Things I Have Learned Part 2: Eating for a Healthy Heart

I just love the patient education booklets handed out by hospitals.  Yesterday, of course, we reviewed the fascinating and informative pamphlet “Facts on Handwashing.”  Therein we learned not only why one should wash one’s hands, but when and how as well.  We discovered, for instance, that it is considered good practice to wash one’s hands after going to the bathroom or handling animal waste, and before eating a sandwich or touching a baby.  And then again after touching a baby.  Especially if you’re going to touch a baby and then have another sandwich.  It gets real complicated.

But today, we move on to the colorful and exciting booklet, “Eating for a Healthier Heart,” in which we learn that after heart surgery, you must never, ever, ever again have anything with even the slightest bit of flavor, unless that flavor is vinegar or Mrs. Dash.

We learn something else, though, from the illustrations:  After heart surgery, if you do everything right, and eat only steamed vegetables with vinegar on them, you will always have The Time Of Your Life!  You will be in a state of giddy  happiness, no matter what you’re doing.  Just take a look at these nice people:

They all look as though they’re about to start singing “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” which I fervently hope they don’t.

We also learn that one does not have to give one’s favorites even when eating out.  And, of course, it takes many years of study in the complex field of diet and nutrition before one can offer these professional dining out tips:

  • Ask for a baked potato or steamed rice without butter
  • Ask that sauces be left off or served on the side.  Choose sauces with a tomato base, instead of cream or cheese sauce.  Then eat only a little
  • Ask that vegetables be steamed and served with no butter or sauce.
  • Look for fish, chicken, turkey or meatloaf that is broiled, poached or steamed.

Mmmmmm, boy!   The only remaining question is, “Now, what would be the point of eating out?”   Isn’t it just possible that common sense could kick in a bit here?   I’m certainly going to improve my eating habits, not that they’ve been all that terrible right along.  And yes, plenty of veggies, whole-grain foods, oatmeal, salads, broiled fish or chicken… no problem, at home.  I’m a pretty darned good cook, myself, by the way, so I know how to cook flavorful, healthful foods with very little fat or sodium and other artery-clogging crud.

And, given our current financial situation, dining out is now something that’s more theoretical than anything else, but if it were actually real and possible, I think it would be permissible to have a bit of bleu cheese dressing, or a baked potato with a dollop of sour cream, and maybe even some butter-like substance.  Didn’t anybody tell the folks who wrote this book that simply replacing a cream- or cheese-based sauce with a tomato-based sauce is not always something that could be reasonably accomplished?

“Uh… excuse me… I’d like the Fettucine Alfredo, but instead of that cream and cheese sauce, can you make it with tomatoes instead?”

On the other hand, this family seems to be eating healthfully, in a restaurant.  Mom and Dad are chowing down on big bowls of leafy, green goodness, and the kids seem to have burgers.   Probably steamed turkey burgers.  But look at how HAPPY they all are.  It’s family togetherness personified.  The boy seems to be thinking about how this might be a good time to discuss with Mom and Dad the…uh…urges he’s been feeling recently.

Okay, one more illustration.  This seems to be a guy consulting with a nutritionist or a doctor or somebody, as evidenced by her lab coat.  But look at the desk.  It’s covered with carrots, green stuff, a yellow thing, something that appears to be mushrooms, and a loaf of bread — all just hanging out there on the desk, unwrapped:

What does this tell us?  Well, for one thing, that with this illustration, they’ve met their diversity quota (African-American?  Check!)   But what’s with all the unwrapped food?  Are they having lunch?  A consultation?  Are they actually co-workers cleaning out the office fridge?

We’ll never know.


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