Roadside Perspective

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The first time I saw a roadside gas station in Bali, I mistook the gasoline for bottled water. Reborn to fool the haggard traveler on a hot day, the gas was being sold in Absolut Vodka bottles. 

I later found out that our driver's son suffered severe, permanent brain damage from drinking gasoline out of such a bottle when he was 5 years old. Granted at 5 years old, such an incident is a tragic accident not an intended action, however, how many adults would ingest poison if they read it on a label?

We do it everyday. Take a look at the "food" on the shelves of our favorite grocery stores. Junk labeled as such litters the aisles and in particular, the roadside checkout stands. Impulse leads to injury. If we are illiterate, then we may be pardoned, but few of us read labels and instead fall for the deceptive packaging selectively marketed by the Earth undertone grocery stores of which we stand.

This perspective article admits fault, but at the end of the day, it's up to us the consumers. Just as we should never judge a book by its cover, so goes we should never view food from a grocery store as food. You must read labels. Whether the brand name alludes to being healthy or the clever packaging looks healthy, the truth is that very few packaged items are healthy.

If you intend to eat with consciousness, do not generalize about good vs. bad food based on the grocery store you're shopping at. Look beyond. Read the ingredients, read them thoroughly, but if you have to read any ingredient twice, chances are you're safer driving down the produce aisle for your fuel.

For the Love of Treats

We're all guilty of overindulging in sweets. I can't remember the last time I only ate half of the dessert set in front of me. It's a weakness of mine and quite frankly, a pleasure. 

Michael Pollan lays down the law in simple text, "Treat Treats as Treats." A recipe even a toddler can follow. My words of advice are to think about the worth of a treat. Not everyday is a holiday or special occasion. I agree, we have much to be thankful for here in the United States. Our accessibility to food, which includes no less than three meals per day, is worth celebrating, but a dessert (or two) everyday? Now that's gluttony. 

I promote what the dietitian of my youth once told me, "If you're going to eat dessert, make sure it's the best of it's kind." Go out and eat the best piece of apple pie in the city you live in; don't bake or buy the whole pie that will sit on your kitchen counter and serve as meal replacement for the next three days.

Alternatively, explore vegan desserts and low-sugar options such as fresh fruit or yogurt. This recipe is one I share because Valentine's Day = treats. I'm a glutton for dark chocolate and also for avocados. Who would have guessed these two loves would collide?

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Nutritional Spending

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Eight years ago, I read my first and only finance book by author David Bach. The title, Smart Women Finish Rich. The take away from that book is one that I've carried with me, one we could all benefit from, "It's not how much you make, it's how much you save."

Bach trademarks The Latte Factor: a fundamental reality that if we cut back our spending on little amenities such as lattes, we'd be richer. If we consumed fewer lattes we'd be cutting back on the $2.70+ expense a day or $13.50 a week. That's roughly $675 a year or $6,750 over the course of 10 years. 

We'd also slim down our daily and weekly caloric intake (190 calories in a grande cafe latte equals 950 calories per work week) and likely boost our health. Doesn't seem like too tall of an order and a darn good return, wouldn't you agree?

Following Bach's practice of looking at the little ways we spend money (ie: the morning coffee to-go ritual), let's parlay this into the little ways we consume calories. The Latte Factor, nutritionally speaking, results in the overconsumption of nutrient poor calories. Our morning latte, a packaged snack from the gas station, a bag of chips while we wait for lunch, and the chocolate goodie impulse buy while standing in the grocery store checkout line - these all add unnecessary calories to our days and to our waistlines.

Too many of us eat food just to eat. We stop short of really focusing on what we put in our bodies. We've become frivolous. Whether we're spending money or putting food in our bodies, we've become by definition, 'self-indulgently carefree; unconcerned about or lacking any serious purpose.'

Think about how many calories you can save next time you're in line for your latte unwilling to give up the morning ritual. Consider the 12oz vs. the 20oz. It's more than just your money, it's how much health you can save.

For further reading, the Starbucks website has a dedicated page for their Drinks and Food Nutritional Information. I'd recommend familiarizing yourself with the information provided as it may help you be more conscious during your next order.