I don't know why but I am having the hardest time finishing this post! I'm such a perfectionist and I want all of my posts to be very well thought out and inspirational. But somehow I'm having a rough go if it with this subject, even though it is near and dear to my heart! Maybe it's because the concept is so simple that it barely needs explanation.
Your health is your responsibility, so only you are charged with asking for what you need in social and restaurant situations. I know that this behavior may be very foreign to some of you, which is why I have dedicated an entire Plant-strong success tip to just this concept.
The realty is that no one else is going to take care of your health for you. Not your mom, not your dad, not your spouse, not your kids, not your friends and certainly not the companies that are trying to sell you food. Not your doctor. And absolutely NOT THE GOVERNMENT. They don't want you to eat lettuce and kale and collards prepared simply by you in your kitchen. They want you to spend your hard earned money in their restaurants and on their processed food. And that's okay. I'm not mad, it's capitalism at work. But just so you know, they don't give a rat's arse about your health. They just want your money.
So they load their food products with salt, sugar and fat to make it taste as good as it possibly can. To make it addictive. And they make the portions really big in restaurants, so that you feel good about the "value" you are getting for your hard earned dollars, even thought the same over sized portions will cost you more in the long run.
Do you know that I loathe the USDA and their pyramid? I believe that tomorrow they are about to replace it with a new icon. You can read more more about it here. Okay, I am being very harsh at this point, but please, check out the first two "messages" in their six how-to messages to guide healthy eating:
- Enjoy your food, but eat less.
- Avoid over sized portions.
- Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables.
- Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
- Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals, and choose the foods with lower numbers.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks."
How about "eat a ton of vegetables, fruits and beans; more than you ever have in your life. Make your portions of vegetables REALLY, REALLY huge."
Now that's good advice.
And what about "switch to fat-free or low fat milk?" Has anyone at the USDA read The China Study? Or are the members of the USDA just puppets for the big dairy producers? Shouldn't they be making sure that casein, the protein in dairy, doesn't cause cancer before they promote all of us including it in our diets?
I could go on and on, but I'll move this conversation forward to the second part of my advice: You must be able to ask, maybe demand, what you need to be healthy.
At restaurants, when you can't find acceptable menu choices, you must get creative and ask the kitchen to work with you. Most restaurants have ample vegetables in the kitchen and many have a simple baked potato. So when all else fails, a baked potato loaded with steamed veggies and some salsa for the top is a great stand bye.
Looking for something more interesting than a baked potato with steamed veggies? How about calling the restaurant ahead and making arrangements for your visit? Gena from Choosing Raw was all over this idea in this recent blog posting.
How about parties and pot lucks? Are you afraid that you are going to offend people if you steadfastly say that you are choosing to eat a certain way? Are you a little embarrassed at your past history with the ups and downs of your weight and now that you are eating healthy you don't want to make a thing of it again? We have to be able to laugh at ourselves and move on from whatever failures are in our past and not use that as an excuse to hide our new knowledge.
Does this ever get uncomfortable, even ugly? It might. Ironically, I was on the telephone just today talking with a relative about what I could bring for a pot luck at her home. When I asked if I could bring a quinoa salad, I was met with a strange and disturbing remark in return. Luckily, the relative quickly called back and apologized, citing a different reason for her venom. But what I really think was happening is that some of the time, with some of the people in your life, this way of eating is going to cause conflict.
We just have to accept it an move on. My relative is not going to be paying my hospital bills if I have a heart attack or get cancer, so I can't expect that it would be her priority to make it comfortable for me to eat the food that I need to eat to be healthy. It just affirms that we all need to take care of ourselves and protect our own health. My way of doing this these days? For most big pot luck parties, I bring a Hugh Jass green salad with lots of toppings including beans and a homemade, oil-free dressing. If I suspect that there won't be much else at the party for me to eat, I might even go as far as bringing two or three dishes to the party. It may not be easy and it may not be convenient, but heck, either is getting sick.
Have you gotten comfortable asking for what you need? Can you give specific examples of social situations where you have been successful protecting your health? Or is this just too uncomfortable for you at this time?