Tuesday, November 25, 2008


The title should be said with Homer Simpson-like reverence.

Both Johnnie and I were chubby kids. He was called Johnnie Potato Chip by waiters at the country club his grandparents took him to as a youngster and I was Cheryl-Barrel during my elementary school days. We have always tried to eat sensibly and we do eat the right foods, just too much of them. We've each fought a valiant fight with weight over the years and we do MUCH better when we join forces to reduce our combined avoirdupois. We yo yo together.

We eliminated red meat from our diet years ago and don't miss it at all. He has borderline high blood pressure and cholesterol issues and his family has a history of heart disease and diabetes. My half sister and other relatives were diabetic and my dad was an alcoholic. So we have to be seriously careful and we mostly are.

A good friend of ours gave us a book a couple years ago called Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. We both read it and felt it had a great approach to reasonable eating. Effectively it eschews all meats, processed foods (sugars, flour) and animal products such as cow's milk, cheese, etc. in favor of plentiful vegetables and fruits. It advocates getting necessary fats from nuts and seeds such as sesame seeds, peanuts and so on. When we follow the principles of Eat to Live closely, we do well, feel great and lose weight. Johnnie is exceptionally good at following the general idea of the book and he has exceptional motivation to remain focused so he can avoid taking statins in favor of dietary control and exercise. Me? Not as much health-related motivation.

Big confession: I miss cheese and ham. I understand Dr. Fuhrman's premise that cheese is not healthy because it's loaded with animal fat and cholesterol. And ham is a no no because it's a processed meat -- in the same category as sausage and bologna. Sob. (In checking labels, we were surprised to discover that turkey sausage is actually higher in cholesterol than pork sausage. Seems somehow counter intuitive.)

So I depart from the plan occasionally and order cheese on my Eggbeater omelets or put a bit of blue cheese on my salad. We do use soy- or almond-based cheese and I try to embrace them but I can't always make the leap, especially if it's not buried in a burrito.

If we order pizza in, we get two: one made with no cheese and one with light cheese. I tried the no cheese one and it just doesn't deliver for me. I truly wish it did. Johnnie doesn't mind not having the mozzarella on it and uses a veggie-based Parmesan on top of the pizza.

I eat conscientiously most of the time but some things just aren't worth having without cheese as a critical ingredient. Ham has always been my favorite meat (our son-in-law would say it's a pork product and who can resist a good processed pork product -- he's from Nebraska, land of pig processing).

BTW, I'll be having a turkey leg for Thanksgiving while Johnnie eats veggies and stuffing.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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