Sunday, June 14, 2015

Food for thought....

I've been 60 for almost a week and it hasn't killed me yet.

Surprise serenade at my 4 year old grandson's birthday party.


I did go see a new chiropractor, who asked me about the history behind my chronically achey back. I told him the 2 minute version, to which he said, 'ahhhhh, you're a speedboat, not a sailboat.' 

Really, he summed me up in 2 minutes? 

It may have been the part where I described pouring concrete, mulching flower beds, staining decks - all of which, if I could go back I would hire out, but that's neither here nor there now. 

He worked on me a bit, then turned me face down, turned out the lights and told me 'stay there.' 

I'm suspecting the man thought a little relaxation was in order. 

So I'm thinking about eating and exercise and handling stress - or not - and what things in my life tend to make every single muscle in my body seize up, and how to avoid them. And what to do when you can't 'avoid', because 'they' are people who depend on you and there's only so much a body can do about it. 

I've decided lamaze breathing, practiced for hours and hours then used for a very short period of time to bring a person into the world, is actually more beneficial long after you have any notion of reproducing. Long, deep breaths in thru the nose, and out thru the mouth, and you can decide if you want to make swishy patterns on your belly which, most days, still resembles some stage of pregnancy. 

Breathe in. Breathe out. Maybe pick times to expose yourself to certain situations or people, and how long the exposure is. And whether to have a glass of wine before or after, or both. 

I'm generally reading two or more books at once (three right now) (probably more evidence of speedboat syndrome). As an aside, one is The Love Song of Queeney Hennessey, by Rachel Jones. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful but you HAVE to read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry before, then you'll possibly want to reread it after you read Queenie's story. That's my 'soak-in-the-tub' book right now.

I just started reading In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan. I started with the last chapter on eating less. Pollan said, "'eat less' is the most unwelcome advice of all, but in fact the scientific case for eating a lot less than we presently do is compelling, whether or not you are overweight. Calorie restriction has repeatedly been shown to slow aging and prolong lifespan in animals, and some researchers believe it is the single strongest link between a change in the diet and the prevention of cancer." 

Interestingly I've gotten several calls of concern over my mother's weight, because she's lost about twenty pounds over the past year or so. She has always been a bit chubby, and now that she's the right weight, living amongst other women who are mostly chubby themselves, they think her too thin. I believe she's finally at a good weight for her height, because she has quit preparing her own food and rather eats what is brought to her. The serving sizes have been determined for her, so she never overeats. I have to believe shedding those twenty pounds is helping her two artificial knees if nothing else. (She's 5'5" and 130 lbs BTW.)

Pollan goes on to say how difficult eating less is in our Western culture. Our plates are too big, our portions are too big, we eat too fast while we're not paying attention, we want fast and cheap food, we don't pay attention to when we're slightly full and we have no connection to what we're eating - seeing the whole process of eating as fueling the body rather than a sort of communion. 

I'd started thinking of eating as fueling my body, essentially a machine with a soul. It seemed to me this was an elevated look at it, because really, who can honestly say doritos or french fries or ice cream are fuel? But to consider fuel and communion together, does that mean eating that which honors my body, and life itself, but give it a relational twist? Do that while doing what we were created to do, connect with others? 

Cub Sweetheart and I just booked a trip to Europe - our first - for next year, celebrating our 35th anniversary. We've talked for years of sitting in a piazza, somewhere in Rome, at a little table for two. Life will pass by as we sip wine, dip bread in oil and nibble on good cheese. THAT. That is the picture of true eating that has been in my craw for years, but I don't have to wait a year to do it. I can do that tonight, at our own table on the patio. Two people sharing life and food, slowly, intentionally, with reverence and appreciation for being able to do so.

In contrast when we go out to eat, it's usually loud and hectic, and the typical single-person 'plate' at the restaurant is as big as the platter my mother used to serve our holiday turkey on. We feel hurried because there is a line of people waiting for our table, we're given too much food,  much of which is filler, and we leave stuffed.

So much to think about....

Then Pollan hits on eating S.L.O.W.L.Y., something I apparently struggle with in most areas of my life, according to my chiropractor and most people who know me. This quote hit me between the eyes:

"I mean slow" in the sense of deliberate and knowledgeable eating promoted by Slow Food*, (see wikipedia on them here) the Italian-born movement dedicated to the principle that "a firm defense of quiet material pleasure is the only way to oppose the universal folly of Fast Life." ... Slow Food offers a coherent protest against, and alternative to, the Western diet and way of eating, indeed to the whole ever-more-desperate Western way of life." Fast food is precisely the way you'd expect a people to eat who put success at the center of life, who work long hours (with two careers per household), get only a couple of weeks vacation each year, and who can't depend on a social safety net to cushion them from life's blows."

Wow! So drive-thru is not only possibly ruining my health (and at 60 that becomes a bigger consideration), but it's also cementing a philosophy not only of eating, but of life in general? I've wondered before why God made humans have to eat so often, likely because I'm often the one who has the responsibility of coming up with prepared food for my family. Couldn't we have eaten just once a day? (I realize there are some out there who do this very thing, but am doubting that's the ideal for optimum health.) 

Or maybe He knew humans would need to regularly slow down, gather together, express thankfulness for what they were about to eat? Maybe we were never designed to have our food handed to us through a window in our car? Maybe true eating is God's pause button, several times in our day, our hectic schedule, to come together to fuel, refresh, connect? 

Sort of like a boat with sails rather than one with a 350 HP motor fixed on the back.  Intentional living? Making days count rather than counting them?

Food for thought. Pun intended. 

Tonight, BBQ ribs, homemade potato salad and slices of watermelon, eaten by the pool, slowly, with a nice glass of chablis. All eaten with a new appreciation for the pig, the potatoes, the planter and a new perspective on life. Even at 60. Thanks Mr. Pollan. I'm going back to chapter one today.

*Slow Food was organized as a protest against opening a McDonald's near the Spanish Steps in Rome.....

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