When I first moved to California, shortly after college, I believe my diet primarily consisted of Gatorade, Hostess Ding Dongs, Taco Bell and any fried or battered bar food. This made grocery shopping pretty uninteresting – throwing boxes of processed and prepackaged foods into the cart, nary a piece of lettuce in sight.
Within the first few weeks of my time here, I began to witness a phenomenon at the grocery. People were putting fruits and vegetables in their carts. They were also walking around in workout clothes. They appeared to be at the grocery store after having gone to something called “a gym.” And, they all seemed pretty chipper. Young or old, I noticed fit, healthy looking people, walking around the grocery store, putting food from the produce section into their carts. This was also the time when fresh, bottled smoothies, Robeks and Jamba Juice were all the rage. People would discuss the best, most power-packed combinations of fruits, veggies and powders for their drinks. I wondered, “what's so wrong with this simple, delicious Gatorade? After all, it’s thirst aid for that deep down body thirst.”
The other day, I was at the checkout counter and a woman commented that my cart was so healthy. It was healthy for the health food store? What had I put in there? In previous years, I had not been associated with health. Food, yes. Health, not so much. Who am I now? I realized that my cart has changed so much over the years that it really demarcates significant time periods in my life.
My cart - take a peak!
1993: Entered College - Gatorade, Pepsi Free, Little Debbie Snack Cakes, Hostess anything (you name it!), TV dinners, mac ’n’ cheese, sugary cereals, milk, microwavable pizza pockets, etc, etc, etc. Plus dinners out – Mad Mushroom Cheese Sticks, Pizza, Taco Bell & KFC=
1998: We move to California - Gatorade, smoothies, Hostess Anything, mac ’n’ cheese, meat, eggs, potatoes, candy bars, sugary cereal, oven baked pizzas, blueberries, bread, sandwich supplies, occasional vegetable or fruit. Still eating lots of Taco Bell & KFC. Definitely not going to win any awards here.
2000: I discover Trader Joes – “Healthy” versions of sugary cereals, crackers, snacks, frozen dinners, spinach, bananas, blueberries, other fruits and vegetables (some are even designated organic), smoothies, “natural” eggs and meat, power bars, red wine (hey! they say it’s healthy!), cheese – oh the cheese, more crackers ...
2003: We move to Italy – prosciutto, cheese, bread, yogurt, eggs, wine, coffee, olives, artichokes, eggplant & fruit, Kinder chocolate, gelato. We shopped daily and could only buy what we could carry up 104 stairs. Hey – what more do you need when you’re in Italy?
2004: Joined Slow Food Movement in Indy - natural and organic versions of prosciutto, cheese, bread, yogurt, eggs, wine, coffee, olives, artichokes, eggplant & fruit, TJs snacks, crackers, sugary cereal. Back then, it was harder to find natural or organic food in Indy but it was there (mostly at Trader Joes). Through Slow Food, I learned about raw milk, pasture-fed food and CSAs. Farmer’s markets were scarce but coming on the scene.
2006: We move back to California – Joined a CSA, started shopping at different farmer’s markets around town for fresh produce, began eating more and more real food that was mostly natural and organic, but still ate lots of Trader Joe’s delicious processed snacks, sugary goodies, crackers, ice creams, etc.
2007: I discover Whole Foods – organic everything! Organic meat, eggs, cheese – you name it. Even wine! Still with the CSA and shopping the farmer’s markets for produce, but getting all organic processed snacks, sugary goodies, crackers, ice creams, etc.
And now, 2012 – getting caught off guard from a compliment by the woman at the checkout counter. A cart full of vibrant, organic fruits and vegetables, pasture raised eggs and meat and that’s about it. No processed food. No fast food. No sugar. Only real, whole food. Getting complimented that my cart is healthy for the health food store! How did this happen?
My cart doesn’t always look like this, but it just goes to show how small, incremental changes can make long-term improvements for your health and lifestyle. Sometimes, you don’t even know it is happening.
Who am I? Apparently, I am healthy.