Monthly Archives: May 2012

I’m still pissed PART V

PART IV in this series outlined the first step in changing from an unhealthy sugar and processed food filled diet to a healthy one. Simply adding in some healthy food.

Let us say that you follow those guidelines for a week or two. You feel pretty good about yourself cause your starting to dig that salad before supper just a bit, and your eating an apple at work most every day and a few less bags of Doritos. The eggs at breakfast don’t taste that bad at all, and you have eaten way less pop tarts lately.

Well, that’s a great start, but you should still be pissed. Cause if you are like many people I know, you still drink a big glass of orange juice in the morning and think its good for you. You still buy low fat yogurt with 30 grams of sugar added and think you are doing yourself a favor. You are probably still picking up lunch at Taco Hell or a McDonalds here and there. And your kitchen is probably so filled with shit filled over processed “food” that supper and snacks at home and the weekends almost can’t help but be dominated by food that is pure crap.

But you have taken the first step, good for you.

What you buy at the grocery store is going to have more impact on how you eat than any other factor. There are a few things you can do right from the start to set yourself up for success. Only shop for or buy food from actual grocery stores. Like Safeway. Or Costco, or something like that. Do not buy food at 7-11 or other convenience stores. That right there, if you stick to that rule, makes it much easier to shop healthy. Go to the store on planned trips, once per week.

Now, when you actually get to the store, choose how much shit you are gonna put in your body for the next 7 days. Yeah, you are probably still eating Doritos. But do you really need 2 bags, or are you eating enough healthy food now that one will do the trick? What I am saying is to put a limit on it! You might be a frozen pizza junkie, but make the effort to cook and eat some healthy meals this week, and don’t buy so many of them. In general, just try to buy as little as possible from those center isles of the store, where all the over processed crap is. Shop around the outside, mostly the meat and the vegetable displays.

I can’t tell you exactly what to buy, because I don’t know what you like to eat. Or what you like to cook. But I can give you some ideas by telling you what I like. I like to buy some combination of red meat, chicken, and fish. Except when something is on sale, that is. If salmon is $3.99 a pound we are eating mostly fish for the next week, lol. But under normal circumstances, tri-tip (or sirloin or ribeye), chicken breasts, and salmon are the three meats i favor. i have favorite ways to prepare each. The red meat is usually either stand alone with a starchy side like potatoes or used in a stir-fry. Chicken is not my favorite, but I like it in a salad so that is how I use it, cut up and added to a salad. I mostly like to eat the salmon with a side of mixed vegetables.

But buy enough meat to cook your suppers for the next week, and make sure that you plan to have leftovers. Nothing keeps you from eating shit like having great leftovers sitting in the fridge just waiting to be heated up.

When it comes to the vegetables, again, you have to figure out what you like. Myself, I am big on salads. My favored salad is kale, baby spinach, romaine lettuce, onions, sun dried tomatoes, and of course dressing and black pepper. I can make it just like that to accompany a meal or even as a snack, or I can add chicken to it to make it a supper by itself.

The other way I like my veggies is in a stir fry. I buy the frozen packages of broccoli and cauliflower and make a simple stir fry with cut up tri-tip. Or I will try out other bags of mixed vegetables, all different combinations, whatever I can find, and make it with usually tri-tip, once in a while chicken.

I also try to make sure we always have baby red potatoes on hand, cause those are my favorite type of potatoes, and I like mashed potatoes with steak. Or smashed potatoes as my son says. My favorite way of making them is to boil them, then mash them, then stir in some heavy cream, a bit of butter with diced garlic that has been sauteed just a bit, and pesto sauce. Yes pesto sauce, put it in to taste, it makes smashed potatoes taste wonderful. And of course a bit of salt and pepper.

Does steak and potatoes ( and asparagus, I love to have asparagus with steak and potatoes) grilled chicken over a salad, or salmon and veggies sounds way too boring to you? Well, i agree. BDS (before Donny Shankle moved in) I used to cook a traditional home made pizza that was awesome. I also used to cook a pesto pizza topped with sun dried tomatoes, smoked mozzarella cheese, and chicken. I also used to make a mean spaghetti. And other various dishes. Just not too often. I figure if you stick with the meat and veggies theme about 3/4 of the time, an occasional treat won’t hurt you at all. Now, ADS (since Donny moved in) the treats are taken care of with good cajun dishes, like gumbo, and jambalaya. Both of which are composed of meat, a variety of veggies, and rice. Not too bad.

Now I am not too big on snacks. I simply don’t snack much. My son does, but he is happy with apples and oranges, squares of hard cheese, and the occasional yogurt. He also likes baby carrots with ranch dressing. If you do have the urge to snack, leftovers are the best snack ever, IMO.

Buy the ingredients to make these meals if they sound good to you, or others that are made with meat and veggies and good stuff. You are probably still going to eat some crap, and that’s ok. You are still going to make some bad decisions, buying what you think is healthy when it’s really not, but that’s ok. We are making steps in the right direction.

Next installment will talk about how to educate yourself a bit, and maybe we will talk about some ideas for breakfast or lunch.

I’m still pissed PART IV

Yeah, I’m still pissed off. But I am not gonna rant about it anymore. What can we do to solve this situation? I have already said I can’t change US farm policy, and I have already said I am glad we live in a free society and don’t want to interfere with the freedom to choose that we all enjoy. And you sure as hell wont find me protesting carrying a sign outside McDonalds or 7-11 or anywhere else.

So really the only thing left to do is either bitch about it,or change the way that you and your family eat.

Just how do you change the way you eat? Well, you are not going to go from a Dorito eating Mountain Dew swilling junk food addict overnight or in one step.

We are gonna start today with Step I, adding in some real food. Steps II, III, and IV will follow.

Most people concentrate on what they need to stop eating, a sort of “dieting” philosophy whether they need to lost weight or not. Stop eating Doritos, cut down on the Coke, etc. I think this is doing it wrong.

The problem with dieting is that you are almost guaranteed to fail. Statistically, there is a very small success rate, especially when it comes to keeping the weight off. It is hard to make a new behavior permanent when the whole notion of what you are doing is centered around depriving yourself of something.

A better way to go about changing your diet is to concentrate on adding food. Good food, and let the good push out the bad. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.

A good way to start is with breakfast, snacks, and a salad before dinner. If you are used to eating Captain Crunch or pop tarts for breakfast, don’t start by denying yourself. Sure, you can still have a pop tart. But first, eat 2 eggs and an orange. The if you still want that pop tart, well, eat it. But hopefully you will be full, and maybe only eat one, instead of 2. Or instead of 4.

And be creative with those eggs. I like mine with sun dried tomatoes, baby spinach, and a bit of asagio cheese. I used to buy those bags of frozen vegetables with various shades of bell peppers and onions and cook those in the eggs, and maybe some salsa on top. Use your imagination, but eat those eggs and maybe that orange BEFORE you eat the pop tart.

Snacks are pretty easy. Are you used to eating a couple of snacks during the day? Maybe Doritos or a candy bar out of the vending machine at work? I know Doritos are hard to give up, but pack something like an apple and a couple of ounces of beef jerky when you go to work. Do not eat that bag of Doritos from the vending machine till AFTER your apple and jerky are gone. I guarantee you, you won’t want the Doritos as bad, and you won’t put your money in the vending machine as often. But if you do get the Doritos here and there, don’t beat yourself up about it. Baby steps. Just be sure you eat your healthy snacks every day before you think about the vending machine.

I have found that lunch and dinner are the hardest part for people just starting to try to eat in a healthy manner, so we won’t attack them in this, our first step along the road. But one thing you can do is to add a salad before dinner. This is helpful in two ways. For one thing, you are adding some healthy vegetables to your diet. And, you are decreasing your appetite for the crap you might be eating afterwards.

A nice way to do salad easily is to make a big bowl of all your leafy greens over the weekend, enough to last all week. Personally, I like about 1/4 Kale, 1/4 baby spinach, and the rest romaine lettuce. Sometimes I will shave some carrots into this because I know they are good for me, but honestly I dont like carrots all that much so often I wont. But, I always slice up 2-3 red onions into it, I like onions in a salad.

This takes me about 15 minutes, and it is the majority of your salad preparation for the week.

Now, each day you just start your dinner by taking some of these greens out of this big bowl, and into a little bowl for you to eat that day. You put your dressing, some black pepper, maybe a bit of cheese and if you share my fascination with sun dried tomatoes some of those on it, and you eat it. BEFORE you eat your dinner.

One word about dressing. You want something olive oil based. I think about the best that you can buy in most stores is Newmans own olive oil and vinegar, but I make my own. I use about 3/4 olive oil, about 1/4 of a mixture of red wine vinegar and lemon juice. I add a little bit of sea salt, a lot of black pepper, and some parmesean cheese and thats it. It’s a great dressing, its cheap and easy to make, and its much cheaper than buying dressing from the grocery store.

Well there it is. Don’t try to deprive yourself just yet. Just add in some good nutritious food. Start to develop a taste for it, and let it crowd out some of the bad.

Step II is the grocery store.

I’m still pissed PART III

The thing that pisses me off the most about about the food problem in America is the schools. And no I am not talking about School lunch. Not yet at least. Let me describe my experiences with my son.

They give the kids candy. A lot of candy. For every conceivable reason. Every birthday in the class is an excuse for the kid to bring “treats” and hand them out. The “treats” are always candy. Obviously every holiday is an excuse for some sort of party. And these parties always include candy. They reward the kids for various things. Reading a certain number of books. No one being tardy or late coming in from recess. And these rewards are often candy. They get candy on the first day of school. Candy on the last day of school. Candy at the book fair. At the very least one day a week, often more, there is an excuse for the handing out of candy. Often not just one little treat, but enough that they bring that crap home.

And this pisses me off. Because how is a parent supposed to combat that? Do I tell the teacher that when all the other kids in class get these treats, my child is not allowed? Yeah right, have my kid be the lone kid who doesnt get to participate. Anyone who remembers how it feels to be a kid trying to fit in knows this isn’t a good solution.

Now let’s talk about the school lunches, because those piss me off too. When I was in grade school my mother usually packed my lunch, it was pretty common then. And when I ate the school lunch, there were no choices. I got a square cafeteria style tray and the lunch ladies filled the little squares in it up with what was for lunch that day. Now I am not saying it was the greatest food, but there was normally some vegetables, some fruit, and some main course that had some meat in it. Potatoes were common. I remember turkey and potatoes with gravy. I remember carrots and green beans as vegetables being common.

But that’s not how it was by the time I got to high school, and its not how it is today. When I was in high school, it was common to see a person pick up a couple of popsickles and a pizza from the cafeteria, and wash it down with a coke from the vending machine. Today, at least in my sons school, NO ONE brings their own sack lunch. And when eating at school, they give these kids CHOICES. Imagine that, letting a kid in grade school choose for himself what he wants to eat! I have been in that lunch room before, and I am estimating half the kids were eating a lunch consisting of either chocolate milk or a sugary “sports drink” and pizza. Pizza with a big fluffy crust, a bit of cheese and some sort of pepperoni looking bits of stuff on top. Dripping grease. Absolute shit.

And that really pisses me off. What in the hell do you think is gonna happen when you tell a bunch of kids here, eat what you want. And by the way, the choices include sugary drinks and greasy assed pizza?

Well what you get is a bunch of kids who between 8am and 3pm are ingesting candy in the classroom for any reason that can be conceived, and eating sugar and grease for lunch.

Now there are gonna be some teachers who read this and say “thats not how it is at my school”. Fine. I am sure this is not representative of every school. But it shouldnt be representative of ANY school ANYWHERE.

This really pisses me off because if you don’t home school or send the kids to a private school, and lets face it these things are not an option for most people, you have to send your kids to spend their day at school 9 months of the year. And how are you supposed to start them out in life with good habits when you are being worked against in this way?

It’s shameful.

And it pisses me off.

Tomorrow I’ll stop being pissed off and talk about solutions.

I’m Pissed PART II

I think I hit a nerve yesterday. This little blog has limped along for the past year getting from 200 to a couple of thousand hits per day on posts about weightlifting, strength training, zombies, the occasional nice meal I cooked, or some amusing or meaningful thing that happened to me.

Then yesterday I posted that I was pissed about the whole diet situation in America and the post gets 17,000 hits within 24 hours and more comments than all the other posts I have put up within the past year put together.

I think some people misinterpreted just why I am so pissed. I got comments about people being free to do what they want and eat what they want, free choice, and some people apparently mad that I want to tell them what to do. And that wasn’t my point at all.

My point is this. We have two things that have happened in this country, that are still happening. One is that we overproduce foods that aren’t that great for us. And this overproduction is, by the way, subsidized by our tax dollars. This makes these products very cheap, and therefore they are everywhere. Hell it’s amazing all the shit that corn syrup finds its way into. The second is that we have been told for some time by the mainstream nutrition industry to eat a certain way, a way that emphasizes these cheap foods. Don’t eat too many egg yolks. Butter is bad but margarine is better. Cholesterol will kill you, but eating other oils dominated by Omega-6 fatty acids is healthy. Base your diet on carbohydrates and grains. Cut out the fat if you want to lose weight. It’s ok that our beef and our eggs have all the Omega-3’s sucked out of them because of the way they are raised.

And these things taken together have fundamentally changed the average American diet over the last few decades. We eat less fat, and saturated fat. We eat more carbohydrates, and more sugar. We eat more processed food, and less vegetables. More hydrogenated oils and less butter.

And it’s killing us. More of us are fat and have diabetes than ever before. Hell is is hard to find any health marker that is related to diet that has not gotten worse as our diet has changed. I read today that 23% of American teenagers have prediabetic symptoms. That is simply criminal.

And it’s this situation that I am pissed at. Not at any individual person, or their decision. Those that commented on yesterdays post by saying that everyone has a right to eat how they want are right. But there is no doubt that we have a situation in this country that is making the average American diet less and less healthy, and, that pisses me off.

But what to do? I am not gonna be able to change the USDA nutritional guidelines. I am not gonna be able to change the governments farm policy. And I don’t really fancy protesting at the local McDonalds or 7-11.

So what to do?

I don’t have any big answers. No big solution to solve the problem.

But Part III is set for tomorrow.

I’m pissed.

Why? Well it started in Guatemala last week. I was eating in the weightlifting chow hall with Donny Shankle and thinking about the food. The meal that day included a sort of salad. Tasted like it had some kale in it, had some green beans, some corn, lettuce, and bits of bacon. There were diced up potatoes, cooked with onions. Diced up carrots that most people seemed to be mixing up with the potatoes and onions. And chicken. Not fried chicken, just chicken. It was representative of most of the meals, mostly vegetables and meat, some potatoes or rice. Nothing fancy. I remarked to Donny that it would be hard to overeat and get fat on such food. Not that it wasn’t good, it was tasty enough, but it was nothing you would want to go on eating once your hunger had been satisfied. And it wasn’t calorie dense, mostly meat and vegetables. All in all it was pretty damn healthy food.

Then on the plane ride home I was watching TV, and noticing the commercials. At one point, all in a row, there were commercials for Mountain Dew, Kit Kat bars, pop tarts, Pepsi, and frozen pizza. Thats right, 5 commercials, all for shitty sugar filled foods all in a row.

Why do we Americans do this to ourselves? Obesity, diabetes, and just about every other health problem you can imagine that is linked to diet are all sky high and rising. Yet we continue stuffing ourselves with shitty food. Commercials show smiling kids eating toaster strudels for breakfast in front of proud mothers, pizza pockets for afternoon snacks, and grabbing whatever sugar laden drink is popular out of the fridge to cool down from playing in the yard.

And I’m pissed about it. I am pissed that my ex-wife got done with 4 years of education at a state school to become a registered dietician, and wouldn’t eat a pack of mixed nuts for a snack because of the fat, but would instead pick a pack of “Sprees” the hard candy things that are 100% sugar. I am pissed about seeing people buy “light” yogurt, which has the fat taken out of it then 30 grams of sugar added, and think they are being healthy.

I am pissed that there is not a public outrage about the smiling proud mothers on the TV commercials giving their kids pop tarts for breakfast and pizza pockets for a snack.

I am pissed that when I go to Costco on the weekend to buy groceries and eat the free sample, and the lady giving out the little “breakfast bars” that have 1 gram of protein and 30 grams of sugar per serving is telling me how healthy they are cause they are low fat.

I am just in general pissed off that our modern society is so determined to dig our own graves with our spoons and forks. i am pissed that shitty unhealthy food is so cheap and convenient and available everywhere. I am pissed that every child grows up on a steady diet of TV commercials pitching them shitty food that will probably eventually kill them.

So yeah, I’m just pissed.