Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Healthy eating resolution, Part 1: A new nosh strategy

You have to change your entire American way of thinking if you're to change your health profile enough to significantly reduce your body weight.  You'll find that idea expressed abundantly in the some of the more lucid commercial news stories circulating on this New Year's Day 2014. 
We've seen the likes of these resolutions before, but they don't always come with new instructions and insights on how to actually accomplished the goals.

Partial image screengrab from this site
This Today article stresses the importance of family-based teamwork, for instance.  San Jose Mercury News advocates cognitive behavioral approaches to resolutional resolve. 

I'm going to add a new strategy because I haven't seen it expressed anywhere else: 

If you want to assist yourself with healthy eating and weight loss resolutions, I advise you to first carefully stock your homes full of healthy food staples. 
It's not as counterintuitive a strategy as you might first assume.  If you look back over my 2013 food-related posts, you'll see a pervasive theme...
...a focus on food stockpiling and careful management...
...culminating in a massive upright freezer stocked with enough home-made meals to last a few months.

Photos from here, here, and here.   
I developed my approach to food management in part because of what I observed within the Chinese community here in greater Houston ("Xie xie!" I say to them).  Chinese immigrants are, of course, renowned for their rock-bottom rates of obesity. 

"In 2003–2008, obesity prevalence ranged from 2.3% for recent Chinese immigrants to 31 – 39% for American Indians, US-born blacks, Mexicans, and Puerto Ricans, and long-term Mexican and Puerto Rican immigrants", reports this peer-reviewed paper

Wrap your head around those numbers!!!  It almost feels like they're talking about different species rather than different human cultures!!

And do you know what??  Almost everyone assumes that the Chinese do better than every other resident American group because their ethnic diets are so healthy.  And they are - but that's not nearly the end of their story.  The Chinese tend to manage their individual food supplies differently from the majority of us.  Specifically, they stockpile to a degree that most of us do not.  If you don't believe this, go ahead and find me a Chinese immigrant within greater Houston who has less than a hundred pounds of rice stashed away in his or her pantry. 
A Chinese immigrant would probably look at my 20-lb bag and think, "Um... why did she buy so little?!"
This is in stark contrast to the typical American style of managing individual food supplies, which is to dash to the grocery store multiple times per week.  Certainly not less than once every week.  The thing is, though, most of us (particularly we of northern European descent) never evolved doing that kind of thing, at least not recently.  We evolved according to a continuous annual produce / consume cycle of harvesting and stockpiling. 
Not only does our culture encourage us to remain shackled to the nearest grocery store, it openly condemns as "hoarding" any activity by which individual families lay in provisions for the future such that they don't have to think about procuring more food for a while.
There's your "Bingo!" phrase:  Don't have to think about procuring more food for a while.  A lifestyle that compels people to be constantly seeking to buy food is signaling on a subconscious level that there must be a food shortage of sorts, and therefore folks better be eating as if in response to a shortage.  Which tends to prompt them to put on weight.  But there isn't actually a shortage, and so here we are with a whole bunch of obese people waddling around wondering what happened to them.

The Chinese have a healthy native diet, indeed.  But they also benefit from a particular type of relaxation, because their practice of stockpiling their primary dietary staple frees them from subsequent preoccupation with, and pursuit of, food.  They don't have to think about procuring more of it because they've already taken care of that.  Their minds can move on to other things.  And I think that they tend to eat less overall because they have been largely liberated from the food-centric logistic that plagues the rest of us. 

It's perhaps a subtle mental cueing mechanism, but I think it matters.  Without question, I found myself naturally eating less when I started keeping more food in the house.  For the first time, I realized the extent to which I was eating not because I was hungry, but because I was anticipating being hungry. 

A propos of the subject of stockpiling is the fact that HEB began a 2-for-1 sale on Cookwell and Company stews and sauces today. 
It's "buy one Green Chile Stew"...
..."get a Chili Original Recipe free!"
And this is, indeed, one hell of a Happy New Year! gift from HEB, because look what happened when I bought six of those little buggers:
Not only does stockpiling soothe your reptilian brain, it can also save you a boat-load of money if you execute it cleverly. 
I got to the store on the morning of the first day of this 14-day special offer.  This was no coincidence on my part.  There's a statement on the in-store coupon that says "We reserve the right to limit quantities".  (Ah-hah.  There's that messaging again which says if you try to buy more than what you need at any specific instant, there must be something wrong with you and maybe you need to be disciplined.)  I figured that if I showed up on the first day, my odds of being politely asked to put jars back on the shelves would be lower.  And so it was.  The store allowed me to buy six of each without objection.  "Allowed" me to spend my money that way.

Of course, my activity generated conspicuous interest within the store, as is often the case.  People were intensely curious as to why I was buying so many (really, we eat this brand routinely, so six is only a few months' worth).  So I talked them through the specific preparational details of my Cookwell strategy, which I will recount in a near-future blog post.  In the mean time, happy hoarding stockpiling and Happy New Year. 
Look for this display if you are interested in this particular product, and make sure you take the yellow in-store coupons with you to the cash register.  I was told by a source that the offer is being made at both the League City (Bay Colony) HEB and HEB Clear Lake Market on El Camino Real. 

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