It’s Easy, It’s Simple, and My 109-Year-Old Grandmother is Proof!
That’s right: my grandmother will be 109 years old this July, and she is on no medication. My mother will be 84 this year, and everybody tells her she looks like she’s 69. And I’ve had the same body weight since high school, when I was playing three sports. (Okay, it’s distributed a little differently… but still!)
I have friends in their twenties that struggle with being over-weight. Some are my size (and I’m no giant) and are as much as 50 pounds over-weight. They are young men with middle age bodies. I almost can’t go out to eat anymore because I feel like I’m on the cruise ship from the movie Wall-E with all those adults that look like chubby babies. Yes, Michelle, our nation has an obesity problem!
But don’t panic – help is on the way. Dr. Waits is here with some simple things you can do to eat right, be healthy, live long and look good… and, yes, do it all on less than $250 a month.
I keep telling my friends, the key to losing weight is not dieting… it’s exercise. Okay, I just lost half my readers. 🙂 But exercise is a magic bullet: it increases your metabolism so your body burns calories at a higher rate. So you can enjoy what you eat! And here’s another magic bullet: the reason you’re hungry is because your body is craving nutrition. If you would feed it nutritional foods, instead of junk, you would no longer be hungry.
Your body knows what it needs, if you would just learn to listen to it. It doesn’t need fries and a coke; it needs some mouth-watering protein, fat and carbs. You thought I was going to say bean sprouts and yogurt… huh? Where in the world did we get the idea that to eat right you had to give up flavor? That’s an old wives tale that I’m betting came out of the fast food industry. Protein, fat and carbs are good… if they’re GOOD protein, fat and carbs. But there are BAD ones as well. Those are the ones to avoid.
My 108-year-old grandmother was into health foods long before the hippie generation ever HEARD of a bean sprout. She used to read books like HOW TO LIVE TO BE 100 and magazines like PREVENTION. But she didn’t go overboard on it. She still drank her black tea every day – never coffee and rarely soft drinks – and she still fed her sweet tooth. But she did it sensibly. Mainly, she grew some of her own vegetables and fruits, which of course everyone can’t do (but you can buy the ones someone else has grown organically); she worked in her flower garden (her form of exercise); she didn’t eat wheat – she ate rye whenever possible; she rarely ate beef – she ate fish, chicken and pork instead; she used honey instead of processed sugar whenever possible; and did other things that made sense. One thing she didn’t do was eat fast or junk food.
Good protein is protein that comes from fish and legumes; bad protein is protein that comes from animals. Good fat comes from vegetables, such as olives and nuts, and also from fish; bad fat comes from animals. Good carbohydrates come from vegetables and products made from vegetables and grains, like whole grain bread and pasta, as well as natural sweeteners like honey; bad carbs come from processed foods, such as white bread and sugar, and from fast and junk foods, like chips, fries and sodas (aka pop, cokes, soda pop and soft drinks, depending upon where you’re from).
You can dramatically improve your diet just by cutting out fast and junk foods. You can revolutionize it by eating only good protein, good fat and good carbs. Dairy products are somewhere in the middle. I love dairy products, so there is NO way I’m cutting them out. But you can buy good quality fat-free cottage cheese and yogurt, and good quality cheese and milk, so that you’re not giving up a lot. And you can also buy good quality, all-natural ice cream. My favorite is Breyers.
High Protein Chili
Here’s an example of a meal you can fix that will help bring your grocery costs down below $250 a month. There’s a brand of dried beans called Hurst’s HamBeens (yes, that’s how it’s spelled) that comes in a variety called “15 Bean Soup.” (There are other good brands out there as well.) The flavor I like is cajun, but they also make ham and, I think, other flavors. You can soak a 20 oz bag of these beans overnight or for half a day, and then cook them in a big stainless steel pot; or, you can go ahead and just cook them – it just takes a bit longer and they have less enzymes if you don’t soak them first. (Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions in your body. They are very, very good for you.)
You’ll want to wash them, since dried beans may still have a little dirt on them from the factory. Just swish them around in cold water in the bottom of your pot, and then drain. Do that a couple of times then cover them with water and either soak first or cook. If you soak first, you’ll need to add more water later, because they absorb it and expand. If you don’t soak first, you need to add about double the water. Also add sea salt to the water, for flavor, but also because it makes the beans cook quicker.
After you’ve cooked the beans for a couple hours (less if you soaked them first) – or one hour before they’re done – add a 32 oz carton of Swanson Broth (either beef or chicken – both are 99% fat free) and a half-a-cup-to-a-cup (depending upon your preference) of regular dried brown rice (not the quick-cook kind, like Minute Rice). Check your liquid level to make sure you have enough to cook the rice and still keep the whole thing soupy. A half-hour before the beans and rice are done, add the seasoning packet that comes with the beans and two 14 oz cans or one 28 oz can of good quality diced tomatoes.
There are also instructions on the bag of beans, so don’t feel you have to follow this method to the letter. This is just how I like to do it. You want this to be soupy when it’s done, because it will thicken as it cools. The reason for the rice is because legumes and rice together form a perfect protein. It’s “perfect” because it is the easiest form of protein to digest, and it is the most concentrated. I’m not convinced that powdered protein for protein drinks is as good. But it mixes better with fruit and yogurt. 🙂 This is one of the healthiest things you can eat, and if you have a large family, it will feed a troop. If you’re single, you can freeze half of it and still eat the remainder every day for a week.
Now, here’s the beauty: each time you eat this concoction – which I call “beans and rice,” but is really more like chili – you can add a different meat or dairy product to it. You can have it one meal with cheese melted on top. Another meal, you can add diced chicken. Another, good-quality, organic ground beef. Another, shredded pork. Another, fat-free plain yogurt with onions and green peppers. Another, fat-free cottage cheese. (You laugh, but it is really, really good.) This “soup” or “chili” can form the basis of many and diverse meals, and you are saving tons by not eating out. Plus, you’re building a very healthy body.
Now, here are some beauty tips I’m going to share with you from both my grandmother and my mom. Men can apply these as well to increase their youthfulness. Every night, my grandmother covered her face with Ponds facial cream like a mask, and it used to scare us kids to death. I don’t recommend that. The reason she did it was because she wore makeup every day. Women today don’t do that as much. I think my mom’s advice is better: “bathe in lotion.” Every time I take a shower, I cover myself in some kind of good quality lotion afterwards. If I’m going to be outside, I’ll use suntan lotion with an appropriate PF rating. If not, I typically use Gold Bond medicated lotion, because I have dry skin. Women will probably want to use something fancier.
Your skin is the key to looking young, so why let it dry out? There’s no reason for that. But if you really WANT your skin to dry out, smoke. Smoking ages a person faster than anything else. I can always tell a smoker because they have unhealthy-looking skin. Alcohol also takes a toll on your skin when it’s not used in moderation; so drink wisely, if at all.
I’ve mentioned exercise, diet, skin care and not smoking. These are all key, but there’s one more thing – rest. The Bible says, “It is vain (stupid) to rise up early and go to bed late, eating the bread of anxious toil; for He gives to his beloved sleep.” (Psalm 127:2) You need your sleep – take it. Don’t be sleep-deprived. If you can’t get your work done in a reasonable amount of time, you weren’t meant to do it. All-nighters are for fools, not for the wise. If you LIKE to stay up late, take naps during the day, the way Benjamin Franklin did. But it’s good discipline to go to bed at a decent hour. NOTHING is worth your sleep, and worry certainly isn’t. And keep the Sabbath. Hebrews 4:9 says, “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God…” We are to rest in Him, not ourselves. It is all about HIS strength, HIS wisdom, HIS love. Stop trying to do it all in your own strength and wisdom. Rest in Him the way an athlete rests while still competing – by pacing himself. It’s the only way to keep from burning yourself out.
Some Near-Perfect Meals
Here are three meals that I eat almost every day and are guaranteed to increase your health without eating into your budget. First, breakfast: I usually eat one of Kashi’s organic breakfast cereals, such as Cinnamon Harvest and Strawberry Fields, with cut-up fruit and 2% milk. An alternative would be French toast, made with Pepperidge Farm’s “Swirl” Raisin Cinnamon bread. Use one organic egg mixed with “one egg’s worth” of Egg Beaters and one tablespoon of Dannon’s Fat-Free Plain Yogurt for the dip. Cover with fresh cut fruit and good quality maple syrup or honey. Add Breakstone’s Fat-Free Cottage Cheese for your good protein. After that, I take a multiple vitamin and an extra vitamin C tablet to ward off colds.
For lunch, I usually eat something like my High Protein Chili, but an alternative would be organic whole wheat pasta (Hodgson Mill is a great brand – they also make excellent pancake mixes) covered in a good quality sauce – there are many out there. Add low-fat, organic ground beef or diced chicken for protein.
I usually do a treat in the afternoons, such as Breyer’s Ice Cream or yogurt, sometimes with cut fruit; or an apple and half a glass of milk; or grapes, cheese and crackers (try Red Oval Farms’ Stoned Wheat Thins) with hot tea. When my cousins and I were kids, our grandmother used to fix us Purple Cows, which are one-to-two scoops of vanilla ice cream in a tall glass with Welch’s Grape Juice poured over it.
For supper, I usually have an organic salad with a grilled or baked piece of salmon or tuna on top (make sure it’s “wild-caught”), drenched in fresh lemon juice or balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing. If I do lemon juice, I may use a Thousand Island dressing on the salad, especially Kraft’s Thousand Island Dressing with Bacon. It has less calories than their regular Thousand Island and tastes a hundred times better than either it or their low-cal dressing.
For an alternative, try eggs and toast. If you happen to eat supper late, it’s one of the easiest things to digest and won’t keep you awake. Add some fresh cut-up apple. Add a spoonful of fat-free yogurt to the eggs if you do scrambled to make them richer, and a couple shakes of dill weed. A second alternative would be to make a meal of either fresh or frozen cooked vegetables with cheese added for flavor.
Note: If you have a family, you’ll need to multiply that $250 per month food cost by 1 for each adult male, .75 for each adult female, and between .3 and .5 for each child. For a family of 5, that should be about $750. I know single guys that spend that much or more per month because they eat out almost every meal – and not at good restaurants. That’s ridiculous and destroys your health. Don’t do it. Cook most meals at home, using good quality ingredients, and you’ll improve your health, lose weight and slash your food costs.
Eating right, being healthy, living long and looking good are not a matter of fad or fashion – they’re a matter of common sense. Use the common sense God gave you, as well as the wisdom. Take care of your body because it not only is God’s temple – reason enough – but it is also His billboard. When people look at you, let them see what God has wrought, not only in your heart, but also in your lifestyle, as reflected in the way you take care of your body.
Waitsel Smith, May 20, 2010
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Text © 2010 Waitsel Smith. Food photos © Waitsel Smith. All Rights Reserved.