Friday, May 9, 2014

To be a vegan or not to be

Reaching the age of fifty plus (please don’t ask plus what) makes one aware of proper nutrition and the importance of veggies. Never mind that they were taught back in prep school; it often takes 5 decades for some learning to sink in, and eating vegetables is one of them.

In theory, I’ve done my homework and know not only the vitamins and minerals, but also the PUFAs and the MUFAs (poly- and mono-unsaturated fatty acids to you). But actually practicing and eating nutritious and healthy food is definitely a much more difficult thing to swallow than theory.

I think it is not a good idea to drum on veggie hotdogs, veggie meat, gluten ham, tofu liver spread – they just highlight the craving for meat. The wars waged against meat, GMOs and processed food sound like overkill to me. I believe that the focus should be more on making veggies and fruits more delicious and appetizing on the dinner table, not by making meats look more evil. And certainly not by making poor substitutes like rubbery gluten ham that does not taste like ham at all – these only glorify the real ham because, the truth is, nothing would taste like ham but the real thing. Veggies and fruits must taste good because they taste good, not because they can be made to taste like something else. (I've even stopped using my best nonstick cookware that has Teflon in favor old cast iron, stainless steel, and old copper pots and pans.)

Well, hard-line vegans will dismiss this as baloney, but going vegan all the way is so unappetizing and unappealing. If the bigger chunk of the populace were to be the target, then that’s no way to promote vegetables. It’s not a feasible idea to turn people used to eating sizzling golden glazed baby back ribs to make a 360-degree turn and eat tasteless blanched greens.

I do my part by eating greens, nuts, fruits, beans and lentils, roots and rhizomes, stems, sprouts, seeds, kernels and grains, vegetable and fruit-based oils, and herbs and aromas. In fact, I think that the secret to making the palate enjoy vegetables and fruits is variation - not only in taste, but variation in color and texture.

Growing up, I saw eating vegetables as a chore and a form of discipline which I had to comply with. Who wanted chores, anyway? Eating vegetables was equated, somehow, with punishment. It is no wonder that children grew to prefer other food. These kids grow to become parents themselves, and unwittingly transfer the same feelings to their children.

I have a big transparent jar of mixed nuts, corn kernels, peas, dates, raisins and corn flakes that I place in the living room. The children demolish them while watching movies on weekends. They don’t even need coaching. Again, it is the variation of taste and texture that they find appealing. I wonder if they’d munch with the same gusto if the jar was filled just with peas. They would take a few handfuls maybe, but not with the delight that they showed every time they dipped their hand inside the jar and came up with an exciting mix.

When we started with our backyard garden, it was with a few boxes of lettuces, kale, collards, mustard greens, and spinach.  The most edible to me, then, were the lettuces. With heavy mayonnaise, the lettuces were usually drowned in the sinfully oily dressing. But later, I discovered that lettuces were just as tasteful as they are; and when mixed with dates, toasted almonds, tomatoes, and a splash of mustard or vinegar, I could feast on them. The fun thing was, when the children saw me eating with obvious delight, they helped themselves with the salad, too, then munched like they would any other food. It has not been difficult to make them eat veggies ever since. 

I’m a moderate vegetarian with love for good meat and poultry. But I could also devour bowls of purely veggie-and-fruit mixes. The secret, like I said, is in the variation playing on your tongue. That it’s healthy for you, too, is a bonus.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

I've been feeling tired lately

Lately, I've been asking myself, "why do I feel so tired?" Feeling fatigued and exhausted all the time can't be good for my body, and it has prompted me to look into why I'm always feeling sleepy. I realized energy drinks and caffeine won't help in the long run to help stay awake. The key is to find out the cause of being exhausted all the time. We'll look at a few reasons for drowsiness in this article.

'Why am I tired?'

I've learned that feeling fatigued can be difficult to pinpoint because there can be a lot of causes. A few causes are stress -- emotional and physical; problems with what is eaten -- i.e., food intolerance and deficiencies; along with any number of other causes, including medical. Stress can make a person tired. Emotional stress can cause physical duress, which, in turn, makes a person exhausted. It is also possible that sleep is issue. Quality of sleep is important, and a good 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep is a good starting point. Some people need more; some people need less. Either way, it's possible you could be stressing your body by sleeping too much or too little. You may also have medical issues like anxiety, grief, depression, and other issues that can cause exhaustion. Eating the right foods is also important. Our bodies need a balanced diet, which many Americans don't, to keep running at optimum. Without eating correctly, your diet may lack in minerals and vitamins. It's also possible to feel so tired and exhausted all the time if you have a medical problem. Ones that come to mind are the flu, sleep disorders, anemia, diabetes, cancer, heart issues, sleep disorders, and a host of many others. 'How do I stay awake?'

Tips to keep awake

A few good methods to stay awake during the day involve slowing down and an attitude tweak. More than likely, you are trying to do too much, which is causing a lot of stress in life. Cut back and remove some of the stresses. This is easier said than done, I know. But a large stress that people seem to get so caught up in is worrying about stuff they can't control. Focus on what you can control. Far too often, we worry about things we can't control. It doesn't make any sense to worry about a problem that may or may not affect you. One of my favorites: Exercise. Regular exercise can help relieve stress. Exercise seems counter-intuitive -- i.e., if you're tired now, you're going to be more tired afterwards. But during exercise, our brains release endorphins that make us feel good.

Eat right

Yes, eating right was mentioned earlier. But Americans don't do it. Fourteen percent of Americans eat at least two fruit servings and three vegetable servings a day, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. A good supplement to eating right is a multivitamin. And if you're looking for a source for good information about nutrition, take a look at the USDA "Dietary Guidelines for Americans" -- don't worry, these tips are good for non-Americans, too. Although I'm no medical expert, and I'm not providing any medical advice, I hope this information has helped you with the question, "why do I feel so tired?,' and provided some insight into being exhausted all the time.