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 (more cholesterol), I realize how I used to eat pizza every week! Not just cheese pizzas, but the super duper stroke inducing kind with fried hamburger, with cheese, onions and bacon. Would I eat that now? Not if I want to live another year!
What precipitated the deep chasm between eating habits of my younger adulthood and my “senior-hood”? I have some answers to these 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. Though I never was one for heavy spices, even tomato based foods after about 5 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 on 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 Shepherd’s pie, hamburger vegetable soup, and so many other hamburger dishes that I cooked!!! I got so tired of hamburger and cooking it for 36 years that now, 12 years after his death, I only eat hamburger once every two to four weeks. So that cuts out a not so healthy food right off the bat!
3. Growing up in a family with a sense of adventure for foods, I always liked pretty much any food. But there were some foods that I totally rejected: collard greens, cooked spinach, beets and boiled okra. We ate fried chicken almost every Sunday because my parents 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.
4. My mother and her mother before her had gall bladder surgeries in their 60’s. I am over 70 and not showing any signs yet of gall bladder attacks. YAY!!! 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 restaurants that have fantastic salads and healthy foods. You know 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 with an apple on the side often. Very healthy and tasty. I save the apples for later because of course I have to get a chocolate chip cookie. (So much for eating healthy!) So a salad almost every day 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 affect 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 85. My aunt lived to 92. If I am going to live a quality life till then, I need to watch my P’s(Pizzas) and Q’s(Queso)! I want to be healthy enough to enjoy another 30 years at least!
7. I have two grandsons and a granddaughter whom I want to enjoy playing with and watching them grow up. I love my adult children and want to watch them age and follow their life paths. I have a lot of wisdom and love to share with them.
Not to mention but 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 50 minutes away, I cook very little. I eat out as I mentioned earlier and I choose healthy TV dinners with low fat, low sugar and low salt and add canned veggies or frozen cooked chicken or beef to the dinner if they are lacking.
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. Extra salt is not worth it, unless you are sweating like crazy from the heat. Then only cautiously use some!
9. My aunt, 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.
10. I found a way to reduce the amount of sweets that presents themselves to me. I save almost all of my sweet calories for chocolate or foods that have chocolate in goodly portions in them. Nothing else matters in the sweets realm but chocolate so why waste calories on other less beloved sweets?
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 a great family, great friends, and great neighbors. 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.”