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Making Better Food Choices

Jo McGarry
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Wednesday - January 12, 2005
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I’ve always been terrible at keeping a diary. Every January since I was about 14, I’ve begun some kind of journal, and every December I retrieve whatever notebook I’ve assigned “diary status” from the back of my dresser drawer and stare incredulously at the blank pages that begin around Jan. 10. And the truth is I know why it all falls apart. Dieting. If there is one theme to every diary started by almost every woman on the planet, it’s “must lose 10 pounds.” Secretly I think I’ve bored myself to death with the mantra, and as my dieting resolve fades around the second week of the year, so does my desire to recount failure in print.

So, this year no diary attempts and no talk of dieting. It helps, of course, that I’m almost six months pregnant and have gained so much weight that already I look like I’m carrying triplets. But being pregnant and unable to think about getting through the day on a tiny portion of salad, three Diet Cokes and two glasses of red wine make you realize that the problem with dieting is simply one thing: the food.

Processed food has almost entirely taken over our lives. Our ancestors never had to think of dieting because they ate unprocessed foods and exercised daily. We, however, eat almost nothing but sugary, processed, nutritionally naked food and wonder why we’re almost never satisfied. There’s a reason that “comfort food” makes us feel good. It’s food that we remember from our childhood — and food that usually has to be prepared with good ingredients and with care. Nobody ever made roast chicken and mashed potatoes in a “microwave minute” — and if they did I certainly don’t want to eat it.

We spend so much money on our outward appearance: clothes, shoes, makeup and cars, but care little about what we put inside. One of the reasons that we all love holiday food — particularly New Year’s food — is that it brings to the table a tradition of home-cooked goodness. I had the pleasure of enjoying a traditional Japanese breakfast on New Year’s morning this year complete with ozoni, mochi, abalone poke and superb pickled vegetables, and it served to reinforce my belief that locally grown, unprocessed, in-season traditional food cooked with love does more than just nurture our bodies. It feeds our souls. I don’t care how convenient a Big Mac is — there’s no one convincing me that it’s soul food.

My New Year’s resolution this year has nothing to do with dieting, and everything to do food.


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