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How did I get here?

January 19, 2008 - Kathie Evanoff
When I was a child, I paid attention when my mother was dieting. She didn’t join health clubs or sink hundreds of dollars into expensive diet programs. Her generation viewed dieting as simply eating less, taking no second helpings and having no desserts or after dinner snacks. She ate little or no breakfast, cottage cheese with fruit for lunch and barely any dinner. To fight hunger, she drank coffee with cream and smoked cigarettes. Not a healthy way to go.

My mother was not unusual. It was the 1950s and life was good. The hazards of using tobacco were not widely publicized. Food was plentiful and easy to prepare. My mother was a “modern” woman who took advantage of all the latest convenience foods, such as canned soups, boxes of macaroni and cheese and packaged luncheon meat.

Dieticians are now telling us to avoid those over-processed convenience foods. We are advised to eat from the outside perimeter of the grocery store, avoiding the center aisles where most processed foods are stocked. It isn’t necessarily difficult, but it is different. We must re-learn how to really prepare good food without relying on what is fast, easy and convenient.

Today’s breakfast was pretty typical and unfortunately, my photo program is telling me the picture I took was corrupted, so I’ll just have to explain. I start every morning with a cup of tea with two teaspoons of real sugar. I’ve tried artificial sweeteners, and although I can tolerate them to a small degree on other things, I would rather go without my tea than have to deal with their taste, but we’ll talk about that another time. For breakfast I had two servings (about a cup and a half) of Cascadia Farms whole grain cereal, a small sliced banana and a cup of one percent milk. I usually choose skim milk, but was all out and had to use my husband’s milk instead. He can’t wrap his head around skim milk just yet. This breakfast totaled: Two servings whole grains; 2/3 cup fruit; one serving dairy

After a busy morning with work, I had lunch at my desk at the paper’s remote office in Niles. This meal included one serving chicken and wild rice soup and a sandwich made with a Boca meatless chicken patty on a whole grain roll, sliced Roma tomatoes, romaine lettuce and two teaspoons “Lite” Miracle Whip salad dressing. I also placed two bottles of water on my desk to remind me to stay hydrated throughout the afternoon.

It’s a long stretch from lunch until dinner and I find if I don’t have a snack of some sort in mid-afternoon, I am ravenous by the time I get home. I have been reading that protein is helpful in holding off the hungries, so I try to incorporate a bit in my afternoon snacks. Today I had a container of yogurt and an orange, and snacked on veggie crackers as I worked at my desk. I continued to drink from the two bottles of water on my desk.

Tonight was Avon night. Every two weeks the women in my neighborhood get together at each others’ homes to welcome the Avon representative. We have been doing this for years and it saves the Avon rep from having to go door to door in our neighborhood. But it is also a social gathering for the ladies and as with most social gatherings, we eat. I wanted to have dinner first because I didn’t know what the hostess would be serving. The husband and I had pre-cooked pasta (regular for him and whole wheat for me) in the freezer. We sometimes do this when we are making dinner, which is to cook more than we need and put the rest in a freezer bag for another time. When we are ready to use it, we simply pull it out of the freezer, open the bag and drop the pasta into boiling water for a minute to reheat.

The husband isn’t a fan of very many vegetables, so he prepared his with just oil and garlic. I am a veggie-holic; however, and sauteed multi-colors of peppers, broccoli and carrots in a pan with cooking spray, before adding the pasta. Before serving, I spooned four teaspoons of the garlic oil infusion over the top. We tossed in pre-cooked shrimp and I had a cup of one percent milk.

Later at Avon night, I was delighted to see that the hostess had prepared something healthy. Instead of sugary cakes and cookies, she served a savory tomato pie, melba toast with hummus and bruschetta with a tomato and garlic topping. I took a half slice of the tomato pie and one serving of the rest along with a cup of orange-spice tea with no added sugar.


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Lunch: Two servings whole grains (roll and rice in soup); one serving meat or beans (fake chicken and chicken bits in soup); 2/3 cup vegetables; one tsp. fat and 20 discretionary calories (“Lite” Miracle Whip)