I just spent a crazy week with my family on a giant boat, cruising over 4000kms to Mexico and back with 3500 average North Americans. Of course I appreciate this special annual holiday with my family and the laughter, memories and smiles that it brings-these special memories will last a lifetime and I am ever grateful for them.
But it is, to say the least, a very, very foreign world to me. A far cry from the supernatural Comox Valley with its pristine forests, friendly farmers markets and fresh clean air...life on a cruise ship is more like an altered Universe than a familiar (albeit floating) city, to me. From 24 hour bustling buffets to 8 course dinners (2 of everything please), the volume of all you can eat 'food' consumed on the ship is, well, horrifying.
Don't get me wrong, I love a good holiday with a little decadence and celebration as much as the next passenger! I will be the first to admit I wasn't exactly on my 'normal' eating regime on the boat - and my family will back me up on that one:) Cheese plate anyone? But, although I sampled cheeses from around the world, enjoyed local fare (they don't drink water in Mexico), and went with an 'I'll try anything once' attitude, my overall diet didn't really vary that much from my home life. I I got my fitness nearly every day and filled my plates with fresh veggies and lean proteins whenever possible. There is crap everywhere you go, whether you are on a cruise ship or in your local grocery store. You can always wade through it to find some real 'food'.
Juxtaposed against this passenger feeding frenzy I was lounging in deck chairs, reading the 'sermon' of Michael Pollen in his recent book: In Defense of Food. If you haven't read it yet, go grab a copy- and go watch Food Inc while you are at it...and get your kids to watch it with you... Albeit preaching to the choir, so to speak, reading this book while on a cruise had a bigger impact on me then it would have during my 'real' life.
The moral of his book is this (and it is found right on the cover so you don't have to dig too far):
If you are reading this blog, you are probably a relatively health conscious person...interested in healthy, active stuff. But even the most health conscious among us can benefit from a little check in now and then. You may think you eat well...but how much of what you eat is actually 'food'?
So, this week I posed a challenge to my Sunrise Bootcamp class and now I am going to send it out to you as well...
1 Week 'Food' Challenge
*This challenge has 2 parts you can choose to take on...you can decide how much you want to challenge yourself.
1. READ every single label that you find on the food you are choosing this week. Just read it, that's it.
2. EAT only the items that contain ingredients you actually recognize as food. Hint: if you can't pronounce or define an ingredient, it doesn't count as food. Or, as Pollen writes, 'if your Great Grandmother wouldn't recognize it as food', don't eat it.
I scared off a few of my Bootcampers with that second part of the challenge, I think. But really, it is your challenge, and there are no punishments for trying. Try it and see what happens. See how close to the challenge you can get. Some 'food' for thought after your challenge...
- What percentage of your normal choices are actually 100% 'food'?
- What items had ingredients that surprised you?
- How hard was it to stick to 'food' only choices?
- What changes, if any, would you make to your regular eating regime after completing this challenge?
I am interested to hear how it goes! Good luck, enjoy the journey, and send me your comments!