Live to Eat or Eat to Live

In just under 6 months I’ll be 50 years old. Until recent years I’d not given much thought on the effect foods I eat may have on my internal organs. At times I might (or might not) have given attention to caloric intake or how tight my clothes fit – but not to the long term health effects those choices may have. The decision whether or not to hit a favorite fast food establishment was based almost exclusively on the fit of my clothing.

Ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus said “The only constant in life is change,” and as all things do, my body has begun changing. My joints hurt, my muscles ache, my hair is turning gray, and of all things, I’ve learned my cholesterol count is creeping upwards. While I’m not to the point of needing medication, I am at a point in which my doctor recommends changes. In addition to more routing exercise, he has recommended dietary changes. Changes such as a limited intake of red meat, little to no fried foods, more fiber, etc.

Wilted Lettuce with Spicy Pomegranate Dressing

While my initial reaction may be to follow the ostrich and bury my proverbial head in the sand, that action leaves me open to further health decline, followed undoubtedly by a decreased ability to enjoy life. So what is a self avowed foodie to do? The fallacy which keeps so many prisoner to unhealthy lifestyles is believing “giving up the majority of the unhealthy diet options will decrease or limit one’s enjoyment of food.” Not only is this untrue, when one truly begins to learn how delectable healthy food can be, the process of choosing those healthy options becomes easier. Over time one begins to crave the healthy options and at times be physically repulsed by the artery clogging selections.

Three Healthy Options I’ve Grown to Love:

  1. Instead of standard Tacos, I absolutely love lettuce wraps. Made up in taco fashion and using lean ground turkey in place of ground beef. Another filling I’ve grown fond of is Jackfruit (available at Trader Joe’s in cans.) There are multiple recipes on YouTube detailing the preparation of Jackfruit as a taco filling, but suffice it to say it’s good!
  2. Fire. Maybe it’s imprinted on the human DNA, but cooking pretty much anything over fire improves it. Example, VEGETABLES! Growing up I remember eating vegetables pretty much one way, boiled. Yuck. However, instead of dropping your asparagus into a pot of boiling water, throw those guys over the grill for a few minutes, baste with a touch of olive oil, and season with salt & pepper, and YUMM!
  3. Berries! Blackberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Pomegranate Seeds. These guys can kick so many recipes up a notch! Throw them into yogurt, cereal, on salads… they’re some of the healthiest foods on the planet; high in vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants! Eat them and Live!

The lesson I am ever so slowly learning is that change can be good. The mindset is what matters. I want to enjoy wonderful meals with friends and family for years to come. If that means retraining my brain to release endorphins when presented with scrumptious healthy foods, and to be repulsed by options which are slowly killing me, then so be it.

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