Friday, February 5, 2010

Good Nutrition

Recently my grandfather told my mother "I need meat. I'm getting older... I need good nutrition."

Like my husband's grandparents, he probably doesn't understand the reasoning behind being vegetarian. I've written about my grandfather before. He eats a ton of fruits and eats salad (though with iceberg) most every night. He's 87 and that's a good, long time to live. However, and here's where I speculate based on what I've read of health and nutrition, he has physical ailments that I believe are because of his diet. He remained active as long as he could, but about 7 years ago he became very stiff. He continues to feel stiffness and has pain in his leg that is bothersome. Maybe it's inflammation that is caused by red meat. The amount of tomatoes (lycopene), tea (high in antioxidants) and other fruits and vegetables he has eaten daily have obviously helped him live so long and healthy. But, he eats beef almost daily.

Tonight I made pizza and he wanted a hamburger. Sometimes he eats hamburgers multiple days in a row. Even when I ate meat daily hamburgers were a once a week treat and did I ever love hamburgers.

I have confessed (as if it's a secret! ha!) my vegetarian diet to some students here and there at school. They're teenagers so they think about and talk about food a lot. One asked my favorite food and I said sushi. Some kids said "ew" and I said you can just get vegetarian sushi if you don't want to eat raw fish and that led to the convo. I have mixed feelings about what I should say. On the one hand, I don't feel I should use my authority to tout vegetarianism as the best way to eat. But, on the other hand I want to be honest and in all honesty I think it is a great way to eat. I just told them I was vegetarian for a variety of reasons and told them how I took a year to give up meat slowly. I also said you can eat meat and be healthy.

Think about this: teachers use their authority to teach ethics and morality as the need is encountered in the classroom. Nothing wrong with that no matter what type f school one teaches in. Teachers also use their authority to push good nutrition, especially in the elementary school, but also in upper grades. For instance, I once overheard a principal and the cafeteria manager talking about ordering food for lunches. The manager said the kids don't care for regular milk, but will drink chocolate milk. The principal's opinion was that at least it was good they were drinking milk and not soda. It would be perfectly acceptable for the principal to express her satisfaction with the students drinking milk. The dairy industry has successfully brainwashed most of America to believe milk is a health drink. Never mind that it causes inflammation, constipation, diarrhea, acne, congestion leading to sinusitis and ENT infections, and can increase cholesterol depending on the fat content. My opinion that individuals need to evaluate whether milk works for them or not would possibly be considered overstepping my bounds. It would be considered fact, not opinion, that milk is healthy for growing teenagers and only opinion that maybe they should try living without it. It would be the same concerning meat.

I don't mean to get on my high horse about dairy. I myself have not fully given it up. We still consume cheese and I have a horrible habit of putting cream in my coffee since it's available here at my parents house. Before we moved I was using rice milk. I keep meaning to get some soy creamer, but I have mixed feelings about soy milk. Moving on.

I completed my journey to pestitarian this past August. Seafood is my next substance to conquer. I'm just not ready yet. Less dairy is always a goal, but less is not cutting out for good. Cutting out salmon and REAL sushi? Difficult. I'm not pushing myself. I may never fully give up seafood. I would certainly still cook salmon for my kids.

Get this! An older lady was subbing at S's school and after she read them a story she got to talking about how her Dr. told her she needed to stop eating red meat and only eat it once a week so she could lose weight. I don't have any clue how this topic came about...probably something with the story... but S raised her hand and told the woman that her mother is a vegetarian and is always trying to get her to be vegetarian. To my surprise, the woman told her, "You have a smart mom!" Now that is awesome.

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