I’ve never felt terribly patriotic, even on Independence Day. Don’t get me wrong, I think the American Revolution was a great thing, and that the U.S. was great for setting an example of freedom and democracy in a world of monarchs. But for whatever reason, I have never felt particularly proud to be an American. I think I must not be alone in this feeling among Americans, because the 4th of July in the U.S. is no St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland (or so I hear). And now that I’ve become more aware of the faults of U.S. politics and “democracy”, especially with regard to food and especially right now, I’m feeling even less patriotic.
And now that I think about it, the food traditions for this holiday are nothing to be proud of.
Of course, there are plenty of ways to grill healthfully, but the typical barbecue meal often consists of fatty meat and low nutrient carbohydrates, like hot dog buns and beans cooked in bacon. And let’s not forget the big slice of pie à la mode.
It seems like this is a trend for American holidays. The caloric density of the typical Thanksgiving meal is mind-boggling. Even without Turkey Day, we seem to have made a collective decision that every special occasion demands a smorgasbord and a resulting “food baby.”
I bet you’re thinking, “But you have to make exceptions for special occasions that only happen once a year!”
I agree. I consider my diet pretty healthy, but I would never be able to completely deprive myself of an overindulgent meal occasionally.
Unfortunately for the majority of Americans, an overindulgent meal is not a rare occurrence, but in fact a very regular one. Even if you are really only indulging on special occasions, there very well could be an occasion every week. I know that trying to maintain my weight is much more difficult when there are birthdays and holidays and parties all concentrated together, which happens more often than you’d think. And if the holidays that we consider the epitome of American culture promote such unhealthy behaviors, it’s certainly not helping us discourage those behaviors on a regular basis.
I don’t know about you, but I have no desire to celebrate our country’s independence with a tradition that represents the derailing of our health. I think food is a wonderful way to celebrate, but we need to establish a healthier foundation before we can have room to indulge. I promise you, there is a way to celebrate that is both nutritious AND delicious. Check out these recipes to see what I’m talking about.