Dear Auntie, How do I eat healthy?
This is a tough question for me because I feel like I will always be learning and negotiating the right balance between my nutrition and physical fitness. This does not come easy or natural for me. I feel like I have to work hard at it…and I’m certainly not perfect at it. So for starters, give yourself a pat on the back for making forward progress towards a healthier life style.
Eating healthy can mean a lot of different things to different people but there a few flexible strategies you can take when deciding what you choose to eat. Overall, it can seem incredibly challenging when it seems you can constantly be barraged with ‘diet’ tips from media on the internet, TV, advertisements, and radio, not to mention friends and family!
When you make choices about what you eat, you’re essentially making modern ‘hunting and gathering’ food choices; the overall aim is to choose items that are healthy, wholesome and generally a “whole” food.
Whole foods are those that our ancestors would recognize if we were able to show them. Essentially, eating as close to nature as the Earth provides. Organic can be a food that you, your family or community have grown, as well as choosing food from other local farms/farmers markets. It’s also good for many reasons to find food that is grown near you, as well as foods that are in season. Beyond providing us with healthy food choices, these types of foods allow us to nurture Earth in a way that helps it to continue to provide its abundance for what we need for now and in the future.
Also, if you’re able, hunting/fishing/gathering your own indigenous food is one of the best ways to access healthy foods, and it can be super fun and good for the soul!!! This may include elk, deer, fish, roots, berries and nuts; all of which are great healthy options for our bodies. These foods will help feed your body, mind, and soul just as it has for many generations in our tribal communities across the nation.
A general tip for eating close to the Earth is to stay away from processed foods; anything that comes in a box, wrapper, or fast food. When we eat foods that come from the Earth, we are choosing to have the optimum health like that of our ancestors. And, a great result is that we are also taking care of Mother Earth when we eat what she provides us.
One last thing, we haven’t talked about: “what to drink?” I’m sure you can guess what I’m going to say…water, water, and more water! Sipping water as well as drinking approximately 1 glass per hour is a great way of keeping your body and mind hydrated, as well as cleansed. Try to stay away from coffee, and sugary drinks like soda and fruit juices.
A few closing tips to help you along the way to improved health for you, your family and friends: “Recognize” your foods and return to natural & simple food choices. Eat fresh. Enjoy your food. Slow down. Make time to sit down and relax while you eat. Enjoy cooking, smelling and chewing your food. Remember to be thankful for the food in front of you.
Making healthy food choices, we make ourselves, our family, our community, and the Earth a healthier place once again as the generations before us and sustainable for the future generations!