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Food for Thought A New Way to Think About What You Eat

Health + Fitness

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Lori Reamer, Director of Nutrition, Canyon Ranch in Lenox

By Lori Reamer

As a nutritionist, I am frequently asked whether eating local or eating organic is better for you.  When it comes down to it, there’s really no right answer. What drive each person’s choice and ultimately, behavior, are their personal food values.

What are food values and why do they matter?

Food values are what influence the food practices and food selections we make. It’s important to define your personal food values, as doing so will establish guidelines that enable you to make food choices that are consistent, healthy and supportive to your overall wellness.
 
Trying to determine your personal food values? Some factors that may guide your food behaviors include (but are not limited to) --

1.) Ethnic heritage and traditions: This involves cooking foods that you ate as a child or considered “family recipes” and practicing traditional eating rituals, both of which help define your ethnic background.

Ways you can put this food value into action:

  • Revive favorite family recipes.
  • Create a theme night that involves researching the history behind a recipe or food, and share what you learned during dinner.


2.) Food safety: You may be concerned about methyl mercury, e-coli and salmonella, or about raw vs. cooked fish and eggs, etc.

Tips for protecting yourself and your family:


3.) Healthy behaviors: This relates to pace of eating, mindful eating, eating as a family and establishing eating rituals.

Ways to cultivate healthy behaviors at home:

  • Involve your children in the food in your home.
  • Choose quality food and quality ambiance -- like candles, cloth napkins and sitting in the dining room.
  • Prioritize eating and relaxing with friends and family at meals.
  • Revive and create traditions that form pleasurable food memories.
  • Visit the following websites for additional ideas and recipes:

                        -- www.kidsgardening.org
                        -- www.slowfoodusa.org
                        -- www.slowfood.com

  
4.) Healthy ingredients: Eating only healthy ingredients means consuming pure, minimally processed natural foods.

Tips on how to keep it healthy:

  • If you can’t say it, don’t eat it; multisyllabic words you can’t pronounce are usually not good for you.  Ask yourself if your pantry contains the same ingredients that the package contains.
  • Choose food items with five ingredients or less.


5.) Local: Buying food grown close to where you live helps support your local economy and has a lower carbon footprint. In addition, local foods are often fresher, in season and possess more flavors, allowing you to cook more simply.

Ways to keep your food local:

  • Shop at farmer’s markets
  • Ask for local food where you dine
  • Eat foods in season in the region where you live
  • Join a farm cooperative or local Community Supported Farm (CSA)
  • Visit the following websites for more information:

                    -- www.buylocalfood.com
                    -- www.eatwellguide.com
                    -- www.eatwild.com
                    -- www.foodroutes.org
                    -- www.localharvest.org

6.) Organic and sustainable:
Food that is grown/harvested in a way that does not adversely impact the environment and does not include pesticides, insecticides or herbicides; it cannot be genetically modified; it is free of hormones and antibiotics.

Visit the following websites for more information:

Once you’ve determined what your personal food values are, prioritize them. With this knowledge you can make food and lifestyle choices that will support your and your family’s happiness and wellbeing. To your health!

Lori Reamer, R.D., C.L.E., L.D.N. is the director of nutrition at Canyon Ranch in Lenox. She specializes in metabolism, digestive wellness, gluten intolerance/celiac, insulin resistance, controlling cravings, healthy relationships with food, slow food and clean eating.

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