On Healthy Eating

Well, it’s Sunday night, and yet again I find myself boiling water to make a few hard boiled eggs for breakfast in the morning. After my friend Kitty scolded me about my sugar intake and my diet soda consumption last weekend, I’ve been thinking about my diet, looking at labels a little more, and considering some minor changes.

For years, I’ve considered my diet to be fairly decent. I rarely eat fast food, don’t snack (a lot), and get a good amount of exercise. Still, I know that I carry around some extra pounds I shouldn’t, and I’m reaching the age where exercise alone doesn’t address all my sins. Still, it’s hard to really know where to go when you’re trying to have a healthier diet. Go out to almost any restaurant, and the portion sizes are gargantuan. Yesterday, after I ordered my $5 “small” beverage at the movie theater, I was handed a cup approximately the size of a 2-liter bottle. I worried how the movie patrons could actually lift the weight of a “medium” or “large” drink. Forklift?

Grocery stores aren’t much better. Portions aren’t the problems, price is. Slap the word “organic” on, and the price climbs 25% or more. I’m sure the fruits and veggies were better tended, and probably carried to market individually swaddled in silk by cherubs, but I’m not sure how much more I’m really getting for my money. It certainly sends an interesting message: truly good eating is only for the better off.

Even if you jump the portions and price hurdles, other riddles await. My friend Kitty encouraged me to dump my morning breakfast cereal given its sugar content. I had never really considered its sugar content, given that its name — Smart Start — was all I needed to be reeled in. Who wants a Dumb Start? With my limited cognitive capacity, I need all the help I can get. Nevertheless, Kitty assures me that the protein in the eggs will help me feel full longer. I’m sure she’s right. What she neglected to tell me, however, is that each egg has approximately 75% of my daily cholesterol allowance. Thus, her recommended two egg breakfast puts me at 150%. I have no idea where that extra 50% is going to go, although I can only guess it heads right for my heart, clogging every artery. Ultimately, when my heart stops, I hope the less sugar in my system and that full feeling offset the defibrillator and hospital bills.

And, on top of all that, even if you can figure out what is healthy for you, afford it, and get it in the right portions, you may now be stuck in a food desert. That’s right, we know have food deserts, where dietitians, statisticians, politicians, and probably magicians, have discovered that, in certain areas, healthy eating is near impossible. Seriously. You might see that cucumber for your salad, but it’s just a mirage. When you reach for the cucumber, you actually pick up a donut. Cream filled. With sprinkles. It’s a horrible, horrible place.

But, just for a moment, let’s pretend you escape the food desert, your adventure is not done, because, after you identify, pay for, and mete out the right proportion,   now you must wrestle with your conscience and determine if your food was ethically raised and harvested. Was your lettuce raised cage free? Were your radishes allowed to roam? Did a member of the board of directors of the parent company donate ten dollars to a charity you do not support?

It just gives me a headache. It’s all so confusing. We psyche ourselves out, running from one idea to another, fretting that what we are putting in our bodies will kill us. Maybe we aren’t addicted to bad food as much as we are addicted to worrying. Should we chew on that for a bit?

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