User-Friendly Foods

Some clothes are like old friends. Take my black wide-leg pants I purchased three years ago in Florida. They are soft linen with wide legs and deep pockets. Perfect for taking a walk with my house keys and water bottle in my pocket. After I bought the pants, I found a sleeveless grey linen top in Value City for five bucks. I embroidered the neckline and hem with two shades of grey thread and wear it with my black yoga-style pants. Voila! I have an outfit! They’re user-friendly, comfortable, and mold to my body like a second skin. I actually cherish them!

Some foods are also like old friends. They taste user-friendly. You may have grown up with them and equate them to happy times in your life. Like the first time you ate ice cream or pizza…or your first taste of cotton candy on the boardwalk. My favorite memory is the paper cone of French fries on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights. My mother would pile the five of us in the car and we would spend the evening on the boardwalk, starting with a dollar bill each. When we would run out of dollars, we would go back to where my mother was playing Bingo or Skeet Ball and get another dollar until she was out of money. And I always used some of my money (35cents??) for French fries doused with salt and vinegar. Mmmm!

Of course, I know now that some of these comfort foods are not so good for me. Gradually, over a period of years, I have replaced most of these foods with healthier counterparts, like baked French fries I make in my own oven. Now, don’t misunderstand me; sometimes I still eat regular French fries, but more as a treat instead of a habit. When I became a vegetarian and studied nutrition, I realized that many of these comfort foods were partially responsible for my migraine headaches, my throat infections, and other maladies that seem to have disappeared as I changed to a more wholesome diet.

Love Your Body, a book by Viktoras Kulvinskas
(http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0933278012) was my first wake-up call. Since reading that book, I have learned to take care of my body so it would take care of me. Maybe a gradual change in eating habits would work for you, as well. Here are the guidelines I offer, in case you are ready.

1. Enjoy your food. When you experiment with a healthy new item, it should taste good. (My cooking class motto is “The Good Taste of Health.”)
2. Experiment with a new food at the same meal as a food you already like. Ex., if you like rice, try adding sesame seeds or arame seaweed in small amounts. (Look for a future posting on sea vegetables.)
3. Don’t give up your comfort foods all at once, or you may feel the need to binge. Still enjoy them, but as “treats” instead of everyday foods.
4. Experiment with substitutions or alternatives, like baked French fries instead of deep-fried fries.
5. Make a conscious effort to try one new good-for-you food each week. If you don’t like it, try something else the next week. There are so many fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, and natural convenience foods on the market now, you won’t run out of items.

Love Your Body reveals that, as you add healthful foods to your menus, your body may begin to demand better and better quality foods, so that your cravings may diminish and your desire to eat healthier comes naturally. Maybe you’ll find, as I did, that your body will love you for this change and you will begin to love your body, as well. By making new friends with healthful foods, they may also become user-friendly as well as body-friendly. How wonderful is that in midlife?

Today’s food is one that fits into this new category of both user-friendly and body-friendly: WATERMELON. It has been a comfort food for me since childhood and I consider it also a healthful food. A few times I have tried a watermelon diet for one day. The idea is to flush out your body without getting hungry. The natural sugars keep your energy levels up, the water content keeps you hydrated, and on a hot day in summer I can think of nothing better than eating watermelon every few hours. If I am hungry at the end of the day, I eat a light meal of fresh salad and steamed vegetables and I feel renewed! Note: Try eating melons alone, instead of at the end of your meal. The high water content interrupts digestion of your meal. Better to eat the melon alone, well after the main meal or well before a main meal.

This photo from our July 4th picnic features red and yellow watermelon, as delicious tasting as it is colorful. It is a perfect segue way to the next posting: Chill Out with Raw Foods coming soon to my website/blog. For a sneak preview, click on Peak 2 Pique in the left hand margin.

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