The group meets each month in a cozy sunroom at Tavern on the Green, reached through a long and winding passageway of mirrored walls. Exiting the tunnel of reflections into the warm, sunlight filled space felt instantly comforting (as did the plethora of green juices that Gena directed me to upon entering). I had to rush to the meeting after a long day, and my “dinner” was a packed almond butter sandwich – but I had a feeling I’d manage to get my vegetables in once I arrived. I was right. 🙂 Can every gathering please have a healthy spread like this one?
The instant Mary Boehmer, the community’s founder, began to speak, I knew I was in good hands. She shared a member’s story, who mentioned receiving ridicule from co-workers after attending a meeting with a cupful of green juice. Without spreading rhetoric or pushing philosophies, the healthy habits became contagious all on their own, and slowly other workers began to arrive with their own juice cups, reaping the benefits of whole foods. If you read my recent post on food confidence, you’ll understand how dear this tale was to me. So often people jump to criticize the health-loving. Staying true to what we believe manifests itself both mentally and physically, and that dedication to ourselves is by far most important.
The evening’s agenda consisted of three speakers, representing the book Clean Plates NYC, the Green Depot, and Green Grass Life. I was greatly anticipating the speech from Jared Koch, the author of Clean Plates NYC, as his health philosophy echoes mine almost identically.
Of the many enlightening comments he related to us, three struck me in particular.
- “Nutrition is foundational to our existence.” The statement is basic, yet it is lost on most of our society. Nutritional education is a blip in school curriculums, and with the demand for chemical supplements and medicines to cure our ailments, the building blocks within food have been forgotten. This has to change.
- “Perfection is not the goal.” I am a perfectionist. I’ll admit it without hesitation. That tendency has gotten me into many troubling situations in the past. Much as I’ve learned form Gena, Koch encouraged us to make conscious, mindful decisions that honor our individual desires. A universal diet doesn’t exist, and berating ourselves accomplishes nothing.
- “Our society is overobsessed with calories and quantity, rather than quality.” Why else would supermarkets be overstocked with 100 calorie packs, New York restaurant menus covered in calorie totals, and nutrition labels topped by calorie amounts? What an interesting concept it might be to have one label, with one criterion: real, quality food/ not real, quality food.
Skimming through Clean Plates, I adore how accessible it is – this is not a guide only for the health-obsessed; it is a handbook directing everyone to the freshest, tastiest cuisine in the food capital. Tabla is in there!
I also learned quite a bit from the other speakers (did you know one shot of wheatgrass is the nutritional equivalent of five pounds of salad? I didn’t!). Over and over, throughout the evening, I was overwhelmed by the plethora of reasons to eat whole foods. I heard stories of vanishing illnesses, renewed energy, completed triathlons, disappearing cravings. I know this to be true: I spent college lusting after Starbucks pastries; now I hunger for kale and bananas. Obviously there is something to this way of life.
When Koch took the microphone, he asked us why most people choose to eat healthfully. The responses were varied, and to my delight, he had to continue asking for more responses before finally hearing what he deemed the most common motivator: “to lose weight.” I’ve said it often: health is about so much more than size. The group in that room last night was dedicated to their futures, their nourishment, and the way they felt. It was wonderful to witness.
Thanks again to Gena for allowing me to be one of her guests. It was great to meet her in person, as well as spend time chatting with my fellow travel-loving blogger, Danielle. I had a fantastic evening!
I’m curious: what is one benefit health and nutrition have had on your life?