Am I getting older or what? As I sit and watch the TV advertisements of pizza with loads of cheese and fat filled meats (blocked heart arteries waiting to happen) on a pie crust with cheese built into the rim of the crust (high cholesterol filling arteries with plaque) I realize how I used to eat pizza every week! Not just cheese pizzas, but the super duper stroke inducing, high cholesterol kind with fried hamburger, pepperoni, fried with onions and peppers and bacon. Would I eat that now? Not if I want to live another year!
So where along the way did my attitude change? What precipitated the deep chasm between eating habits of my younger adulthood and my “seniorhood”? I figured out some answers of these two questions.
First let me state clearly that my lust, err love, for chocolate has never wavered and may be getting worse, but that is the topic for another blog later.
1. My stomach developed a dislike for onions, and even slightly spicy foods. I inherited that from my father. I remember the sour look on his face when he burped up hot stuff. Though I never was one for heavy spices even tomato based foods after about 6 PM sometimes can cause heartburn even with the antacid I take faithfully. So no onions, no heavy spices, no tomato based foods late in the day. (To get to the point, no pizza for supper.)
2. My husband, God rest his soul, was allergic to chicken and their eggs. He didn’t like seafood, didn’t want to eat turkey or a cooked ham except for the holidays. He also decided he didn’t like pork chops unless they were stuffed with Andouille sausage like he loved when we lived in New Orleans. So guess what we ate: tons of hamburgers, cheeseburger macaroni casserole, hamburger in Shepperd’s pie, hamburger vegetable soup, and so many other dishes that I cooked!!! I got so tired of hamburger and cooking it for 38 years that now, 6 years after his death, I only eat hamburger once every two weeks or so. So that cuts out a not so healthy food off the bat!
3. Growing up in a family with a sense of adventure for foods, I always liked pretty much any food. But I had some foods that were rejects: collard greens, spinach, beets and boiled okra. We ate fried chicken almost every Sunday because mother and us kids loved KFC!! It was good but even then I found myself peeling off the oily skin parts with the fried crust. (What was wrong with me, you may wonder?) I didn’t like oily foods even long ago. That helps!
4. My mother and her mother before her had gall bladder surgeries in their 60’s. I am almost 64 and not showing any signs yet of gall bladder attacks. YEA!!! Maybe I am staving off this experience with a rather low fat (except for chocolate) diet.
5. As I get older I am loving eating at a nearby restaurant that has fantastic salads and healthy foods, you know the chain I am talking about. The one with the bakery filled with divine chocolate chip cookies, muffins, cupcakes, etc. right in front of you as you walk in. So I eat there often because I love the atmosphere and the food. (Not having to pay a tip because I clean up after myself is also a small factor.) Since I love avocado, I get their chicken Cobb and avocado salad often. Very healthy and tasty. I save the apples for latter because of course I have to get a chocolate chip cookie. (So much for eating healthy!) So a salad almost everyday is healthy!
6. I was a nurse for over 38 years. I specialized in the heart units and post heart attack care floors. I saw how sneaky high cholesterol blood levels, high blood sugar levels and poor nutrition can effect people’s lives. I have a lot more living to do before I get really old!! My parents and grandmothers all lived to be over 90. If I am going to live a quality life till then, I need to watch my P’s and Q’s! I want to be healthy enough to enjoy another 30 years at least!
7. There is a probability of grandchildren in my future. I want to first enjoy my adult kids and my grandchildren. I have a lot of wisdom and love to share with them. Then some day I want to be remembered as a vibrant and loving woman. I want to be healthy!! I want to be able to get around on my own steam and go places and see things and have fun for a very much longer time.
8. Since I am a single woman now and my sons live over 45 minutes away, I cook very little. I eat out as I mentioned earlier and I chose healthy TV dinners with low fat, low sugar and low salt (because my fingers can swell some). A high salt diet causes fluid retention and if your heart is getting old, it does not need a lot of extra fluid in your blood to push around. That makes it work harder than it needs to. Salt is not worth it!
9. My 91 year old aunt with dementia is the oldest survivor of my family. All but my aunt, including both of my parents and an uncle died with dementia or Alzheimer’s. I do not want to do anything (other than chocolate to a point) to mess up the brain and body that I have been given. I want to keep my brain as sharp as I can for as long as I can so what I say will be remembered as wisdom or a great sense of humor or words of loving kindness.
10. I found a way to not eat every sweet that presents itself to me. I save almost all of my sweet calories for chocolate or foods that have chocolate in goodly portions on them. Nothing else matters in the sweets realm but chocolate so why waste calories on them.
So far my diabolical plan is working. I know my plan could be better. But I am truly enjoying my life and living in a low stress environment with good family and friends. I think I will be healthy enough to live like I want to until I reach 90 something. Living joyfully is well summed up by something a comedian once said. Paraphrased here: I don’t want to die from something else tomorrow and regret not having enjoyed a piece of chocolate cake for fear it might kill me.