I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I’m looking forward to cooking again after spending a week on the east coast visiting family. First I need to shake jet lag and restock my kitchen!
Sometimes being a healthy eater and knowing everything that’s not healthy is a curse, especially when staying with family and having limited options. My Thanksgiving predicament was my diet is extremely different from the in-laws I was staying with … they didn’t even have a salad spinner, decent size salad bowl or blender. Typical vegetables served were pre-chopped lettuce with dressing and cheese or canned green beans. I felt bad about making food requests prior to arriving because of limited time and pre-Thanksgiving stress they were already going through. It was very hard to simply avoid what I did not want to eat or feel guilty because someone has already prepared a meal with limited to no alternative options, like processed sausage and sugary sweet rolls for breakfast one morning. Needless to say I ended up eating foods that I wouldn’t normally eat and also spent a lot of time with unhappy insides and/or hungry from just avoiding certain foods.
We stayed in a small Florida town void of Whole Foods … or any health stores. I couldn’t even find any vegan meat substitutes at the local Publix beyond a limited selection of tofu. The organic/health food section was only half of a small island in the produce department, the produce section of that was a pathetic 4 shelves. Produce in general seemed much more expensive there too, red bell peppers were twice the price and most of the Haas avocados were too ripe and mushy to be sold. Many of the southern themed restaurants in the area did not have vegan options, like Cracker Barrel and Sonny’s BBQ, I had a lot of vegetable soups and salad side dishes. To say this town was not healthnut friendly would be an understatement. Granted, we did not get an opportunity to really explore the area for specialty health stores not having access to a car and having nothing in walking distance. I was stuck making the most of what I could, having leftover Thanksgiving fruit salad for breakfast one morning, ordering what I could when eating out and trying to avoid criticism or being a burden.
I could have just forgot my diet for the trip and rolled with it and that was very tempting. But the thing is the older in-laws we were staying with are battling diabetic and heart health problems, they could truly benefit from a heavier vegan raw diet. I thought it would be unfair and deceiving to go out there in decent health and tout a not-so-decent diet, especially when my MIL repeatedly tells me that they need to watch carbs and sugar, doctor’s orders, while she serves a mountain of pasta, bread rolls and a sugar-loaded cheesecake with dinner. I’m not going to let her think I can get away with eating all that while keeping a girlish figure and bountiful energy, it would not be fair.
It is truly hard seeing family I care a lot about face difficult health problems while knowing a few diet tweaks could help make them feel better and still satisfied. Who likes to watch loved ones suffer? When MIL told me about the doctor’s orders, my first instinct was to respond with diet advice to meet those goals such as recommending low-carb pasta, bread and dessert alternatives. But, that advice is only helpful to welcoming ears which is where my lack-of-experience as an nutritional coach comes in and being a sympathetic listener while trying to stick to my usual eating habits worked the best.
Since grasping this diet and focusing more on improving my eating habits, I’ve become more aware of people around me in poor health. I noticed a lot of older people in miserable health on many of our flights and it’s sad, one morbidly obese gentleman looked seriously labored and in pain during the long flight each time he had to get up from his window seat to head to the restroom, which was about every 30 minutes. Many more struggling to get monster carry-ons into the overhead, etc. I makes me appreciate my health and further drives me to maintain it, when I retire (if I can ever afford to!), I want to be healthy enough to enjoy it dammit! And do what I can to work towards that goal.
I had a lot of down time on this trip without access to a gym or exercise equipment, so I took up running in place of my usual exercise routine covering about 15 miles for the week, not too shabby. I’m not a huge runner, just occasionally train for a race here or there, but mainly stick to skating, hiking and mountain biking for outdoor activities. Unlike here, the weather in Florida was perfect for evening runs, just a little cool, not freezing and a beautiful full moon and clear skies, I got to admire the neighborhood Christmas decorations and reminded myself that I need to update the workout playlists on my iPod.
I’m happy to be home and have access to my kitchen again and maybe it’s a little sad, but I actually wanted to hug the Vita-Mix. While switching flights in Phoenix, I passed a smoothie/salad shop with a line of Vita-Mix machines and was painfully reminded of not having access to one :-P
On another note, a hugely popular sushi restaurant in this area just released a gluten-free menu with more vegan options. Sushi, seafood and just about all Japanese foods are still one of my favorites cuisines and I love seeing more restaurants offer more vegan options that do not involve a days’ worth or carbs and am seriously thinking of checking it out this weekend.