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EATING HEALTHY IF IT KILLS US

Following a bout with breast cancer back in 1999, I made a resolution to change my deplorable eating habits to a healthy, plant based program of nutrition. This meant, of course, that I would have to convert my husband and two teenaged children as well.
Their reaction to my first meal?
“What’s this stuff on my plate?” My son, Aaron, circled the dinner table, eyes narrowed suspiciously, lip threatening to curl.
“Which stuff might that be?” I asked, with an innocent lift of my eyebrow.
“This weed-looking thing here next to this. . .this. . .what IS this thing the weed is sitting next to?”
Ignoring him for the moment, I called my husband, Fred and my daughter, Summer to the table.
Summer galloped into the room. “Geez, Mom, it’s about time, I am STARVING!” Stopping suddenly in her tracks, anticipatory smile fading, nostrils twitching, “What’s that smell?”
“Dinner,” I said.
Moving to where Aaron hovered anxiously above his place setting, she stood beside him, peering down at her plate. “Why is there a weed on my plate?” she demanded. “And what’s this thing it’s sitting next to?”
“It’s not a weed, its kale, for crying out loud,” I explained. “It’s a cruciferous vegetable.”
“Cruciferous is another way of saying its some weird thing she found in the backyard!” Aaron interpreted for his sister.
“That’s disgusting.”
“I did not get it from the backyard. I got it at the health food store,” I said, turning for support to Freddie, who had just come on the scene.
“What’s that smell?” he asked.
He joined Summer and Aaron at the table. “Why is–?” Anticipating the rest of the question, Summer said, “It’s not a weed, it’s Kale. Mom found it in the backyard.”
“Just sit down and eat,” I sighed.
My family deposited themselves in their appropriate places and picked up reluctant forks. Fred prodding worriedly at the main course, asked, “What’s this?”
“Yeah, that’s what I want to know,” Aaron said. “It doesn’t look like food.”
Summer nodded a vigorous agreement.
“It’s a veggie burger,” I said, squirting catsup over the patty.
Freddie examined his up close, “Looks like brown gravel, birdseed and oatmeal,” he pronounced.
Summer, nudging her mashed potatoes protectively away from her patty, asked, “Have we been bad?”
I shook my head in exasperation, “It tastes just like hamburger, only it’s good for you.” Cutting a small piece with my fork, I popped it into my mouth. My family watched skeptically. I chewed, and then swallowed, a bright, contented smile on my lips.
They weren’t buying it.
“Eat your weeds,” I muttered, pointing a threatening fork. “It’s not negotiable. This family is going to eat healthy if it kills us.”
Groaning collectively, with expressions resembling those of prisoners facing a firing squad, they began to eat.
“See,” I said, “It’s not that bad.”
Aaron and Summer grimaced, each alternating small bites of pseudo-burger with large gulps of ice tea. Freddie merely shrugged, concentrating most of his attention on his mashed potatoes. A few minutes later, Aaron’s expression brightened.
“Hey, what’s for dessert?”
I couldn’t help myself. “Tofu pudding!”
“Ewwwwwwww!”
“Just kidding.”
Sometimes my family has no sense of humor.
So, that initial dinner was my first clue that maybe the whole “healthy eating,” “healthy living” resolution was going to take some serious getting used to.
Even I, as enthusiastic as I was about getting back to nature, was dismayed to discover what any honest health-food zealot will admit, albeit under torture: If it’s good for you, it will probably resemble something found floating on the top of your backyard fishpond, and will taste uncannily, of barkdust.
But, on the upside, that was nearly twelve years ago now, and no one in the family has died from offended taste buds. Fred has decided that chickens grown free range, taste pretty much the same as the ones grown in the grocery store. Summer has admitted that she actually kind of likes kale. Aaron–well, what can I say? He’s living on his own now and I’m pretty sure the closest thing to a vegetable going into his mouth. . .is a french fry.
And me? I discovered a green tea that doesn’t taste like pond scum, as well as some healthy recipes that are actually good. All in all, I’d have to say that even though I’ve failed at many of the resolutions I’ve made over the years. . .this is one I’ve managed to keep.

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2 comments on “EATING HEALTHY IF IT KILLS US

  1. Well, guess it’s my turn to turn a new “leaf” around. Got my cholesterol numbers and I’m a walking clog of yuck. 315 to be exact. I know I’ve been dealing with high “C” but this is the worst it’s ever been. We need to talk!

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