I went to the doctor last week and among other things got my cholesterol checked. I'd sort of forgotten what she'd told me the year before - the part about the changes I could or should make to see if those high cholesterol numbers could be brought down. After all, she'd been so encouraging: How great that you're exercising - that's the best thing you can do! Blood pressure is wonderful! 125 pounds? You're TEENY! You look so young!
When the roommate went on a serious, must-lose-weight diet, I joined her in some parts of it. I made the move to skim or 1% milk, "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter," more whole grains, and exploring all the high-fat things one can replace with a good dollop of Greek yogurt (seriously - it's yummy!). I could have done much more, but I wasn't sick, or overweight, or fighting allergies. I was just... 40. And my cholesterol was high.
Well, the numbers didn't go down. So I want to make some changes. Mostly things to add to my life, or substitutions, rather than any major overhaul.
This brings me into the boulder-strewn rapids of "healthy eating." I have to tell you, I'm a little itchy and skeptical about this. Less because I don't want to change, more because I hate to see people use their health fears and problems to judge other people and push them away. I don't want to one of those kind of people who does that, and I see it in myself to become one.
It's bad enough how often I say, "I don't want to be one of those people who...." Do you hear yourself talking like that? Oh, maybe you aren't one of those people! Yikes.
While I can change what I put in my body, I don't want to tell everybody else they need to do the same, or even suggest that they should. Food can be such an emotional thing. If marriage is in my future, I may try to woo my family to enjoy fresh, simple, homemade foods. But I don't want to say: just 'cause I'm not having butter, or salad dressing, or pop, they're off the grocery list. You can't have them either.
Not long ago I spent the night at the home of some friends who are facing very serious and inexplicable health problems. The combination of the forcefulness with which they declared how other people eat "terrible!" and the freedom with which they criticized other things that people do or like or have, it scared me. I don't want to get close to them. Which is really too bad because they are my nearest coworkers. But I want to keep my distance rather than risking their judgment. And I don't want to be like that. But... it's hard to avoid all together, isn't it?
So, here's one principle I think will help. I'm going to avoid talking about lifestyle choices in the second person. I'll try not to say, "that's really bad for you!" and "that's really good for you!" I'll be cautious about labeling carbohydrates, meat, or other food "good" and "bad," and even use the term "healthy" with caution. Maybe I need to watch out for saturated fats, but you are right on track. Maybe you have to be careful about sodium, but that doesn't mean I can't ask you to pass the salt.
What do you think? Any other principles that have helped you balance grace, gratitude, and freedom with discipline, restraint, and helping others?