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Honest Eating for 2015

The top of a year is always an interesting time. No longer bombarded with commercials for cars and crappy jewelry from the mall, the holiday season is finally over and the market will flood your thoughts with gym membership deals, detox plans and emails filled with spring attire. It’s a little much, no? We go from daily indulgences of joyous, happy food to severe, almost punishment-like starvation.

As if that’s really going to alter any bad habits.

Let’s face it. Without wanting to sound like a Debbie Downer here, odds are that most of the resolutions we make, especially when it comes to eating and fitness, aren’t going to last very long. This isn’t coming from a place of negativity. It’s coming from a place of honesty. Hear me out.

A few years ago when my father passed away, something very strong in my core changed. I didn’t even mean for it to happen. It just did. At first I didn’t realize it, but over time, I noticed that my attitude toward this world was changing. My dad was a strong, loud and honest person. As he got older, I noticed something. What other people liked to classify as stubbornness was really just honesty. The difference however, was that he truly did not care. He didn’t care about being politically correct, and he didn’t care about how something would sound if it was the truth. And interestingly enough, I walked away from that dark time with a renewed sense of myself. I was going to continue on with an open conversation about any topic that happened to fall into my lap. I at least owed that to myself, my dad and to anyone else willing to listen.

How does any of this remotely fit into a website about cooking? I’m not sure yet. But what I do know is that as a whole, we need to start looking in the mirror and really do ourselves a favor. This concept of social media, for instance. Right now, my phone is inundated with comments and images of all sorts of miserable-seeming things. Juice cleanses. Food cleanses. Detoxes. Overly intense workout schedules. This is all very modern-typical. Look at me. Look at how great I am, for I can subsist on juice and juice alone. Wonderful for you, I guess? But where are those comments that should follow up, about being exhausted because you haven’t eaten all day? Or blanking that it was your turn for carpool and were 30 minutes late picking up a gaggle of kids because the sad plate of celery sticks you had for lunch just didn’t cut it? Ah, they don’t fit into that perfectly curated online life, now do they?

Here’s where the honest eating comes into play. Do I think a resetting of the body is a needed and healthy concept? Yes, I actually do. But before you go and do a complete overhaul (which is surely going to end up diving headfirst into a vat of ice cream one late night), be honest with yourself. Be honest with what it is that you actually want to change. No need to do a total 180. Take it one day at a time.

Here’s my advice, for what it’s worth (which isn’t much, I’m sure). Take a couple of big concepts and choose two or three major changes within them. Stick to those. The rest will fall into place. Let’s say, for example, that you’re looking to eat better and exercise more. This is great. Just about everyone I know (NOT you, Mom!) needs to be moving more and eating better. Those are two big concepts. Now break out a couple of resolutions that you can stick to. A walk after dinner three nights a week. No cheese or carbs two days a week. Soda only on the weekends. Whatever it is, just start doing it! None of this is groundbreaking, and none of it even costs anything.

Too often we sit here and say, "Oh, well this didn’t work because of XYZ." No. It didn’t work because you didn’t want it to work. You didn’t want to put in the effort. So be a little more honest about it. Admit that you are in control of your health and you’re the only one who can legitimately make changes. Not a pill, not a fad diet, not the gym ID card that’s going to sit at the bottom of your purse. You.

And here’s the great part. You can actually do it! You can! You can make a promise to yourself that you want to be healthier without losing your identity. Enjoy cheesesteaks? God, so do I. Think you could be happy eating fried chicken every day for the rest of your life? Me too! But I also want to make sure my husband has eye candy right at home. More importantly, I don’t want to be lazy and pretend diabetes should be a normal disease in 30-somethings.

So what do I do? I balance. Everything in moderation. And honest moderation. The salad pictured in this post doesn’t exactly look mouth watering, does it? Guess what – it wasn’t. But was it the last lunch I’d ever feast on? Nope. Do I want to be able to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner? For sure. So I balance it out during the day.

Let’s let 2015 be about eating honestly. Learn about where your food comes from. Consider upping your organic budget rather than your fast food allowance. Try out new cooking techniques. Enjoy your meals with the tv off. Make dinner an event, not a race. Above all, balance out the carbs and sugar with a salad here and there. Your heart will thank you!

And PS – nix those cigarettes, for crying out loud. Nobody likes a smoker.

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