I’m no angel when it comes to healthy eating. To me, chocolate is acceptable breakfast food – there’s sugar, sometimes nuts and fruits and … I don’t know …. a couple of other things which I figure should give me enough energy for the day. So, in my books, a snickers bar equals breakfast. Makes life so much easier.
Anyhoo, while I’m no health nut, I’m happy to say that my diet has started to improve a wee bit over the past year. Apart from the occasional can of coke when I need a sugar high, I’ve cut soft drinks out completely. I love iced tea but now I only drink them sugar-less. Vegetables and fruits make more frequent appearances during my meals and I occasionally surprise friends (and myself!) by ordering a salad. I’ve also started to make a conscious effort to cut down on red meat and processed food.
Cutting down on processed food is a biggie for me. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but processed food always, always tastes incredibly yummy. That’s why kids love them. Think sausages, luncheon meat, bak gua, ham and yes, nuggets. I love nuggets! They’re the easiest things to eat on the planet, they’re good for any time of the day, and you never get sick of them. But sad to say, I cut them out some time last year. Cold turkey. And I only have one man to blame for this – the Naked Chef – Jamie Oliver. In one episode of The Food Revolution, Jamie Oliver showed a bunch of school kids what goes into the making of chicken nuggets and it was gross. If you thought chicken nuggets were made of chicken breast meat, think again. It’s basically a whole lot of chicken carcasses, skin, bits of the chicken that you would normally throw away mixed with a high quantity of stabilizers, sodium and seasoning. And I suspect what Jamie Oliver showed was already the good stuff. It’s all then minced and then pressed into the friendly oval shape we’ve all become familiar with.
Jamie Oliver made me give up chicken nuggets in a heartbeat but apparently American kids don’t cave in as easily. Jamie brought the same nugget experiment over to Huntington, West Virginia – the city that has been singled out as the unhealthiest in America. While the kids were grossed out and able to correctly point out that it was bad meat, they all said they would still eat it. Man, you should have seen the look on Jamie Oliver’s face. Poor guy.
I’m not surprised by the kids’ response. Don’t we all eat food that we know is bad for us? C’mon, we”re not idiots. We know that chips and fries are high in fat and sodium, we know that char kuay teow is unhealthy, we know that sausages contain all the bits and pieces that cannot be sold. Yet, we greedily gobble them up and queue for the best in town. Why? Because they taste good. Simple as that.
I’ve discovered over this past year that eating healthy is a conscious decision. It’s a total mindset change. It’s like a switch has been flipped in your brain and now you see light. But the thing is, you have to take it one baby step at a time. Try adding a little more veggie and cutting a little deep fried stuff. Instead of the daily coke or beer, try alternate days. And it really helps to simply not stock unhealthy food in your fridge or house. Why tempt yourself? If you don’t see it when you crave it, you won’t eat it.
Don’t go cold turkey and give your body time to adjust. Once your brain is convinced, the rest of your body will start to obey and after a while, you don’t even crave the unhealthy stuff! Trust me, this carnivore turned omnivore has been there and done it.
Hmmm, the funny thing is, typing this post has now given me a craving for nuggets. Think I just might make some from scratch this weekend. Using real chicken, of course!