Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Yesterday I discovered that morbidly obese people have mold that grows inside their folds of fat. Think of that next time the urge for something unhealthy gets to you. If that's not motivation I don't know what is. Most people do a lot to avoid mold in their own home, let alone on their own bodies.

Similarly, while at work yesterday I had multiple conversations with customers about the difference between US and Canadian Starbucks, namely we discussed the presence of excess sugar in US drinks. Not because the drink formulas are different (as far as I know they aren't), but because people don't tend to order things half-sweet, or whipped-cream free as frequently in the USA as they do in Canada. It is no secret that the United States has an obesity problem, and while obese people do live in Canada, I have found, particularly in Vancouver, which is known for its active population, that there are fewer overweight people in general. Of course this makes it harder for those people who are overweight because they feel out of place and consistently embarrassed because of their size (or at least I did), but on the other hand it means the resources are there for anyone with the desire to change their lives. What's more the presence of these resources generally results in a greater awareness of health and well-being, explaining the frequent requests I get for drinks with non-fat milk, half the amount of syrup, or sugar-free syrup altogether.

For me, personally, food is a challenge. I love to eat. Indeed, my boyfriend and I consider ourselves foodies, and often joke that the money most college-students spend on beer, we spend on expensive meals for anniversaries and birthdays. We just really enjoy good food. Of course, food at nice restaurants, particularly in Vancouver, tends to be organic, of high quality and (mostly) reasonable portion sizes, but still fried in a ton of butter (because that is the true secret to delicious restaurant cooking), and high in calories. The combination of my love of food and desire for health, however, has resulted in a new way of eating.

A few years ago, two Vancouver reporters decided to eat local for a year, the resulting book: "The 100 Mile Diet" documents their year of local eating. Now, I'll be the first to admit that we don't eat 100% local, but we do eat about 95% organic, and buy any local produce available. Some things, like bananas, are simply not grown in BC, but other things, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, nectarines, onions, potatoes, broccoli, tomatoes... are grown in BC, and we make sure to buy them. The limits placed on our diet by our focus on local, organic food is that these food products tend to be more 'whole,' and generally contain fewer preservatives, and other chemicals. By focusing on something we really believe in, my boyfriend and I have taken our love of food and use it as an outlet to express some of our beliefs while indulging in organic local food which really does taste better than conventional food that has traveled thousands of miles to get to us.

That's not to say I don't still frequent restaurants, I do, but when I do I try to make conscious decisions about what I am ordering, and hell, it is ok to cheat, sometimes. Birthdays and anniversaries only come around a couple times a year.

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