Tag Archives: healthy eating

When the calendar opens up

Once school days are over for me, I have few obligations each week. The days of the calendar are wide open and ready to be filled. Since he knew this was my first “free” week, Terry decided it would be a good time to fill in a day with the colonoscopy the doctor had ordered at his physical a few weeks ago. She also ordered a heart scan, but he could drive himself to that appointment. A colonoscopy requires a driver–that’s me.

We were up early this morning as he had to finish the “prep” and be at the office by 8. Although he was using the same gastro doc as before, the location for the procedure had changed. Neither of us had done a trial run, but we knew the general vicinity of the place. We gave ourselves a half hour to get there, due mainly to commuter traffic, but once we found the building, we had no idea where the actual location within the building was the clinic.

We parked on the north side, walked through this large skyscraper (for Fresno that means 6 floors), and didn’t see the office we needed. After asking for help, we found that the office wasn’t IN the building, but on the outside. Glad we had started early as we walked in right at 8. Because of the location, I had to move the car to the south side of the building once Terry was settled in.

All went well, and the doctor spent maybe 45 seconds telling us how very healthy Terry is and to continue with what he does. The next guy wasn’t so lucky. The doctor was with him and his wife for about 15 minutes.

After showing him all the pictures, the doctor declared, “You have to eat more fiber. That means lots of fruits and vegetables.”

The guy mumbled something about taking capsules to which the doctor replied, “you would need 60 of those capsules a day to get the fiber you need. Do you really want to take 60 capsules of anything a day?”

The patient and his wife mumbled some more and the doctor said, “your mother died from this, you should be concerned. Healthy eating is your best medicine.” More was said, but I lost interest as I was pretty sure the doctor was talking to the wall. The patient would continue to do what he wanted. I’ve seen too many of these cases.

After they left, with Terry still recovering in the bed, I looked at him and said, “see, all that healthy eating pays off.”


There are good aspects of aging

Terry and I were discussing aches and pains last night as we got ready for bed.

“Getting older isn’t too great,” Terry said. “It wasn’t like this when we were younger.”

I had to disagree. For me, life these past 7 years in retirement have been so much healthier than when I was younger. I no longer have severe menstrual cramps. My migraines can now be controlled with Imitrex, a drug that hadn’t even been invented in my 20s when the headaches were so excruciating that I missed days of work. The ache in my arthritic knee, caused by a fall in college, is almost nonexistent due to the knowledge of oregano oil’s power to keep the inflammation down. I know why my hands go numb and have a series of exercises to keep that from happening. Changing to a nearly plant-based diet has helped tremendously with any digestive ailments I once had in my younger years. A daily probiotic keeps the colds away that I had when I first started teaching.

I guess I’ve gotten smarter about my body and how to take care of it as I’ve gotten older. Seeing friends around me making poor health choices, and suffering the consequences, really rattled my cage and got me started to eat better, investigate more options, keep moving, and appreciate all that I have. I do know it can all change overnight.

We had a fierce wind storm here last week. Lots of palm fronds blew off the big tree out front. I was able to collect those and pile them next to the garage for Terry to cut up. A limb from the maple fell on the roof, and that took an extra effort. Terry had to bring out the ladder and get on top of the house to get it plus other smaller tree branches that had fallen during the winter. He also cleaned out the patio gutters while he was up there. That is what prompted last night’s conversation about aches and pains. He was wondering how much longer he could do that.

“Oh, you can do it another 20 years, if we stay here that long.”

“I’ll be almost 90 so I don’t think it would be smart to be clamoring around on the roof.”

“You’re limber enough, and if you keep taking care of yourself, you’ll be able to do it.’

I believe in the power of positive thinking. And also the power of daily exercise!

Addendum: Another reason I love being retired, I have time to do things with others, especially early in the mornings. As my dear Readers know, I don’t attend many evening events, but I’m up early to go out, and Wednesday was one of those days. It was the monthly Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation breakfast, and I wanted to hear their guest speaker, Mary Castro, the wife of Fresno State’s president. She has done some remarkable things in her position and she always delivers an inspiring message. Terry does the photos for these meetings, so I got included in one of his pictures:

These ladies at my table were from the American Lung Association and Century 21 Real Estate. The realtor and I had quite the conversation about zip codes of poverty in Fresno and what we are doing to make things a little bit better. After the breakfast I headed to Columbia to do my little bit.

Let’s talk medical stuff

Last week’s variety of medical appointments and conversations with doctors has gotten me to thinking. In none of these appointments was I there for any medical problem.

My dentist saw me when I had my cleaning and made a routine check of my mouth and gums. We chatted about Thanksgiving and the fact that I had a vegan meal. Although we both like turkey and eat some meat. we both see value in eating a plant-based diet for better health. The dentist mentioned that he sees less inflamed gums in people who eat a plant-based diet. Then he said my gums were very healthy and keep doing what I was doing. In other words, I was not there in a crisis mode, and he saw me at a healthy point in time.

My internist saw me for a yearly checkup. We chatted about all sorts of things, including my diet, but more about what I’m doing in life and what I still want to accomplish. She is tuned in to what my body is doing and that I want to live to be very old.  She sees it as a good possibility. Again, she saw me at a healthy point in time.

Since it had been five years since my last eye exam, and I felt that my vision may have changed a bit, I had an appointment with my optometrist whom I have known for a few decades and who is the same age as me. He points this out each time I see him. He has cut back his hours to three days a week and, unlike my internist, still takes new patients, but no longer wants to work as hard as he did when younger. His health is excellent so we compared notes as to what each of us was doing to maintain our health. One of his diagnostic tools is photo of the inside of the eyeball. From that picture he can diagnose diabetes at its earliest form, high cholesterol, and the beginnings of macular degeneration. My tissue and blood vessels are all healthy and “pretty,” meaning no hardening of arteries, no signs of inflammation. Our conversation was devoted to how to maintain that state.

All of this has lead me to believe (or to remind me of what I already believe) that it’s good to see medical professionals when you are well so that they know you in that state, not just when you are sick and miserable. Life is meant to be lived in good health, not illness. Your doctor should know what your good health looks like and what your plans for the future are so (s)he can keep you there or bring you back to that state so you can have that future.

Building resiliency

That’s what I’m supposed to be teaching the first graders–how to be resilient. I’ve had to take a dose of my own “medicine” the past two weeks as the school’s oven has gone kaput. Although the lunches are made off-site, they are kept warm in two large ovens that serve 600 lunches each day.

With no oven, the lunches have been cold food. Last week was corn chips and cheese, this week was ham sandwich yesterday and peanut butter and jelly sandwich today. None of which I care to eat so I’ve just helped the kids with their lunch packages and encouraged them to eat their veggies. I have started mingling with the kindergartners who have lunch a half hour before the first and second grades arrive. They too throw away the veggies so have started encouraging them. Today many of them showed me how they were eating carrots and celery sticks.

One of the first grade girls was excited to show off her new shoes and wanted me to take a picture. Instead of a lunch picture today, I posted this photo on Instagram and Facebook:



As I was driving home Thursday, and feeling really pretty crummy, I realized I had not eaten all day except for a piece of toast and cup of coffee for breakfast. It had been hard to make it through the classroom sessions today as I felt like I had so little energy. Well, no wonder! As I tell the students, you have to “fuel up” to do your best.

On Wednesday, while greeting the first graders as they lined up for lunch, one of the boys handed this to me:

kevin thank you

Sweet notes like this sure help me be more resilient! Oh, and a cup of tea and a muffin when I got home helped boost my spirits, too.

The guest presenter

Although unsure of what I was suppose to talk about, I went anyway. Although a bit nervous about talking to a class of college students, I figured they were probably like my former high school students who I taught and entertained for 21 years. Although I had only been in contact with their professor, who found me through that news article, for less than a week, I figured she couldn’t be too dangerous and I would be meeting her in a public place, the same place where I had obtained my college degree all those many decades ago. However, my biggest quandary was what I would say to a nutrition class.

Professor Ireland joked about stalking me when she introduced me to her 1 o’clock class on a Friday afternoon. I was impressed that the students were all in their seats when she and I entered the classroom. No one running in at the last minute and snagging the only remaining seat. All 50 students were there, ready for class. They were attentive. They were interested. They had come to hear me tell my story about working with small children in a part of town that few knew about. The university is a whole world away from the neighborhood I go to twice a week to have lunch with and read to first graders.

The first thing I said to this class of very bright, very motivated students who are working to obtain a degree in dietetics, is to please not leave Fresno after they graduate. On my drive to the campus, I had pondered why I do what I do and why I would want others to do likewise, and the best thing I could come up with is that I care about the community and I want to do my best to help others be their best. I want others to join me in that work. So that was my opening gambit. Please stay here and do good work, with good people, for the good of the community.

Second, I described the school chaplain’s position and even offered brochures to those who might be interested in doing similar work. Only then did I launch into my work with the students in the cafeteria at lunch time, the main reason the professor had “stalked” me to come present to her class about how to get children to eat nutritious school lunches. Professor Ireland had, in a previous life, been a food service director for school districts in the San Joaquin Valley. She believed that eating with children, talking about the food and demonstrating how good it is, could help promote healthy eating in children.

The class period of one hour flew by. Good questions were asked. Constructive comments were made. All of the brochures were taken by the end of class. Professor Ireland was pleased. Whew! Guess I did better than I had expected.

A little movie entertainment for you

mqdefaultOn Thursday The Fresno Bee sent a photographer to the school where I volunteer to take photos of me eating lunch with the students. Well, he shot video, too, after listening to me tell the story of how I came to eat lunch with the kids. I’m not sure when the newspaper article will come out with the photos, but the video is now up and running on the Bee’s website.

So, if you would like to see and hear me, just click here.

Still making juice

Thought I should check in with my juicing adventures. Yes, I’m still keeping my Breville juicer busy almost every day. Terry thought it might be a passing fancy, but I have found that it’s so easy to use, so delicious to drink, and I feel good. So, I keep doing it.

As to what I am juicing, these are my favorites:

  • apple, pear, cranberries, 3 kales leaves, handful of basil leaves
  • apple, pear, blueberries, 3 kale leaves, handful of basil leaves
  • apple, pear, carrot, 3 kale leaves, handful of mint leaves
  • apple, pear, fennel bulb, carrot
  • apple, pear, beet, 3 kale leaves, carrot

Today I tried raspberries with the apple, pear, 3 kale leaves mixture. Didn’t care much for it. The grocery store had marked the pints of berries to 99 cents so decided to give it a try. Next time I find them that cheap, I’ll just eat them by the handful. 

Tried juicing swiss chard instead of kale, but it had too much of a green taste. I am really pleased with how much kale I have consumed this winter. That was one of the reasons I wanted to get a juicer, to get more of those dark greens into my body. I love spinach, but kale and chard just don’t appeal in any form. Except, now for juicing the kale. 

Days of meat & restaurants

Paula Deen’s announcement of having Type 2 diabetes sort of set me back on my heels this morning. There is a running joke among family and friends that I, like Paula, start all my recipes with a cube of butter. Actually, it’s not far from the truth. The recipes I make actually do start with a cube of butter. I just don’t cook like that every day.

Paula is a few years older than I am, and I have a hunch she is under a lot more stress than I am in a normal day. I say NORMAL because that has not been my life for the last couple of months. I am trying to regain my equilibrium, though, and live more calmly with less frenetic activity. Also, my blood sugar levels are always very good–60 to 80. Cholesterol too. Which is kind of funny, considering all that butter! One year, the number came back just over 200, and my doctor, who was used to seeing numbers like 170, told me she hoped I was “just camping there.” I had to admit that I had been excessive with the butter. I backed off and the level backed down, too.

I am trying harder to eat a plant based diet with less and less meat as I believe we don’t need as much meat as we seem to consume. Terry and I can make a three pound roast last all week; two chicken breasts can do the same. We have quit eating any cured meats with nitrates and nitrites. All fruits and veggies are organic as are other foods. We stay away from most processed foods which means very little restaurant eating. However, this past week was a bad one in this area as we were out of town and trying new places.

Last Tuesday we finished off a roast I had cooked the previous week. Wednesday I had lunch with a friend and ordered a shish kebob sandwich (lamb). Thursday Terry and I shared a Rueben sandwich at Max’s made with pastrami (!) and sauerkraut. Friday we had carnitas tacos at a new place in San Francisco. Saturday I picked up a ham sandwich at Whole Foods. At least it was nitrite and nitrate free.

Yesterday I met the Ladies Who Lunch at a new Mexican restaurant in town. I ordered the short rib burrito but they were out of that. Saved! Instead I got the veggie tacos. My meat binge has ended.

Healthy eating

Somewhere in my blogland wanderings, I found a new blog that will be fun to watch as its premise develops.  A family of five has decided to rid itself of bad eating and plans to tell us how they do it at The Real Foods Project.

Because I am a big proponent of healthy, organic foods, and I have seen what bad eating can do to a person, I am always cheering for those who decide to shop and cook in a more healthy manner.  Too many processed foods are bad for the body, and in the long run, (meaning old age), eating a healthy diet pays off.  You feel better, look better, and are able to do more.

I just had my eyes examined and my eye doctor does this photo image of the inside of the eye where it shows all the blood vessels.  This is the first place things like diabetes and high cholesterol can show up.  My blood vessels are very healthy and the doctor attributes much of that to my healthy eating and use of supplements.

Now, don’t read this the wrong way.  I am not a vegetarian or vegan, but we do try to eat more plant based foods than animal protein.  However, I love sugar and fat.  I could eat dessert every day and have to contain myself when there are sweets in the house.  I have butter on my English muffin every morning.

Saturday is our granddaughter’s first birthday party and we are picking up the ice cream cake.  It’s a vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free  confection made by a great company in San Francisco, Maggie Mudd.  This makes me very happy because I will be able to have cake and eat it too.