I'm not a health fanatic--but I'm becoming one.
Years ago because of my dad's health, my mother began cooking with less salt and more alternative seasonings. Because of that I don't use a lot nor do I need a lot of salt in my food. Now, I do love seasoned, flavorful foods, but that doesn't necessarily mean salted. I am weaned enough from salt that I have ordered food in restaurants that I have actually been unable to eat because of the amount of salt that has been added. When I purchase canned vegetables, I go for the unsalted but still rinse before use as much as possible. You can rinse beans, tomatoes not so much.
Thanks to my mother's quest to take care of my dad's health we learned to eat better and she prepared better, more healthy foods-not that her cooking was bad, my mother was and still is an amazing cook. It is my hope that someday my son will think as highly of my cooking. That in itself is another reason I've started working on making the changes that I have.
I will confess that several years ago I fell into that convenience trap of using prepared foods. You know, those frozen, ready to microwave meals? Using them so much that I believe my son had dubbed me micro-mom. He never said it out loud..but. They were so easy, lift from freezer, remove packaging, pop into microwave and then wa la, a steaming hot..something.. straight from the microwave to the table. Now, I'm not saying that all these things are bad, but look at the sodium content. Look at the listing of ingredients, half of which I couldn't even pronounce. Then, when my cholesterol levels began to go up, I knew it was time to back track a bit. It was time to return to my roots of home cooked meals that you had a much better idea of what was in them.
I've been collecting cookbooks for a while. I have heart health, I have slow cooker, I have good for you bad for you books, I have cookbooks that have been gifts from family and friends. Until recently I barely looked at them. It was only when I needed something special that the pages were turned. When my doctor instructed me (earlier it had been a recommendation, now it is an instruction) to go on a new lifestyle plan I began looking for information on what he was telling me to begin. Dr. Michael Roizen, connected often with Dr. Oz was what he told me to check out and begin. Internet searches brought me lots of tid bits but not the in depth information I craved. I now own a copy of a book titled You, The Owner's Manual. I have only begun to read it so I can't share much information on that. I know that this lifestyle first recommends avoiding sugar, walk no less than ten thousand steps a day, move, find ways to lessen stress among other changes. I also have a couple other books that are centered on more healthful choices and ways of cooking them. There is also the internet and the variety of information waiting to be found.
I have in the recent past mentioned that I have cut back on my sugar consumption. Now my cup of coffee contains only a minute amount of non dairy cream which I am slowly making my way away from. I no longer drink any sodas, and only the occasional glass of sweet tea. My two go to choices being my coffee and water. Being on well water I usually just fill up my reusable water containers and carry that with me to work. I am working on that sweet habit that I have. It isn't easy. Today my mother purchased a large bag of candy and a box of cookies for dad. I'm following her around these aisles and suffering big time. The temptation to add some sweet treat to my cart was almost over whelming. I was however stronger than the craving and made it out of the store without junk food. I have learned that when I'm home and the craving gets too bad, I can prepare a bowl of cereal with tiny dark chocolate pieces and that settles the desire. One thing I did leave the store with was a handful of seed packets, more on that in a minute.
I remember growing up there really wasn't a lot of sweets in the house. When mom went shopping she would purchase one bag of cookies and one bag of candy bars. That was to last the family a week, you had to ask permission to get any of it so that mom and dad could make sure it was distributed fairly. My addiction to sugar began some time around then as I remember actually hoarding candy and cookies. I was actually storing them in a drawer to eat in private. I was devastated when mom found my stash of junk food and removed it. I didn't start another collection but I still craved the sugar, often buying those fundraising candy bars at school. Years later I would carry bags of candy to work with me to eat through out the day. I could go through a large bag a day and think nothing of it. I have since learned that sugar is addictive. I know too that addictions aren't cured, they are managed. You are at constant battle with yourself over what your body misses and craves. It is up to you to decide whether you want to be healthy and strong no matter what addiction you are fighting as they all have their own set of potential problems.
I have also learned that sugar is hidden in our foods in many different forms. One needs to learn the various names for sugar so as to know exactly how much they are consuming. Trying to be healthy and going "low-fat" check out how much sugar has been added to keep flavor in the food where fat has been removed. Oh and that evasive "artificial flavoring" ingredient, that scares me. Not to mention all the ingredients that only a scientist can pronounce.
I'm sure my son is much more appreciative of real food for our meals. I know very little is left over, for that I'm glad. Tonight's meal was meatloaf made with lean ground beef, with added tomatoes and onions, oatmeal and eggs along with a seasoning mix. Mixed frozen vegetables and stewed potatoes from fresh potatoes cut up and cooked with a touch of sea salt and black pepper.
I love fresh fruits and vegetables. I have added many to my diet and try new ones as I am able. I am already working on the garden I intend on planting for the coming season. I've spoken with my mother about using the place they had for a garden being they don't plan on planting one as their area gets much more and better sunlight than mine. I have plans on doing some container plants in areas of my yard that are no longer accessible for my plant eating dog. I hope to grow some tomatoes and peppers there, cucumbers where I had them last year as they came in abundantly enough to share and other vegetables such as beans and okra down at mom's. You can do so much with fresh, homegrown vegetables. You know what is in them, you know what you have prepared them with. You know what you have in the containers if you have enough to can or freeze. I know of very little else that tastes as good as something fresh picked from the garden. One good thing, vegetables are good for you, depending on how you prepare them, you can eat more without causing harm to your weight and waist.
I realize that as I age, taking care of my health is going to be a growing challenge. As a cancer survivor I know the possibility of its return is always there. I don't dwell on it, but I don't deny that either. So I eat more raw produce. Every check of my cholesterol levels has been higher, I do NOT want to go on any medication to bring it down- so more raw produce. I do take a multivitamin and a few supplements, but I prefer to get as much needed nutrients from my food- which means more raw fruits and vegetables and less red meat. I do enjoy fish and poultry, and I've began to learn how to prepare venison as well, so I don't have to give up meat entirely, but in truth, I don't know how much I would miss red meat if I did walk away from it.
I'm a long way from being a health fanatic..and I use the word fanatic as in meaning one is determined to be more healthy and yes happy as time progresses and I learn and add more to this lifestyle change. right now, we'll go slowly and carefully and learn along the way. Along the way back to one's roots of cooking the old fashioned way from scratch and good, simple ingredients that one not only knows what they are, but can pronounce without a science degree.