Thursday, March 7, 2013

IS MY FOOD EATING ME?

A colleague of mine reminded me yesterday that it’s Women’s Day week this week. Yes, yes, the one who reminded me happened to be a woman, and for all my fellow men and well meaning feminists who didn’t care to remember when, it’s the 8th of March. And for all those of you wondering why there isn’t an International Men’s day or a bunch of masculinists clamouring for one, we actually have a day to ourselves and it is on the 19th of November, but then who cares to remember… we men aren’t so good at doing this ‘Day’ thing anyway, and the women just can’t be bothered with yet another day for us, they say.

So with our day sinking without a trace, I thought of celebrating this International Women’s Day by getting in touch with the woman within, the yin in the yang and taking a look at my life through her eyes and fixing whatever might need fixing…

I began in the half light of dawn with the dressing closet and waded through the tangled vines of hanging shirt sleeves and stepped over a writhing mass of hooded cobras. I almost let out a high pitched shriek before the man in me reassured me and helped me see the serpentine mess for what it was – a collection of ties I had forgotten to stuff back in the drawer. Footprints on the carpet and halfway up the wall after an impromptu park our session, and the guilty sneakers caught mud-footed lying in the corner…

Hmmm, this place needed to be cleaned up. I was shocked with all I had not been doing and even more shockingly, blissfully overlooking. Something had to be done and soon. Just that the task was too formidable for the rather fragile woman in me. I decided it was best to leave it to a real woman.

Next up was the bathroom… Okay, don’t cringe, I will spare you the details and take you someplace else. Eventually, extremely upset with the masculine me, I tore myself from the shower cube and tiptoed (No, I wasn’t wearing stilettos… I’d just grown a sensitive bone and didn’t want to wake up the family with my waddle) down to the kitchen and toyed with the idea of wrangling up some breakfast for everybody. And that’s when lightning struck…

As I sat rummaged through the refrigerator to fish out a few articles for breakfast, I had a sudden epiphany. My food choices until now had been yang driven and more about what I shouldn’t eat rather than what I should eat. My yang me was busy setting up high defensive walls against fried foods, sweets and meats and focusing on the broader food groups of proteins, proteins and proteins and some more proteins and then some carbs and fats. Having turned vegetarian, I had been obsessing even more about consuming enough proteins now than I used to when I was consuming meats.

Though I had apparently made healthful dietary decisions, I wasn’t necessarily any healthier today than I had been in the past. I had begun training with weights in my teens and that is when began focusing on what I ate. I used to be skinny and the bodybuilding advice of that time was that any self respecting physique athlete must consume a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight if he wanted to grow. And sure I did grow on a diet of whole milk, eggs and chicken. But the problem with the muscle building diet plan. Protein is your bride at this wedding, and everything else pretty much makes up the numbers and nothing really gets noticed.


On the other end of the spectrum are those who are looking to get leaner and all they do is look at avoiding fats. So there you have it… Two diet plans that pretty much describe most of us who put in any thought about what to eat. And while both these seem to work for a while because our bodies begin to change, we stick to the plan and hope to live happily ever after.

Well, we are wrong. And I got a wake up call when I had to undergo a blood test before making a donation. I was working out regularly, avoiding my fats and stuffing in my proteins and in pretty decent shape and yet when the results came out I had a barely borderline hemoglobin count of 13. The doctor almost refused to accept my blood but then thought my group was needed for a Thalassemia patient and allowed me my good act for the day. At the time I had been a little irregular with my meals and thought maybe that was to blame for my score.

But today, unencumbered by a man’s keen desire to cook his kidneys in muscle-building proteins and with the benefit of a woman’s insight to clear my perspective, I began to see my diet-plan, one that I had conscientiously followed for years, for what it was – skewed, incomplete and self-righteous.

Fruits to go with milk in the morning, eggs in the day, cottage cheese for lunch and mushrooms or soy for dinner with a salad for fiber made for a rather incomplete diet. Sure I didn’t smoke or drink or eat junk but in many respects my diet was rather poor still.

I went down to the library and picked out all the books that offered dietary advice and leafed through them. Having left my bull-headed male ego upstairs, I began to realize that the craft of designing a good diet lay not in focusing on what to leave out but what all to include.

 This refrigerator needs a bit of restocking so I better go and pick up a few lifesavers before the folks wake up. You hang in there for more on this, be you in yin mode or yang, and I promise I will return with stuff that will turn that sprinkler on that fountain of youth in your body gushing like never before.

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1 comment:

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