All You Can Eat

The four worst words in food. Not healthy by ANY diet. Buffets may be “money saving,” but will do so much more harm. Why does our culture have buffets and encourage us to to keep on eating? The quality of the food is poor, low in nutrients, and leaves us feeling stuffed and complaining?

Restaurants traditionally serve huge portions, but many take that to the next level. Instead of offering refills for free, a big bread basket, and a pint of salad dressing (shocking your arteries)…hey, let’s offer MORE! More is always better! Let’s line a dining room with salads that aren’t quality greens, but unlimited cheeses and high fat salad dressings; fruits & vegetables are canned or cooked in salt, pork fat, and fruit that could be canned for the next ten years; moving on, you can find fattening meats or pizza that has a layer of grease, followed by desserts that could stop a heartbeat in the middle of the night.

Funny that the nutrition information is unavailable. If they can’t publish they nutrition facts, there’s no way I’d put it in my mouth.

Making the CHOICE to live healthy

In the last year, I’ve learned a lot about a choosing to live a healthy life.  “Healthy Lifestyle” is a subjective term used in our society – there are as many meanings to the term as there are people.  I’ll admit, I eavesdrop on conversations in restaurants, hair salon, waiting in lines & I get curious. I look in people’s grocery carts at the checkout, I watch people smoke, go to the tanning beds, and even, gulp, go to the Sonic or JIB drive thru.

I have found through being a busybody and talking & listening to friends, family, and physicians with differing points of view, living healthy can mean a lot of things. Examples: eating organic & natural foods; having one food/habit they won’t give up (for me it’s that “Little Bit of Happiness” slogan by Coke); removing carbs, high fructose corn syrup, or sodium; becoming a vegetarian; exercising 30 minimally, or exercising an hour a day. I have found that many doctors don’t follow their own advice – one hepatologist  has a glass of wine once or twice a week, some doctors are fat.  I have seen pulmonary technicians outside smoking or an esthetician go to the tanning bed. There are endless possibilities to what people think healthy is.

I think it depends on your point of view & what you actually want to live like. If diabetes is in your family, you tailor your diet to prevent that (concentrate on sugars).  If you see your body as a whole, every organ, tissue, muscles & blood vessels working together, you might eat very well balanced, organic & concentrate on fruit & veggies, nothing processed.

My point of view, circumstances, and desire to live a high quality of life (for an unknown amount of time), I concentrate on reducing sodium to a max of 1,800 mg a day; high protein; eating only healthy fats; nothing out of a box!  7-8 hours of  sleep every night; a 30 minute “mommy break” in the day (even if kids are sleeping);  I can never have a drink again, so I can protect my liver; smoking is OUT of the question; protecting my skin from the sun (too much will interfere with medications) & tanning beds will slowly cook you (although a tan IS pretty). and of course, exercising REGULARLY 4x-6x a week (at my level & under doctor’s orders).

Exercise… that’s another subjective term. To some, it means walking from you car to the front door. To some, it means 1 hour of cardio or weight lifting.  From 2002 – 2006,(for me) it meant 4 marathons a year, running 30-35 miles a week.  Some people hate it (I really feel sorry for you), some do it for the end result, & some love to be active & NEED it daily. 

Our bodies DO NEED exercise daily with a combination of cardio, strength training, flexibility (yoga, pilates, stretching).  Our lives will be shortened, quality of health will suffer.  If you ever face a life-threatening disease or surgery, being in top shape will help your body tremendously & improve your chances of survival & higher quality of life.

But… it all comes down to a choice. I have made my choices because of having heart & liver diseases, of being guaranteed sometime in the future I am going to face a much worse dilemma than I did on January 12, 2010 – heart & liver transplants. A very rare combination, intense surgeries, with a 6 week or more hospital stay. So every food I put into my mouth, every ounce of liquid, stressors & lifestyle choices, sleep, every time I rebuild my fitness – it all effects me. I have made my choices because I want Joel to have a wife, Chloe & Jack to have a mother for as long as possible.

I’m not saying I do everything right – I love Coke, I have a small amount (under 300 mg of sodium) of salty snack, I  don’t sleep 8 hours EVERY night.  But the healthier choices I make will contribute to my improvement & quality of life. Will I ever run 4 marathons in a year? Probably not…but the cardiologist never said I couldn’t try 🙂