mindful living: eating mindfully, part 1.

my journey to eat mindfully started a long time ago when my dad bought the book "body for life" (a diet and exercise plan) and encouraged my brother and myself to take the challenge. i read the book cover to cover, and started to learn the details about how food gets converted into energy in your body, and why some foods are good and some are bad. i followed the body for life plan for awhile, which promised life-changing improvements in your health if you followed it for twelve weeks, but it ended up being far too regimented for me. since then, i have learned a lot about how my body wants me to eat. i struggled for a number of years in my late teens and early 20s with dieting... eating "diet foods," cutting out fat, lowering my refined carbohydrate intake, counting calories... but eventually i realized that this restrictive way of looking at my meals was taking all the fun out of eating. as i became more involved in the world of blogging, i began to become interested in food blogs (this is the one that got me started, and it's still my favorite) where incredible pictures pervade every post and foodies gush about the deliciousness of their creations and their love for good food in general.

my relationship with food began to change, and i started thinking about the way i ate and the way i shopped. i started to become interested in where my food was coming from, who was making it, and who was selling it. i became fascinated with food markets, where food (to me) was beautifully displayed and where i felt a stronger tie to the people who had harvested or manufactured the food i was buying. however, in vancouver i had a hard time finding farmer's markets that were convenient to frequent. i sadly found out much too late that ubc's own farm held a market during harvest season, and although i lived less than a fifteen-minute bike ride away, i never visited the ubc farm.

once we moved to guelph, i noticed immediately the strong voice that local, sustainably produced food from small farms had in ontario. the awareness was so much stronger here than i had ever seen it in vancouver! guelph has an amazing farmers market every saturday morning, and i began to make it a part of my routine to leave the house early and collect our groceries while paul & mort still slumbered. i became addicted to the festive feeling of the market. there was such a strong sense of community there. i came to know some of the farmers by name, and they recognized me when i visited their stalls each week. that was something i'd never experienced, not even at the granville island market in vancouver. i loved this new feeling of connectedness that i now felt with my food, and i found i was visiting conventional grocery stores less and less.

the more i found out about local foods (by reading such amazing authors as michael pollan and barbara kingsolver), the more i was turned off of conventional groceries. did you know that the average distance that food travels to get to our dinner tables is 2400km?! that's about the distance between miami and montreal! i decided i'd rather eat food that was made in small batches by my neighbors, where the quality could be easily monitored. i knew that doing this was also supporting my local economy, and the families of farmers, who needed my grocery money more than multi-billion dollar corporations like heinz needed it.

since i've begun focusing more on whole foods, i've found i've lost the need and even the desire to count calories. sometimes i make a roast chicken dinner that would by no means be considered "healthy" by diet standards... i rub the chicken down with butter before popping it in the oven, i cook the potatoes in generous amounts of butter and olive oil, and then we enjoy it with a homemade gravy and a thick slice of white bread on the side. but the potatoes come from a farmer that lives less than an hour's drive away from my apartment, and they were picked this morning. when i bought the chicken, i spoke with the guy who raised and killed it, and he reassured me of it's exposure to fresh air, natural feed, and humane conditions. and the bread? well, i've either made that myself or bought it from a woman who made it herself, that morning, at her small bakery in the city. and honestly, i've never felt better in my own skin, and i've never felt healthier.

{image from here}

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