Saturday, September 24, 2011

Going on the "Amish Diet"

Amish Work

In light of studies showing that members of Old Order Amish communities have significantly fewer cases of obesity, diabetes and related health problems, some have suggested that an “Amish diet” might work even better than, say, an Atkins diet.

In short, it would mean eating hearty meals every day but being as physically active as are typical members of Amish farm families. Their meals routinely include lots of home grown meats, fruits and vegetables, but also some very tasty desserts. But all of that is accompanied by hours of good manual labor (and the use of far less fossil fuel) in the growing, preserving, preparing and transporting of food, in making many of their own clothes and otherwise taking good care of their households and farms.

In his book, "Great Possessions, An Amish Farmer's Journal," David Kline describes some of the simple everyday pleasures of living on their 120-acre Holmes County, Ohio, farm, where the entire family works together to grow and market food and take care of the land that is so vital to their way of life. Without the distractions of radio, television, computers, e-mail, or cell phones, something as ordinary as cleaning out their horse barn becomes an opportunity for Kline and his teenage son to experience rigorous exercise while engaging in an extended man-to-man conversation, something that happens all too seldom between most fathers and sons in our faster paced urban society.

While not many of us urbanites will be able to live like the Amish, a healthier, lower-tech lifestyle might involve the following:

1) less mowing and more hoeing--and gardening
2) less shopping at crowded malls and more sharing of home produced goods and resources with our neighbors
3) less dependence on far-off corporate farms and factories and more reliance on home and locally grown products
4) less dependence on passive forms of media entertainment and more involvement in physically active and socially interactive work and play
5) less riding and more walking and biking

We could call it the latest, state-of-the-art "Amish Diet and Workout Plan."

P. S.  I grew up in an Amish family and community but have been a member of the Virginia Conference Mennonite church most of my adult life.
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