I’ve weighed more or less the same thing for thirty years despite eating anything I wanted and as much of it as I wanted. I’ve virtually worn the same size clothes for decades. In recent months however I’ve split three pairs of jeans at the crotch and have noticed some of my older t-shirts didn’t quite cover my belly; I assumed they were all merely shrinking from too many washings. It seems that wasn’t the case at all; I had simply put on an additional twenty pounds in the course of a year. My clothes weren’t shrinking; I was getting larger.
The changes in my diet haven’t gone unnoticed by my body it seems. When I was in my teens and twenties I lived on fast foods; Big Macs and super-sized orders of fries from McDonalds, tacos, tostadas and burritos from Taco Bell, fried chicken by the bucket from KFC and Popeyes. It’s no small miracle I didn’t weigh 300 pounds by the time I was thirty. Then somewhere between the time I turned thirty and forty I noticed something; these same foods would shoot through me like an RPG. Maybe it was the years of grease adding up inside my body. Maybe it was these companies that owned the restaurants started using cheaper grease, grease substitutes or just didn’t bother changing the grease at all but after eating their products,The Purging just wouldn't stop…
As the 80′s turned into the 90′s I began to switch to an alternating diet of red meats one night, white meats the next in an attempt to find some sort of balance that seemed to be lacking in my appetite. But I still ate an ungodly amount of unhealthy foods or at least foods I knew deep down inside weren’t healthy choices. It was much akin to an addiction to drugs or alcohol; I just couldn’t help or control myself. Fried fish tasted GOOD. Mexican food tasted good. Pizza tasted good. I knew deep down inside I needed to somehow include more vegetables and fruits in my diet and yet I felt helpless about it; it was so much easier to grill hot dogs than to take the time and trouble to fix a salad. As a life-long bachelor I felt it was not only my calling but my duty to exist on a diet that subsisted of meats wrapped in bread.
Then after many decades of this, "Mrs Mom" came into my life and like the Marines landing on the beach at Normandy liberated me from my bachelor diet. But the changes didn’t happen over-night. First she had to evict me from the kitchen. The computer desk I had strategically placed in front of the refrigerator and coffee pot in previous years had to go. Despite my screams of protest a USB wireless device found its way into the back of my desktop computer and was now suddenly liberated from the ball-and-chain of the modem wire and my entire computer desk was unceremoniously wheeled into the living room so she could prepare meals with me out of the way and its former space was replaced by an actual dining table.
Slowly home-cooked meals began to work their way into my diet. The transition from processed meals to real food was actually pretty painless initially. Strange phrases like “sugar-free” and “low-fat” began appearing on the labels of items in my kitchen but the differences were subtle enough although old habits die hard. When we would visit my parents house for meals she noticed my father would put salt and pepper on his food then hand me the shakers and I would sprinkle both on my food just as we had both done for years when I was still living at my parent’s house.
Meanwhile I still have a ton of salty chips and other unhealthy snacks laying around the kitchen; the pinch-penny in me won’t allow myself to throw them out but once they are gone, I’m not buying any more of them. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.” Add to that list some way to stop my craving of unhealthy food and I think they would have something there.
Mom's Last Word
Seriously - on our first fancy dinner date Mr Mom wore the exact same suit he wore to his high-school prom decades earlier. It had hung in his closet long enough to become vogue again. There was no tailoring or adjustment needed because he seriously hadn't gained an ounce -- and yet, he ate like a mad man. Burgers, pizza, chips and salsa; BBQ, Mexican, Italian -nothing was off limits.
He could, and did, eat literally anything he wanted; well, at least until this past week.
When he headed off to have his physical last Monday morning, his biggest fret was that he had to fast after midnight, until after his exam. He was particularly vocal about having to give up his morning coffee.
From the look on his face when he returned home, I knew something was wrong. I braced myself for the worst.
"I gained 20 pounds, and I have to give up salt." He said, with a look that would break a mother's heart.
Now, personally, I like him with the added weight. He was far too skinny before and he's filled out nicely with my TLC, but I wasn't surprised by the new salt restrictions, becausee he puts salt on everything, even before tasting it.
I, on the other hand, hardly put salt in anything, even when a recipe calls for it. I know there's enough that occurs naturally in our diet, and we certainly don't need to add more.
However, that didn't stop the pangs of guilt building up in me that somehow something I did might have caused this situation.
We sat down over lunch, and talked about where the extra salt could be taken from. It wasn't long before we zeroed in on the trouble, other than his hefty handed use of the salt shaker at dinner. His work lunches were enough to put him over the recommended 1500 mg a day all on its own.
Ham sandwich (with extra salt, mayo and cheese) 1098 mg at the minimum
3 oz Frito corn chips 580
Dr Pepper 55 mg
Fried Pie 275
Grand Total for lunch alone: 2008, or more
He has 2 other snack breaks at work, and if you add in the 500+ mg of sodium in his morning bagel he's hitting close to 3000 even before dinner or dessert. There was no question what we needed to do -- change up his lunches.
He's been a trooper -- he takes fresh fruit now instead of fried pies, low salt Frito chips with a little fresh guacamole instead of the high sodium alternatives with salsa. We haven't wrestled the soda away yet, but we will. One step at a time. Given the number of deaths he's had to cope with this past year, I didn't even need to put my foot down.
In addition to the diet changes, we've also resigned up for the gym, he's taking extra walks when he can, and he reads even more labels when we shop than I do when we shop.
I am most grateful, because I want him around for a long, long time.