Relationships are Complicated – Choose Your Food Wisely

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is off to a great start.

Weekends are a time to get caught up on all the things we let stack up during the week. Oh, we tell everybody we’re not doing anything – just sitting around the house and getting a little rest. But we know better. Rest is what we do in between errands. You know, when we’re not putting away groceries from the first errand or planning the next one. There’s never any shortage of things to do.

Grocery shopping usually tops the list. I’m sure some of you have figured a way around that. You go online, click the items you want, trust a minimum-wage employee you’ve never met to get them for you, and then just arrive at the appointed time so they can load your purchase in the car. Voila! If you trust the kid down the street to pick out produce you’ll actually eat, you’re a better man than I am.

I guess I just like the act of shopping. There’s something about sifting through the strawberries, picking the perfect steak, or checking dates on dairy products. I mean, is yogurt supposed to fart when you open it? I’m sure it’s just a sign of active cultures, but the same can be said for curdled milk. I like to know what I’m buying is at least supposed to be fresh.

Besides, if you shop online, you’ll miss all those extras that are strategically displayed throughout the store because the retailer knows you’d never think about them otherwise. And that’s where we blow both the grocery budget and our diet. It’s been estimated that Americans spend an average of $5,400 a year on impulse purchases, and 71% of those are food. Well, in a strictly literal sense.

I’m not sure a lot of that stuff actually qualifies as food. Just because you can eat it, that doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Every product we pick up has nutritional information on the label. That’s required by law. As if that would stop us. You could put a label on potato chips that says, “This product will clog your arteries and make you even fatter than you already are” and I’d still buy them.

Doctors have suggested we should have a healthy relationship with food. Well, if love is the basis of a healthy relationship, then food and I are on solid ground. I talk a lot about health, and I do believe we need to focus a lot more on nutrition. But when somebody invents broccoli that tastes like a bacon cheeseburger, we’ll talk. Until then, I’ve just agreed to know my limitations and work with them.

For me, that means trying to eat at least one healthy meal for every piece of junk I eat. Which is probably why my weight never comes down. I’m eating a lot of healthy stuff, but I’m eating a lot of junk to go along with it. A protein bar doesn’t do a lot of good if you wash it down with glazed donuts. I take supplements – good ones. I keep them in the cabinet next to a bag of M&Ms.

Okay, I’ve had a little fun with this today, and I hope you have, too. The bottom line is that, if we hope to live to a ripe old age without becoming overly ripe, we need to pay a little closer attention to the things we put in our body. That begins at the grocery store, when we’re deciding what choices we’ll get to make in the coming week. Go in with a healthy mindset, and those choices will be good.

That’s not to say you won’t yearn for a chocolate bar during the week. So, instead of finding one on the candy aisle, look for something a little healthier. Maybe something with mixed nuts and berries, bonded together with a little chocolate. You can find them in stores but read the labels. Many times, they’re no better for you than a candy bar.

I’ve found some healthy alternatives online. And the beauty of shopping there is I don’t have to walk past the potato chips and candy bars at the checkout line. You know, things that cost half as much and make you twice as fat. And when it comes to nutritional value, there’s no comparison. Sure, I love a good candy bar as much as anyone. But the older I get, the more I realize they don’t love me back.

A healthy relationship with food means it loves you as much as you love it. And long after the taste is gone, your body is left to deal with the choices you make. Keep that in mind as you walk through the store or make your selections online. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be a sacrifice. With the right choices, you can enjoy an incredibly tasty meal and hang around to tell your grandkids about it.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

What Is That You’re Eating???

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

Yesterday evening, we had to make a mid-week grocery trip. We normally have a few items to pick up here and there, but not enough to make it much of a shopping excursion. But for whatever reason, this week was different. We’re finding that some items just don’t keep as long as they used to, so we buy in smaller quantities and fill up more often. And yes, sometimes we just forget things. It happens.

In some cultures, the idea of going through a supermarket with a shopping cart filled with a week’s worth of groceries is as foreign as the thought of walking through an outdoor market full of fresh meat, breads, and produce would be to us. But that’s exactly what they do. Every morning, street vendors set out fresh food, and people buy what they need for that day. Nothing ever goes bad.

When I watch shows filmed in other countries, one thing that always catches my eye is the size of their refrigerators. They remind me of the ones we had when I was a kid – the old Kelvinators with a latch on the door and a freezer on top that needs to be defrosted with a hair dryer and ice pick every month. I’ve had one or two of those myself. What we’ve got today is a monstrosity by comparison.

And yet, we still run out of room. Every time we go shopping, something else gets pushed to the back. Then, when you need something, you can’t find it. So, you go to the store and buy more. And as you’re rearranging everything else to make room for what you just bought, you find the one that’s been sitting there all along. Except now, the expiration date has passed, and it has to be thrown out.

There’s something to be said for downsizing and only buying what we need. Freshness is never an issue, because you don’t keep things around long enough for them to go bad. Storage isn’t a problem. And it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what’s for dinner – you’re eating what you bought today because tomorrow it’ll have to be thrown out. All they really store is grains and dry goods.

And you know what? The people in those countries live longer and enjoy a better quality of life than those of us in the modernized world. They’re healthy, vibrant, and active well into their golden years for one simple reason – they didn’t allow technology to replace what nature intended.

I’ve noticed the strawberries in our local grocery store have gotten bigger over the years. I guess that could be due to improved farming practices, but I have to be honest – when I look at them I get images of a strawberry field catching the runoff from a nearby nuclear plant. It’s not very appetizing. And truly, those monster strawberries just don’t taste as good as the smaller ones anyway.

A lot of that could be the result of selective breeding, or even some level of genetic restructuring. And it’s not just strawberries. Peppers, tomatoes, bananas, and most other produce has gradually gotten bigger. I’ve seen navel oranges that are as big as a grapefruit. But, is bigger really better?

According to the USDA and agricultural universities, the nutrient levels in our produce have dropped significantly over the past fifty years, in some cases by as much as 70%. You may be filling your belly, but you’re not doing much for your body. It’s just one of the reasons nutritionists now recommend eating 7-10 servings of fruit and vegetables each day. It’s the only way to get the nutrients we need.

But how many of us actually do that? I know I don’t. If I’m being completely honest, I probably get 3-4 servings a day. Of the good stuff, that is. I get plenty of the junk I don’t need, which is why I have to keep buying these big pants. For a nation that’s so full of overweight people, we are among the most malnourished populations in the world. We’re eating plenty. We’re just not eating right.

If we could set aside a few conveniences and borrow a few habits from other countries, we could begin to turn that around. Instead of seeing how much food we can store in our refrigerators, maybe we should try shopping for a day or two at a time. Instead of loading a cart with groceries, shop with a hand basket. And instead of filling the cabinet with canned goods, fill it with beans and whole grains.

By being more selective about the foods we buy, we’re more sensible about the foods we eat. Things don’t sit around and go bad, and we don’t have to load up on preservatives in the process. When we open the refrigerator, we can find what we need. And, over the long haul, our bodies and bank accounts will both benefit as a result.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

A Healthy Future Begins With the Choices You Make Today

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

Well, April is over. Did you accomplish the things you’d planned during the month? I got started, if that counts. I guess it depends who’s keeping score. But you know how that works. Still, May is less than 24 hours away and, just like a brand-new week, it’s another chance to start over and get some things done.

Yesterday I mentioned how productive I was Sunday. I also mentioned that instead of the fifteen-minute sprints I’d recommended, I cleaned for a few straight hours, and then mowed the lawn. I felt pretty productive. But yesterday morning, my lower back decided to make me pay for it. By noon, I was in agony. It happens. And if this morning is any indication, today won’t be any better.

There are consequences for the things we do to our body. In my case, it’s a combination of age, weight, and too many years of treating my back like it was made of steel. Bad posture, poor lifting, and all those endless hours bouncing down the road in a vehicle with little to no lumbar support. Sooner or later, you have to pay the piper.

And of all those things, the only one I can do anything about today is my weight. It’s really a simple concept – the more weight you carry above your lower spine, the more that weight presses down on it. And the discs at the bottom get all the abuse. Lose the weight, and there’s less for the spine to support. Voila!

If only it were that simple. Anybody who’s ever tried to lose weight knows how hard it can be. I’m on a program that works, when I stick with the program. I’m back on it, and the results are beginning to show. But all it takes is a few days of hot lunches and the next thing you know, nothing but a hot lunch will do. Ice cream before bed becomes a habit just as quickly.

But as I said, there are consequences for the choices we make. Some are good, some not so good. Beyond just our weight, our body’s physiological health is largely determined by what goes in our mouth. And too much of anything just isn’t good. Especially when that “anything” isn’t good for you to begin with.

You’ve heard the term “empty calories.” It’s how we describe food (I use the word loosely) that’s rich in calories and devoid of any redeeming nutritional value. Twinkies would be at the top of the list, followed closely by donuts, potato chips, and a whole host of other items we know we shouldn’t be eating. But we do it anyway. And then we do it again. After all, nobody can eat just one.

That advertising slogan from the early 1960s hit the nail on the head. It was almost a challenge. “Betcha can’t eat just one!” And the truth is, your body is engineered to take that challenge and prove them right. Unless it’s a flavor you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy, every one you eat makes you want at least one more. Next thing you know the bag is empty and you’re stuffed.

There’s a simple reason for that. When we eat simple carbohydrates, our body immediately turns those carbs into glucose. We get a mild energetic boost that we may not even notice, but it’s there. Until it’s not there, which happens in a matter of minutes. Then the boost is gone, and your body wants it back. And the cure is all so simple – just eat a few more.

I’m not even sure Frito Lay knew the science behind that slogan back in the 60s, but we know it today. And still, every grocery store has an entire aisle devoted exclusively to salty high-carbohydrate snacks.

We have choices during the day. Instead of refined carbs, we can choose more complex carbs. A piece of celery may not seem all that appealing at first, but if the only goal is to satisfy the urge to snack, it gets the job done. If you don’t like celery, try an apple or an orange. Don’t like fruit? Then maybe some sunflower seeds or a handful of mixed nuts.

We have all kinds of options at our disposal. And nobody says you can’t eat a few potato chips from time to time. It’s all about moderation and offsetting those lapses with a few healthier choices the rest of the day. We can eat anything we want and still remain healthy. We just can’t eat it all in the same day.

Healthy choices aren’t always as appealing, and they do take a little more planning. But as you age, your body will reward you for whatever choices you made along the way. Make sure that reward is something you’d choose.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Healthy Choices for Healthy Living

Good morning! I hope your day is starting off well.

According to the weatherman, yesterday may have been winter’s last punch in the gut for some of us here in the US Midwest. I sure hope so. We’re not completely out of the woods yet, but the forecasts show gradually rising temperatures into more of what’s considered “normal for this time of year.” Whatever that is. It’s the last time I’ll ever believe that groundhog. Early spring? Right.

Two weeks ago, the stores started putting bathing suits on display. I also put my motorcycle up for sale (again). So far, there hasn’t been a rush to buy either of them. We look at them longingly and think, “Well, if it ever warms up a little, I may have to give that some thought.” Last year, by the time the weather got really nice, the riding season was half-gone. Hopefully we won’t do that again.

But there’s something about bathing suits and spring clothing that makes us look at our winter body and think, “Let’s lose a little of this first.” Sure, we’d love to be among the first to hit the beach, but it would be nice to sunbathe without well-intended animal lovers dumping buckets of water on you. Just me?

First, let’s establish one fact – nobody (but you) cares how you look in a bathing suit. Anyone who does is probably not admiring your bathing suit anyway. Find something that fits correctly and appeals to your sense of style, and rock it. You’re there for your enjoyment, not somebody else’s.

That said, there’s nothing wrong with trying to shed a few pounds and tone up a little if that’s what you want. But a great beach body doesn’t mean much if you’re too sick to take it out for a little sun. It’s easy to get so hung up on losing weight that we make some really poor decisions on how to do it. Here’s a clue – exclusion diets are generally not good for your overall health. Period.

I’ve got a cousin who knows more about healthy eating than most doctors, and right now she’s saying, “Just eat what nature provided!” And you know, there’s something to be said for that. I don’t think anybody can argue that we all need to consume less junk and more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

But that means eating the right balance of foods so we get all the right nutrients. If we leave out entire food groups because somebody told us we’ll burn more fat without them, it’s like running a car without some of the vital fluids. Sooner or later, you’ll hear a loud clunk and find yourself sitting on the side of the road.

Most nutritionists point to the food color wheel as a starting point for ensuring we’re getting everything our body needs. If your plate is filled with color – red, orange, green, purple, and white – you’re off to a good start. And sorry folks, jelly beans don’t count. I don’t make the rules.

When we eat whole foods, we get all the nutrients nature intended. And we process the essential vitamins a lot better because we’re getting everything in balance. Loading up on a single vitamin is generally not beneficial, and it may even cause problems. This is why so many doctors tell patients “You don’t need vitamins – just eat right.”

But most of us don’t eat right. And even if we try, the foods we’re getting don’t have nearly the same amount of nutrients they had decades ago. We can thank modern technology and irresponsible farming practices for that. So, what’s a person to do?

Take a little time to educate yourself. Read something that isn’t an obvious promotion for a certain diet or “miracle food.” Talk to your doctor. Ask to see a nutritionist. Pick up a book in the library. Read labels. Find out what all that information on those labels means. The better you’re able to understand the choices, the better you’re able to make the right choices.

And if you just can’t make those healthy choices, consider a good plant-based multivitamin to help fill in some of the gaps. You’ll pay a little more, but generally speaking, anything that comes from nature is better than a chemically made substitute.

Finally, don’t sacrifice your health in a quest for the perfect body. Set some reasonable goals and discuss them with your doctor. Find something you can live with, something that doesn’t require you to eliminate anything (except maybe donuts) and pay attention to any sign of ill effects.

For most of us, it took years of education and experience to get good at our jobs. If we would invest even a small percentage of that time in learning about nutrition, think of how much healthier we could be. The perfect beach body may never come. But isn’t it more about just getting to the beach? Take care of your health first. The rest will take care of itself.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Checked Your Belt Lately?

I had to buy a new belt yesterday. Normally, that wouldn’t be worthy of mention, but in this case, it wasn’t to make a fashion statement or even because the old one was just worn out. It broke. As I was putting it on, tugging against one side to embed the waistband of my pants deep into my belly, the largest metal piece of the buckle broke. Guess it had enough.

It was only a matter of time. When you take something that’s only meant to hold your pants up and put enough force on it to lift a railroad car, sooner or later it’ll snap. And that’s about what it takes to keep these pants up. I think maybe the gods are trying to tell me something.

You see, I carry all of my weight in my belly. According to health experts, that’s not a good thing. And because of that, I have two choices – I can wear my pants lower than a teenage boy on date night or wear my belt so tight it cuts off my spleen. Because, once my pants slip down past the middle of my belly, the laws of gravity take over. It’s really embarrassing in church.

So, I combined my trip to Belts R Us and stopped by the gym on the way home. Between lower back issues and that pesky brain surgery, it’s been a few months. And it shows. But I was a good boy and waited till the doc gave me the okay. He said to start easy, which isn’t a problem for me. Truly, I think he’s afraid of all that pressure from my midsection pushing against my brain.

Weight loss is never an easy thing, especially when you get to this age and you’ve been carrying it around for thirty years. I read an article a few years ago that said, once your body builds fat cells, they never go away. You can empty them out, but like politicians and the IRS, they’re always holding their hand out for more.

It doesn’t help that we’ve seen these reality shows where people lose up to 100 pounds in a few months. And it sets a very unrealistic expectation that, if you do things right, rapid weight loss is the natural result. Also, for the duration of the contest, these people spend their lives under the constant supervision of doctors and nutritionists, exercising several hours a day.

Even then, according to a study reported in the New York times, within a couple of years the overwhelming majority of contestants gained back most, if not all, the weight they had lost. In fact, some weighed even more. Care to guess why the show is off the air? Maybe it’s because they didn’t want to face a ten-year reunion show.

I feel for anybody who’s trying to lose weight. It’s hard, and we live in a world that is increasingly detrimental to those of us with the fat gene. First of all, finding a healthy meal, even at home, is getting harder by the day. Go out, and all bets are off. More often than not, one plate of restaurant food contains a whole day’s worth of fat and calories, with little or no nutritional value.

And, to reward us for our weakness, we have clothing stores and the airline industry. Even if you can find a pair of pants big enough, there’s no way you can squeeze them into the coach seat on an airliner. And they won’t upgrade you to first class just because you’re fat. The best they’ll do is hand you a seat belt extension in full view of all the other passengers to humiliate you even more.

Okay, we’ve had some fun here, but the reality is, obesity is a huge (no pun intended) problem in this country. Beyond broken belts and embarrassing moments, it’s slowly becoming a leading cause of premature death. And we can’t count on corporate America to make it any better. After all, the fatter we are, the more belts they can sell.

We’ve talked before about diets and weight loss, and there are no easy answers. But I believe if you talk to your doctor, get some exercise, and follow a sensible diet that consists of healthy alternatives, it’s not that hard. It’s all about taking in fewer calories, getting optimal value from those calories, and increasing our metabolism through both nutrition and activity.

Many of us will struggle with weight the rest of our lives. But, like any struggle, it’s possible to maintain the upper hand. We just have to be sensible, set realistic goals, and find something we can live with for the long haul. Slow and steady wins the race. Seems I’ve heard that somewhere before.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

Lose the Weight – Keep Your Health

Back when I began this thing, I decided that every now and then, I’d take a day to focus on health. Okay, judging by the size of my belly, maybe I need to do that more often. But in any discussion about dreams, success, and happiness, it’s important that we pay attention to our health.

It seems every day, somebody has come up with a new diet that promises to magically melt away the pounds. Well, there’s a problem with that. Whatever magically melts away can magically reappear, and it usually does. Don’t believe me? Just kiss somebody with an intestinal virus. You’ll lose up to ten pounds overnight. But it’ll all be back by Tuesday.

And so it goes with most of these fad diets, especially the ones that shut out one entire food group and focus on another. I once worked with a guy who lost a fair amount of weight by eating cereal three times a day. Granted, I would love to have his willpower. But I have to wonder how long that lasted, and what happened when he switched back to real food.

You see, the problem isn’t just what we’re eating. Well, it is, but hear me out. You can pour special oil additives into a dying car engine and it’ll stop making noise. But until you fix the underlying problem, it’ll just keep getting worse until one day it quits altogether.

We’re not all that different. If the underlying problem is something that causes us to overeat, or to binge on things our body doesn’t need, we’re destined for recurring weight and health problems. There’s no getting around it. The only way to fix the symptom is to fix the underlying problem.

Well, the diet promoters have that one covered as well. “You’ll get used to it, and when you do, you’ll never miss all that other stuff you were eating. In fact, it’ll make you feel nauseated if you do eat it. Stick with this and you’ll live happily ever after!”

Maybe, but that doesn’t automatically make it healthy. You can get used to anything, for a while. But sooner or later, you’ll decide you can start adding some things back in. And when you do, what happens? All those empty fat cells that your body has been storing since the diet began will grab up everything they can hold. Because fat cells, once they’re created, never go away.

Another thing to consider is the effect of the diet on your health. Our bodies were designed to consume and process a wide variety of foods, and they function best when those foods are present in ideal combinations. Cut out an entire set of nutrients, or focus too heavily on another, and your body can’t get the optimal benefit from the rest.

For instance, we all know that Vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium. You can eat all the calcium-rich foods you want, but if you cut out your body’s primary sources of Vitamin D, you won’t be able to properly absorb the calcium.

On the other hand, phosphorus – the kind that’s found in wheat bran – inhibits the absorption of calcium. Now, everybody knows wheat bran is good for you. In fact, some diets are almost exclusively based on fiber. But we all know what happens when your body doesn’t get enough calcium. So, what’s a person to do?

Eat sensibly. It’s really that simple. Figure out what’s making you eat too much and correct the problem. When you feel tempted to snack (or gorge), get up and do something. Take a walk. Read a book. Get outside and play with the kids. More often than not, overeating is simply the result of boredom.

And when you do eat, make sure you’re getting some nutritional benefit from the food you consume. It goes without saying that most, if not all, fast foods are nutritionally deficient. They’re also loaded with sodium and fat. And you know what? The same is true of most restaurant foods. The only difference is they cost a lot more.

We live in a fast-paced world where it’s increasingly difficult to eat healthy. But neglecting your body’s overall nutritional needs for the sake of weight loss isn’t the answer. Before you launch into any diet, ask your doctor if it’s right for you. Read some independent studies. And if you do decide to give up certain foods, consider supplements to replace the nutrients your body still needs.

Bottom line – you can cheat your body for a little while, and you may even see some amazing visible benefits along the way. But it’s what you can’t see that can really mess up your day. Weight gain is a symptom, not a problem. So, fix the problem. Do that, and you can continue to eat the variety of foods your body needs without any of the negative effects.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved