Baby Steps Towards Eating Right (There's Only Three)

I hate listicles.

They’re the yellow journalism of our generation. Honestly, I think there are some days when I’d genuinely prefer some xenophobic, jingoistic propaganda to yet another collection of fourteen reaction GIFs about how Nutella makes you feel sexually. Sure, one’s trying to rally public support to invade the sovereign nation of Cuba, but at least I don’t have to look at that same stupid loop of Gandalf bobbing his head to the Sexy Sax Man song. You know the one.

(Wordpress ruins all things beautiful, including sound mashups) (I also heard it's a communist)/ VIA Imgur.

(Wordpress ruins all things beautiful, including sound mashups) (I also heard it's a communist)/ VIA Imgur.

But there are things in this world that draw my ire far more than trends in modern writing. Things like the rising rate of any number of preventable diseases (adult-onset diabetes, heart issues, etc.). Food deserts. Vitamin deficiencies. The concept of not knowing where your food comes from – simply opening a paper bag of grease and inhaling it without thinking twice.

The list is a great construct for doling out easily-digestible information, so I’m breaking my fast from it. Think of this as a to-do list to get your diet to a healthier place. Not as a listicle. Please. For my sanity.

WAIT. Before I begin, I want to make one thing perfectly clear (cue the Obama voice). This is not an article about body shaming. Despite the connection I feel between us, kind stranger, I don’t give a baby’s ballet shoes what you look like. But we’re homies. And homies don’t let other homies get potentially fatal, preventable diseases like diabetes, deep-vein thrombosis, sleep apnea, etc. ANNA loves you for all your curves or what have you, and we want you to stick around with us for as long as possible – and it starts with eating right.

1. Cook More!

The obvious answer. Takeout food has to be easily prepared without sacrificing flavor. The easiest solution is to load them with excess fats, sugar, and salt. If you compare the recipes and nutrition facts between a home-cooked burger and fry meal, to one from your friendly neighborhood McBurgerBy King, the difference is kind of terrifying.

Don’t have time to cook? Let me introduce you to your new best friend – the Slow Cooker. Don’t let the crock pot’s prevalence throughout all of human history fool you. This little beauty was tailor-made for millennials with not enough time to cook. Step one: put some protein in the pot (lentils are a great vegetarian/vegan option). Step two: put some flavoring shit in the pot with it. Step three: leave it alone for a few hours. Seriously, the less attention you pay to it, the better. Like a cat, or crippling student loan debt. This is my go to recipe: 3 pounds of chicken, a jar of your favorite salsa, and some chili sauce. Boom, food for three days (or a week, if you’re a normal person).

2. Multicolored Plates

This is actually a fun one. The gist here is that the more diverse color palette you meal has, the more nutrients will be in it – and with good reason. Of course, the most colorful foodstuffs will be vegetables, which have some of the most important vitamins and minerals. Still, some of the autumn tones are just as important – meat (or tofu – poor vegetarians) for protein, grains (rice) and starches (taters) for energy, nuts and legumes for healthy fat. Despite what you may have heard, you need a balance of all macronutrients. Speaking of which…

3. Don’t Listen to Dogma

*Finds excuse to insert dog photo into article* *wins @ internet*

*Finds excuse to insert dog photo into article* *wins @ internet*

Everyone has heard one facacta health tip or another. “Carbs are the devil!” “Avoid all fat!” “Virgin blood makes the pounds melt off, hail the dark lord!” The thing is, despite having eaten stuff for… well, forever, we’re still having a hard time figuring out what’s good and what’s bad for you. What is definitely bad for you, though, is skipping out on a vital part of nutrition, be it carbs, fat, or devotion to Cthulu.

You need all three macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrates) to function. Hell, there are some schools of thought that maintain you can eat whatever you want, if it fits your daily allowance for each macronutrient (If It Fits Your Macros, or IIFYM). So, yeah, you can in theory eat a pint of ice cream a day and still be super healthy if you stay on top of your diet. I personally love this approach. I could never do the 20 small meals a day in exact 3.1415 minute windows of time. I can now eat like I used to (read: a pizza-craving insomniac) without sacrificing my health.

While we’re here, let’s clear one thing up. Vegan =/= healthy. Sure, it narrows down your choices for unwholesome consumption. Still though, I have more than enough vegan friends who subsist entirely on Oreos and beer. Not exactly well-rounded.

There is a massive body of ever-changing knowledge surrounding the topic of health. These three points, though, are the foundation. A foundation upon which you can build your house. Of health. Your health-house. Which, I personally imagine to be more of a yurt, or perhaps a tipi. Maybe a longhouse.

The point is, this isn’t about looking Hollywood, or anything superficial. Human bodies are, for lack of a creative metaphor, machines. The better fuel you put into your machine, the more you’ll get out of life as you chug through its twists and turns.

Photos VIA Pexels.