The Holidays Can Be Painful, Physically

 St. Patrick’s Day shouldn’t be the only holiday where it’s okay to inflict pain on the people you love as well as random acquaintances. 

Surely the person who started the tradition of pinching people who don’t wear green on St. Patrick’s Day was OCD and a sadistic individual. And since evidently people enjoy this sort of thing I thought of some similar monthly traditions we could attach to our already existing holidays, as proud Americans. 

New Year’s Day– January 1st: Wet Willy anyone not wearing white.
Valentine’s Day – February 14th: Wedgie anyone not wearing red.
April Fool’s– April 1st: Poke someone in the ribs for those not wearing orange.
Mother’s Day– May 10th: Step on the heels of those not wearing pink.
Father’s Day– June 21st: Get a person in a headlock if they are not wearing blue.

The 4th of July– Place a lit bottle rocket in a person’s back pocket if they don’t appear to be a proud enough American.
Summer Bank Holiday (Scottish Holiday) – August 3rd: Sneak up and surprise someone by playing a bagpipe very loudly if the person isn’t wearing plaid.

Labor Day– September 7th: Make a person mow your lawn if they are not wearing a leisure suit.
Halloween– October 31st: Force feed a person vegetables if they are not wearing a costume.
Thanksgiving– November 26th: Sneak a live turkey into someone’s bed while they are asleep if they come to the dinner table not wearing one of those black and white pilgrim outfits with the bonnet thing on their head.
Christmas– December 25th: Make a person sign an affidavit swearing they will not mail out Christmas cards with their family dressed in reindeer sweaters the following holiday season if they do not dress up as the Holiday Armadillo during gift exchange on Christmas morning.

healthnutshell: The Extremes of Being a Meat Head Vs. Being a Vegetarian

What kind of meat did Jesus eat?

In 1990 as a skinny 9 year-old boy weighing well under 100 pounds, I was so proud of the fact that I could eat an entire Double Whopper combo meal at Burger King.  I impressed my parents and Italian grandfather every Friday night when, by tradition, we either went there for dinner, or the now extinct Quincy’s- “Home of the Big Fat Yeast Roll”, and I ate more than any of them.

In fact, one of my childhood catch phrases was “I need more meat.  If there’s no meat, it’s just like eating air”.  I was one extreme carnivore.

Much has changed since then.  As I’ve slowly slipped down the slippery slope of eating organically, it only seemed natural that I would eventually become a vegetarian, or at least go through a vegetarian phase.

Oddly enough, the deciding factor in whether or not I should attempt vegetarianism was based a question derived from a tacky 1998 bracelet craze: “What would Jesus do?”  I asked myself, “What did Jesus eat?”

Jesus ate meat.  He absolutely ate fish- he was a fisherman and even performed miracles which involved multiplying fish to feed thousands of his followers.  In fact, every time I’ve read about Jesus eating any kind of meat in the Bible, it’s always been fish.  Of course, knowing that Jesus was Jewish meant that by religious tradition he also ate some lamb and beef.

It’s safe to assume that Jesus ate a lot of fish and just a little red meat.  (But of course, he didn’t eat pork, being a law observing Jew.)   And that’s the basis of the standard I go by: The less legs, the better. 

Zero legs: Fish have no legs, meaning they’re the healthiest kind of meat to eat.  Except predator fish (like sharks), bottom feeders (like catfish, shrimp, crawfish), and shellfish (scallops, clams). 

Two legs: Chickens and turkeys.  They eat seeds, worms, and sometimes small mice.  They aren’t as healthy eaters as salmon and tuna and tilapia, but they’re better four-legged animals.

Four legs: Cows.  They should be fed grass, because feeding them corn causes health problems for them.  But even when we eat organic, grass-fed beef, our intestines aren’t long enough to fully digest the meat.  On the other hand, a true carnivore, like a wolf, has long enough intestines to properly digest the meat for all its nutrients.  As for pigs, they are scavengers, just like a possum or a vulture, so that’s why I am so adamant on not eating pork whatsoever (healthnutshell: No Pork on My Fork).

The less legs, the better.  Except for predators, carnivores, bottom feeders, and shellfish, which all feed on other animals they killed and ate, or the remains of dead animals they found along the way.

I am not a vegetarian, but I only eat animals that are.  Eating animals that are carnivores and scavengers is the problem.  Meat is not a bad thing or unhealthy at all as long as it’s the right kind of meat.  And the right amount of it.

Recently, studies have been popping up that show that Seventh Day Adventists live longer than the rest of us: Their men live 9.5 years longer and their women live 6 years longer.  Aside of limiting alcohol intake, exercising regularly, eating a health amount of good fats (nuts), most Seventh Day Adventists are either vegetarians or near-vegetarians.

http://lifetwo.com/production/node/20070107-longevity-seventh-day-adventists-life-expectancy

http://www.islandpacket.com/2009/05/16/846639/study-finds-seventh-day-adventists.html

While I will not convert my faith, I have converted to the Seventh Day Adventist  lifestyle of limited meat consumption.  Typically, only one of the meals I eat in any given day actually has meat in it.  And even then, it’s tuna, salmon, tilapia, chicken, turkey, and a few times a month, beef. 

But that’s only so good.  Because what good is it to only eat meat once a day if the portion size is too big?  I look at my hand and visualize the size of my hand without fingers.  That’s around 4 ounces of meat, a quarter of a pound.  That is the proper portion size of meat that I will allow myself to eat per day.  Not per meal.

Because if nothing else, by eating more than a fingerless hand’s worth of meat in a day, I am consuming too much sodium.  Because meat equals sodium.  And too much sodium equals heart disease and high blood pressure, which equals heart attack.

Was it easy to become this way? No.  But not because I go around hungry.  Because it takes more deliberate planning of my meals to make a health meal without meat.  But I’m getting it figured out.

I only eat meat at dinner.  For lunch, sometimes I pack a salad, or a rice and been burrito, or even some homemade, whole wheat English muffin pizzas with low-fat cheese.  All with a generous portion of fruit on the side (which I’ll be writing more about soon: Fruit by the Foot.)

For several months now, I’ve been doing this.  And I’m not hungry in between meals because I eat fruit.  And then of course at dinner, I eat meat with green vegetables. 

If I can add 9.5 healthy years onto my life by not being a meat head, it’s worth it to me.

Here’s a post from one of my writer friends that she just posted this morning, which I highly endorse:  http://www.meetmissjones.com/2010/04/real-food-wednesday-journey-to-real-food/

Holiday Dinners are a Chinese Buffet in Disguise

In the final scene of the 1983 classic holiday movie, A Christmas Story, Ralphie’s family is forced to have their Christmas dinner at a Chinese restaurant because their neighbors’ dogs ate the turkey. Today I had my first holiday dinner of the season. I reminded myself how miserable I would be (like with every other holiday feast) if I ate too much.

For the first time ever, I was successful. I controlled myself. I didn’t feel like I had been given a tranquilizer dart after the meal.

But even with the careful planning of portion control, it’s easy to eat too much and feel groggy the rest of the day. I discovered why today. Holiday dinner are a Chinese buffet, in disguise. All the major elements are there:

Meat that has little flavor (turkey). Cooked vegetables that are saturated in butter and often intertwined with pork (green beans). Plenty of carbs (mashed potatoes, hash brown casserole, macaroni and cheese, and of course, dressing). And a sugary dessert (carrot cake, pumpkin pie, egg nog). All set up on two big folding tables. Come-and-go-as-you-please-there’s-plenty-more style.

Really, eating Chinese food for the holidays isn’t much different than what we do anyway. Except there are no labels required to inform us of exactly which meat is being served. Because that’s never a good thing.