Loneliness, Sadness and Serenity in Old Age
INTERESTING STUFF – 5 March 2016

Easy Ways to Enjoy Eating for Your Health

There is a pile of notes here on my desk for a blog post about ageism and retirement. You'll see it here eventually, but the effects on the lives of elders haven't improved in the years I've been covering it and I'm not in the mood for a bummer today.

The news - online, on TV, the radio and newspapers - is even more terrible: climate change, millions of refugees without a place to be, a mass shooting in the U.S. just about every week, growing water shortages, the zika virus, toxic politics.

There's not much good news and I want a break. So today, let's have some fun with food and share our ideas about good, glorious food - about eating well, about being healthy and easy ways to do that.

I have always eaten fairly well. What has changed through the years, particularly in recent ones, is that I have ditched almost all animal protein except fish and live primarily on fruit, vegetables, whole grains and some dairy.

In general, I follow the commonly recommended guidelines from physicians, researchers, nutritionists, dietitians and other experts about eating well with special attention to the needs of elder bodies. My eating habits closely resemble what is called the Mediterranean diet.

It should be noted for this post, that I love good food, I look forward to every meal in my life and keeping it (mostly) healthy hasn't diminished the enjoyment of single bite.

Each of us, depending on the status of our health, physical limitations, likes and dislikes, will choose our own way of eating. As always, nothing I write here today (nor anything in the comments below) should be taken as recommendations – these are just some ideas that you might want to consider for your own enjoyment.

Personally, I believe it is better to get the nutrients I need from food and not from pills and anyway, the billion-dollar supplement industry is unregulated so there is no way to know if what is claimed on a vitamin bottle is what is inside. So I'm careful to eat a wide variety of foods.

Especially in winter, I like a meal of soup with or without croutons and I make all of my soups from scratch because there are no commercial soups that are not overloaded with sodium – usually a full day's sodium recommendation in what the label calls two “servings” but is really one serving for a normal adult.

I keep the freezer full of pint containers of home-made pea soup, tomato soup and occasional forays into other flavors. A couple of hours' work every few weeks means that when I feel lazy about cooking, I have meals at the ready that need no more preparation than the time they take to heat in the microwave.

That's a good lunch or dinner and if I'm still hungry, a piece of seasonal fresh fruit for dessert is a good finisher (especially now that I can bite into an apple again).

Fruit is a big part of my daily meals. My usual breakfast is half a banana, half a cup or more each of two kinds of berries, four or five tablespoons of non-fat, plain yogurt, an equal amount of apple sauce all mushed up together with steel-cut oats.

That's a huge breakfast that amounts to only about 300 calories at most and is packed with nutrition – not to mention that it tastes great.

You probably know this but just in case, frozen berries are as nutritious as fresh, often less expensive and they keep much longer. Just check the packaging to be sure there is no added sugar. This applies to frozen vegetables too as long as there is no added sugar, sodium, butter or other sauces.

In addition to soups, I cook up a batch of apple sauce every few weeks and freeze it in those same pint containers. That way there are zero additives - just apples, water, spices and for a bit more of a kick, I like to add a few pieces of lemon peel and the juice of one lemon.

Sometimes I warm up a small bowl of the apple sauce in the microwave as an evening snack. It keeps me away from chocolate and cookies.

Let me point out that I do not keep candy, cookies, pastries or any other kind of sweets in the house because I am a weakling. I am not capable of eating, for example, one or even two cookies. The entire package is a serving to me and it will be gone before the evening of the day I bring it home.

Here is another way I account for my food weaknesses. As I have mentioned here in the past, to forestall bingeing, I allow a meal of one of my “forbidden” foods on a regular schedule.

Most often these are one of my favorites - good cheese or ice cream – although I've been known to eat a giant chocolate bar or large chunk of carrot cake instead.

There are 21 meals in a week. I allow myself to replace one meal per week with one of those kinds of cravings. Maybe you can imagine how much I look forward to that.

Standard American, salty snacks are not on my list of foods. Ever. I'm lucky that potato chips, Cheetos and all the rest of what I think of as sports-watching foods don't interest me in the slightest (nor the soft drinks or beer that go with them). Maybe it's because sports don't interest me in the slightest either that these are not temptations. It would make my life easier if I felt that way about sugary snacks too but there you go - life isn't fair.

Which brings us to vegetables – the mainstay of my diet. I eat piles and piles of vegetables – raw, steamed, roasted and mixtures of those preparations in warm and cold salads that also include beans, rice and occasionally, pasta. All of it is healthy, none of it can hurt and the only caveat is to watch the amount of dressing.

A trick I learned decades ago to keep the fat calories in salads to a minimum is to use one tablespoon at a time of oil and vinegar (or whatever dressing you like) and toss for a long time. That works with oil for roasting vegetables too.

When I roast veggies, I do it in big batches so that I have leftovers for the next day but I rarely need more than a tablespoon of olive oil. Just toss until your arms hurt, then stop and it will be about right.

In three or four meals a week, I include a piece of fish – sometimes broiled, other times poached or baked. I live in a place with a wide variety of fresh, wild fish at sort-of-but-not-always reasonable prices but if you're eating only a quarter pound at a time, almost anything is affordable.

I don't eat out often but when I do, it is most frequently Japanese and not too long ago I found a place nearby that serves excellent mussels I like with the treat of a Caesar salad to start.

One other thing – I cheat sometimes but I'm careful to keep it sane. I haven't eaten beef or pork in years and chicken only occasionally. I'd always rather have fish or seafood.

But I do like lamb. A lot. So on rare occasions, every couple of months or so, I cook up a fabulous meal of loin lamb chops accompanied by a really good vegetable dish, some sauteed potatoes and a nice glass of local pinot noir. God do I love that meal.

Now it's your turn. What are your tricks to eating healthily without spending all your time in the kitchen and also, how do you cheat, when do you do it and how do you keep it under control? Let us know below.


Comments

About the supplements, you're right. I wish the FDA would have a look at those. I heard on the news the other night that a man had liver failure, and the doctors suspected the powdered green tea extract he'd been taking. I have occasionally used green tea supplements, so that scared me.

I don't eat much meat either, but have a bad habit of convenience foods -- like the Boca processed soy burgers, etc. I do buy most veggies (off season) frozen, since it's easier to choose whatever portion for one person. And most come without additives.

Bravo on you diet! Can't be easy, but I like the idea of a "treat" once a week. A good idea.

Good for you Ronni for your diet choices! Like you, I generally follow a vegetables/grains diet and have a weakness for sweet things. Once every few months, I can sit down and devour in one sitting a full pint of Ben & Jerrys' reese's pieces chunky ice cream!

One of my new favorite go-to lunches or snack is "mock tuna salad"--made with mashed garbanzo beans, diced carrot, onions, whatever, and vegan mayo. Great for sandwiches. Quinoa, black rice, pasta are favorites, mixed with a vegetable melange. For health, environmental, and ethical reasons, I avoid most flesh, but do crave fish.

Just discovered a great cookbook: Good and Cheap by Leanne Brown...on eating well on $4 a day. Tried an avocado milkshake (made with cashew milk) this morning (from that book) and even my carnivore spouse loved it. It's available in pdf form free online.

And, isn't it great that wine is both vegetarian and vegan!

This is a fun post! I find that a lot of people tend to swing one way or the other, in terms of their food vices -- they are either "sweet" or "salty" people. I've never been big on sweets, but I have a hard time resisting chips and all those things you call "sports-watching foods". Not good, since I have borderline high blood pressure and need to stay away from salt! So I don't keep them in the house.

I'm with you on the roasted veggies -- one of my go-to side dishes is roasted Brussels Sprouts. They caramelize and lose their bitterness. Yum! And I had a giant roast beet the other day in a restaurant, dressed with a little balsamic, that was easily the most delicious thing I've eaten all year.

I have switched to a plant based diet. I've been vegetarian since the 1960s, but always ate a lot of junk food. Since I've started following the Forks Over Knives diet I've felt ten years younger, my cholesterol levels amazes my doctor, and I rarely need to take pain pills for aches and pains. Some of my friends have started this diet too and they've been amazed in the changes for the better they have experienced. I've also lost weight.

Frozen fruits, eaten frozen, are delicious and filling. I love frozen grapes, raspberries, bananas, and applesauce. To me, they're better than any ice cream and a whole lot healthier.

We joke here that we have gone back in time. I bake our own bread using various non-gmo flours and all purpose flour that is non-gmo, non-brominated, and unbleached. We get most of our winter veggies frozen without the sauces none of which have tasted good to us since we cut back on the salt in our diets. It is amazing how much salt is in processed or commercially prepared foods. We also make our own soups from scratch. The last time we had canned soup we simply couldn't stand it--the only flavor came from the salt. We do eat meat but usually in small amounts (4 ounces or less). I don't really like fish that much but will eat a bit of it once in a long while. We have gone back to real butter and find we actually eat less of it because it is far more satisfying than margarine. As is real mayonnaise. We don't go for the fat-free anything finding that we eat less of the "full strength" item and enjoy it more. Because we are satisfied with smaller portions, the low or no-fat variety doesn't really save calories. We haven't gained any weight because of those changes. We do use a vitamin and a couple of other supplements on doctor's recommendations.

I, unfortunately, had to spend some time in a nursing home. And, while I was able to eat almost anything, some of the other patients were not as fortunate.
Either because they had no teeth, couldn't chew or had trouble swallowing, they were given what amounted to baby food. Mashed veggies and even pureed meats. Some ate the food, unwillingly. Some had to be fed, and others just refused to eat which resulted in eventually having to be force fed, through a tube in the stomach.
They were pitiful to watch. I told my doctor that if I ever get to that point, just shoot me.
Food is an integral part of our lives. Not just because we need it to keep alive, but because there is (or should be) some inherent pleasure in consuming it.
I have come to that point in my life where, though I realize that eating healthy is important, eating what I like is imperative.

I grew up in a house where dinner consisted of a meat/fish, two vegetables, a starch, salad, and desert, and I've pretty much stuck with that all my life. I'm trying to have a few more vegetarian dinners, but it's a struggle not because I miss the meat but because it just feels off. And also, that combination is so darn easy to prepare: broil, roast, steam, boil, nuke.

I've been cooking for one since my first house in 1971, and so I don't really understand why people sometimes find it difficult. Of course, it helps if you don't mind a day (sometimes two!) of leftovers and the occasional mushy broccoli.

I also love to read while I'm eating, so I look forward to that part of my meals. I have a handy book-holder that makes it really easy.

I like both sweets and salty stuff, but I'm lucky in that a package of candy or vinegar chips lasts me a while. (I wish I could exercise the same restraint with a game of free cell!!) I keep an eye on my weight and my portion sizes, and make mental deals with myself all the time - if I have cheese with soup, say, I can't have it while I watch TV at night. If I gain weight - and I have, the last few weeks with a pulled hamstring and broken wrist - I focus on cutting portion sizes of calorie-laden stuff.

I no longer eat much meat either Ronni, mostly fish, and occasionally a little piece of some other meat, just enough to add to the flavor of a soup. And you are so right, expensive meat is affordable when you only eat a 3oz piece once in awhile. Your breakfast sounds wonderful. I like to make smoothies in my blender too, with a variety of fruits and some almond milk for liquid or plain yogurt. I eat a lot of oatmeal too.

I too make big pots of soup and freeze it in one serving sizes. If I have guests I just defrost more of it. I do like eggs and love devilled egg sandwiches, on Killer Dave's thin sliced whole wheat bread. I probably eat four eggs a week one way or another. I also use fresh ground almond butter and a garbanzo spread I make for sandwiches or dipping raw veggies in to.

I cannot bring chocolate, ice cream, or cookies into the house without devouring them completely, so I don't. I am so grateful for the tiny one serving containers of ice cream. I buy one of those occasionally for a treat. Sadly if I bought two I'd eat them both. Thankfully I'm immune to salty snacks and baked goods. Baked good except my own. I bake two loaves of banana bread, cut off two slices and take the rest to my grandkids house before my inner gobbler snorts it up.

For snacks I keep containers of carrot slices, cherry tomatoes, and sliced up cucumbers readily available if I must snack. I especially like the carrots for the crunch. I use the cukes on sandwiches instead of lettuce. I slowly working last winter's rapid weight gain off this way.

Who are you people??? Such control and enthusiasm for vegetables. I really envy you.

I am a chocolate addict -- all my life I have eaten milk and chocolate before I go to bed. As I am older and trying to control my chocolate intake---- I am buying dark chocolate chips and putting them in a little bowl --- This and milk are now what I look forward to each night.


If I were alone, I probably would only eat when hungry, rather than at regular meal times, and I'd eat mostly salads and soups and fresh fruit, going out for a steak now and then. But my spouse grew up in a household were food was important, probably because they didn't have a lot, and he puts a lot more emphasis on meals than I do now that we have no children at home. He worries about supper while drinking his morning coffee. I don't give it a thought unless he tells me it's my turn, and then I wait until just before it's time to eat and put something together from what is sitting around needing to be used. Unless we are going out or having guests, I don't look forward to meals. They are more a necessity than a pleasure. I enjoy the social aspect of a meal out or with friends or family.

We have a garden and a freezer, so we have frozen fruit and vegetables in the winter, and we try to buy local cheese and meat. We use butter and olive oil. My husband fishes. We don't keep a lot of sweets or salty snacks in the house, except for the Super Bowl type of days. I drink my coffee black and my tea unsweetened, keep desserts to a minimum and don't like a lot of dressing on my salads, have not salted my food in over 30 years, often have a glass of wine with my meal, try to exercise regularly, and don't worry about my weight. I am probably about 5 pounds over my idea weight, but it would only take one bout of the flu or a bad cold to get me back down, so I consider that my "cushion."

I admire Ronnie's dedication, but I would not enjoy doing that myself.

That actually sounds like a terrific idea, Victoria! I'm curious about how much we were all influenced by what we ate as kids.

Ronni, your breakfast combo looks great. I want to try it - but first have a question:
Are your steel cut oats pre-cooked ? or added in "raw" ?

TIA

Hitting 60 caused yet another weight gain. Meat/fish is now a side dish, 3 oz or less. Usually used for a "seasoning". I love buying a $5 roasted chicken and getting 6-7 meals, my favorite one being soup with that homemade bone broth (new term instead of stock).

What seems to be working for me is having a small amount of food every three hours. I still enjoy two glasses of wine each night and I suppose when I hit 70 and everything slows down even more, I'll need to cut back to just one.

I'm a savory person ... my treat is a bag of potato chips on the weekend!

TIA...
I didn't know until this moment that there is such a thing as pre-cooked oatmeal. Is that true? Why, I wonder. I just cook them. It takes only a few minutes.

Good and useful topic today. I've been a vegetarian (who allows some dairy and occasional fish). It took me awhile to get the gist of consuming complete proteins, which was the main change from a meat diet. There are enough products (quinoa, tofu, soy) and combinations (black beans with rice; hummus with pita-I toast mine) these days that offer more tasteful choices. Like others, I precook and freeze stocks, soups, veg, etc. every month.

Seldom do I eat something that's not Organic (or is made from), and Farmer's Markets are my salvation for this, not to mention the products last longer. For awhile, I've preferred to eat raw foods, so really cook seldom (except daily raw steel-cut oatmeal). I have a lifelong craving for sweets for which I munch on a piece of dark chocolate (70%+) most days.

Throwing this all out the window is for when I eat out, usually once every 10 days or so.

I feel really good. But what took me to this place was my reluctance and refusal to take prescription drugs, if possible. It took me over a year of my new diet to reduce cholesterol, high blood pressure and some other poor readings. Oh, and many heated talks with several doctors over that span of time. Who - by the way - were minimal help when it came to nutrition. But the internet gives you all the goods.

I consider any food "healthy" if I like it, can afford it, and it doesn't upset the belly. I spent my career working at a Minneapolis natural food grocery cooperative and my tastes were formed around the foods we sold. The whole foods cookbooks of the 70s, 80s, and 90s were my cooking teachers. (I also closely observed health recommendations and food fads, as well as family patterns, during that time. More on that after the food part.)

In retirement, we cook from scratch meals of beans, whole grain or pasta, veggies and fruit. Meat and poultry are largely flavoring agents, though we have the occasional steak. This is the Midwest, so fresh fish is expensive unless you pull it out of the lake yourself, which we don't, so canned tuna and salmon as desired.

We split a quarter side of organic beef each year with our kids, purchased from our DIL's rancher uncle. Our take yields less than one pound per person per week, as some of the weight is in the form of soup bones. We roast one or two chickens per month and always have homemade stock in the freezer. Lots of homemade soup.

A favorite "dessert" is steel cut oats with lots of cinnamon, decorated with raisins, berries or cherries, and plain Greek yogurt, not fat free. Lately I've realized that wanting a PB cookie is really about wanting slightly sweet PB, so mixing up a few spoonfuls with raisins and a sprinkling of Costco organic granola, for crunch, is completely satisfying.

Now for the reflection based on decades on the front of the natural/organic/whole food/local food movement part of the response. This is long because of 32 years of thinking about it all. You are warned.

I don't do "guilty" about food because food is not a crime. We eat according to how we feel. It took a long time to get away from thinking that having ideas about "healthy" food is the same as eating in a wholesome way. Too much thinking about food in relation to health can become unhealthy obsession. Eating disorders among the very young are on the rise thanks to the "healthy" and "anti-obesity" food messages being inflicted on children. Small children don't have the capacity to filter the messages. They just get scared.

Ronnie's cautions about one-size-fits-all recommendations for the aging should apply also to recommendations for "healthy" eating - or habits - for the entire population. Personal habits impact, but do not necessarily determine, how healthy we will be. The interaction of inherited susceptibilities with life habits is key to determining who may suffer ill health from those habits.

My father is 85 and on his own for over twenty years. He does not cook. He considers a regular (little) MikkyD's burger with small fries to be a fine meal. Or a can of beef stew, or a fatty frozen entree, or a can of beans. He eats white bread and commercial cereals. He walks a little bit sometimes. He smoked cigs for 20 years, pipes for much longer, with no health consequences. He has no health conditions, no prescriptions. His carotid artery is pristine.

My mother eats and ate "healthy," followed medical advice about diet and such, and now supports a small pharmaceutical company. She drank quarts of skim milk daily and avoided the sun. Now 83, she has severe osteoporosis and the bones in her feet and ankles have crumbled into pieces. She has Barrett's esophagus, early dementia, and more.

I so hope my paternal DNA prevails! So far at 61 I'm free of the many health issues mom suffered starting in her 40s. Like my dad, I ignored most medical dietary advice of the 70s, 80s, and 90s and just ate the (whole) foods that I liked. I will never know if that has been a factor, however.

Health recommendations change and even reverse, so it is a mistake to consider anything that is based on "science" to be an infallible guide. Margarine was "heart-healthy." Oops. It causes arterial inflammation. Fat free dairy is healthy. Oops. Can't absorb calcium without that fat.

The early "Mediterranean" diet studies were done on Greek Orthodox islands during the Lenten Fast, during which the Orthodox eschew meat/poultry, dairy, and most oil. Before and after Lent they celebrate feasts (they have a special Sunday for eating meat, and another for cheese) to prepare for and recover from the fast. Children under 14, the sick, the elderly and pregnant/nursing women are exempt. No one grew up eating that way or ate that way year round! The researchers ignored religion and thought the few weeks they observed the island populations were indicative of the regular dietary pattern. We've all suffered for that mistake.

A study of an Italian American community, where an entire village came over and settled together, showed a very different pattern. They continued to eat the cheese, pastry, and meat they'd eaten back home. Many smoked. Yet the immigrants had little heart disease. Their American children, however, developed American heart disease patterns after they were adults. The difference was considered to arise from social fragmentation in the younger generation, as they moved away from their parents' enclave into mainstream American life.

Strong community can override lifestyle habits. Another study just noticed this last week - that staying connected even on a limited basis, such as a book club, had the same health impact as regular exercise.

The last word is not in yet.

I try to be sensible about what I put in my stomach, but I just can't adhere to a rigid diet . I have gone on fad diets like the Atkins diet and lost weight only to put it back on plus a few extra pounds. The reason is, I can't stick with a diet as a way of life. If you have the discipline to do so, good for you.

I soon yearn for all the things missing from any diet and become obsessed in wanting to eat a Snickers or a Heath bar (my favorite) and seeing a yummy piece of cake or a chewy brownie will send me right to the store for a forbidden indulgence.

In other words, I have no self control and because I have so few outlets in my life now food is more important than just being fuel. It's a reward and a pleasure.

I do know that I must keep my weight down to stay reasonably healthy so I try to eat sensibly. For breakfast I have an oat cereal loaded with whatever fruit is ripe and plentiful at the time. My cereal is usually topped with at least 5 kinds of fruit. My lunch varies, but the one I eat most often is a piece of cheese and an apple. Dinner is now a frozen one that I can pop in the microwave because I can't stand (or sit) lone enough to cook.

My motto is "moderation in all things." If I stick with that I usually remain at my target weight and don't feel deprived.

While we eat most of our meal "cooked from scratch" we are not opposed to the occasional "mean in a bag for two" offered by PK Chang or Bertolli.
While eating fish twice a week, the high point of our week is our weekly steak, usually a grass fed filet mignon.
What we have found most striking is that our ability to consume anything has greatly decreased. When we worked the weekly steak could be a 16 ounce porterhouse each, now it is HALF an 8 ounce filet mignon. I think our stomachs have just shrunk. That is fine because if we continued on our prior habits we would be fat as houses. Still, it is strange.
My greatest challenge as cook is to find things to cook that do not leave us with too much leftovers. A few leftovers are fine but beyond that Yuck. The Cooks Illustrated "Cooking for Two" has been my go-to cookbook for the past two years.

And - another great topic and for all the right reasons! Loved everyone's stories, and especially Elizabeth Archerds - I agree with her on pretty much everything. Have been rereading Michael Pollan's articles and love his three rules: Eat real food, mostly vegetables, and not a lot. Something like that. Common sense.

And if we're lucky enough to afford it - eat organic. All with the goal of reducing the chemicals/toxins that are now a big part of the food chain.

Just finished the Shift Networks 2016 Summit on Aging which covered a lot of what Elizabeth mentioned in her post. It appears that when we are able to create balance in our lives a "good enough" diet does the trick.

Personally the last three years have been an incredibly stressful time in my life and I went to my go-to food of choice - Hartley Potato chips, lots and lots of chips. It got me through the stress. When life finally started evening out I was able to step back and regroup. Stopped the chips overnight and didn't miss them. I also see aging making changes for me which many here mentioned: can't eat as much, not eating a lot of meat or chicken and always free range, organic if available. Same with eggs. Working on increasing veggies and some fruits. All stuff I love but the chips were sooo filling lol.

One of the losses that threw my life out of balance was the loss of Purpose - as it returns and grows I feel an immense sense of gratitude.

Most TGB readers are extremely health-conscious when it comes to food. Kudos to the vegetarians and those who enjoy cooking organic ingredients from scratch. Although I might wish otherwise, I've always detested cooking, and that hasn't changed over time. My husband--the son of a master chef--did what cooking there was in our house until he lost interest in the whole thing a few years ago.

Now we pretty much get by on salads and a little beef or lamb occasionally. I add a few bites of chicken to my salads; he prefers fish. Our nearby supermarket has delicious, fresh-daily packaged salads. He makes a meal of out of one, and I divide mine into two meals. It's probably a bit pricier than making them from scratch, but the convenience is worth it (and cost may equal out if one considers the waste involved in throwing away bought-in-bulk ingredients that we couldn't use up in time). I have a whole-grain English muffin or slice of bread (with butter) daily, some fruit and a glass of 1% milk. He usually has cereal or eggs and toast for breakfast and a light lunch, as well.

Although I do enjoy something sweet like a little candy or a couple of mini-cookies fairly often, I've managed to stay below 100 lbs. for many years (I'm 5'2") mostly through portion control and a daily walk. I'm basically a fairly active person, although I've slowed some in the last year or two.

What an excellent topic! Four years ago I was seriously overweight. I set myself the project of taking off all the excess, and over the course of two years, I succeeded. But... and you knew there'd be a but... the pounds are now creeping back on. I know exactly what's going wrong. I just don't know how to fix it.

You see, one of the joys my husband and I have always shared is relishing good food together. He's 77, five years older than me. I don't know how much longer we'll have together. Sure, we're both in pretty good health now, considering... These days I'm more and more aware that this could change overnight. It's very hard to say I won't have any, he can have it all, I'll have something else... when he wants to eat starchy, fatty and/or sweet foods which we both love: barbecued spareribs, Chinese barbecued duck, fried rice, coconut buns, egg tarts. And he makes a hobby of baking, too: killer homemade breads, cakes, bread puddings, and other desserts.

I'd be just as happy eating your kind of diet, Ronni. I love my husband's indulgences, but I also love fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, 1% milk, eggs, beans, fish, and small servings of lean meat. I DO say no a lot of the time, or create healthy meals for both of us. Just... not often enough. Those other foods make him happy, and me sharing them with him, also makes him happy.

So I struggle.

Still. There is one tip I can give those whose weakness is chocolate. If you've ever taught yourself to like black coffee, then you can also learn to like a mug of black cocoa: just hot water stirred up with a couple of spoonfuls of cocoa powder --no sugar, no milk. (A few drops of rum extract and it can taste like rum balls. Or try caramel flavouring and a smidge of cinnamon.) This drink will STOP a chocolate craving dead in its tracks. It's like, blam! Never mind that feeble milk chocolate, hardly worth the name! You don't want that any more! Here's the Real Thing! It has very few calories. Believe it or not, it's actually healthy. And, for bonus points, I've found it will calm a cough better than most cough syrups.

I love kale, sauteed in olive oil, garlic, and onions. I add about a cup or two of low-sodium chicken broth. It's delicious!

Another way around portioning salad dressing is the "fork" method. Don't put any dressing on the salad you make -- save yourself the tired arms from tossing the salad so much. Serve your dressing on the side and dip your fork into it before stabbing some salad with it. You'll be amazed at how little of the dressing you use.

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