nugget or a McRib, fruit was never meant to be a Starburst. By the way, where in nature does blue Kool-Aid exist? And as nostalgic as they are to our childhood, we should NOT be mourning Twinkies! Processed foods take a long time to break down in our bodies, and in some cases, they never do. I mean look how long they can last on the shelves. There is no way to sugarcoat this. You know what you need to do.
Now that you’ve done that, try one more thing. Maybe you heard of this thing called Meatless Monday? It’s a movement that has sort of gone viral and is sweeping the nation. You can turn it into a fun and delicious, experiment that involves sustainability, nutrition and wellness for the whole family! Meatless Monday is an easy way to add healthy, whole food into your diet without the anxiety of going full-monty.It’s an easy way to add some healthy, whole food into your diet without the anxiety of going full-monty. But don’t be surprised if you start to like it. Did you know that 33% of Americans are now eating vegan/vegetarian meals, even though they do not classify themselves as vegan or vegetarian? That is over 100 million people consciously choosing more plant-based foods! Hooray! Every week, ask one person in your family to be in charge of choosing the main vegetable and then build a dinner around that veggie. The ‘Veggie Host’ must research a few nutritional facts or tidbits and share with everyone before the dinner, making all appreciate and understand what they are eating. This could be really fun and a great way to engage the kids. Bring them to the grocery store or farmers market and let them pick away. And as for recipes, you can always consult the scores of vegetarian websites, (including mine: lesliedurso.com), for cooking ideas. Or, just filter #MeatlessMonday on Twitter and you stumble upon a bounty of veggie goodness.
However you go this year, it’s time to embrace the journey to wellness! But never, ever lose yourself in the diet-fad abyss! You have to wake up every morning and decide if you want to “get busy living or get busy dying”. (Love that quote from Shawshank Redemption!)
This month, we’re serving up bite-sized advice from experts in different fields to help us all make life a little brighter, more creative and more efficient for 2013. Think of this month as a chance to connect with yourself on a deeper level, get closer to what makes you happy, and take control of the balance in ‘work-life balance’ for yourself this year.