Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Philosophy on Food

I've always been interested in food - more as a gourmand than a gourmet I'm afraid. Up until the spring of 2005, I ate like a typical bachelor; lots of fast food, lots of convenience foods, and once or twice a week I'd cook something that was a break from the junk I usually ate.

But then something happened that changed my life. I got the stomach flu. No, really. I was sick; very, very sick. After a couple of days of vomiting and other bodily expulsions I will not detail here, and no improvement in sight, I called my sister to drive me to the emergency department (I didn't dare drive myself; I had visions of one of my intestinal explosions wracking me while I was at the wheel). I was severely dehydrated and they pumped me up with liquid via IV. I spent another week or two convalesing at my sister's house (God bless her).

Back then, I didn't have a family doctor. The emergency room doctor and my sister both exhorted me to get one, so I did. At my first appointment, he gave me a checkup, including bloodwork. When the results came back, he told me that my cholesterol levels were terrible; my 'bad' cholesterol in particular was sky high while my 'good' cholesterol was almost non-existent. He told me that he would normally try lifestyle modification first to control cholesterol, and then move on to drugs if that didn't work but that I was so bad that he wanted to try both right away. He told me to lose weight, start exercising, eat less fat, eat more fiber, and gave me a prescription for Lipitor.

I filled the prescription and took it faithfully, but made a silent promise to myself to control this condition naturally if at all possible. Less fat and more fiber become my personal mantra. I stopped eating fast food and convenience food and replaced them with a diet of low fat meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, and whole grains. I took a brisk 30 minute walk every day. Within three months there was a significant improvement in my cholesterol levels; in six months they were low enough that my doctor took me off the Lipitor. I eventually lost about 70 pounds and still have healthy cholesterol levels.

I was only able to achieve my goals by careful planning. Prior to this lifestyle change, I would often pick up a burger and fries at Wendy's or make fish sticks and fries at home because it was easy and it was there, and besides, what else could I do?. I got out of this habit by getting rid of unhealthy foods from the house and taking a few minutes on the weekend to plan a menu for the week. I would then commit to the menu, buying items or taking them out of the freezer so they became the convenient thing to do.

Now, I find I no longer need the weekly menu, but I do keep healthy food choices available at all times. Any food I eat has to go through a two stage mental vetting process; first, is it nutritious and good, and if it passes that test, is it reasonable priced and reasonably convenient. If so, I eat it and enjoy it.

For the past three years, I have been enjoying my healthier lifestyle and the advantages it brings. I have more energy, I feel better, I look better, and I enjoy preparing and eating my meals.

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