By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training, Tucson, Arizona
August 2, 2015
I don’t know about you, but my weekend has been pretty awful to say the least. No, my car didn’t break down again in the middle of the freeway, resulting in a sad and hot walk to the closest gas station. No, my pups are doing just fine (phew!). And no, I did not suffer any kind of injury that might prevent me from running and working out in the foreseeable future. Nope, something even worse. One of my favorite restaurants closed their doors and is now going to become another art gallery (as if Tucson needs more of those). I guess Food For Ascension Cafe had too lofty of a goal, providing fresh and local food for the hungry vegans (and or course non-vegans) of the world such as myself. They had a great selection of treats that would break the monotony of what I typically eat. Not to mention their hummus was amazing, for they always seemed to use the right amount of tahini. So for me, there will be no pizza of the day, no grilled potato cakes, no beet reuben sandwiches and no more silver dragon tea. It kind of hit me in the face like a sledge hammer, for after lightly flittering around on the internet for a a couple days, I found out they were closing while in the middle of a hot and sweaty shift at work. I must have had a pretty sad face on me, for it made me want to leave work and go gorge on some food. The downside of being a vegan is the lack of real dining alternatives, and while Tucson is pretty vegan friendly with three solid restaurants remaining (Lovin Spoonfuls, Urban Fresh and Veg in a Box), this is still a pretty big blow. It’s sad to see this place go while a place that serves a 12-patty burger continues to burst at the seams, while a pizza joint that loves ripping off it’s customers (I refuse to name the said, bird monikered company) continue to thrive. Oh well, it proves that attaining good health in this country is going to take more than a progressive and healthy menu, it’s going to take a lot of convincing so to speak.
Now I’m not terribly surprised by the closing, because the restaurant industry is easily one of the most volatile in the country, regardless of how good your ideas are and how many successful companies you own. While I pour out my 40-oz Old English in remembrance like a true gangsta, I once again have to start entertaining the idea of being completely home bound when it comes to cooking for myself. Yeesh, now where the heck am I gonna take my fitness, vegan goddess that I hope to meet in the near future for a first date? I guess I will once again have to rest on my laurels and keep improving my ability to cook. Tom Waits said it best in his song “After You Die,” asking the obvious question ‘What is it like after we die?’ Well, it’s like a new brain learning he indicates in one line, meaning the setback of one little moment in life means we have to be steadfast in our efforts, metaphorically speaking of course and furiously seek out new knowledge to supplement the loss. But what exactly is to be gained cooking from home so often. I mean, when you are a bachelor like myself, you have a lot of meals by yourself, unless you count your begging fur children as companions. Of course, I indicated many blogs ago that eating by yourself, especially at a restaurant can be a good reason why one may gain weight. My reasoning of course, is the world is so full of stimulation and anxiety that sometimes a big, fat juicy burger might be the answer to quell those inner issues. And of course, there is always the problem when you eat alone, you tend to have a much heartier meal in the process. I’ll admit, I didn’t adhere to this principle back in the days when I would eat with my friends, for I would always be the guy that would get the appetizer and the main dish for my meal. Sadly, this was actually holding back for me, for the nights I would go all out would be the nights where I would add alcohol and some monstrous desert that I would have to reach deep into my psyche just to finish, making me look and walk like humpty dumpty as I would saunter out the door of the said establishment (typically it would be Chilli’s). Who would have guessed the most mentally fortified moments in my life would be in the monstrous amounts of food I would eat?
As I prepare to continue my home cooking existence, it is probably for the better in regards to my health. At work I talked with a guy that couldn’t believe the fact I was some 400 pounds. I told him the grotesque stories of the never ending fast food gorging, spending 22 bucks at Mr. K’s and being such a regular customer at Marco’s Pizza that the staff knew me by name the franchise owner would come out and greet me (not to mention the place shut down six months after I stopped eating there). After a tough day of work like yesterday’s, I might have had a pretty heavy and nasty dinner. Instead I made some couscous and ate some Stacy’s Bagel Chips with hummus (I can’t help it, Stacy’s controls me!). Not incredibly healthy to say the least, but at least it wasn’t a 12-pack of tacos from Taco Bell. But even though I didn’t consider my dinner that healthy, science seems to support the contrary. http://civileats.com/2014/11/17/toss-those-take-out-menus-new-study-says-cooking-makes-us-healthier/
When you eat at a lot of restaurants, you are not in control of anything. While you may choose to get the chicken sandwich over the half pound burger because it seems lighter, the difference would still be gigantic in comparison to what you can make at home. While my meal wasn’t the picture of health, there was no real added fat or butter, no greasy fries that are calorically a meal in themselves or any other tainted food staple I would order. Controlling these simple things whether you are aware or not is something which can have a positive effect on the body’s overall health, especially on the waistline. The researchers also agreed to this sentiment. According to the numbers, they concluded some 48 percent of households cooked dinner at home six or seven times a week. Unlike the 44 percent that cooked dinner two to five times a week and the eight percent that cooked dinner once a week (I used to be in that category), the more you cook seems to provide many more positives to your diet. Your fiber intake is much healthier, which is a good thing since that will allow you to remove waste and impurities much easier. Other measurable health options like carbohydrates and sugars also proved to be much lower as well as fat and caloric intake. Now, there will always be the caveat to the example, like the family of a 600-pound woman that would let her deep fry her chicken every day or the fact one would make huge deli sandwiches that probably weighed a pound (I deemed it a healthier option than getting a pizza).
Now I will admit, I was a bit hungry last night, which is why I probably went a little too hard o the carbs, but on the other hand, I typically do a good job during the workday. While expense is always the biggest thing to point at, I don’t have to worry about such a thing. I ate six bananas for lunch on Saturday and will eat six more today. Why? Well, the banana diet certainly failed for me, but one thing it did prove is I can replace a good meal with bananas quite easily and with little pain (provided no co-workers were downwind of my burps of course). You see, I don’t even buy the “good” bananas anymore at the store, for I go right to the ripe ones. I spent $1.35 on the combined total for my two lunches. I will take that any day of the week. To think, managers are thinking of sending these edible delectables into the trash because they have some brown spots, even though the brown spots indicate better health for the individual! http://www.livestrong.com/article/519389-do-overripe-bananas-still-have-nutritional-value/
Now I will admit, eating at home is pretty typical for me, but as I mention before, losing a watering hole that had some exceptional food makes it tough to digest (ha, food pun!). Fortunately, healthier options are always popping up at restaurants these days, and perhaps with the new health guidelines the Health and Human Services Department have outlined, more restaurants will seek to aid the health of an obese nation. But hold on just a second! While I outlined in the last blog just how bad sugar could be our collective diets, we now have some hard data to indicate just how difficult it will be. http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/news/3809489-food-companies-outgun-health-advocates-diet-debate Any person that is aware about the sugar debate in our country knows certain entities will not sit back and let their moneymaker be threatened. According to the article, pro-sugar companies and trade federations are easily outspending the anti-sugar groups, sending in 14 ties the amount of money. Now the arguments are getting a little more testy, for I mentioned the initial findings of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee was a rather arbitrary number of 50 grams of added sugar per day (as in foods that don’t have natural sugar in them unlike fruits and some vegetables). The more disputed number at the moment is apparently the percentage of added sugar a person would have in their diet daily, which the committee is recommending to go down to 10% from 13%. When you do the math in accordance to a 2,000-calorie diet (the national average), the 10% number and the 50 grams actually match up pretty well. Now we will not get the final findings of the dietary guidelines until the end of the year, and I’m sure there will be some battles being waged n the press soon enough, especially when the holiday season comes along. Beef and livestock companies are already gearing up for a fight considering the committee’s finding recommended less meat in addition to less sugar. And this going to be a bloody battle, for the beef industry is an estimated 80 billion dollar juggernaut (in spite of high prices and lower stock prices) while the sugar conglomerates have people like Warren Buffett backing their cause.
With all of these things happening in the background, just remember that good health always starts with the individual. While eating out is a joy in most cases, doing so far too often can lead to some unwanted consequences. While I may not be perfect in my home cooking, at least I know it is made for sustenance, not flavor and aural responses designed to create repeat business. But I will miss Food For Ascension Cafe. I will miss the vegan biscuits and gravy, the assorted tarts and even the calzones. But alas, such is the world. I’m gonna need some time to recover from this. Anyway, eat more at home, and eat healthy while you are at it. It will not only help your pocketbook but help your body.
About Parsons Training
Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company.
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.
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