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Behind Closed Doors: Food for Thought
Stave off the stress of surgery with mindful eating
Kay Frances
Publish Date: July 13, 2020   |  Tags:   Opinion

Do you find your energy starting to lag as your stress rises? You might want to take a look at your diet. There's a direct correlation between what we ingest and how stressed we get. The people who know about these things say the state of our health depends on what foods we eat on a regular basis. If that's true, I used to be a potato chip.

It seems that every decade, the body gets less and less forgiving. When you're a teenager, you have an iron stomach and can make a meal out of Doritos and a Mountain Dew. In college, my diet was horrific and largely centered around Ramen noodles. And cereal. Lots of cereal. In my 20s, I'd frequent "brass and fern" restaurants. The appetizer would be something like loaded nachos piled sky high. Then came the entre, which was usually some sort of combination plate filled with assorted artery-clogging foodstuffs like deep-fried mushrooms and potato skins. Everything was smothered in sour cream. If I ate that now, I'd be in bed for two days with a food hangover. But when you're young, you don't limit this or avoid that. Your daily caloric intake is based on taste, and what you eat doesn't affect your energy level at all.

A lot of the food I eat now is basically considered "medicine." Like salad. And Greek yogurt, which is essentially fermented milk that's been heated and mixed with two types of live bacteria — Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. Those Greeks sure know how to party.

I give an inordinate amount of thought to how much roughage is in my diet. My brother and I are appalled by how often our conversations revolve around our regularity. Has it really come to this?

Still, we have to balance healthy eating habits with enjoying life. Just because a food is good for us, doesn't mean we have to like it. I've almost been thrown out of parties for daring to utter that I don't care for avocados or their ugly stepsister, guacamole. I also don't enjoy kale. To me, it tastes like how I imagine that stuff you pull from the bottom of the lawn mower would. Of course, enough ranch dressing can make anything palatable.

What I've discovered over the years is that I can't be trusted to go out into the world for my sustenance. Not if I wish to stay on any semblance of a healthy eating plan. I wish I could drive thru the Golden Arches and ask for the healthiest thing on the menu. But even if I have the willpower to order a salad instead of something super-sized, I still can't help adding a "few" fries or a "tiny" dessert to my order.

The keys to maintaining a healthy eating plan are planning and mindfulness. Pack your snacks and a lunch. You'll likely find the health benefits outweigh the extra time it takes to plan your meals for the week. Don't be beholden to the cafeteria or neighboring restaurants. Eating out should be a treat. Instead of hitting the vending machine during that inevitable mid-afternoon slump, reach for string cheese or a piece of fruit.

When your jealous colleagues comment on the new "pep in your step" and want to know your secret, just tell them it's a good night's sleep, avoiding junk food and a daily dose of Lactobacillus-bulgaricus-Streptococcus-thermophilus. OSM