I do not remember thinking meals in our house were anything spectacular during childhood. We ate chicken a lot, always vegetables and usually a salad. Weekends were pot roast and vegetables and very occasionally a steak. Mother was good at casseroles as well. Dessert was rare. After all, on shopping day a pack of Oreos or Lorna Doones and some vanilla ice cream were purchased to last the week, for the whole family. If there happened to be company of any kind, my father would amuse himself and announce, “If we were having dessert, now is the time we would have it!” The grin on his face and the twinkle in his eye is probably why I remember this so fondly.
So when did sugar become a food group for me? Those healthy meals of childhood are the ones I appreciate now, but somewhere in the middle of living, I realized I had missed out on pastas, breads and desserts and gifted myself with their consumption.
For the two weeks before my cancer diagnosis, I was on a sugar binge, running an errand daily to the pharmacy for a candy bar. (The fact that the entire length of the check out counter in a pharmacy is all candy and gum could be another blog, don’t you think?) I thought I was controlling it by not bringing bags of candy into the house and limiting it to one a day. But now I look back on the early days at home when candy was at Easter, Halloween and Christmas, and a pack of cookies and a half gallon of ice cream was sufficient for the family for a week. Sugar was not a food group back then.
A dear friend mentioned last night that his mother always said. “Everything in moderation.” I remember that saying, too bad it disappeared. Breakfast anymore can be an entire meal of dessert with sugary cereals, and French toast, or pancakes that are more extravagant than coveted strawberry shortcake during the first week of June in my youth.
I blame advertising, knowing as I am doing it that it isn’t fair, but someone needs to be responsible. Maybe the food shows are responsible. It couldn’t be me! How am I supposed to make good choices with a Dunkin donuts on the corner, two ice cream stands in a mile spread and a supermarket with everything I see on the television? “Everything in moderation”.
I am thinking that pertains to amounts as well. When was the last time I asked for a small of anything? Whether it is an ice cream cone, or a salad, it doesn’t have to be HUGE. Sugars and worse yet in my book, artificial sweeteners are in everything.
It has finally sunk in so you get to hear the wisdom that eluded me for so long. Not caring for yourself by indulging in unhealthy over advertised food is harmful. It weakens the immune system and leads to other diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes as well as in my case, cancer. Even scarier is that this overload on children will take its toll much sooner. Deep down do parents believe as I did, that they were in some way deprived of the treats they saw others eating and think they are gifting their children??
Observing those around me as I now refrain, I have things I want to share. Food should not be your choice of self love. Enjoy life and eat for nourishment. Drink water! IF you must have a soda when away from home, order a small and a water as well. Drink water until your thirst is quenched, then sip soda and water throughout the meal. Eat salads at home and get your taste buds accustomed to enjoying the taste of the vegetables. You can use dressing but use a little. Train yourself to enjoy the FOOD, not the high salt, high sugar dressing. AND don’t use low calorie so you can use more! Eat real – in moderation. Then when you are out, you can order a salad and only use a small portion of the dressing that you told them to put on the side. A glass of wine while dining out is 5 oz. , it can be the same at home. Here is a tip I just learned. Wine glasses in restaurant have a way of measuring either in the position of the lettering or with an engraved dot or square to guide bartenders. You can do it at home. Measure 5 oz. and pour into your favorite glass. Mark a dot on the outside of the glass. You won’t have to measure again and you are controlling your sugar intake!
Time to get back to the olde days of not having so much sugar around. Time to spend less time in fast food and when you need to, choose wisely. Time to shop real and not packaged. Time to skip sugared breakfast, lunch and dinner and instead think in the words of my dad, ” IF we were having dessert, now is the time we would have it.”