Tips for Conscious Eating

Juggling the normal pressures of life on top of a stressful work situation, daily commute and caring for loved ones can make reaching for takeout, fast-food, pre-made and packaged foods feel not only convenient but too often, an absolute necessity. With the prevalence of apps designed to deliver delicious meals prepared by strangers to your door damn near instantaneously, we seem to have more of an ability than ever to strike cooking from the list of time commitments to be juggled. 

But eating takeout every night adds up to a significant amount of coin and, in my experience, can be a sign that I'm headed toward burnout. And since we must eat to live, why not make the act as sensual, enjoyable and uplifting an experience as possible? Besides that, becoming more conscious of what we put into our bodies is a way to reclaim some of our power, living as we are in the depths of a system—white supremacist capitalist patriarchy—that demands we sacrifice our well-being and joy for its needs.  

I came up with the list below to offer some basic ideas for folks who are wanting to bring more awareness to this arena. Recovering from a particularly exhausting few months of political campaigning back in 2010, these were some of the steps I took to help myself feel good again. This list is just a start! 

  • Join a CSA (community supported agriculture) to have a steady source of local produce, and begin to develop a relationship with a farmer. For a list of CSAs in New York City, click here

  • Become familiar with the schedule of the farmer’s markets closest to where you live. Make a point to visit a market at least once a week

  • Build a meal around an unusual or unexpected find at the farmer’s market

  • Buy a crockpot and explore crockpot meals. Crockpots enable you to put all your ingredients in in the morning and come home to a delicious, piping-hot meal

  • Treat yourself to a subscription to a cooking magazine, or subscribe to a food blog. Invite friends over, or gather your loved ones together to cook one new recipe from your publication of choice, per week

  • Use an online tool (like Pinterest) to bookmark fun-sounding recipes so that you never run out of ideas

  • Go grocery shopping on the same day each week

  • Stock your pantry with basics like beans, spices, whole grains and other ingredients that can be made into meals with the addition of fresh vegetables and protein

  • When buying meat and eggs, try to purchase free-range, grass-fed and organic. Conventionally-raised meats contain pesticides, growth hormone and other undesirable chemicals

  • Check out cookbooks from the library; try a new recipe to keep things fresh

  • ALWAYS read the label on packaged food. Pass on foods that contain added sugars and multisyllabic ingredients, dyes, or preservatives

  • Dedicate one day per week to cooking the majority of your food for that week

  • Make meals social: prepare enough food to have extras to share at lunch with a favorite colleague. Arrange it so you can eat homemade dinners with your loved ones, roommates and friends

  • For the best nutrition and flavor, fill your plate with food that is as colorful as possible, and eat what’s in season