- Enrique Limón
It's the beginning of a new year, so it's not uncommon for people to start looking at food with a suspicious side-eye. After all, it's only there to sabotage your diet and lull you back into the comfortable patterns you were enjoying a week ago. The problem with this perspective is that it makes food the bad guy, and let's be honest with ourselves—food is never the bad guy. I'm not trying to undermine the goals that you're setting for the new year, but I do have some ideas for incorporating food into some kick-ass resolutions that will make you feel better about yourself and the food you end up eating in 2019.
Eat to Support Immigrants
If you have even a modicum of sympathy toward the plight of what's happening to immigrants at our country's borders, then you might be looking for ways to help. One thing you can do right now is to visit one of Salt Lake's many immigrant-owned eateries. We have a huge population of immigrants, and thanks to organizations like Spice Kitchen (spicekitchenincubator.org) we can support members of this population as they share their diverse culinary perspectives with us. There are a zillion reasons eating at immigrant-owned businesses is good for the community, such as how it supports local business, offers insight into a different culture and shows how much we value immigrants' presence in our city.
Eat Something That Scares You
There's something terrifying about facing down a pile of offal or a plate of century eggs and willing yourself to take a bite. In some perhaps less extreme cases, a bowl of pho or goat tacos (Try the ones at Rose Park's El Cabrito, pictured) might trigger the same reaction. Regardless of what your food fear happens to be, let 2019 be the year you confront and defeat it. You'd be surprised at the level of catharsis that comes from trying something that scares you. This realization that you can do scary things often gives you the strength to confront other scary things in your life and take a bite out of them. If you undertake this resolution, make sure you do it with some friends—mainly for entertainment purposes. Pics or it didn't happen!
This is something that I didn't typically do before I started writing about food, but the restaurant experience is a different beast when you fly solo. For best results, I'd suggest leaving your cell phone in your pocket as well—focusing your attention on the restaurant's décor and your fellow customers offers a meditative process that engages all of your senses. When your food comes, use this heightened attention to think about how it was prepared. With each bite, think about the flavors and textures of the dish you ordered and what the chef was trying to accomplish by combining them. While it's definitely more fun to eat out with a group, eating alone offers up a tasty way to unplug and reconnect with your senses.
Eat With Someone Less Fortunate
I once listened to Pamela Atkinson, one of Utah's most recognized authorities in the fight against poverty, discuss the concept of panhandling. In addition to outlining why it's not the best way for people to help our homeless community, she offered a solution: Instead of giving money to panhandlers, we should offer to buy them food. It seemed like such a simple idea, so I tried it. When a man approached me asking for some spare change, I instead offered to buy him a sandwich at a nearby Subway. He was grateful for the food, and I didn't worry that he'd spend money on something that would make his situation worse. While this isn't always possible, I'd suggest this to anyone who feels a pang of guilt when they feel like they can't help out someone less fortunate because they don't carry cash around. Next time someone asks you for some spare change, offer to buy them a sandwich or whatever is close by instead and see what happens.
Eat Because It's Not Evil
Don't fall into that early-year trap of looking at all the food you like as if it were a coiled rattlesnake waiting to strike. Diet, exercise, cut back—do everything that will start getting you into better habits, but don't look at the food you love as an enemy. That kind of negative reinforcement only makes dieting harder, and you're not going to stop seeing doughnut shops and pizza joints during your morning run. Instead, treat the food you're trying to avoid like a friend you're starting to get sick of—you still want them to be your friend, but you just need a little space. Tell your favorite cheesecake that you need some alone time. You'll check back in once you get your head together, and it'll still be there when you want to hang out again.