As a child of the 90s, it should come as no surprise that I had a Lisa Frank diary. Pretty sure it had unicorns on it (duh) and a purple butterfly lock. I filled that sucker from cover to cover and wrote it in from the time I could write complete sentences to a time when I was probably too old to be busting out a colorful unicorn diary.
Go ahead. Judge away!
Writing about middle school crushes and how much my sisters annoyed me may not seem like a big deal. But I’ve recently started writing in a journal again, and even though it has an artsy bird pattern on the front (not playful purple kittens), I think it’s going to be very good for me.
I’ve mentioned journaling as a great tool for mental health and happiness in the past in this post about happiness and this one that mentions journaling your goals and intentions. But you know what? I never actually did it. I said to myself, sure, I’ll make an effort to pay closer attention to the things that make me happy. It’s so easy, though, to just keep living life and not take the time to think about those things.
So you know what? I grabbed a journal that was gifted to me and started writing each day. What do I make note of?
Four (or five) simple questions. It’s one to two pages in my journal, and takes me five minutes to do right before bed. Easy peasy. I am astounded at how much is has improved my attitude and outlook. I can flip back and see the progress right there on the pages. And I’m appreciating (daily!) things that make me happy.
Highly recommend you give this a try. Do it for just a week if you want! Buy a school notebook for $1 and have at ‘er. I bet it will improve your outlook.
I’ve been working out a lot more lately. Four to five days a week, for the past month or so. But I’ve realized something unfortunate… it’s like I only have so much brain space for health, because this increase in exercise correlates with a downward spiral for my healthy eating. Not cool.
In this New York Times opinion article about Michael Pollan’s reminder to get cookin’, there’s a great quote from the dude:
“Cooking is probably the most important thing you can do to improve your diet. What matters most is not any particular nutrient, or even any particular food: it’s the act of cooking itself. People who cook eat a healthier diet without giving it a thought. It’s the collapse of home cooking that led directly to the obesity epidemic.”
I mean, I think he’s on to something. If you’re making homemade meals, you’re not eating pre-packaged, processed crap with all sorts of weird additives. And that alone could have a huge impact.
Of course, you need to keep in mind some other super important ideas Pollan has preached: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. So yes, you do still need to think about what it is you’re eating, but if you focus more on cooking, you can worry less about specific nutrient hype.
Yes, the idea of cooking from scratch can be amazingly overwhelming… my head is spinning right now! But I do think that if we all start small and try a couple of meals a week, we could start making cooking habits that will get easier over time.
100 Days of Real Food is a blog I think I’ve mentioned in the past. Great inspiration for making healthy, homemade foods, so you might want to check it out if you need some inspiration.
As I’ve mentioned before, I recently picked up the book “Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us” after a recommendation. I’ve barely been able to tear myself away since. While a full recap will come at a later date, I’m already bursting with stuff I want to share.
So, let’s talk about housewives and Home Economics!
In the book, Moss talks about how Home Ec changed when there was a rise in convenience foods, especially in the 1970s and 80s. Women were working out of the home, and with all of these fast, easy, “heat and serve” options available, it became more sensible to cook using store bought items.
Home Ec changed from being about cooking and shopping and your community… instead, it became about getting jobs and being consumers. Important things, mind you, but at the cost of losing those fundamentals.
Do you remember your Home Ec class in gradeschool? I remember learning about sex ed and the importance of not smoking. I remember making pancakes, but I can’t even be sure we made them from scratch. No, my boldest memory from Home Ec was the horrifying speech our teacher gave us about not killing or seriously injuring ourselves or our classmates in our classroom kitchens.
Important things, mind you, not burning the skin off of another person’s arm… but I don’t really remember learning how to cook. So it makes sense that, today, the only thing I really know how to make from scratch is banana bread… since that’s probably the only truly-from-scratch thing my mom ever made.
How can we expect to know these things if no one teaches us? It’s the obligation of our public schools to meet certain requirements of learning in regards to reading, math and science. But what about health?
Whenever I think about the lack of health education these days, I think about a Jamie Oliver clip (at the top of this post) in which he quizzed elementary school kids about what certain vegetables were. The fact that some didn’t know what a tomato was just stuns me.
Yes, part of the problem is grocery store shelves filled with bad-for-you food. And as pessimistic as it may sound, we’re probably not going to be able to do much about that. But we can overcome a lack of education by teaching ourselves. Learning about nutrition. Screwing up in the kitchen.
So let’s put our aprons on, all you ladies and men, and cook some stuff, dammit.