The quick answer: If you want to succeed you must organize. Don't leave your life—or your diet—to the chaos of chance. Organize your eating with menus and shopping lists.
Amy Chua—the Yale law professor who touched a nerve in mothers with Tiger Mom, her book about high-achieving children—has partnered with spouse Jed Rubenfeld on another book that should sell well: The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America.
Always curious about the roots of exceptionalism, I had two questions: Who are these high-performing cultural groups, and what are the three winning traits?
Notably, seven of the nine cultural groups are recent immigrants—Cubans (beginning in ’59), but also Nigerian, Indian, East Asian, Iranian, Syrian and Lebanese Americans. The question now is whether they can continue to excel after they’ve gotten comfortable in America.
The other two groups have religious origins: Jews and Mormons. If you're ambitious for your family and seek the advantages exhibited by all these groups there’s only one you can actually join—the Mormons. (It’s not hard; they actively seek new adherents.)
The three traits for success:
- A belief in one’s specialness (I hesitate to say “superiority”).
- An anxiousness to excel (the flip side of insecurity).
- The self-discipline to defer momentary pleasure for more lasting benefits. (Not so common in today’s live-in-the-moment society.)
The authors note how these highly successful groups defy racial stereotypes—they include Blacks (Nigeria), Hispanics (Cuba), Asians, and Middle Easteners. All this led to the big question: Do the traits behind economic success also define people who eat well? It’s a good subject for a study. I’m starting to think the discipline to succeed includes a healthy food culture. BUT, it all starts with bringing order to the chaos of life.
Ordering Your World
There’s a food reformation going on and you’re part of it (thanks for reading WOWL). Here’s the prime indicator: Last year sales of soda drinks dropped and diet drinks dropped even more (down 7%). This is monumental. Even better, “fast food” is becoming a derisive term. It’s a trend, not a blip, and scares the dickens out of Food Inc. That’s all good.
Darya Rose—a San Francisco neuroscientist, food blogger (Summer Tomato), and author (Foodist)—claims you can lose weight without dieting by eating real (whole) foods. That’s our claim also. Dieting and food fads are out—real and traditional food is in.
Of our 13 Healthy Change themes (visited once each quarter), the third theme is Organization. The goal is to organize/create an island of wellness in an unhealthy world. Though modern factory food is uniquely unhealthy, it's also true that mankind has never had so mamy options to eat well. If you organize, you can eat better than mankind ever has. This is a a blessing peculiar to our time that is seldom embraced.
Healthy Change #3 advised writing weekly menus. We do this on Mondays, at breakfast, using a clean piece of paper. I make two columns and write the days of the week in the left column (we don’t plan Saturday night). In the top-right column we note what needs to be eaten (from the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry). In the bottom-right area we make a shopping list, divided by stores. We’ve gotten into a rhythm that works for us.
Brooke's Shopping List
Here's a link to a shopping list done by the talented Brooke. Brooke makes everything better—if the Beautiful Wife had just delivered identical Brooke triplets the world would be even more beautiful. And here's the original post on shopping lists—if you want to read more.
Please comment: How do you organize grocery shopping? Got an app for your iPhone? Use a printed list you keep in the pantry during the week? What works best for you? Please share.