How to Cope in a Refined Food World

Does this support the life I’m trying to create? Will it make the boat go faster? What would your 80 year old self say?

These are the questions I’ve been asking myself lately whenever I’m thinking about buying a new handbag, sitting on the couch surfing the internet, and especially when I’m out on errands, hungry, and find myself in the drive-thru of our local cheap taco stand.

Over the past two years, friends one by one, have been leaping into veganism, vegetarianism and every other health eating food trend of the century. After each of our encounters and witnessing the brags about the benefits of healthy eating, I – a refined food addict – find myself considering what does healthy eating look like for me.

I fall into a category of people who simply don’t enjoy feasting on quinoa and kale. My body, filled with saturated fats, processed sugars and Mountain Dew, screams out for something, anything, less damaging.

For me, and people like me, who prefer chicken strips and jojos over kale salads and pressed juices, healthy eating comes down to learning which options at fast food eateries will have the smallest amount of chaos on my digestive and cardiovascular systems, not to mention my waistline. Simply put, I know I must eat the least-harmful convenience food that I can. Those who refuse to be wild about superfoods must learn how to eat badly but well.

Food is our common ground. A universal experience. – James Beard

Cutting out foods we love won’t make us any happier or healthier. Eating what we love plays a huge part in staying healthy. We can’t forget that liking what you eat is a huge part of health and nutrition and nourishment. It’s not all about the nutrients in the food, it’s also about the experience of eating.

Fortunately, making small changes – not cutting out all the junky foods we consume – is the best way to eat badly well. Limiting our meals and snacks to veggies and grains isn’t necessary. Rather than focusing on an abrupt withdrawal of a lifelong dependence on sides of jojos, chicken strips and cheap tacos, I can center my attention on optimizing the health value of the foods I consume.

Let’s talk about cheap tacos. One of my new favorites is to order a black bean or potato taco “fresco style”. It’s a term gleaned from Taco Bell. This removes any mayo-based sauces, sour cream, cheese and guacamole and replaces them with pico de gallo, which gets its flavor from tomato, onions, cilantro and lemon juice. Grilled steak or chicken are also a great option. Tacos are easy to grab and eat on the road. And there’s no need to take time out to customize if you’re in a hurry to get where you’re going. These are also really easy to make at home.

I like to visit our local grocery store and pick up chicken strips and jojos from the deli. A healthier option is the Chik-Fil-A Grilled Nuggets and a side fruit cup. There’s no judgement here if you have to order the waffle potato fries. For about the same amount of time I sit in the drive-thru, I can also quickly make healthy baked chicken tenders that take about 15 minutes to prep and use ingredients I already have in my pantry. I like to add a spice blend and omit the oil. And thanks to Dad, I love using my new to me air fryer to make Husband approved roasted potatoes and sweet potato fries – again, no oil.

While creating yummy and wholesome foods at home sounds like a dream, most of us, including me, do not have the time or patience. I recently discovered Green Chef – one of the best meal kit subscription services for those who enjoy organic food and simple, healthy meals. It’s a solid choice for vegetarians and we have enjoyed every plant-based option we have ordered like Peanut Udon Noodles and Southwest Zucchini Fritters. Green Chef also fills a niche for those who prioritize eating organic foods, or who are following a keto, paleo or certified-gluten-free diet, but don’t have time to plan, shop and prep for meals every week. Blah, blah, blah. The real truth here is there’s an easy to follow recipe card, fresh pre-measured ingredients, a list of kitchen items needed and Husband enjoys a healthy, home-cooked meal I prepared in usually 35-40 minutes that tastes good.

Know that you can start late, look different, be uncertain and still succeed. – Misty Copeland

I’m currently working on the road and living out of a hotel room with a kitchenette. I was able to pick up a few things from the local grocery store deli. As I gazed upon the prepared foods neatly presented in the window, I asked myself three questions.

Does this support the life I’m trying to create? Will it make the boat go faster? What would your 80 year old self say?

The answer is the picture’s worth a thousand words.

Author: Livingrealaloha