Toasting a Healthy New Year

Posted on 03 January 2012

My little niece, now 22 years old, has always run to extremes.  In her academic career, she’s consistently ranked among the top 5% of her class, even in Physics, her “bear” subject.  Jaimie* even earned a partial scholarship to Columbia University, to pursue her Master’s degree, but in typical Jaimie fashion, chose a much smaller, non-Ivy League school closer to home.  Her clothing, makeup, accessories, and techno-gadgets, ever since I can remember, are the prettiest, the best, the most current.  Anything else, she’s eschewed with the snobbery mustered only by the young and uber-confident.  About six years ago, my niece latched onto another extreme in her eating habits.

Red meat has not touched her lips in all that time.  Fat is avoided at all costs, unless it is “good fat,” such as that provided by salmon, tuna, or halibut (and she won’t eat much of the latter two, due to the threat of mercury).  She shops at the wonderful and costly Whole Foods® whenever possible, though there is but one such store in her area, and even that is located a distance from her home.  Jaimie’s daily, no bad carbs diet consists of the following, in this exact order:

1. Oatmeal with skim milk, nuts, and fruits (no sweetener of any kind, not even Agave nectar).

2. An organic apple with all-natural almond butter

3. A cup of plain Greek yogurt with fresh or dried blueberries

4. Another piece of fruit of her choosing, organic, of course

5. Multitudinous vegetables for dinner with approximately 3 ounces of lean protein

On New Year’s Eve, I watched my niece, who is 5’6″ without an ounce of discernable fat on her frame, who enjoys running, and who is not, thank God, anorexic, gobble two cookies and then beat herself up about it.   I told her to forgive herself, for it was a small discretion committed on a holiday.  I said this as I popped the pills that I am compelled to take nightly, to counteract allergies, asthma, and another health issue that, if not properly managed, can be significant.

At three o’clock on the morn of the brand new year, after kissing my niece and the rest of the family goodbye, I arrived home to a small miracle.  My older kitty, who has not been doing well, was not only eating on her own, unassisted, she was eating the healthiest food of all: her new, lower-protein kibble that she has been unable to manage of late.  My husband and I had consulted a homeopathic vet for her earlier that same day, a vet who’d put our girl on all-natural whey protein and who showed us an easier way to give her the necessary fluids via IV.

I awoke on January 1st thinking that none of this could be a coincidence, including the date on the calendar portending a new start.

Maybe Jaimie isn’t such an extremist, after all; surely, she will be healthier than her aunt as well as a lot of others who are not as conscious of their diet and exercise.  And methinks the homeopathic vet is on to something, particularly considering that the state-of-the-art veterinary service we’d consulted previously had sent my husband and me home to sit a deathwatch on our beloved cat.

I am the first one to use and promote homeopathic products (i.e., salt or honey to close small wounds, a Netty Pot® to clear stuffy sinuses, red wine to stave off macular degeneration).  But I could be better about my overall diet, and in fact, I was, when I was diagnosed early this year with the afore-mentioned condition.  I actually love healthy foods but don’t eat enough of them.

In the manner of many Italian-Americans, I’d cooked three fish salads for this New Year’s Eve celebration, knowing that they and their leftovers would be both tasty and extremely healthy.  But my husband had picked up small trays of eggplant rollatini and stuffed shells at a local salameria, so that I would not have to cook for New Year’s Day.  As I scooped out the rich food to warm it up, I pulled off all of the external mozzarella, thinking, “That stuff is going right into our arteries.”   By the time I was done with the mozzarella, I didn’t even want to eat the food, but neither did I want to waste our hard-earned money.

“There’s a healthier way to do both dishes,” I thought, “and I’m going to find them.”   Small changes, over time, will yield big results.  Rarely do I make New Year’s resolutions, for rarely do I keep them.  But with Jaimie and our rallying kitty for inspiration, I made the resolution to treat my husband and myself better this year in terms of the foods that we consume and the amount of exercise in which we engage.  I think we can do it.  And I think we’re going to have a happier, much healthier New Year for it … ancient Mayan prophesies notwithstanding!  🙂

*  A pseudonym, to protect my niece’s privacy.

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