I want to eat healthy, or at least die trying

June 7, 2014

A recent Discovery News online article led off with this earth-shattering news flash:

“Eating seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day reduces people’s risk of dying, a new study suggests.”

Above all, that was a poorly worded sentence. Obviously the writer didn’t mean to suggest that some of us won’t have to die – if we just eat enough fruits and vegetables.

Many of us eat massive amounts of pizza, hot dogs, french fries – and hamburgers with little beef content. Then we top it off with enough ice cream, candy and other snacks to choke a horse.

I drastically reduced my intake of fried foods in about 1999. Even before that, I stopped adding salt to food because of health concerns. Then someone warned me that I might not be getting enough salt.

I wasn’t concerned about that because most of what I eat – either from restaurants or frozen foods – have more than enough salt.

Reports on what’s healthy and what’s not have become a confusing blur.

FOOD PYRAMID

We used to look to the so-called “food pyramid” for a healthy eating plan. But over the past few years that’s been disputed by other “experts.”

We were taught that eating fatty foods is terrible, but a recent report says that’s all wrong. Some claim that the conflicting information results from influence from payoffs from lobbyists rather than factual research.

SORTING THROUGH IT

I want to eat healthy, but it isn’t easy. The fact that I don’t cook makes it more difficult.

I considered trying a gluten-free diet, but now some experts are saying that’s not necessary unless you have celiac disease.

I’ve been using vitamin supplements. Recently I heard “experts” saying supplements are a waste of money because most of them aren’t absorbed properly. They claim that eating a healthy, balanced diet is the only answer. Again, good luck with that in today’s world, with a schedule like mine.

Another confusing topic is whether we should drink more water. The old line about needing eight glasses of water a day not only has been disputed in recent years, but most people simply won’t do that.

I don’t doubt that drinking plenty of water can help curb the appetite, maintain good kidney function and fend off dehydration.

But an online article on www.emedicinehealth.com states, “All liquids help you stay hydrated,” and added, “most healthy people can get enough fluid through the beverages they consume every day. These can include water, fruit juices, coffee, sodas, iced tea, and other drinks.”

The next sentence goes against something else I’d always heard.

“Experts say that it’s not true that beverages that have caffeine — such as coffee, tea, and cola drinks — always dehydrate you.”

I want to have a healthy diet, despite the discouraging and conflicting information. And I do have a plan. Setting it in motion, however, is easier said than done.

Here are some key things I believe I need to do to improve my overall health, based on what I’ve read – and my own common sense.

I should drink more water. I should exercise at least three times a week. I should get more consistent, quality sleep. I should count calories – and reduce the number when I can. I must get off of soft drinks and snacks – and anything else with refined sugar.

I know that last step will be the most difficult. But if I can be successful on the others, I’ll be healthier overall even if I have an occasional treat.

The Guiness World Records website states that the oldest person in modern history, Jeanne Louise Calment of France, was 122 when she died in 1977. One of the keys she mentioned about living that long was that she ate chocolate.

So the food police can just zip it – and hand me that Hershey bar.

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