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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

To eat or not to eat. That is the only question.


I wouldn’t say I’m obsessed with my weight. It’s more like alarmed. I have never really had an issue with weight – I fluctuated within ten pounds of an acceptable number for my height, my whole adult life. I gained a solid thirty pounds with each of my three pregnancies and most of that fell off after a year or so. But within about five years of my wedding to the Farmer, I realized I had gained 25 pounds. Yikes! I was beginning to think that happiness was fattening, until I happened to stumble upon a certain episode of the Dr. Oz show.

Right around the time I was wondering why I couldn’t seem to shake the extra thickness around my waist, Dr. Oz was explaining that the part we refer to as the ‘love handles’, ‘spare tire’ or ‘muffin top’ is a product of hormones that are a natural part of being a middle age woman. That being said, there is not much you can do about it.

The onset, after the age of forty, of all those lovely hormones, causes our hair to thin and dry out, skin to wrinkle, joints to stiffen, moods to swing and abdomen area to thicken. You can exercise and diet, sure. That will build muscle mass and strengthen your core – great for supporting your back and relieving back pain. But the abdominal thickness is prone to returning. We are just programmed that way.

I’ve gone on diets where you lose a significant amount of weight cutting out simple carbs, starches and sugars for two solid weeks. You focus on lean meats and cruciferous vegetables. I love that word. Cruciferous. These are not crucified vegetables but rather those in the cabbage family –broccoli, cauliflower and, cabbage. You steer clear of bread, pasta, potatoes and anything packaged or processed. Along with weight loss, you gain an amazing clarity of focus and thought. I truly think that is the lifting of the chemical fog that comes with the ingestion of preservatives in our modern diet.

Alas, you cannot stay on this extreme diet forever. It is not advisable to cut out any one food group – unless you have a medical aversion to it like an allergy or celiac disease. I think it’s healthy to know exactly what each food offers you, and what each food (or non-food) poses as a challenge or risk to your health, mood or stamina.

I have learned to listen to my body. If I’m craving red meat, I am likely in need of iron. I will eat a lean steak, although I may be craving a burger. Sometimes I give in to the burger too, but I have noticed if I eat a fast food burger I immediately get a low feeling. It’s like the food has a depressant quality. Must be the preservatives.

I no longer crave milk, either. And when I do have a latte or flat white coffee, the dairy in it upsets my stomach. I don’t think I can digest it anymore.

My mother-in-law brings delicious homemade desserts to Sunday dinner. She watches closely to see who eats them. If we avoid sweets, bread, pasta or potatoes, she scoffs that she fed her family that way for years and they are all in good health. Then I have to explain that the bread she made her kids sandwiches with did not have preservatives to keep it fresh on the shelf for days. The meals she made consisted of whole foods with no added chemicals or processing. Today we have to be careful what we eat, and aware that those modern, pre-packaged items will affect us in weird ways sometimes.

I’m afraid to say I have been the guinea pig. I have tried the diets and I have come to the conclusion that the best way to live is to listen to your body. Eat what you crave, but in the healthiest, purest form. Eat the bread – just make it a fresh choice and not a pre-packed, overly preserved one. Stay away from low fat, as it is full of chemicals and non-digestible products that will just lead to ill health in your system.

And above all, be happy that your body is healthy. So what if you can’t fit into the jeans and t-shirt you wore ten years ago. As I get older I find it’s more about how I feel than how I look.

Happy Thanksgiving, and bon appétit!



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