By Alina Buzgar
As a child, surrounded by untainted fruits and vegetables that came straight from my grandmother’s garden I had an excellent “nutritional” start in life. I lived my childhood in the 1980’s in the European Eastern Block; “blocked” from the outside world in almost every way imaginable, but surrounded by food that came straight from uncontaminated ground. That was good! However, by the time I was in my early twenties and my country opened its doors to the outside world, we adopted many questionable food related habits as well. I was drinking half a gallon of soda a day (corn syrup) and the rest of my diet was pastries (carbohydrates) and comfort foods (starch).
Fortunately the downward spiral was cut short when I started to travel extensively to other countries and was “forced” to discover menus that were very foreign to me. While traveling around the world I developed an avid passion for local ethnic food and spices – especially because I wanted to relive the amazing local culinary experiences after I left a country.
This brings me to the present.
The passion for cooking lead me to learn more about food; especially concerning the “quality” of the food I was eating. What I found out was pretty shocking, scary and disappointing. Soon, new words made their way into my vocabulary: organic, non-GMO, hormone-free, grass-fed, processed and so on. Realizing that I had some bad habits to break and a lot of damaging food to avoid was just the beginning and there were many obstacles to overcome.
Here are some things I did to get on the right track when it comes to my nutrition.
Keep motivated: I remind myself that I am what I eat. There is nothing more directly linked to my health than the food I put in my body. And when that does not work and my motivation wavers I watch a documentary about food and I get back on track in no time.
Build new habits and take action: Building a new habit takes repetition and consistency; so I adopt one new small habit at a time. Besides, no matter how small the action, if done consistently it has an amazing compounding effect over time.
Choose to pay the “higher” price: “Organic” might seem pricier initially but the benefits are visible right away. On the short term because the food is qualitatively better, you get more nutrition from less food; on the long term the effects on your health are priceless.
Cook – I learned how to cook these newly discovered dishes and how to use the most basic and natural ingredients. Cooking your own food saves a lot of money as well without compromising on quality or taste. It’s so much easier to eat the right things when they are delicious and readily available.
Avoid temptation, keep informed – I choose not to buy the “bad” food so it’s not around to tempt me, but I am constantly on the look out for information about food to help me keep things interesting and healthy in the kitchen.
The result. I completely eliminated processed food from my diet for the past 3 years. When I do eat comfort food, I make it from scratch this way avoiding at least the damage of processing. I only buy organic and the veggies, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds occupy a big chunk in my diet. My experience has certainly been to take it one step at a time and not trying to conquer nutrition all at once.
It’s your turn now! Share your thoughts, comments or experiences below.