Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 831   Food and Retirement

This is retirement talk. I’m Del Lowery.

 We retired people eat out. And we eat out often. I never ate a meal in a restaurant as child. It just wasn’t done. It was probably related to having five children in the family and being relatively poor. We were all skinny. This was before Mc Donald's, Burger King, and Pizza Hut existed. Living on an acreage in Iowa we produced most of the food we consumed. There was the large garden that provided vegetables that were eaten fresh or canned for off season meals; the orchard provided fruit and nuts. Then there was Granny, the cow that supplied the milk; the chickens gave us eggs and meat and hogs provided the pork. When I think about it today, I realize that it was an organic diet. At that time we just called it growing our own food. Not because it was healthy but because it was inexpensive.

For whatever reasons eating out has come to play a major role in our lives. Retirement and eating out certainly seem to go together. Thus retirement and gaining weight seem to go together. That’s a problem. Last week we had three invitations to dinner in three days. This meant three days in a row of eating too much. I have little to no resistance to  consuming everything set on a dining table. My wife has learned to prepare just enough. She knows that if she prepares more, I will eat more. We all know that pounds go on much easier than they come off. I know it seems arrogant to complain about too much good food, but as mothers tell children – too much of a good thing can ruin you.

Don’t get me wrong. I love eating good food. My wife is an excellent chef. She grew up on a farm and learned to cook wholesome, home grown food. She had four brothers and a farming father to help feed. She learned to cook hardy and healthy food. She got an undergraduate degree in Home Economics and went on to refine her cooking skills at  La Varenne, a French cooking school in Paris. For nearly fifty years our evening meal has always been carefully prepared, slowly consumed and enjoyed. Food is important to us.

Now that we’re retired our interest in food has continued. We have friends with whom we exchange dinner invitations on a regular basis. The 'ore d'oeuvres, the wine, the salad, the main course, and then the delectable desert are always savored and discussed.

On top of the evening dinners there are the lunches. It is so easy to say, or hear, “Let's do lunch”. Then it’s off to the restaurant. Overwhelming temptation greets us at the door. Too many calories are sure to invade and find lodging.

 That is a problem. When we retire or age, our metabolism slows. We all wonder why our appetite doesn’t also decline with aging, but so far that has not been my experience. The appetite is as healthy as ever.

Retirement brings an extra sense of attention to our general health. Maybe it is not retirement but aging that is the culprit. Weight gain seems to affect our health in so many negative ways. Becoming a diabetic seems to be the bane for many. Along with diabetes comes so many threats to an enjoyable retirement. Heart disease and stroke are two of the main evils. It can also lead to problems with the Kidneys, eyes, feet and nerves. There are other issues that can accompany this disease.

When I was a child a double dip ice cream cone was my daily dream. If only I could afford to stop at the “The Highlight” café for a chocolate rocky road. That would make my day. As a youth, metabolism was not a problem; money was. Retirement reverses the situation. Just when your wallet can afford a double dipper on a daily basis your waistline can’t.

“Watchful eating” is the only answer to the dilemma. You have to watch what you eat. I know that some books talk about going to a low carbohydrate diet, or a low protein diet, or a – you fill in the blank diet. Book shelves are jammed with the secret to a healthy diet. I’m not sure it matters much what you eat. Personal experience tells me that it is the quantity of food I eat that matters. The scale has become my dictator when it comes to weight gain; that and my belt. Every day the scale shouts up to me from the floor. It tells me if I’ve been good or bad. It tells me if I can indulge or if I must cut back. And just as important is the belt. I like to think the leather has shrunk but I know that’s a lie. As a child, when my father swung the belt, it resulted in me changing my behavior. Today, it is just a matter of not being able to buckle the belt that changes my behavior.

I interviewed this guy once who makes chocolates; fantastic chocolates. He is a chocolatier in the true sense of the word. He not only makes them but he eats chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He is not overweight. He claims doctors are going to be very interested in his body when he dies. His cholesterol is low. His weight is under control. Time has passed. He is now probably in his early fifties. I saw him a few years ago and he looked great.  I asked if he was still eating chocolate all day long every day. He just grimaced and replied, ‘No”.

This is retirement talk.





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