Thursday, August 08, 2013

Is your diet healthy?

My doctor asked me that question a couple of weeks ago.  I laughed and told him I am a gardener.  He repeated the question:  "But do you eat right?"

I'm still trying to figure out the answer.  At 55 I'm struggling with a few extra pounds I seem unable to shed in spite of being favored genetically in that area.  It's difficult to get away from the American diet.

Sometimes I think back to my youth, to the days when Grandma would bring Pepsi with her when she came to visit and we would beg for this exotic treat that tickled one's nose.  The only other time we had soft drinks in the house was when someone was sick.  The belief that clear carbonated drinks are good for an upset stomach brought us ginger ale and 7-Up during that time and left me with a lifelong aversion to such beverages.  But I love Pepsi!

For normal beverages we had milk with every meal in the winter.  In the summer we had Kool-Aid for lunch and supper.  Sugary drinks.  We often had dessert with our meals.  But we also had fruit with every meal and vegetables every meal except breakfast.  And we rarely ate out.  I remember the terrible awkwardness of visiting Ponderosa for the first time as a teenager with a group of my peers and being completely unfamiliar with the place.

When our children were young, I involved them some in meal preparation and taught them the four food groups of the era -- meat/protein, bread/cereal, fruit/vegetable, and dairy.  When they were responsible for menu planning, they were expected to include something from every food group.

Do I eat well today?  This is fair week.  I have eaten fair food the past two nights.  The first night I had a corn dog.  The second night I had a fish sandwich with cola and mooched some of my daughter's cheese fries.  I'm thinking taco-in-a-bag tonight.  As fair food goes, that's not bad.  I have yet to buy ice cream or a funnel cake or cinnamon rolls or even my own french fries.  However, it's certainly not the tomato, lettuce, green bean, and sweet corn diet my garden is offering me.  I'm not sure there will be enough veggies in tonight's taco to offset the complete lack of fruits and vegetables the past two nights.  We did have BLTs and a small cantaloupe for lunch today and I've been snacking on cherry tomatoes, but the green beans still need to be picked.

When my low-carb dieting friends tell me they can't eat something I grow in my garden, I resolve to never be on a low-carb diet.  I have a theory that if every American was given a garden plot and a small barn lot and restricted to eating only what they grew and processed themselves, there would be very little obesity in the land.  If I grow it and eat it fresh from the garden, I figure I can do so guilt free.

So do I have a healthy diet?  By the standards of my youth, I would say the answer is no in terms of balance.  On the other hand, if I ate today like I did in my youth, I suspect I would be even more weight challenged than I am now.  Three full meals every day.  Cereal and toast and milk and fruit for breakfast.  Often sweetened cereal.  It would never do to start my day with that many calories today and then go on to have a sandwich plus fruit and vegetables for lunch and a full dinner every evening with milk or Kool-Aid.  I don't have enough activity to work off that level of consumption.  But then, I don't remember that we ever snacked between meals.  Snacks are a part of life now.

Do I eat well?  I guess the answer is:  I could do better.

Maybe I should take some cherry tomatoes to the fair tonight to add to my taco-in-a-bag.