In a quiet moment this morning I was enjoying a long black coffee at Little Bean which is at the Hackett Shops. If you want a good coffee and a laugh then pop in there and see Ari or Andrew.
But, I made the mistake of scanning one of the Sunday papers and an article caught my eye about healthy eating. This is a topic that I am very interested in given the changes I've made to my diet since October last year.
Quite frankly I'm sick of "experts" telling us that almost everything we eat and drink is no good. In this article diet soft drinks, smoothies, muffins, muesli bars and a whole lot of other stuff were squarely taken aim at. To be fair, alternatives were offered but they were generally so boring that it's no wonder that people fail to stick to a healthy eating plan.
I'm the first to admit that I'm pretty bloody minded when it comes to food as a result of my blood test results and the strong wish to live a long life. But you know there are limits folks. And for most people moderation is the key. You can drink "Vitamin Water" once in a while but don't drink it every day and expect it to help you lose weight - it won't. You can eat a muesli bar as a healthy(ish) snack but just pay attention to the information on the packet - some are much better than others. And you can drink a sugar free soft drink as a treat once in a while - you won't notice the taste difference for long I can assure you - just don't drink three cans a day.
As for smoothies and muffins well it really depends what is in them. Full cream milk with chocolate topping as well as banana, yoghurt and honey probably isn't something you'd want all the time but skim or soy milk with low-fat yoghurt and perhaps no chocolate is a fair compromise once in a while.
Denying yourself any kind of food that you enjoy to eat is extremely mentally debilitating. I can tell you this because I've been there and I still find myself there from time to time. I used to get the shakes and pretty much panic when at the supermarket trying to find something to cook. I've also left more than once with an empty shopping bag and got back to the car and found myself crying.
Unless you're at risk of imminent death then just be sensible and honest with yourself. Honesty and willpower are the keys to a healthy diet. Make a plan, make it manageable, get expert advice and most of all do your best not to let it make you miserable or angry (sometimes easier said than done). Make sure people that need to know what you are doing are aware as you'll find most folks ultra-supportive if you're not a zealot. If you fall off the wagon then admit that and get back on.
Billy Connolly advocates "eat less, move more" as his mantra for weight loss. I didn't need to lose weight but I think it works for me if I modify it to "eat well, move more" - my mantra for a healthy life.
All I have to do now is to take my own advice. And you know what, that's not something I can do by myself. There are a few people I know I can talk to, professional help and of course writing about it.
Eat well, but remember that there is more to life than brown rice and raw vegetables.
(authors note: I am NOT a dietitian or anything like that. These are just the opinions of a 40-something year old very active male with a good diet who got the shock of his life when his cholesterol was sky high. I'm continuing to work with my Doctor and Dietitian to remain healthy after pretty much halving the cholesterol level in 4 months.)