This year has been a nutritional journey for me. I started in January (so predictable) deciding that my health had to come first.
Food is the ultimate medicine after all. So I cut my favorite food group — sugar — way down. I mean like wayyyy down. I focused on ingesting less than 10 grams per day.
For reference, the average for a healthy adult female is reportedly around 35 grams. I am confident I could easily double or even triple that most days.
I don’t think I have a sweet tooth. I have sweet teeth — as in all of them. I am not lured by salty foods. I can, in fact, eat just one potato chip. What I cannot do is pass by sugar in almost any form. I am a grown adult who could do real damage to a bag of gummy bear candy. No one my age should be able to say that with a straight face.
As I got old(er) I found that many of my aches and pains seem to be directly correlated with the sheer amount of sugar I consume on a daily basis. The years of not worrying about it had finally caught up with me — and my knees.
Apparently, consuming your body weight in sugar almost daily is not advised? Who knew. I decided to get healthier. Emphasis on -er.
I wasn’t looking to become a nutritional guru existing only on kale and water and a lick of an almond once in a while. I was just looking to take my diet from abysmal to probably won’t die.
The first week was awful. I missed sugar so much I dreamt about it. Visions of sugar in every form danced in my head.
Granted, I was still eating it, just not in large amounts and what I did have was natural. Fruit and vegetables. Trace amounts from dairy.
I love dairy. Dairy is to me what shrimp is to that sweet man in Forrest Gump. I could list the innumerable ways to enjoy cheese.
In fact, I have an entire DRAWER in my refrigerator dedicated only to cheese in every form imaginable. Thus anyone who gave nutritional advice that opened with first cut out dairy was basically dead to me. Lalalalaa I can’t HEAR you.
I also love vegetables. I just had to relearn that. Years of vegetables in potato form (white and sweet) had me forgetting how delicious brussels sprouts, broccoli or roasted zucchini really could be.
Granted I sprinkle most of those things with cheese. Sugar snap peas are delicious. Once you go off most sugars, baby carrots taste like candy. I love lean meats and fish too. Again these are best served with vegetables and probably cheese.
Always quality conscious, I am a proud member of the buy local brigade. I get most of our family food within a 10-mile radius of our home.
The best farm market is in our neighbor’s front yard. I gave up my own garden years ago when I toiled all summer in our garden to produce what Mr. Wonderful called a $30 tomato. It’s much easier to stop next door and let them do it for me.
I know it’s fresh-picked. I probably watched them do that while sipping my coffee in the kitchen window that morning.
Mind you, I’m not swearing off fruit. I still love them. I just try to find the balance between enjoying a sweet treat and diving fast first into a pile of sugary carbs like the Cookie Monster on a bender.
Being half a century old means I have to push away from the pie (most days) and start taking nutrition seriously.
That isn’t to say I don’t still enjoy a treat now and then. I just aim for balance now. You will easily find me enjoying an ice cream treat (dairy!) or oatmeal cookie (grains!).
I will also enjoy my fair share of vegetables and salads. See also: banana and zucchini bread (produce!). Remember, everything is healthy if you serve zucchini with it. That’s just science.
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