Boomer Unchained: Navigating the Season of Eating
It’s fall in southern Delaware. The onslaught of tourists is a memory and the Eating Season has begun.
Local restaurants have kicked off a mind-blogging array of off-season happy hour discounts, meal deals, and delicacy specials. Alcohol holds the top position of the ‘special-for-you’ heap. Happy hour beers are $2 in some places and ‘house’ wines are not much more in others. These prices will last until tourist season resumes – around Memorial Day weekend.
If the temptation of cheap-priced food doesn’t throw you off your healthy habits, your friends, families, and community organizations are snapping up calendar days for upcoming social gatherings – all with food and a great majority with alcohol. These gatherings will last into January, with others popping up during the winter and early spring.
The question is, how do we benefit financially from the deals and discounts, and enjoy getting together at social gatherings with people we care about, while keeping our cholesterol, blood pressure, sugar, and weight in check.
I do know some people who don’t care about those health parameters, however I’d say the majority of the people I know (over 60) do. It seems, when we baby boomers and older look around, we realize too many friends are developing health problems. One minute a friend is walking miles each day and looking great, and the next minute they have a pain, a cough, a limp, swelling or experience a fall that sends them to the doctor or hospital where a medical test reveals a serious illness.
I am not saying that watching what we eat, exercising regularly, and keeping our weight in check are the panacea to longevity, but these are the only things we have control over. These are the only things we can do, besides avoiding tobacco, that will have a positive impact on our health.
We don’t have control over the genes that we inherited – where a good deal of our health problems reside. Nor do we have much control over the bacteria or virus that happen to invade our bodies and wreak havoc once there.
I’m a believer in being proactive about my health and monitoring what I eat is one way to achieve this.
Hence – Navigating the Eating Season (Can you tell I am a former PR person for a healthcare organization?).
So, back to all the restaurant deals.
I love them! My friends who live locally love them.Their grown kids love them. Friends who visit love them. We all love them.
We plan our get-togethers, brunches, and early dinners according to what deal we can find. We all get the Cape Gazette restaurant discount card. We find out who is doing burger nights, pasta nights, taco nights, meatloaf and prime rib nights, and other special offers.
We stand outside of Fish On until they open the doors at 5 p.m.
We hit Saketumi’s happy hour to get discounted sushi. We sample delicacies at Fork & Flask. We subscribed to the Rehoboth Foodie newsletter and scour the ‘Cheap Eats / Specials’ page.
Initiating ‘Healthy’ Action Plans
Several friends of mine navigate the Eating Season by following Weight Watchers. They calculate the Weight Watcher points in food even as they order a special. To me, their language is foreign and the points are an unfamiliar jargon based on some complicated formula. However, my friends can eat whatever they want, as long as they keep their points below something. They are about my most successful friends when it comes to managing their weight.
I’ve got friends who are vegan. I’m not how many vegan options can be classified in the ‘deals category’ as their choices are limited, though their choices will keep health parameters in check. There are a handful of restaurants in the Delaware beach area who say they offer vegan options, such as Lily Thai Cuisine, Semra’s Mediterranean Grill, Café Azafran, and Big Fish Grill. Then there are people who are vegetarians and pescatarians (fish, vegetables, and fruit). Their food choices also may help them keep their health parameters in check.
I’m thinking, in my food-loving, non-medical-professional way, that for the rest of us, portion control is an answer. That means we can eat what we enjoy, just not a lot of any of it. Melissa Wolf, my nutritionist friend who owns Balance, gave me a portion-control guide. Scary. A portion means a steak or piece of grilled fish that fits in the palm of my hand, a piece of hard cheese to go with crackers and cheese the size of my thumb, and rice or pasta the size of my fist. I’m still a believer portions, though haven’t figured out how many portions I am allowed in a day based on so many variables including how much exercise I do. (Check with a nutritionist or registered dietitian. It is scientific).
The great thing about food available at happy hour or before 6 p.m. is that the portions are smaller, which means you are already eating less (unless we order several dishes!)
For me, my lactose intolerance has exacerbated the eating process, as milk is in so many prepared foods – creamy soups, salads with cheese sprinkled on them, lemon butter chicken or flounder and even some breads. It fills up cakes and cookies. Understanding which restaurant foods included dairy used to be impossible. Now, luckily, many restaurant servers will tell you the ingredients of a meal, if you ask. I always ask.
Some of the things I’ve tried to do, after talking to registered dietitians and the chef at Beebe’s Ornish Lifestyle Medicine program, is to request fish be grilled instead of fried, salad dressings be served on the side, and that tomatoes or salad be substituted for French fries (Most difficult for this French fry lover).
I’ve also been told, and have read, that fried food, foods high in ‘white flour’ such as cookies and cakes, white rice and white bread, are believed to raise our blood sugar and weight, and so those are foods to either avoid or eat sparingly.
As we all have become more health-conscious, I am finding that local restaurants are continuing to build on the number of healthy options, even those deals, specials, and happy hour delicacies. If you are not sure what are healthy alternatives, check with your physician as maybe he or she can suggest some diets or send you to a dietitian.
We can all be different, depending on what health issue we may have. Be sure to enjoy the Eating Season but also keep your health in mind!