05 October 2007

To Health

How healthy is the 100-mile diet?

I'll start with a disclaimer -- personal health is not my primary motivation. It's more about environmental health, living smaller and more sustainably, contributing less waste. Still, I do think I ate a healthier diet this past month, and I'm happy to chalk it up as a desirable side benefit.

I certainly ate far fewer processed foods. That means less refined sugar, no transfats, fewer additives and preservatives, and very little of the starchy carbohydrates that usually fill my diet.

The main thing, I think, was how I altered the proportions of the major food groups in my diet. I ate meat, but less of it. Local meat is a chore to get (a farther drive for me, if not the meat) and is much more expensive. I see that expense as reflecting the work that went into preparing it in a small, sustainable way (that is, not on a factory farm). I ate bread and pasta, but only after expending calories making those things from scratch. I still relied on dairy products like cheese and yogurt -- a good protein source and nicely filling.

I upped my volume of fruits and vegetables. All fresh, given the season. And those turned out to be the easy snack items. I could eat an apple when I was hungry, or munch on some carrots before dinner, or quickly slice some cucumber to fill an empty spot on my plate. I also used vegetables to cook main dishes like ratatouille, marinara sauce, baba ganoush (an excellent sandwich filling), in addition to the usual sides of green beans, broccoli, squash, and corn.

And so while I've lifted the restrictions, I've tried to maintain this new formula. At a recent family dinner, I ate only half a hamburger and had a second serving of acorn squash with butter.

I can do that and feel good about it both for my ideals and my health.

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