The Salad of my Discontent: 13 nutrition (and Fitness) tips for the 40 + Crowd

SALAD

It sure has been a difficult time lately, with losses and goodbyes for my family, challenges and changes, and  much “waiting upon God,” even when it feels like he taking kind-of a long time to lead us where we need to go! And usually, I cover pretty heavy topics on thebeggarsbakery.net – alcoholism and addiction, parenting teens, marriage, health woes, etc.

So, in a departure in what I usually write about, today’s piece is a Humor Column. Years ago, before so many heavy things, I had a humor column in a tiny, local paper – and it was ridiculously fun. This article addresses one of my passions and pains: food, and trying to understand and achieve health, after so many years of taking abysmal care of myself.

I hope it makes you smile, at the very least. Please feel free to share the link with any middle-agers who are struggling with the same issues, and GOD BLESS you and yours. I so appreciate your readership!

By: Jana Greene

George Carlin once said that “death is caused by swallowing small amounts of saliva over a long period of time.”  But if your spit doesn’t do the trick, swallowing small amounts of food will surely cause your demise.

Studies show, well…..quite a whole lot of things, actually, many of which are pretty scary. Luckily, if one government-granted conclusion to expensive research alarms you, the next one that comes along will either:

a)      Disprove the first study (studies show this to be the case 99.7 percent of the time, depending on funding.)

OR

b)      Cause the release of panic, the likes of which have not been felt since the release of the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz.

Why keep studying consistently inconsistent results? Personally, I think it’s because the more it is studied with federal funds, the more the government can regulate our lives – but that’s a column for another time.

Today’s topic is about an unfortunate rite-of-passage for many of us in our forties: The Talk about  Nutritional Health, when  our doctors, lab results in hand, confront us on our past misdeeds and  suggests that there are damage-control  measures available to counteract those earlier misdeeds.

In my quest to “eat healthy,” I often read studies. Over time, I have surmised from them to:

1. Eat sweet potatoes, but not in pie-form, and certainly not with butter, sugar and cinnamon.

No, wait. DON’T eat sweet potatoes!  A sweet potato is just a starch masquerading as a Vegetable of the Highest Order – a colorful vegetable.

And if you must have one, eat it raw. Studies show that once you cook a vegetable, you completely ruin the nutritionally value. You might as well eat it in pie-form….Which, I usually do.

2. Fruit is the healthiest food group there is – packed with nutrients.

Until you swallow it.  Most fruits are converted by your body to  SUGAR, and your endocrine system doesn’t know the difference between a bunch of grapes and one of those pixie sticks that is two feet long.

Unless the fruit is colorful…. In which case, it becomes a two-foot-pixie stick with a few antioxidants.  

3. Drink cranberry juice, and your urinary tract will thank you.

Oops….studies indicate that you should stay away from cranberry juice. Because the sugars it contains (see ‘fruit’ above) can CAUSE a UTI.

4. Nuts and seeds are awesome*, and not just because they are central to the “What Would Jesus Eat?” diet and Jesus Himself is awesome, but because they are full of the protein your body needs to function as a fat-burning machine!

Except that all of the good-tasting nuts are actually pretty fatty. Go figure.

5. A glass of red wine**  each evening keeps the doctor away.

Unless you’re an alcoholic like myself.  In which case, the doctor won’t need to visit because the coroner will beat him to it.

6. Eating meat – especially the red kind (color is not a benefit here) – is terrible for your health.  You should consume ONLY the things that your  meat would have eaten, if you hadn’t savagely killed it for food.

You know, root vegetables and such. Sweet potatoes.

Scratch that. Eat ONLY meat, like our cave-man ancestors, and only the way they ate it – cooked over an open, stucco fire pit with a side of something they might have purchased at Whole Foods after a long day of dragging women by the hair.

And , did  Paleos eat Quizno’s, or use a Fry-Daddy!  I think NOT. Keep it strictly hunter-gatherer, peeps. Which brings me to (queue scary music….)

7. The malevolent  CARBOHYDRATE***, which virtually all studies agree is the most evil form a calorie can channel.  Do you think the ancient peoples had pasta-makers?  No sir, they did not. So  forget spaghetti, a member of the most malicious menu malady a meal can muster.

Rice, potatoes, pasta – all in cahoots to hijack your metabolism and take the slow ride to an early grave. Don’t even think about that tortellini! It’s a cheese-filled pocket of death!

And, I’m sorry….. there are no studies to refute this, unless you consider those who suggest (queue the scary music again….) MODERATION. Moderation – with starchy deliciousness. Hurmph. (Studies clearly show that people with addictive personalities are less likely to practice moderation.)

8. Salad is the anti-carb…..so very  good for you!  The more colorful and expensive the lettuce, the better.

Unless  you like it with flavor. Take, for instance,  blue cheese dressing.  You could, instead of eating it on salad, just get a super-large syringe (I like my blue cheese chunky-style) and inject it directly in your arteries to get just the same benefits as digesting it.  Luckily, many creamy salad dressings contain dairy, and studies show that….

9. Dairy prevents belly fat.

No, wait – it causes belly fat. I’m not sure which (I’m pretty sure I’ve read studies that purport both)

10. If you have blood-sugar issues, diet sodas are much better to drink than regular sodas.

Although, in test groups,  diet sodas had  the same effect on teeth as the meth. Yes, you can get “meth mouth”  courtesy of carbonated beverages! Diet sodas also contain a chemical that  basically turns to  formaldehyde in your body, a chemical used in the embalming process. The. Embalming. Process.

11. Ahhh, caffeine. – beloved purveyor of eternal life and heart health, and seemingly-harmless-delivery system for a mood-altering, STIMULANT  DRUG!  Hello?

So, so much study on caffeine. The common drug is the darling of federally-funded scientific research. Pages and pages, and reverse-studies and warnings and….I need another cup of coffee **** to even THINK about it.

12. All hail the ancient Mayans, who are famous for appreciating the health benefits of Chocolate *****(and human sacrifice, but hey…they brought us chocolate!)

Chocolate,  as a modern food,  is actually a contributor to obesity…

UNLESS, it is transformed into  DARK chocolate, which many studies show not only is excellent for your body, but practically gives the same cardiac benefits of  having the heart of a 21-year old triathlon-participating vegetarian transplanted into your tired, old, flabby  body!

But wait, chocolate contains caffeine, which studies show…….

Is really good for you!

Or….

Or a mind-altering, stimulant drug….you  shameless  junkie.

13. .Well, at least everyone can agree that drinking MORE WATER is essential to good health. Yesiree.  It cleans your system, lubricates your joints, and is the life-force. The God-given, liquid  verve-maker.

But, not so fast…..

Studies show that when you turn on the tap, you unleash a cascade of chemical compounds and a mélange of micro-organisms. Our waste  is contaminated with tons of chemicals to ensure our drinking safety!  Not to mention naturally-occurring micro-organisms (your “oli’s” and  “ella’s”….. e-coli, flagenella, barbarella, etc.) Bottoms up!

With all this information to consider (Thank you, Federal Government!) don’t forget about the other, equally disturbing facet of middle-aged damage control:  Physical Fitness.

It’s not too late, fellow Old Farts!

Never mind that it will take MUCH more effort to obtain a MUCH-lesser result, and that your reward will not be the same as it was “back in the day.” It may not make you “hot,” but you’ll live longer, as an old, not-hot person.  The reward is life, itself!

There is plenty of data and debate on which form of fitness is best for those in the Mid-Day of life:

Walking

no, running

No….WALKING is the best exercise.

Walking is nice and low-impact….unless you want muscle tone. (Was Jane Fonda concerned about “low impact” when she implored us all to “get physical?” Of course not.  And in her golden years, she can probably still bounce a quarter off of her gluteus!)

And the horrors of aerobics (and unforgiving leotards) pales in comparison with a modern fitness  phenomenon (I would call it a “craze,” but that would only accentuate my age)  that shall-remain-unnamed in this article…

Primarily a program for young people (so says me), participants will often try to recruit we 40-plussers. You’ve been warned.

Let’s just say it is a major work-out movement that actually advertises PAIN as a selling point,  even infers that you will ENJOY  that pain. It also incorporates the lifting of weights that appear to weigh approximately as much as Stonehenge (all stones combined.)

As my daughter would say, I don’t EVEN!

Many studies have shown that swimming is the best exercise, but don’t take my word for it. Peek into any YWCA in the world at 7:30 a.m. and count the swim cap-crowned elderly ladies in the pool doing water aerobics.  Nice and easy on the joints (and a good female bonding experience….where are all the men?)

Yes, swimming is best. Unless you do it outdoors.  Are you trying to kill yourself with UV rays?

Yoga is great for fitness…

Unless you think you might ever leave the yoga mat. If you plan to strike a “standing” or “walking” pose (for approximately ever) be wary. If your Yoga class or fitness video touts itself for “Beginners,” keep in mind that they are referring to beginner contortionists…not you, and surely not me.

So, in conclusion….I think George Carlin was pretty astute in his observation.

Eat and let eat, I like to say. Walk and let walk. And study and let study, if you must.

I also like to say, “Pass the blue cheese dressing.”

And be quick about it…I’m swallowing small amounts of saliva, as we speak.

 

* Especially in pies.

** You can drink wine by the single GLASS?

***There is a best-selling book titled, “Bread is the Devil.” Really.

**** Starbucks Primo Mocha Latte (extra shot of espresso, please)

*****Also really good in pies.