Posted August 17th, 2010 by Penny Wise

Aug 17, 2010

Woohoo! I'm well on my way to being an automatic healthy person! By that I mean, Fiona once told me it takes three weeks for a new habit to become automatic and I'm just about there! It's been almost three weeks since I had so much as a sip of Coke Zero, alcohol, wheat or gluten. Amazingly, there hasn't been a single day that I have missed it either, not one. And why would I, with the benefits I have already found?

1. I am saving truckloads of money! By my estimation between $80 - $100 per week. That's up to $5200 worth of crap food and drink I no longer put in my body. In five years I will have saved $25,000. In ten years I will have saved $52,000! Good grief - that's just me alone! Honestly though, last week I didn't spend a cent on anything non-essential. Not one measly cent and it felt brilliant! I carry a water bottle in the car with me at all times and keep a huge jug of water and a glass on the table next to me in my office all day and knock back at least six glasses a day now.

2. I'm helping the planet! There are no more cans or bottles rolling around in my car or cluttering up the place at home. The only items I contribute to the recycling now are empty tins and bottles from the pantry! Hence we now send less than half the previous amount of recycling to the dump and only have to go to the dump half as much!

3. The house is tidier and I'm more organised. Seriously, I'm achieving so much more since I stopped drinking wine! You see, as soon as I got a glass of wine in my hand that signalled 'relax mode'. Which is fine and all very pleasant but not very productive. Once you sit down for a nice glass of Chardy and a chat any thoughts of doing the dishes or folding washing goes out of the window. No more! It's a pleasure to go to bed each night knowing the house is lovely and tidy and wake up each morning to a spotless kitchen.

4. Best of all, I feel FANTASTIC! I can literally see the weight falling off. I bounce out of bed in the morning and feel a box of fluffy ducks. I have tons more energy and my skin is so much clearer. I'm more relaxed too because I'm not beating myself up any more about my unhealthy lifestyle. I only wish I had had the impetus to do this years ago!

I've always been a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I got sick because I needed a wake up call and made the positive changes I needed. Then, just to make sure these changes are cemented into my being forever, I stumble across a movie documentary called Food, Inc. I'm not sure if I'm allowed to say 'oh my God' so apologies if I'm not but Oh. My. God. This film has had a huge effect on me. As the front cover says, 'it will change the way you think about dinner'. Good heavens I think that's an understatement! I urge every single person in the universe to watch it if you possibly can - although you might not want to watch it in front of the kids. I made the mistake of watching it with Ali, thinking it was harmless only to have him run out of the room in tears 10 minutes into the movie, vowing never to eat chicken again. So far he hasn't and after seeing it myself I'm certainly not going to encourage him to start again!

I learned so much from this movie - most of it I would rather I didn't know but I'm really glad that I do know so that our family can make informed decisions. Two things I know for sure are:

1. Fast food has a LOT to answer for. Whilst Food, Inc talks about food production and standards in America, most of the Western world is also affected. Giant companies such as McDonald's buy more meat, potatoes, tomatoes and so on than anyone else in the world. They have so much clout that basically everyone else has to produce these and other products in the same way, according to their standards and requirements. Chickens, pigs and cattle are mass produced by farmers contracted to these companies. They are not just raised, they are 'grown'; pumped full to bursting with products Mother Nature didn't design them to eat so that they can reach maturity faster and be slaughtered earlier. If I wasn't vegetarian already this movie would have sworn me off eating meat for good! The conditions these animals exist in are appalling. I say existing because you sure as hell can't call it living.

Apologies if I sound like your stereotypical vegetarian vigilante but there's more to it than that. It's not just the meat. Companies like these are the reason why we pay through the nose to be able to eat tomatoes all year round. Tomatoes which are picked green, then ripened artificially with ethanol gas. 'YUK!' said Ali. 'Why would anybody do that? No wonder Dad's tomatoes taste so much better!' Then to add insult to injury, they charge a pittance for their mass produced junk food, so that everyone will flock to buy it over the healthier foods. As one family interviewed said 'We can only afford $1.00 per person, per meal. We can buy our kids a burger which will fill them up for $1.00. Sure, we'd like to buy them healthier food but it costs $1.29 for a head of broccoli in the supermarket! That's sad enough, but what is even sadder is the amount the same family is spending on medication for heart problems and diabetes. What saddened us most of all however is the reason for the artificial tomatoes, massive breasted six-week-old chickens and unhealthy families. Money. But for who? According to Food, Inc the average chicken 'grower' makes just $18,000 per year and is $500,000 in debt. The only winners here are of course the big guys at the top. Unless you belong to another group of very special people. Which brings me to the second thing I know for sure&

2. I am SO glad to be a Simple Saver! Simple Savers are winners too! Not just because we save pots of money but because we know we have a choice. Because we refuse to be herded like sheep. Because we refuse to be suckers and pay top dollar for crap food. As we watched the movie I lost track of how many times I inwardly thanked our guilt-free Simple Savings way of life, for being able to enjoy free range eggs every day laid by our happy, free range chickens. For being able to 'grow' the meat we want in spacious, grassy paddocks where the animals are free to just graze and bask in the sun. For growing our own vegetables for just a few cents from tiny seeds so we don't have to pay a fortune for gas-ripened tomatoes or $1.29 for a head of broccoli. Our vegetables will always cost less than a cheeseburger. For the hunters and fishermen of the family, who ensure we never have to spend a cent on mass produced meat from the supermarket. The first thing Ali said when watching the movie was 'thank God we hunt for most of our meat, Mum' and I had to agree with him wholeheartedly. If this is the way of the world, that animals are killed for meat to feed us humans, then I would much rather that meat came from an animal who had known nothing but freedom, who just happened to have the misfortune to run into a bloke with a rifle for a split second, than an animal who had never known freedom and had simply been brought into the world to line someone else's pockets.

I knew my new healthy habits had become automatic last weekend, when we went tenpin bowling for Liam's birthday. When asked what he wanted for lunch, Liam (who did not see the movie) immediately said 'McDonald's!' This used to be one of my real weaknesses - but not any more. While the other three munched, I didn't eat or drink a thing. The boys kept trying to give me their chips but I just couldn't do it. It didn't bother me that they were eating it; I just didn't want a bar of it myself and I don't think I will ever eat food like that again. Instead, I sat there and took in what was going on around me. It was a Saturday lunchtime and the restaurant was heaving. The queues were long and it was impossible to escape the noise. It was the first time in longer than I can remember that we dined in, I always used to just grab something in the drive-thru and as I looked around I realised that every single adult except Noel was obese. I mean REALLY obese - and I'm a good bit overweight myself so please don't think I'm some high and mighty stick insect for talking about other people this way! If that Saturday lunchtime didn't strengthen my resolve and put me off junk food for good, I don't know what else will!

PS: Here in NZ, we are fortunate that almost all our beef is raised outdoors in their natural environment, eating grass. The new Angus range from McDonald's uses only top quality beef and the standards the farmers have to meet are extremely high. If you are prone to the odd takeaway fix, at least with this option you can be sure of exactly what you're getting!

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