Belated Father’s Day Blog: On Making our Men Healthier!
I hope you had a fabulous weekend and Happy Summer Solstice! We are officially in the summer flow (at least for my friends reading this in the Northern hemisphere!).
I wanted to post this yesterday on the actual Father’s Day but I had to work on something all weekend, so I am a day late! But it can still count, right? :)
I love my father so much that when I really think about it, it makes my eyes well up in tears. You know that kind of love? He has always been such a support to me, even when I have been known to do a few wacky things here and there that a father might not like- such as, I don’t know, wander around the world for 3 years with a backpack?! He is super kind and mellow and easy to talk to, and probably the most non-judgmental person I know.
My dad grew up eating the SAD way (Standard America Diet). God bless my grandmother, but the standard fare in the house was pot roasts and meat loaf. Any vegetables to be found were mushy peas. She just didn’t have an in-depth knowledge of nutrition, like most people don’t, and she was busy. Again, no judgments! But what it does mean is that my father did pick up some certain dietary habits, and likes and dislikes, which he carries with him today.
My dad loves crackers and cheese, hamburgers, ice cream, and Cheerios, and he was not such a huge vegetable eater. That is, until recently! I am writing this because I want all you ladies out there that have fathers, brothers, boyfriends, spouses, etc. whose diets range in varying degrees from so-so to horrendous to know that things can improve! I don’t mean to single out the men… but well in this case today with this particular topic I guess I sort of am! :)
My dad always exercised and went to the gym, but over time, like most men, he started packing on some excess pounds, especially in his belly area. About two years ago, I realized it was time I had to intervene. My mother is amazing too and very health-conscious, but sometimes it takes a person outside the couple to peer in and make suggestions. That is probably why I do a lot of nutritional counseling for couples! Sometimes the other person is too close to the situation, and their well-meaning suggestions can be interpreted as “nagging.”
We certainly shouldn’t try to change everything all at once. And that’s what I want to emphasize. It is sort of like going into your kid’s room and throwing out all of his or her stuffed animals (which we know they have outgrown and need to get rid of) at once and packing them into a garbage bag. What would your kid do? He or she would throw a hissy fit! So what we do is start with one stuffed animal, and throw it out, then move on to the next, and then how about that huge old stuffed teddy bear in the corner that is leaking out stuffing everywhere?? Time for him to go! The kid has a chance to see over time that he doesn’t really need all the old stuffed animals, and that it actually feels better to have them gone and he or she has more space to run around! We don’t shock though- we gently remove in stages.
Men can be like children sometimes. They want to cling to their “food comforts”, especially when they view them as treats because they work hard and “deserve a treat.” Getting them to see that food should not be viewed exclusively as “treats”, but rather that it is fuel for the body is a process. And that process becomes fueled by making small improvements that allow him to feel and experience the benefits for himself. Otherwise, it just seems like we are taking away all the “stuffed animals” at once, and being mean!! And that never sticks.
With my dad, we started introducing Green Drinks, which my mother faithfully makes for him. As long as it is front of him, he will drink it –though he would never make it for himself! At first he missed his beloved morning bagel with butter, but then the Green Smoothie crowded it out because he gets full from it, and discovered (gasp!) on his own that he feels better having that!!! So much more energy!!!
Coffee is his true comfort so I leave that alone right now as we focus on other things…. We’ve made vast improvements in the diet (including the very important elimination of most of all the dairy) and he has lost so much weight, especially in the last few months! He looks so young and healthy. I am so proud of him!
So remember ladies, no matter what foods your men might love, no matter how they grew up and with what foods, positive change is always possible. And the best first change might just be Green Smoothies, and you can build from there.