Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Problem On Everyone's Plate

I had a wonderful time on my trip to Belize earlier this month.  As part of my job, I took a group of students to Belize, to study traditional medicine.  We met with a several herbal healers from the variety of ethnic groups in Belize.  In addition we had plenty of fun exploring some of the cultural and relaxation options that one would hope to experience during Spring Break.
My diet was horrible all week.  The food options were mostly fried food.  This was not my first visit to Belize and I knew before I arrived that local people do not have healthy diets.  And honestly, after a couple of days I gave up picking around my plate and just decided to eat.  I figured that I would put on a couple of pounds that would quickly be corrected when I returned home.  I did not get a lot of exercise.  Yes, I crawled up the side of a Mayan temple and swam around the Caribbean Sea one day, but mostly I drove the students around and was very sedentary.

Altun Ha.  It would have been a great workout had I
climbed it a dozen times instead of only once.

To my surprise, I posted a fairly decent loss when I returned.  I have tried to explain this to myself.  Perhaps I sweat it out in the 90s tropical heat?  Perhaps I ate less than I thought (I don’t think so!)?  Maybe the short jungle treks and stress of driving in a developing country burned more than I figured? When I left I was at the end of a two week plateau.  Maybe my body finally just decided to let go of some fat?  When I think about the plateau theory, I believe that this may be the answer.  I got a lot of sleep (at least eight hour a night) while I was gone, which had been seriously lacking for several weeks at home, often logging half that.  Sleep is essential to fat loss, according to recent studies.    And maybe my body just needed a break from my strenuous regimen?  Is that possible?  I think the next time I hit a plateau of any significant length; I may fight it with less intensity and rest.  Is this a good strategy, or is the evil villain just walking me into a trap?
I believe that real Princesses need to be socially aware, active and justice oriented.  We can’t just sit in our towers all day looking pretty.  Traveling to someplace like Belize (in the fashion I did, this was no resort holiday) makes the link between poverty and obesity incredibly obvious.   In many developing nations, like Belize, the fight with food is twofold.  On one hand they are fighting hunger, often associated with poverty.  On the other hand there is a fight against obesity, caused by the lack of healthy foods that are often too expensive and the abundance of cheap, high fat, sugary and starchy foods that are affordable.  It is not a difficult jump to link this problem to the aftermath of colonialism, where many people groups were pulled away from their land and traditional lifestyles, stripped of wealth (their land) and reassigned to labor jobs required to fulfill the needs of the colonial powers in mines, factories and service work.  When the connection to the land is lost, it creates a dependence on processed foods (conveniently packaged and profited by the colonizer).  Of course, the link between poverty and obesity is strong in developed countries as well, including the U.S.  

What can a Princess do? 1) Educate yourself and share information with others.  2) Get involved with organizations that work to fight hunger.  3) Be critical of the organizations you connect with.  Are they fighting hunger with mac-n-cheese?  Or are they working to bring healthy, whole foods to people in need and advocating to make food prices affordable for all people?  What education programs do they have to help individuals make healthy choices?  Our interventions must not cause additional problems, and need to address the systematic issues that plague those we are reaching out to.
A quick google search or two did not pull up organizations who made healthy eating a mission in their hunger initiatives.  Do you know of any?  I would love a link to check out.  As a matter of fact, I will donate up to $50 to the organization I deem most helpful for every unique visitor's suggestion ($1 per) left in my comment section over the next ten days.  So take a few minutes to explore the organizations out there and share them with me.  A future post will update readers on the search and donation. 


mevans said...

Well, I haven't been able to find anything either! I'm a fan of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, but it doesn't exactly fit your definition.

mevans said...

Well, I haven't really been able to find anything either. Although I'm sure there must be some awesome CSAs out there somewhere who are battling hunger with healthy eating!

Anonymous said...

I wanted to drop a line and let you know that I a proud of your continued commitment. Additionally, your entries have kept me interested!

Princess J said...

Thanks for looking Mel! It's strange, right? It seems the two would go hand in hand.

Anonymous, thanks for visiting. I appreciate your comments!