Common Sense Nutrition and Diet


What we discovered in the series ‘Diet Myths’ is that fat, cholesterol, carbohydrates, protein, and salt are not inherently bad for us, and that our bodies actually need each of these nutrients to function properly. In fact, our bodies get energy from only three sources: fat, carbohydrates, and protein

Yet we are constantly bombarded with TV news, by the food police, magazines articles, books, and our doctors about the latest health study. We are told that we have to eat this, or not eat that to be healthy. We are told we have to lose weight or decrease our cholesterol or have a smaller BMI. We are told we have to add more of that food; or less of another food. We are told not to eat eggs one week and then eggs are OK another week.

It is all so confusing sometimes I need a Big Mac just to cope.

What. Are. We. To. Do?

The simple truth is even people at their medically desired weight, with low cholesterol, and low blood pressure die of heart attacks too. And we all know someone who eats saturated fats and drinks heavily who lives well into their nineties. And what about the French and all their rich sauces and cheese and wine? What do you food scolds have to say about that? !!!

I refuse to live my life only by the numbers. The fact is no one can guarantee me, or you,  a long life, good health, or a perfect body with any particular diet. That doesn’t mean I should eat a  diet of  just dark chocolate. It is simply an acknowledgement that their are many variables to good health and a healthy life style.

So for the average person out there, is there any common sense, reasonably easy, every-day goals or strategies on how to eat well and healthy at the same time?

I think so.

So, with this caveat – ‘I am not a dietician and have no degrees or training in nutrition or diet’ – I will share with you my ideas about eating well and healthy at the same time.

This is what I do. It works for me. It may not work for anyone else. I am not making any recommendations. I am simply sharing.

1. I pretty much eat what I damn well want.  I just eat less of it. [Portion size or Portion control] And then I add some more fruits and vegetables.

2. I try to eat a balanced diet. I eat fats. I eat carbs. And I eat proteins. And sometimes I splurge on one or the other. I mean I just can’t pass up some chocolate desserts!! And I love a good fatty juicy steak too. I just eat less of that kind of food for the next few days to try and balance it out.

3. I eat a wide variety of foods.

4. I try to eat fish at least a couple of times a month.

5. I try to eat real food as much as possible and limit boxed, pre-packaged, and fast foods as much as humanly possible.

6. I only eat half or less of restaurant sized entrees. Or I order an appetizer with a salad as my meal.

7. I stay active. I don’t do formal exercise. I mean like how B.O.R.I.N.G.!!! But I do things I enjoy like walk, swim, garden, and dance. And I clean my own house. Except on snow and ice, I park my car as far away from my destination – grocery store, movie theater, whatever – as I can get thereby adding a bit more walking into my life. Plus it is easier to find a parking spot there. And fewer dings on my car, too.

That’s it. Very simple.

Add one more:

8. I do not get my health information from the media.

I am very wary of  TV news, magazine stories or TV and radio personalities. Those businesses are out for higher ratings or circulation which translates to higher profits for them. It is difficult to understand a complicated topic like nutrition and health in a three minute TV segment or a three page magazine article sandwiched between advertisements for expensive medications, health services, and health care products.

I never try any diet, diet food, exercise equipment, book, or supplement that is going to cost me lots of money either. If someone is asking for lots of money for any of these items I am very skeptical. I figure it is only to make them richer and me poorer without making me any healthier.

And Finally What About Those French?

As mentioned above the French eat one of the richest diets on earth with lots of cheeses, sauces, and rich deserts. I mean they have real buttery, flaky, decadent croissants with real butter and jam every morning with the strongest coffee ever known to mankind. They have high blood pressure and high cholesterol too! Yet they have one of the lowest heart disease rates in the world too. Explain that food police.

I want to  live as long as possible.  I LOVE LIFE. I take good care of myself. But I also want to enjoy all this wonderful earth has to offer. I don’t want to sit and obsess over numbers all day long. It is a delicate balancing act to be sure. Sometimes the goals of enjoying life and staying healthy can clash. I just do the best I can.

For me life is to be enjoyed, and savored; not feared.

Featured Recipe      Easy Pasta With Herbs

This recipe is as easy to make as it is on your pocketbook.  You can make it  with left overs and with items you normally have on hand in your fridge and pantry. I have made it many times using what ever herbs I have on hand. I usually make it for just me, but it is easy to adapt for 3 to a crowd.

This is what you need:

A couple of handfuls of pasta per person, whatever kind you want: spaghetti, linguine, shells whatever. I used Rotini this time.

2-3 cloves of garlic or to taste

Herbs such as parsley, chives, thyme, basil, what ever you have in your fridge

About a tablespoon of butter per person

Garnishments such as nuts or shredded cheese, optional

Salt and pepper to taste

Here is what you do:

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Chop the herbs you are using. I had left over chives and parsley in the fridge.  Slice the garlic.

Place the butter with some slices of garlic in a small bowl and microwave for a minute or less till butter is mostly melted. Place plastic wrap over the butter to concentrate the flavor.

Drain pasta, but reserve about half a cup of the pasta water

Throw pasta in a bowl.

Toss the melted butter with garlic over the pasta and mix well.

Add the chopped herbs and mix with the pasta. If the pasta is dry add a bit of the saved pasta water till you get a nice sauce. Add S&P to taste.

If you are using a garnish, it’s time to dump them into the bowl. Today I used pine nuts, but walnuts would be good too. I also used a tablespoon of shredded Parmesan cheese.

Serve with a salad or fresh fruit. I had some left over citrus fruit, so I made a salad of it and added some dried cranberries on top.


NOTE: The costs this time will depend on the type of pasta you use as well as what herbs you and garnishments you use. The costs listed are for the ingredients I used this time. Your costs may vary.

3 ounces Rotini                       $0.33

3 cloves garlic sliced               $0.18

Parsley and chives                  $0.10

1 tablespoon butter                 $0.15

Pine nuts                               $0.48

Parmesan cheese shredded    $0.30

Salt and pepper to taste

Total for 1 = $1.54
For 3 = $4.62

Bon appétit!!!

Quote of the Day:

Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.  ~  Sophia Loren

I mean who can argue with what Ms Loren eats, carbs and all !!!!!

DISCLAIMER: The information for this very brief discussion of an extremely complicated topic was gathered from the following sources:  Eat Drink and Be Merry by Dr. Dean Erdell  published by Harper Collins 1999;  and The Fat Fallacy by Dr. Will Clower published by Three Rivers Press 2003;  and from various articles I have read over the years.

Please also  keep in mind I am not a dietician or a nutritionist. I just love to eat well. And I just write a simple blog trying to provide inexpensive yet delicious recipes for you, information about how to survive the recession, and helpful information about food and the joys of eating.


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