Eat like your ancestors!
By Connie Pearson
Originally posted Dec. 4, 2013, at ELCA Southeastern Synod Blog. Republished with permission of the author.
I like to cook and to eat! This is a great combination especially at this time of the year when we have just celebrated Thanksgiving and are now headed into the Christmas season. On a cold, windy day like today I pause to wonder how many children and adults went hungry on Thanksgiving Day and if they will still be hungry on Christmas Day. Data show that in Tennessee alone one in six individuals go to bed hungry on any given night.
On Nov. 1, the U.S. government drastically reduced the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). My home congregation has recently participated in the Fuel Bag Program, a supplemental nutrition program designed to help fill the void for children who do not have access to enough nutrition on the weekend. As individuals and a church family, we cannot begin to address the cause or solution for the nutritional needs of those who are experiencing hunger daily. We can however evaluate how we eat and determine if our choices can improve our nutrition and in turn allow us to have a bit more of our resources to share with others in the community or around the world.
I recently read an article titled “Eating Evolution.” The author compares our eating habits to those of generations of ancestors. Our ancestors began as hunter-gatherer’s, eating plants and animals that grew and flourished on the local soil. Today we would be hard pressed in our local community to find enough wild plants and animals to eat to sustain us even if we did want to go out and look for them. We verbalize at times that it is hard enough to get to the grocery store to shop for a few days’ worth of groceries. For some, grocery shopping may mean a quick stop to pick up something that is already cooked and ready to eat. It can be argued that eating like our ancestors would be far more nutritious but how would that be possible in today’s world? The author of “Eating Evolution” gives us six ways to eat like our ancestors.
1.) Try to avoid buying food that is packaged in a bag, box, or plastic wrap. Processed foods might taste good but are higher in calories, cost more per ounce and contain only a fraction of the nutritional value of whole foods.
2.) Shop on the outside isles of the grocery store where you will find the bulk of fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, lean meat, dairy and fish. A variety of in-season foods are also available throughout the year at the local farmers market.
3.) One of the biggest problems with high-energy-dense food is that it contains far too much sugar and fat for our bodies to process at one time. In today’s world unless we exercise, we do not expend enough daily physical energy to utilize many of the calories that we consume. We need to know our calorie needs for our daily activities and eat accordingly.
4.) It is estimated that 30 to 40 percent of the U.S. food supply is wasted. This means that a lot of money in our food budget is also wasted. Save the leftovers and find creative ways to use them the next day or freeze them for future use.
5.) Be aware of what you are consuming and look for foods with the least additives. Corn is one example of what we unknowingly consume in items like beef, salad dressing, spaghetti sauce and milk shakes.
6.) Think quality food! Quality food is a good investment in health even for those on a tight budget! Eating more cautiously with nutrition as the goal helps eliminate unneeded calories, salt and sugar.
For the majority of us, returning to hunter-gatherer days is not an option. The good news is that we do not have to go back to those days to have nutritious meals. As you prepare for the holidays, find healthy, creative ways to increase your nutrition without adding calories. During this special season of giving, respond generously to the need for food at the local food bank knowing that many in your community and around the world often go to bed hungry!
Have a healthy holiday!
Find a link to Connie Pearson’s entry at ELCA Southeastern Synod Blog at Lutheran Blogs.