Meghan Stypulkoski ’12
Winter is a time of holidays, family gatherings, food, and a reason to be decadent. The cold months of winter also mean packing up the camping tent, bringing in the bike, and deflating the beach ball.
In nature, winter is a time for hibernation, with little food and shortened hours of sunlight. Most animals spend most of the day sleeping. In our industrial world, we trick our bodies into perpetual summers with fluorescent lights. Food is always in abundance, albeit the fact that it is usually stripped of its nutrients.
We are the fattest country in the world. This generation is the first to have a shorter life expectancy than its predecessor, and food-related illnesses are the top killers in this country. Depression (which many nutrition deficiencies can cause), Type II diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia, and more have become all too frequent. All these conditions can be prevented, sometimes even cured, by a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Photo courtesy of http://gobeastsports.com/
At MLHS, the typical student is probably on some sports team at some point during the year, and many of the students who don’t participate in school sports often keep fit by taking it upon themselves to work out. Whether it’s going to the YMCA for weight lifting and a jog on the treadmill or spending a long weekend backpacking the Appalachian Trail, it’s easy to say that most MLHS students are concerned about physical health.
But health doesn’t stop there. What we put into our bodies is just as important as what we do with them. Industrially raised meat and dairy, refined grains, and table sugar have become central to our diet. Produce is usually imported, showered with pesticides, and increasingly genetically modified, and salt is used far too generously. It’s no wonder we’re in such bad shape.
Health is sometimes easy to forget during the holiday season, but it’s often disregarded year-long, anyway. Eating well is such an easy thing to do, especially when incorporated into everyday life. One cannot stress enough the importance of a whole-foods, plant-based diet where the food is sourced as close to home as possible (this includes getting animal products from local ranches). Reading labels, avoiding pesticides, and preparing meals at home are simple ways to improve health.
While keeping tabs on your diet can be difficult during the holidays—infamous for overeating— attempts can always be made. With the “Slow Foods” movement fighting the greedy corporate giant behind genetically modified organisms, Monsanto, and the booming number of farmer’s markets, finding healthier and more sustainable options keeps getting easier.
So this holiday season, enjoy sweets, but enjoy salads and winter vegetables, too. Go for a walk after big family meals. Do an hour of yoga. What better way to end the year than to make a commitment to be healthier and happier?