My soapbox: What to eat

This past weekend I was at my parents, both of whom are diabetic.  A long diet of white bread, baked goods and soda (typical Midwestern Farmhouse fare) led to the diagnosis for both of them.  I found it a shock when my mom was diagnosed because she was always so active, and while not a tiny person, she was always doing something physical, be it gardening to cleaning the barn.  The shock was nonexistent when dad was diagnosed as I had always figured he’d be the one who developed the disease.

Dad came home with some groceries which included white rice.  Mom commented that he shouldn’t be eating white rice, he asked why not, I said it was because it converted to sugar too quickly. His response to all of that was “Then why are Chinese people so skinny?  They eat rice all the time.”  I pointed out that the traditional Chinese diet was vegetable-based, not meat and starch-centric.

But that brings me to the whole point of being up here on my soapbox; if you want to prevent disease (hopefully), feel better and lose weight, you need to watch what you eat.  I have a rare soda nowadays.  I love to bake but seldom eat the “fruits of my labor” as it were.  I don’t really crave sugar except for that monthly craving of really good chocolate (and Mochas… I really, really love mochas).  I drink my hot coffee black most of the time.  I don’t care for white bread unless it’s homemade.  I don’t often drink fruit juices or eat candy.  My biggest downfall with sugar is:  alcohol.  While I don’t indulge daily, admittedly I do enjoy my adult beverages.  Everyone is allowed to have their kryptonite.

Since I saw the affect that sugar had on those in my family (diabetes is very common in my family), I made a more concerted effort to stave it off; working out, eating better, etc.  White bread be gone and in it’s place, is what DH likes to call “sticks and twigs” bread.  Whole vegetables and fruits.  Store-bought cookies are a rare indulgence and usually are Oreos.  I began to really listen to what my body told me it wanted.  I fell into the habit of drinking water when I felt hungry just to make sure I was actually hungry.  I have cut out my stops at McDonald’s for their Cafe Mochas, hot or iced, and save them for when I’m REALLY craving one – otherwise straight up black coffee waits for me at work.

I also research.  I thought about Nutrisystem, but the reviews out there of explosive diarrhea and stomach cramps were side effects I didn’t want to deal with.  I thought about Jenny Craig, but seeing a coworker use that program and lose, then gain it all back the moment she stopped because she reached her goal weight was disheartening.  I found Reader’s Digests “Change One” program one day, years ago.  Sounded simple.  Change one aspect of your diet and make that change a habit.  I read the book and honestly it really did help.  The book really got me focused on portion sizes and then the weekly changes per the plan.

A couple years ago, I started to see this person named Lisa aka Hungry Girl on various shows.  She was overhauling favored recipes to make them lower in fat and calories.  I was fascinated.  Lisa!  I’m a Hungry Girl, too!  But, after watching her make recipes, and seeing that she used egg substitute and fake sugar (Splenda) and margarine… I had to step back and analyze how a body is affected by these ingredients.

Egg substitute, while made mostly of eggs, is missing a lot of nutrients so they have to be added back into the product.  Yes, that’s right, added back into the product.  Splenda is just scary and I don’t buy products that have it as an ingredient, and margarine I’ve just never been a fan.  So where does that leave me?  Eating foods whole or as close to whole as I can.  Whole fillets of fish instead of fish sticks.  Peeling potatoes and making them into french fries instead of buying bags of them frozen.  You get the idea.

Essentially in our effort to curb our molecular predisposition to eat food when it’s available because our brain is still wired to survive as primitive man, we create products that trick and starve our bodies.  Why can’t we eat whole eggs, real sugar and butter?  That’s what I stick with most of the time- real food.

I cannot condemn those who choose to eat every meal at McDonald’s (sorry McDonald’s… you’re just an easy target example, because you’re EVERYWHERE).  Why?  Because as bad for consumption as the food is… it’s tasty.  There, I said it – McDonald’s peddles tasty, bad-for-me food.  I can’t condemn those who smoke either because I indulge on occasion.  I CAN hold disdain for those who give in to what appears to be an utter lack of self-control and let their cravings control them.  Everything in moderation, not gorging oneself on it.

Where does that leave you and the rest of the world?  I’ve given up telling people what they should or shouldn’t eat in person (obviously I’m expressing my opinion on what to eat here in writing).  That’s like giving a look of disdain to the person at McDonald’s ordering the three Big Mac’s, two large fries and a Diet Coke – they don’t get it and it’s possible that they never will.  So for my Dad who eats way more than he should and a lot of what he shouldn’t – I can’t help.  If he wants to stay on the same path, that’s his choice.

Nobody will live forever and we should enjoy ourselves while we’re here.  I happen to want to enjoy a long, active and happy life, so I make choices that reflect that decision.  Eat, drink and be merry.  Wise words and open to interpretation.  How do you interpret them?

About The Amusing Muse

Deep thinker whose mind operates at warped speed. Philosopher pondering the big (and little) things in life. Storyteller. Office Ninja. Model. Teller of bad jokes. User of big words.
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6 Responses to My soapbox: What to eat

  1. it has become so easy for us all to get and keep ourselves sick (don’t get me going on that particular pharma company conspiracy) and yet so expensive and laborious to get healthy again. Sometimes I just give up.

  2. Everyone needs to find what works for them and I think less processed and more whole foods is the best bet! I tried the body for life plan a few years ago with some modifications like instead of having the protein shakes I had a serving of grilled chicken. The plan is good in that several small low fat, meals with an exercise plan that is reasonable. With that said I am not really on the plan today but I try to use principles like what a serving is and so on. An example is a baked potato should be same size as your fist and a steak the size of your palm and so on. So a 6 foot male would have a larger portion than a 5 foot female but no need for scale. The other philosophy is a free day to have anything you want one day a week. If you follow the plan the really high fat bad foods start to not taste so good.


    • I’m good for “free days” – I like to have one a week if I’ve been “good” the whole week. Usually though I stick with my “good” eating plan and then select dessert or cocktail. One or the other as my “treat” for the day.

  3. I always find it very frustrating to see someone suffering from an illness that is obviously caused by a poor diet and, while they will happily take all their prescription drugs which treat the symptoms, they do not seem very interested in learning to treat the cause, e.g., change the diet. But you’re right, each is on their own path with a prerogative to choose and we cannot choose for them. While this can prove to be especially difficult when the person in question is a friend or family member, I’ve learned that the best method of exerting a positive influence is to just do what you do, walk the walk, be a product of the product and so on, lead by example. You may not ever reach the people close to you who willfully choose otherwise but you may affect someone out there who needs your help. A butterfly shakes it wings and a typhoon happens on the other side of the world, you know, that kind of thing.

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