2013 Faith (in) Wellness Challenge Week 11 Recap: Cooking Homemade Meals
Food is very much an experience. Eating healthy can be difficult when we favor the quality of the experience over the quality of the food.
I chose to cook homemade meals last week in an effort to increase my healthy intake – I know that if I cook at home, I’ll be making healthy meals in line with my preferred dietary choices. During the week, this doesn’t seem to be a problem, but the weekend, as always, poses bigger issues.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the weekend is an evil trap for health seekers. When we let our guard down, it’s much harder to maintain steadfast devotion to goals of any kind.
I’ve decided it’s a combination of mindset and the people you surround yourself with. If your friends and family are huge fans of fast food, then you’ll probably end up at a fast food joint once or twice a week; despite your best intentions, it’s really hard to say you don’t want anything when you’re at the McDonald’s drive through window. The smell of frying oil will get you every time.
As much as peer pressure can ruin the healthiest of intentions, mindset traps may be even more difficult to navigate. One of my biggest is the restaurant-as-a-treat line of thinking. I used to consider going out to eat a treat so I would get whatever sounded yummiest no matter the quality of the food or the health repercussions. Unfortunately, going out to eat became much too common for me to treat as a treat, but my mindset never changed.
I was recently being interviewed for a podcast on yoga and health benefits and we got to talking about how hard it is to stay healthy when the environment around you is not supportive. If you live in Boulder, CO, and go out to eat a few times a week, you can still maintain a relatively healthy lifestyle because the healthy options you have are numerous. If you live in another city with nowhere near that level of health-consciousness, you’ll be hard-pressed to find food that fits in line with your standards of health outside your own kitchen.
If you can’t change your circumstances (where you live) and the options aren’t satisfactory, it’s time to change your habits. And of course, that’s the hardest thing to do.
I’m committed to cooking healthy meals at home because I don’t feel supported by the healthy food choices around me. I still crave experiences with friends – going out on a Friday night and letting someone else serve and cook for you is nice – but the health repercussions are becoming too great.
Yet, because I know myself well enough, the pull of rich experiences will win me over every time. I value experiences almost as much as I value the fuel I put into my body.
The fact is, for someone who doesn’t absolutely love cooking, making homemade meals is often stressful and time-consuming. I do it because it’s my healthiest option and the price of eating out is not conducive to my current lifestyle.
But at a certain point, you must become acutely aware of your values. If you value health AND experiences, your best battle to fight is choosing healthy options at restaurants rather than trying to isolate yourself from the group. This will make you unhappy.
You could also get new friends that value the same things you do, but this is much more of a long-term solution and doesn’t necessarily solve any problems in the immediate now.
Or you can get creative and think outside the box. I suggested that all my friends band together and cook for each other on a rotating schedule each weekend. That way we get different, healthy food and the experience we all crave. Sure, someone’s got to cook, but it’s these inconveniences in life that we must work through that define faith and devotion.
This week’s challenge was fun for me in that it really revealed my true values. You never know when choosing arbitrary health challenges will help you frame your life in a whole new perspective. Sometimes you think you want one thing because that’s what is popular, but in reality, your true self craves something entirely different. The real challenge becomes reconciling your values with your actions.
Then you achieve total health.
Do you see a place in your life where your actions and values are not in alignment? Let me know in the comments below how you plan to change that!
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