If any good comes of the health crises abounding on Hubby’s side of the familial ledger and my brother in law’s quad bypass surgery, it’s that we’ve both felt the Universe’s foot in our butts about making some overdue changes to our food choices and exercise goals.
The two of us have family medical histories that read like a CDC bulletin: cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure; diabetes; cancer; strokes; arthritis. In fact, Hubby had an uncle who had the trifecta of cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. He still made it to 80, but the last few years were of highly questionable quality.
Needless to say, we don’t want that. It goes double for me since then nonsmokers in my family hang around until their 90s. Several lengthy conversations and not a little research later, we drew the following conclusions:
- Both of us need to move our behinds a lot more. I added weight training (we have a machine in the basement) twice a week and committed to practicing with yoga videos from YouTube at least twice a week on top of walking with Oakley at least 30 minutes a day.
- We needed to tweak our food intake. Even though there is nothing more soothing to the soul than carbs and cheese, a steady diet of it does no one any good. Especially when mac and cheese, albeit homemade, becomes the default meal.
- Portion control is a factor. We are both guilty of eating out of the container and picking at leftovers and stress eating.
- Both of us see kale as the vegetable equivalent of waterboarding.
- We like ice cream and cake.
So how do we make these changes as painless as possible? We had been sort of kind of eating according to the Mediterranean diet. (Graphic on the right, not mine in any way shape or form.) For Hubby, it’s perfect because his roots sink deep into the soil of the Mediterranean Sea’s eastern shores. He just has to do some portion control and he’ll be in great shape.
For me, however, it was a tad too high in carbs, even unrefined ones, and fats, even healthy olive oil. Plus I’m wired to need more substantial sources of protein than legumes and nuts. (Now you know why I can’t go completely vegetarian.) Unlike Hubby’s, my ancestors wandered all over the map of the United Kingdom, western and northern Europe. What, then, should I eat?
Behold the graphic in the upper left: the Nordic, or Baltic diet. (Again, not my work.) A team of Helsinki researchers riffed on the Mediterranean pyramid to use products that are easier to find in northern Europe. It emphasizes lower glycemic foods such as berries; grains such as barley, rye, and oats; lentils; and more dairy products, preferably low fat. Oh, and canola oil, preferably organic. Plus potatoes.
The overlaps are in the seafood, leafy greens, nuts, yogurt, and small amounts of chocolate departments. We start meal planning from there.
We back off on the starch based meals and watch the amount of oil. Trina Hahnemann’s New Nordic Diet has a crazy easy cod and mussel stew recipe that’s become a go-to, replacing the mussels with shrimp if we can’t get to the fish monger’s. Just put everything in the pan and let it steam until done. I am eating rye bread most of the time–the really good bread Aldi gets from Germany. I am eating oatmeal.
If we can stay the course, we can still have a bit of cheese and we can still have pasta a couple of times a week in moderation.
I am happy. I will be more more so when the scale starts to move.