Diet is a Four Letter Word
Originally posted 12/31/2012
Diet! The very word creates a sneering disdain. But, I have recently found that I need to avoid certain common and basic staples, some so basic that finding out what else to put in their place is a challenge. Food and meal prep aren’t things that I enjoy spending a lot of time researching and implementing, but it must be done in some way that’s workable for me.
Before I left civilization, I had been very impressed by the science and research behind the film Forks Over Knives. I pulled it down from Netflix, and it underscored and/or explained some issues for me. I have detected the early warning alarms on several issues, and it was long past time for me to stop eating meals centered on big steaks and heavy sauces. I have been heading for an unfortunate “health incident”, and I decided that I needed to change from being a hapless, ignorant victim to being a more educated, proactive ignoramus.
My old-school doctor had put me on blood pressure meds, and advised some light exercise which included pushing myself away from sweets like cakes and cookies. That’s it, and the test results that followed didn’t show much improvement at all. The film described why for me. Now, I are enlightened.
My goal isn’t to prolong my life, particularly. It’s to live what time I do have in an upright, generally functional manner. The ailments I’m heading for are debilitating cripplers more frequently than they are outright killers. I don’t mind dying so much as dying very, very slowly. Non-optimal. I’ve observed too much of that for my taste. To me, it’s a Big Deal to avoid being so chronically debilitated by ailments that the experience of living life pretty much ends at the oxygen tank and bed pan. You may not be able to lengthen your life, but you can shorten it and worse, most certainly tip in some chronic health issues. Fortunately, I still appear to be within a window of opportunity to greatly lengthen the healthy stage and shorten the degraded stage. My goal is a ratio improvement.
All this is timely because I’m about to do another food shop, something that now takes place about every three weeks, and involves a 23-35 mile trip to a town large enough to have a real grocery store. A few months ago, I switched to a relatively painless diet based on fruits, vegetables, beans, rice, nuts, and seeds. Meat and dairy products are pretty much gone. Now and then I throw some hamburger into a rice and beans mix. Meal prep time is close to zero, since I eat as much food in its original form as I can. As a result, I quickly dropped 20 pounds and now nicely fit my former clothing again.
But, it’s now time to plan out stage 2. That means cutting out my favorite breakfast: eggs and roast beef hash, or eggs and ‘taters. No more canned chili, no more tuna or sardines or hamburger. Fats and processed oils need to go away as much as possible. I haven’t really intended to become a vegetarian on the usual grounds of ethical or ecological imperative, so much as to simply reduce or eliminate what has been throwing the flag of impending chronic health issues related to food. Doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a conventional Americanski meal now and then, but I need to establish a consistent baseline.
The style of diet outlined in the Forks Over Knives book itself creates two problems in my case. It may be a little more strident than required, but that’s not the problem. I can tweak the implementation a bit.
The first issue is that it assumes access to mechanized food preparation hardware, like blenders, crock pots, or food processors. I have neither the space nor the electrical power to run them. Maybe in the summer, hooked up to shore power, it might be possible, but these are still large items. Even non-powered kitchen items make me wonder where I’m going to keep that stuff when it isn’t needed. I don’t even have a kitchen counter work surface wider than 5 inches, so meal prep more complex than opening a can is always a bit challenging. (I’m even thinking about tearing out most of the dinette and replacing it with a leaved maple table I have in storage.)
The second issue is that such a diet assumes one to have easy and frequent access to commendably-stocked grocers and health food stores, plus the ability to safely store away seldom-used ingredients. Not so, here. Vegetarian-oriented recipes tend to require a wide variety of very healthy, oddball ingredients that I’ve never heard of before and aren’t in any well-equipped standard grocery. They also rely on variety to ensure a well-rounded nutrient supply. You can’t just sit around and bite chunks out of a potato. The cost for me to access small amounts of weird, perishable ingredients is prohibitive.
Just to make things more complex, I’ve found that even common vegetarian recipes contain things that I need to avoid in order to allow my poor, abused body to attempt repairs. So, I’m going to have to wing it, developing a fairly rounded, healthy diet that will still do the job and yet be feasible for me in my situation. I’d like to get some initial form of it started in a couple of days, when I piggyback a trip to Blythe CA in order to get the Ford’s oil and filter changed and then do my next food shop. I guess I’m now becoming “a guy on a weird diet” rather than some kind of placard-bearing vegetarian. I love all the traditional, good stuff! I just can’t subsist on it any more. All I can say is, I will personally enjoy what I eat, but no one else will want to have dinner at my place!