The Second Half

Anything goes. Within the bounds of propriety, of course. Welcome and behave, please!

Fruit, veggies and a bit of a rant — September 11, 2017

Fruit, veggies and a bit of a rant

No, no, and NO! No way! Really??! When does it end? Can we finally get a definitive answer?

Umm…sorry about the outburst, but it’s difficult to remain calm right now. I’ll try to explain as best as I can and then leave you to decide whether such frustration is warranted. Apologies if I get distracted and ramble some before getting to the point (which typically happens with me).

I’m one of those people who fight all their lives to maintain a healthy weight. I have no excuse such as a metabolic disease or some other disorder associated with weight gain. I’m a glutton, that’s all there is to it. I alternate between fat and slim periods, having the worst possible mentality when it comes to food: it’s either all or nothing (meaning no food at all or a total pig-out). In other words, I can do without but never with little. Shame on me! In my defense, I’ve worked hard on it and grown far more disciplined in my later years. Our bodies wear out and it will be awfully irresponsible of us not to take this into account and go easier on them.

I wasn’t much of a fruit or veggie lover in my youth. Not that I disliked them, I just never consciously sought to include them in my diet. Now I can’t go a few hours without munching on some fruit, grapes and watermelon being perhaps my most favorite. And veggies…You know, I might sell my firstborn into slavery if the world woke up one day with just one head of broccoli left. If my first (and actually only) child would not be enough to secure me that precious cluster of green buds, I would probably throw in my left hand as well plus a few toes. Yes, that’s how much I love broccoli and you couldn’t make me eat that in my youth even under pain of death!

 

bowl-of-broccoli-2584307_1920
The veggie love of my life!

 

Even if you don’t care about the scientific rationale, you just know that fruit and vegetables are good for you. Your body tells you so, it’s why every person on this planet likes some fruit or vegetable. It’s not the case with other food groups: many dislike yogurt, meat, or fish.

Think back to all the slimming diets you tried over the years. Chances are that virtually all of them were heavy on fruit and vegetables. And they most likely included at least one day per week of eating only one or the other and nothing else.

In general, we have been taught that fruit and veggies are the definitive healthy foods and we should eat as much as possible. But it now appears there are no extra benefits to consuming truckloads of fruit and vegetables! Yes, it broke my heart! Incidentally, the study focused on “the relationship between macronutrients and cardiovascular disease and mortality.” In plainspeak, the researchers looked at the connection between diet and the occurrence of strokes and heart attacks.

A consolation of sorts is the declaration that these findings in no way suggest people with a passion for fruit and veggies should reduce the quantities they typically consume. It’s just that the benefits taper off beyond a certain amount ingested. Elsewhere, the results support the conventional attitude to carbs, which is to say this study is yet another one suggesting we cut down on them. People who love rich food may rejoice at the researchers’ conclusion that the consumption of more fat at the expense of carbs can prove beneficial for cardiovascular health.

So, a mixed bag of goods, this so-called Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study (depending on your point of view, of course). But does it invalidate the reason for my unladylike conniption? I don’t think so. It was simply an expression of the frustration I feel every time study results of this kind come out. What the hell is a person supposed to believe? Eat less fat or indulge in more? Carbs are good for you, some clever folks say??? Oh, wait, other clever folks just said they aren’t, dump that bagel immediately! More fruit and veggies, less of them, none at all…Increase meat intake for more protein, get your protein from sources other than meat…Aaaargggh!!!

Here’s what I have to say about the whole thing. As a rule, I don’t much care what the latest study has found. This one made an impression simply because it messed with fruit and veggies, but I’m over it now. In the end, it all boils down to this: it’s your body and if you listen to it, you’ll know whether you’re treating it right. If you indulge in more carbs than recommended but carry no excess weight and feel fit and healthy, who’s to say your eating habits are poor? And if your passion for thick, juicy  steaks doesn’t have you popping pills for your cholesterol or high blood pressure, then your body obviously has no problem with it.

Now, I’m not saying anything goes. There are still rules to be observed if you want to stay fit and healthy. I may be terrible at moderation, but I fully realize it’s critical for good health. It’s my firm belief that everyone should identify a dietary regime that works for their body. In my case, that’s fruit during the day and one cooked meal in the evening, sometimes just a jumbo salad. And no, I don’t go hungry! The good thing is that I can do without bread (no sacrifice really) and I don’t crave confectionery. In fact, I hardly ever eat sweet things, a bit of chocolate once in a blue moon or a piece of cake at a birthday party and then only if someone insists I absolutely must. Where I make sacrifices is with beer: boy, do I love my beer!

 

grapes
My knees go weak at the sight of white grapes!

 

No, I don’t care what you have to say about the importance of breakfast, three meals a day, or whatever you consider a healthy regime. Conversely, I don’t expect you to care about what I have to say as regards your eating habits. Perhaps we can just agree that each body has its specific needs and then proceed to give ours what they require.

If you’ll excuse me now, I have a piece of juicy watermelon waiting for me in the fridge. Have a great day and stay healthy 🙂

Poppy love — August 22, 2017

Poppy love

This one begins with a magnificent picture of a poppy field. A photo that my friend Lee, a passionate and accomplished photographer, recently took in Ticknall, Derbyshire.

Now, poppies are not my favorite flowers (lily-of-the-valley is my girl) but I do love the color red. And the image of a poppy field is always a glorious sight for reasons I just can’t seem to pinpoint. Could be the burst of color, the way the red and green combine or perhaps the sheer summer lightheartedness that poppies ooze.

Anyway…The stunning picture you see above made my fingers itch to produce an article. But I didn’t simply want to wax lyrical about it; I doubt anyone would want to read a bunch of schmaltzy outpourings. So, I started thinking. OK, I said to myself, everyone knows poppy seeds are used to make opium; that’s perhaps the first association we make upon glimpsing this flower. Outside of criminal territory, we can enjoy poppy seeds sprinkled on our bagels or buns and added to different meals. But there has to be more, I thought, and some research proved that to be indeed the case. Poppies, it turns out, are as useful as they are pretty.

Some people will probably know everything or at least a great deal about the use of poppies and their seeds. This text will obviously be worthless to them, but I’m pushing ahead in the hope that others will find something of value or at least mildly intriguing. Next time they see these perky red flowers, they can go: “Ah, so you’re the one that can help insomniacs and ensure regular bowel movement. Well done, little one!”

Don’t expect a comprehensive guide! I’m far too lazy for that, not to mention that I don’t really have the patience to explore the subject in depth. In all probability, you’re also too busy or too impatient to spare more than a few minutes to read this. What follows is basically a compilation of the facts I found to be useful, interesting or just plain weird. Let’s go then.

Poppies for your health

The list of nutrients that poppy seeds have is so long that I couldn’t get through half of it. If such things float your boat, treat yourself by checking the whole three miles of it here. It’s enough for me to know that the compounds found in poppy seeds help lower what we call “bad cholesterol” and control blood pressure.

Their high dietary fiber content also makes poppy seeds a great ally in fighting constipation. It might be a good idea to stock up on some to have at hand when your bowels refuse to cooperate.

Naturally, we can’t ignore the pain-killing properties of the poppy. Its active components include morphine and we all know a hospital inventory can never be complete without it.

Thanks to the minerals, vitamins and fatty acids found in them, poppy seeds are also useful in preventing heart disorders, maintaining bone strength, fighting inflammation, enhancing brain function and aiding red blood cell production. Impressive or what?

And how’s that for weird of sorts: poppy seed oil could be the answer to the prayers of many women struggling to get pregnant. No, I’m not getting into the details of it, you can check them out here. It’s perfectly legit, a university study and all.

Poppies for your beauty

Ladies and appearance-conscious gentlemen, prepare to be wowed by the power of the poppy seed as a beauty aid! Actually, acne-plagued teens might also want to pay attention because these tiny fellas are excellent at fighting skin infections.

In general, poppy seeds seems to be most useful for skin and hair care. Due to their anti-inflammatory properties, they can help with acne, eczema and assorted rashes. They also make a great face scrub and an excellent moisturizer, keeping your skin soft and clear.

Those anti-inflammatory properties I mentioned? They are the ones making poppy seeds a good remedy for dandruff. The little darlings are also effective in stimulating hair growth and getting rid of split ends. But I’m too lazy if you remember, so I’ll just refer you to a place where they’ve taken the trouble to explain how you actually go about deriving these benefits.

 

garden with poppy
Amazing, right? I want to wallow in that garden and then take the poppies home!

 

So, business and pleasure combined under that cheery red hood. I mean, adorable to look at and seriously useful to boot. Next time you see poppies, could you please think of something else first instead of “opium”? Thank you!

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