Monday, January 30, 2017

A Different Kind of Green

 Sometimes too much information is TOO MUCH information and not helpful when making life changing choices.

I've read numerous articles, listened to far too many experts, and spent a load of cash trying different products supposed to make me healthier. The problem is information overload beneath an avalanche of data without the time necessary to thoroughly sort through it all, check out credentials, and verify scientific papers and statistics, most of which are contradictory and decidedly not helpful.

I no longer believe that a pill can solve all health problems and I know for certain that drug companies are more interested in problems than in health. That much has been easy to sort out.

Blame my focus on health on the early (very early) lessons learned that one can only be healthy when one is the size and shape of an anorexic bean pole that shows off the clothes because making the clothes look good is all that ever matters.

I was a gawky child with oddly shaped parts, mostly notably thick ankles, thick calves, and blocky looking legs. The rest of me was pretty average in some areas and too mature for my age in others, as I was regularly reminded every time I was forced to drink reconstituted Carnation dry low fat milk and given diet pills at the age of 8 or 9, until the doctor said I was far too young to be on drugs. The result was that every mouthful I ate was constantly scrutinized and taking too much meat, too many pieces of broccoli, sliced fresh tomato, or salad followed by the public shaming, most effective and most often used during family dinners. The tablespoon-sized piece of meat, no matter how I nibbled at it, went too quickly and I was always hungry for more salad and more vegetables, especially the kind kids usually do not eat. I couldn't get enough, but then most of a person's growth happens in those years up to the middle teens (and for another 10 years) laying down the skeletal and muscle growth that supports an adult throughout their life. In short, kids are always hungry because they are still growing.

At any rate, through the diets, forced austerity, and deprivations, not to mention the pregnancy years (one right after another), I had an unhealthy relationship with food. To me, food meant deprivation and denial -- a whole lot of denial -- of the foods I loved the most, vegetables, fruits, salads, and the occasional (when we could afford it) steak.

As I've aged, I have learned more about food and about what little I know of my genetic and familial history, and have decided that maybe becoming a vegetarian is a good choice. I still cannot decide whether corn, whole grains, legumes, and peas (I do enjoy them all) are healthy or harmful. I worry about diabetes (corn, green peas, whole grains, and legumes are no-nos and lead to diabetes) because so many of my relatives have had and continue to have diabetes. I don't want to be one of them. I am concerned about which is healthier, grass fed or grass finished, meat. I already search for the best place to get fish and how much mercury and toxic effluvia are contained, avoiding shellfish of all kinds, and won't eat farm-raised fish because of the antibiotics used in massive doses because of the conditions in the fish farms which beggar imagination and are horrifying enough for me, even more so for the fish confined in over crowded pens for the sake of maximizing profits and ignoring the needs of fish and the people intended to eat them. Not even with a really good sauce.

From that perspective, going vegetarian is probably the best route for me. But then there are the conflicting studies, conflicting views, and conflict, conflict, conflict with not a clear truth anywhere to be found. Even choosing to be vegetarian, there is the issue of whether that would be just as restrictive as the rest of my life because of what I should, probably, must give up to be healthy. It's all so confusing.

I watched a documentary last night about the plant-based lifestyle showcasing athletes who have grown big and strong with loads of stamina and look healthy and fit. I've seen athletes touting carb-loading before strenuous events, low carb and high protein/paleo/Atkin's plan adherents and the many rebranded but still Atkin's based plans, the fruit-only plans, the vegan and vegetarian plans, and everything in between. I've heard that soy-based foods are healthiest -- and unhealthiest -- choices and then there is the prevalence of GMOs in soy and the nearly universal use of soy to make all kinds of meat substitutes and replacements for estrogen to ease menopause (which is behind me now), lost weight, grow hair, battle diabetes, etc. until I am tired of listening, reading, and making sense of out what has become mindless nonsense touted by whichever corporation has figured out a way to sell their snake oil for the most money by bilking the most people.

I can live without meat and fish as I have lived without shellfish and fish without scales like bottom-feeding catfish, but I'm not willing to do without vegetables and fruits. That far I will not go.

As long as I can be sure my plant-based foods are non-GMO, not treated with glyphosates at any point from preparing the soil to harvesting the food, and are from organic sources grown with organic practices, I'm good. There is no one to tell me I cannot have more salad, another ear of corn, or more Brussels sprouts to go with my baked sweet potato. I choose plants and will explore the adventure of plant-based foods until I find no more plants to discover. I might even resurrect a few plants from the past, anything is possible.

One final thought. Roman soldiers, and gladiators, were called barley eaters. From my historic research, only the wealthy could afford to eat meat regularly or had access to the finest fish. The bulk of the common Roman soldier ate barley bread, vegetables, olives, dates, and legumes and they conquered the known world. I'll take a page from their history and choose barley, corn, vegetables, herbs, fruits -- plant-based foods. Imagine fields of growing fruits, vegetables, legumes, and tubers instead of cattle, sheep, and hogs. Better yet, think of all the oxygen all those plants will add to the atmosphere. Fresh country air will have a very different aroma then.

That is all. Disperse.

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