It's January 2, and already many New Year's resolutions have been tossed onto the ash heap of history. As an alternative for my readers, I thought I would offer a different type of resolution for the coming year. The resolution is in three parts.
For the remainder of 2011, make mental notes of what your friends, relatives and acquaintances are eating.
You don't need to write anything down, but you can if you wish. Without staring or making comments, just start paying attention to what the people around you are eating and what they talk about eating. Do they tend to eat lots of foods that contain wheat flour? Do their preferred foods contain sugar or high fructose corn syrup? Or do they stick primarily to meat, cheese, eggs, nuts and vegetables? (Be sure to keep in mind that the purpose of this exercise is to gather data, not to confront people with their dietary sins.)
After you have a fairly good idea of everybody's dietary lifestyle, start to make notes about their health status.
This is the second stage of your data-gathering project. It will be fairly easy to see if people are a normal weight or if they are fat and getting fatter. Other information often comes out in conversation. Are they having trouble with high blood pressure? Do they complain of painful joints? Are they beginning to discuss issues that relate to the control of blood sugar? Or are they generally healthier than other people of their age?
As 2011 progresses, start to compare your two sets of data and see if you can detect any correlations.
Although I come to the discussion with preconceived ideas, this is your life and these are your data. We get messages from the TV, from our doctors and from the people around us about what food is good for us and what food isn't. Some of those messages spring from the profit motive and others come from dogma that we hold without knowing exactly why we hold it. This time you will be collecting your own data based on what you see, not on what somebody else tells you to see.
Seeing is believing
There it is -- a pain-free three-part resolution that could change your life. In 2011 simply begin to observe dietary choices and note which ones seem to correlate with good health and which ones don't. Correlation is not causation of course, but my guess is that 2011 will not be over before you start to make some long-term modifications in the way you eat. In so doing, you may well find that 2011 brings positive changes that you weren't even expecting.