Friday, June 6, 2008

Time For the Next Baby Step To Health

For the past couple of weeks I have been mentally reviewing my changes in eating habits over the past two years since I got sick. As I review I also realize that there are more changes that have to be made. I am thinking about what those next changes should be. Here is what I have done so far.
I am a salt-aholic and a few years ago I realized that I don't like salt with my food as much as I like the taste of food with the salt. Does that make sense? I mean, for the best explanation I have for this, I enjoy the way the salt makes the foods taste. I am not talking about having bunches and bunches of salt added to food. It is just that of all seasonings that there are in this world, it is salt that I like the best. Well, when I got sick, after a few months, my feet and legs began to swell so I cut back on salt. Then I got put on diuretics and I cut back salt even more. This was not something the doctors told me to do. In fact, they never even mentioned it. Curious about that I researched the diuretics and found that cutting salt intake was not necessary with these particular medications. The medications helped some, but not as much as I would have liked. At this point in time, after almost two years of gradually lowering my salt intake, I am happy to say I have not used a salt shaker in a long, long time. I very rarely add any salt to my food and when I cook, I use a lot less than I used to. Indian foods are the hardest for me to stop adding salt once the food is on my plate, but I am working on that. Salt does do a good job of inhancing other flavors. I don't have salty snacks in my home anymore, well, maybe once or twice a year I have bought some salty snacks and brought them home. When I want them I have bought them and taken them to Daughter's house, eaten some, and left the rest there. It works much better that way. The only thing I have in the house for snacks right now is a bag of corn tortillas that I will one of these days cut up and make my own tortilla chips...without added salt. I did that about a month ago and they turned out quite good. Sometimes I have popcorn, but I don't like the microwave popcorn and I would rather make it myself on the stove. I do salt that but only when it is cooking and not afterwards. I think I probably use about half what I used to and I haven't had even popcorn for at least three months! That in itself is a breakthrough because I used to make it almost every night. That habit changed a little over two years ago when I didn't have the access to make it that often. I was buying microwave popcorn here for awhile, but got tired of it because I just don't like it as well as stove popped.
Years ago I cut way back on drinking my favorite Pepsi (or in my case--caffeine free Pepsi). At first I switched to orange juice, and water, then gradually just cut out the orange juice as well. During the time I cut out the orange juice I found out that because I ate a lot of oranges and drank a lot of orange juice, I was keeping another problem in check. That was that my fingers would split after I stopped the oranges and juice. When I would drink the juice, they would heal and not split. Gradually I figured out that I could drink juice once or twice a week and keep it under control. Someone suggested it was actually the folic acid in the juice and oranges that was helping, so I started taking folic acid instead of drinking the juice or eating the oranges. Yes I still buy oranges once in awhile because I do love them. But I don't have them all the time like I used to. Actually it ends up being just around Christmas that I have them. I take the folic acid once or twice a week and don't have anymore problems with the fingers splitting. If I forget to take it, my fingers soon remind me. So, there I cut out a lot of sugar, both the refined and the natural, but still sugar. All I drink now for the most part is water with an occassional powerade maybe once every other week, and home-sweetened koolaid with sweet n low about twice a month. About once a month I might have some caffeine free Pepsi or Sierra Mist. Other than that, I just drink water.
About two months ago, Daughter and I had a discussion about trying to figure out what was causing me to have a lot of bloating and making me feel bad. So with her suggestions, I cut out milk and yeast breads for awhile, then gradually introduced them back. It apparently wasn't either one, but at the same time, I decided to cut back on the dairy and yeast products. So I have been using milk only in cooking. Many times I use non-dairy coffee creamer as a milk replacement for cooking and have done so for years. I can't tell the difference and think the creamer makes whatever I am making creamier anyway. However I don't use cremora because of the flavoring. I just use generic unflavored creamers. Occassionally, about once or twice a year I get a craving for cereal so I will buy that and use milk in that. Don't get me started about soy milk. I tried that stuff and it is horrible! I don't know how anyone can say otherwise. Well, to each his own...
Over the past few months I have been cutting out red meats and for the past two months I have been almost 100% red meat free. I have been trying substituting turkey where possible and had turkey brats this past week. I fried them on the stove, but they were really good and if I didn't know they were turkey I would not have known the difference. On the grill they would be fabulous, and they would not need the pre-cooking if not cooked too quickly. My next goal is to try ground turkey when I make spaghetti. It's too hot to cook right now so I hope next week I will get to do that. My freezer is filled with chicken and fish and some turkey meats. Daughter and I experimented with ground turkey while cooking some Indian foods and the results are in a previous post here. We really could not tell that we used ground turkey rather than ground beef. Now, if you are wanting a plain ole hamburger or cheeseburger sandwich, you might want the real thing. I know for now I do. Thankfully I don't want them much. Even with cookouts I would rather have the hotdogs or brats, and I can have them turkey.
The very best thing I have done so far has just been in the past two to three months and that was that I have cut out all fast food--meaning things like burgers, french fries, and things like that. The last fast food I had was KFC last week when Daughter and I had a quick picnic in the park after shopping. Before that it has been at least two months and it was taco bell which isn't as bad as the other grease filled processed crap. I don't even crave it anymore. I thought giving up McDonald's french fries would be really hard, but it wasn't. Pizza is the next thing that is on its way out of my diet. At least I am not going to have it as often as I was. For awhile, when I was sickest and didn't feel up to cooking, pizza was my main foods. Around here the only thing we can get delivered is pizza or food from one Chinese restaurant. This area is really bad about having delivery foods available. When you are sick and live alone, you get your meals however you can do it. Mine mostly came from the local pizza places. I am so sick and tired of pizza. I think that is why the fast food is out too. When I would go out, just to get something other than pizza I would eat the fast food. I am so glad to not even want that stuff anymore. It sure didn't help my weight while I have been stuck in such an inactive state.
Let me there anything else I have already changed that I haven't mentioned? Yes I have increased my physical activity now that I feel better. I have a LONG way to go in that department though. I have my Richard Simmons DVD of sit down aerobics. I haven't worked out with that other than one time so far. But I still do chair exercises on my own daily for my legs. Also, since I am feeling better I am up and around more and going out more, so I am walking more.
Tonight's blog got rudely interrupted by a tornado warning and I had to leave my mobile home to go to my friend's house where she has a basement. Then when the storm was over, we drove around and looked at the sky, took some pictures I hope turn out well thru the car window glass and flash, and looked at downed trees and limbs. I ended up driving thru what was the worst of the storm. The weather radar showed nothing in our area and suddenly there was the warning so off I went. I am glad we didn't get any real damage least it looks like we didn't. If the pictures came out good, you will find them on my photography blog soon. That is enough for tonight! What an end to a hot day...and to be still hotter over the weekend...mid 90's. Whew!

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