Energy Diet

America the Bountiful

You know when you go on a weight-loss diet and you hold on to your initial mindset of excitement regarding all of the pounds you’re going to shed? And then, you’re confronted with a little morsel of temptation and, in your mind, you think, “I’ve been so good about what I eat; just this little dessert isn’t going to hurt me.” And then the next day, another tasty little treat surfaces from some sinister cave, and you think, “Oh, it’s just one little thing. I’ve been so good lately.” And pretty soon, you’ve gained five pounds and have no idea how because, in your mind, you think you’ve just been so good.

I can absolutely say that the person mentioned above, is me. I get all “gung-ho” about something and, before I know it, I’m standing in front of the mirror, pondering the extra chin that I don’t recall being there at the beginning of my “diet.”

You may be thinking, “Whhhyyyy is this girl telling us about her lack of self-control in regards to food and her obvious issues with desserts?! What’s the point?” Well, here it is:

I maintain a strong outward opinion that I am an environmentalist at heart, however, when I really think about my household habits, I realize that I have the same problems with cutting back on energy as I do with desserts. By believing that I’m an environmentalist and that I generally make good, eco-friendly choices, I also know that I make excuses for some of my actions by saying, “I’ve been so good and all I want is a really long, really hot shower.” Pretty soon, my “I’ve been so good” mentality adds up to a lot of bad environmental decisions that are clearly reflected in the monthly energy bill.

So, why am I doing the energy diet? Because just like a weight-loss diet, you’re eventually going to fail if you don’t have support. With this program, I’m interacting with people around the world who are trying to make the same energy-conscious decisions that I am, for ultimately the same reason: it’s just better for the Earth.

I live in a restored farmhouse with my family in a small farming community in Western New York. With both my parents having careers relating to science and environmental protection, I was raised to appreciate and preserve the natural world around me. As a family, we’ve completed huge projects aimed at conserving energy in and around the community, but we often fall back on our “I’ve been so good” thought process at home. We still leave lights on. We still take long, hot showers. We still buy some processed foods.

But now it’s time to make a change. We live in a community where “farm to table” means a quick stop at your neighbor’s produce stand on the way home from work. With the resources we have, changing our grocery-buying habits is only just the beginning.

And also, it probably won’t hurt to trade those desserts for a homegrown squash or two.


  1. Emma
    Canterbury, UK
    October 26, 2011, 9:52 am

    A fantastic article Alicia. Well articulated, I like it. I completely agree with your outlook – at home we buy so many products from traditional British farmer’s markets that most of the time the items in our fridge don’t have a brand. It’s predominantly all fresh and locally reared. That’s the way I like it!

    Keep up the good work.

  2. laura mcpherson
    leicester, my
    October 26, 2011, 9:54 am

    We are extremely blessed to live in an area where we can sustain an energy diet AND support local friends, families and neighbors. Thanks for a push in the right direction. Best of luck in your new endeavor!

  3. Alicia
    Rochester, NY
    October 26, 2011, 10:20 am

    Thank you Emma and Laura for your comments. While writing this article, I really got to thinking about my own energy cycle when it comes to my community. We have so much access to beautiful (and very well marketed) food and produce in some amazing grocery stores in our area, that oftentimes, you forget about how easy it is to support your neighbor down the street. For next week’s post, I’ve already been talking to local farmers, and considering my own feelings, about the challenges and advantages of making efforts toward sustainability in a modern, rural, agricultural community. I’m also thinking a lot about the mindset of people, not only in my community and state, but also in the United States, towards the use of energy and environmental concerns vs. consumption. So much to think about but I’m really looking forward to sharing my personal experiences with the NatGeo community!

  4. betsy
    October 26, 2011, 10:23 am

    got me thinking! “energy diet,” like it!

  5. Sue Geier
    Rochester, NY
    October 26, 2011, 12:04 pm

    Hi Alicia, It is so encouraging to have a home-town connection with someone who is working on household-sized solutions to this difficult global issue! I will check your blog regularly for more good ideas!

  6. Mary Jane torella
    Buffalo, NY
    October 26, 2011, 2:03 pm

    Alicia, as always I never can get enough of your articals, blogs and short stories!! Can’t wait to keep up with your progress.

  7. Alicia
    Rochester, NY
    October 26, 2011, 2:35 pm

    Thanks Betsy and Sue! So glad to hear you’re following along and Betsy, I hope you are inspired to join the Energy Diet as well. You can sign up in the top right hand corner of this page where it says “Join the 360 Energy Diet.”

  8. Christina
    Pittsburgh, PA
    October 26, 2011, 5:40 pm

    This is great Alicia! I love this “energy diet” idea because so many of the ways that can help the environment can help you stay healthy (cooking local foods, biking to work, eating less meat, etc.).

  9. Nancy
    Moore City, PA
    October 26, 2011, 7:08 pm

    Hi Alicia! Love your articles and stories also! Something as simple as turning the lights off when they are not in use is such a big step in cutting down the energy consumption in any household. I am very happy you are helping spread the idea of the Energy Diet and making it fun and not boring. Keep the articles coming. 🙂

  10. Kay DuPont-Modeste
    October 27, 2011, 7:28 am

    Great read, I can raise my hand and say I too am a victim of what you have outlined! What’s really interesting is the whole community aspect of buying from neighbours. Very impressed and intrigued to see what you will write about next!

  11. Alicia
    Rochester, NY
    October 27, 2011, 8:43 am

    Thanks for the comments everyone! Yes, this is definitely going to be a bit of a challenge but as Christina pointed out, I’m hoping that it will not only improve my environmental “health” but also my bodily health. I am focusing a lot on making eco-friendly food-buying choices for many reasons, but in particular because I think it’s one area of the diet that is accessible to me but that I haven’t taken advantage of in the past. Of course I’ll still be making active changes to transportation, home goods, etc., but the amount of food that I have access to from local farms and co-ops is quite large. Of course we are now past harvest time for most fruits and vegetables, but meat products, milk, and eggs are still readily available just down the road. More on that next week, though 🙂 I feel like I’m already telling you exactly what I’ve got lined up for my next post. I’m not giving anything else away!!