Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Sneaky Pie and Skulking Beer and Vegan Butter O My!

I mentioned that I did my annual physical recently, and that the blood work was mostly okay. The cholesterol was a little high, and the triglycerides, while having dropped each time for the last six exams, are not as low as I think they should be. 

In the words of the old B&W TV Superman V.O. opening, one fights a never ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way ...

Or in this case, the non-American way ... of diet. We are, after all, the land of Mickey D's and Burger King and Taco Bell; the realm where we drink enough sugary soda to float ships; the place where Heaven and Earth were moved to restore Twinkies when the company who made them went under and there arose a great hue and cry from the populace: What?! No Twinkies?! 

Porky Pig has become our national logo ...

A few years back, my numbers were higher, and I determined that I was going to address them. So I did the research, altered my diet, and everything dropped, making me happy. 
(I spoke to it here, and here, if you want to see what I did.)

I had what I mistakenly thought was a pretty healthy diet and lifestyle. Not much red meat or pork, mostly chicken, turkey, fish, plus a lotta fruit, some veggies, I fasted one day a week, worked out, like that. 

Upon examination, however, I realized I had a pretty good sugar jones, and I was having a beer or two with supper more often than not, the odd glass of wine, chips, ice cream, and so on. So I stopped all that, and presto! mucho improvemento in a few months. 

And while I was congratulating myself on my discipline and fortitude, getting calluses on  my hand from patting myself on the back and all, fat and sugar and salt and beer crept in on little cat feet and took up residence once again ...

That's how so many bad habits accrue; there's no major shift whereupon you get up one day and say, "Hey, I'm gonna start a permanent junk-food marathon and pig out until I fall over in a stupor every day!"

No, what happens is, you grab a few chips and some sour cream to go with your healthy turkey sandwich. Those turkey hot dogs? They are better for you than the greasy beef-and-pork ones, right? The vegan butter is cholesterol free, so that's okay, hey? And that pumpkin pie, the sugar has been cut in half, so ... ?

The word of the day is "insidious."

So you look up one day and find that level ground upon which you have been manfully striding along and swinging your arms vigorously has become a slippery slope, and you didn't notice because the incline was so gradual and ... insidious ...

Which is not to say you can't have junk food once in a while. You need that valve or you are apt to blow a gasket. It just ought to be mindful; it ought not sneak past unnoticed. How you notice is, you determine a baseline by tracking every bit of food that goes into your mouth. Things you ate on auto-pilot unexamined can be the problems, and however hard it is to alter your diet, it starts with noticing what you are eating ...

So does that mean I am tossing my junk food out and going into total withdrawal? Nope. That opened bag of chips will get finished, but I won't buy a new bag. Those healthy hot dogs? While less fatty than the mystery-meat specials, we are talking about my normal repasts of  three dogs on buns, slathered in cheese and chili and onions? A hundred grams of fat. Three-quarters of the RDA cholesterol intake. Oops.

Burp ...

Fat is fat; it's nine calories/gram whether is is lard or olive oil, and while the solid-at-room-temperature stuff is worse, too much of the good oil is not to the way to go, either. 

Nor are most processed foods. If it's white, in a package on a shelf, probably you should eat little or none of it. 

Those smoothies and veggies are good, but they aren't enough to offset big junk food intake.

Yeah, yeah, what is the old Redd Foxx line? "Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday lying in the hospital and dying of nothing ..."

Still, I'd rather put that off for a longer while, and enjoy the benefits of good health as long as I can ...


steve-vh said...

Same here, made great changes last summer. dropped over 5 lbs that I never could previously and felt great. But insidious things crept in over the winter just as you described (pneumonia didn't help). And it seems harder now to get back to the changes made last summer!

Joe said...

My downfall came a few years ago when my dear daughter discovered baking.

"Daddy, try the pie/ cake/ streudel/ Tira Misu/ banana bread/ that I baked!".

It was pre-diabetic heaven! How could I turn down delicious morsels baked by the most perfect, beautiful Tween on Earth when she practically begged me to try them? Fortunately she grew up a bit and started cardio-kickboxing, pilates, and yoga.

The good side of my daughter's health nut status is that I lost 20 lbs in the last 3 years. The bad side is that now she gets mad at me when I drink a Pepsi.

Steve Perry said...

Yep, it's not that we don't know what to do to stay relatively fit when it comes to diet and exercise, it's that the *doing* of it isn't easy. We are bombarded with commercials telling us to eat more junk; to drive instead of walk; and to see Dr. Darm for liposuction.

My wife loves to bake, and she's gotten rid of a lot of sugar and fat in her recipes and kept the taste. Problem is, if you know it's low-fat and low-sugar? You'll eat more, because, well, it's low fat and sugar, ain't it?

Like joining AA, the first step is recognizing that there is a problem. Too many of us won't go there. One of my favorite scenes in a movie is from *The Big Chill,* in which Jeff Goldblum's character says that rationalizations are more important than sex. The other characters look at him like he's crazy and say so.

Yeah? When's the last time you went a week without a rationalization ... ?