Did you make a New Year’s resolution to eat healthy food? Are you already slipping although it’s barely a week into 2019? I don’t make resolutions because they always fail, but a healthy eating related promise I keep making for myself throughout the year is to give up dairy. So check out my Slimming World January Trick: Say a Prayer.
Soya milk tastes great and the good ones have been fortified with calcium and vitamin B12, and soyghurt has the same probiotic benefits as the real thing; I really have no health-related excuse to keep using dairy, and the weight loss potential and environmental benefits of cutting it are undeniable.
My real reason to keep using dairy products is laziness – there’s cheese in every vegetarian meal, whether prepared or served in a café, and I don’t have the time or energy to make every meal from scratch. Well, maybe I do have the time, but not the energy. On the other hand, I know that challenging my body will also challenge my mind so I need my exercise.
Yesterday at lunch I decided to have a more mindful meal by reviving an old habit from my hippie teenager days: I said a mealtime prayer. Not out loud of course as I was in the university cafeteria, and not a prayer to God, but a word of thanks to the earth that had grown the food I was eating. Sure, the 10-mile recap will save me. Unfortunately, I lately took more of my long slow runs rather than hopping on those technical trails in my neighborhood.
I thanked the earth and the farmers for growing the lentils, beetroots, and carrots in my salad. I thanked the apple tree for growing fruit and the spring that provided water. I felt a deep connection with the earth and this made the whole lunch feel more meaningful, almost a spiritually as much as a physically nourishing experience. I remember I felt so happy when my husband held my hand when we came back from a short break recently and a woman in the plane commented on our son. Really, it felt like water off a duck’s back. So great!
And then I came to the sandwich. It was a good sandwich all in all: seeded brown bread, spinach leaves – and a slice of cheddar. I couldn’t keep it up. Who would I thank? To who should I show my art of gratitude? The cow trapped for life in a factory farm, injected with hormones to produce way more milk for mass consumption than its body is designed for? “Thank you for suffering terribly so I can have a nice cheddar slice in my sandwich” doesn’t sound like a fair bargain.
What about the woman in the next table casually slicing meat off a chicken leg? “Thank you for dying for my lunch.” What if I’d had a chocolate bar for dessert instead of an apple? Could I have, without trouble, thanked the overworked and underpaid cocoa farmers, or the scientists in labs ruining this cocoa by adding low-quality milk and sugar and injecting the whole thing with synthetic emulsifiers?
Well, I know it’s important for me to lose weight to feel comfortable with myself but at the same time, I would like to boost my spirituality a bit. If you can’t be motivated to cutting down on unhealthy food for the health benefits, visualizing its production to the point you feel nauseous is a pretty good way to put yourself off eating it.
I’ve always known how food is produced and how much of non-plant-based stuff is bad for me, but it’s easy to fall into habit and not think too much of it, rather the same way that I can have three beers in a pub and large chips on the night bus and then wonder why my size 12 skinny jeans no longer fit. I don’t need calorie charts or diet plans to know what to do; I do not need the online reality as well, so many choices but not enough time. I only need to remain aware. We’re faced with endless choices at every turn and if there’s one promise I can make for myself regarding good choices, it is this: When I drink water, I shall remember the source.