Saturday, September 30, 2006


I do know something about health. Grew up in a fitness-conscious family, and expanded the interest to diet. My innate penchant for the academic, combined with the manifest physical benefits that become increasingly apparent as the years pass, give me a high degree of confidence that my ideas on the subject are reality based, rather than the sterile requirements of mere theory. I've referred, in my witty and appealing manner, to my own statuesque beauty -- the Classical masculine ideal -- but I fear sometimes a reader might think such self-descriptions are tongue in cheek. But no! I am gorgeous. In this instance, such a statement is not in itself its own justification. I use it -- or the fact behind it -- as evidence of the validity of a lifestyle of sensible exercise and sensible diet.

In the sport that I have recently come to love, there is a general interest, among the participants, in these issues. I strive to take care not to come off as Mr. Knowitall. As you will certainly understand by now, that is one of my secret identities. What can I say. It is my blessing -- it is my curse. Occasionally the question of dietary options does come up, and I have been known to volunteer my views on the subject.

There is nothing more emotional than food. It is the first comfort. We come crying from the womb, and whatever sensual pleasure there may be in the nipple, it is overwhelmed by the confounding pleasure of nourishment -- the sweet warm flow of milk, it soothes our natal tears. And when we cry as children, we are silenced with a cookie. And we have, with every Christmas memory, every Thanksgiving memory, or Halloween or Easter, the inseparable associations of food. Their smells make our mouths water. It is hospitality. It is celebration. No wedding, no birthday, without cake. Midnight ice cream, to comfort our broken hearts. Midnight pizza, when sleep won't come. Thus, a necessity is a compulsion. No wonder two thirds of Americans are overweight.

To change your diet is to change yourself. Not an easy thing to do. There's a fella I know, involved in the sport, who is really quite markedly overweight. But he has a game spirit, and deserves the encouragement that he gets. Obesity is a tough thing for a lot of reasons, but for my purposes it's tough because it speaks so publicly of a vice. We all have secret self-indulgences. They do not hang from our ribs in billowing folds, though. If we lust, or rage, or inject heroin into our veins, we can often keep it secret. You can't, however, hide 200 extra pounds. But to call yourself back from that extreme -- to face the problem and find the courage and integrity to fight it -- this is honorable. I think of it as a kind of redemption. He's let himself go, he's damaged his health, he's borne the judgment and mockery of those whose vices are not so obvious. But now he's started the long, the gruelling climb back to where he wants to be. Sensible diet, sensible exercise. Maybe he won't get all the way. But he's moving. Good on ya, mate. Godspeed.

So in that context, I don't feel overbearing, in saying a little on the subject of diet. By which I do not mean dieting, but nutriating. The idea is to look for nutrient-dense food. Some foods have lots of calories and hardly anything else. Grains, believe it or not. Mostly calories. A bit of nutrition in the bran, in the germ, but the body is just nothing but calories. Which is great, if you live in a Neolithic village. On the other hand, berries are just little nutrition troves. As I'm wont to say, I'd eat them even if they tasted like sawdust. They're that necessary. And we know, we know that some cancers are deficiency diseases. Berri berri, rickets, scurvy -- banished, because there is a vitamin to take. It's so easy. But the incidence of a certain cancer is greatly reduced among populations that eat ... potatoes. Hmm. I won't go into detail, in all this. Just hoping to get the wheels turning.

Upshot is, it is a wonderful thing, the way we turn food not just into energy, but health. Or sickness. Look up the "enteric system." [Okay, lazy bones, I'll do it for you. Here. Would you like me to cut the crust off your toast?] The whole complex digestive system. Your brain is made up of neurons. There are as many neurons associated with the enteric system as with the brain. A trillion, each. Ever wonder about butterflies in the stomach? It has to do with the neurotransmitter, serotinin. Your gut uses more serotinin than your brain. How odd. No, not just wonderful, this process. More than that.

I know all this.

Yesterday I ate a whole bag of cookies. All at once. One after the other. They were delicious. Large and moist, with chocolate chips. Delicious. So sweet and so tasty. Mmm. Vegan cookies. All natural. No sucrose. No harsh or caustic chemicals. Earth friendly, I'm sure. Today I woke up with a sore throat. A little shakey. A little snotty. Kind of weak. Took the day off. But the cookies. The cookies. They were so tasty. So sweet.

I do not regret it. I'd do it again.

Ach. Jack H. That guy. Gotta love him.



John said...

I love chocolate cookies :D

GUYK said...

They give me gas