August 20, 2009 at 8:43 a.m.

Healthy eating not for the faint of heart

Healthy eating not for the faint of heart
Healthy eating not for the faint of heart

I'm trying to eat better. Lord knows I am. It's just that some foods sidetrack my lackadaisical efforts on a somewhat regular basis. Eating only the right foods day in and day out is tough, particularly since the advent of the dollar menu and those little cheese-filled crackers you find in gas stations.

You should first understand that my wife, Su, is the healthiest person I know, so the pressure is constantly on at the home front. She faithfully gets up before the sun every morning, throws on her stretchy clothes and does some really far-out bendy things to a public television show. I think the show is called, "How to be Thin and Taut and Look Better Than Your Lumpy, Hail-Damaged Spouse," or something like that. I could be wrong.

The other morning I came downstairs and nearly had a heart attack. It looked as though a semi truck had repeatedly run over my dear Su in our own living room. She was upside down on the floor and appeared to have suffered a number of compound fractures, her limbs pointing this way and that. About the time I made a lunge for the phone to dial 911, she waggled her right foot in the air, smiled, and said, "Good morning." Aha. Yoga. The scorpion pose, to be precise. Look it up. My spine would snap like dried kindling if I even thought of trying it. At that point I figured she was okay so I went to the kitchen to brew coffee and look for a chocolate chip cookie.

For a few years we were members of an organic dairy and vegetable farm cooperative located in Wisconsin. I recall that we paid a lot of money to essentially roll the dice with the locusts and hail and other biblical plagues that might work to create a zero return on our investment. I also recall reading a blurb on the side of a glass milk bottle explaining that the milk in the bottle was sloshing around inside a cow the very morning it was delivered to our doorstep. I don't think I've had a drink of milk since.

I could identify most of the veggies the farm delivered each week, but every once in a while we'd wind up with stuff in our fridge that was a real head scratcher. It was only after I spent a fair amount of time Googling "obscure vegetables" that I realized there's a lot of stuff out there I'm not willing to eat. I'm not exactly sure, but kale might be one of them.

Even though we currently don't belong to a farm cooperative, unidentifiable veggies still find their way into our crisper. Just this morning I tested Su by picking up a bumpy yellow thing that looked like a miniature UFO. "What's this thing?" I asked. "I'm not sure," Su replied. "Some sort of squash I think." Now I'm really confused. She does the grocery shopping and she doesn't know what she bought? Maybe it just looked too healthy to pass up.

For a couple of weeks last year there was a head of something in our reefer that brought to mind a really creepy scene from the movie, "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." I'm not kidding. I would close the fridge door and go to bed feeling 100 percent certain something really insidious and scary was going to ooze up the stairs and take me in the middle of the night.

Last Friday I had a guiding job for trout down on the Whitewater River near Elba, Minnesota. Up until that date, I thought I'd been doing pretty well as far as my diet was concerned. I even opted for the soup and salad bar when my fishing clients and I broke for lunch on Friday at the Elba House Restaurant.

Driving home north along Highway 61 on Saturday, I was thinking about the good food choices I was making and was feeling pretty good about myself. Then it hit me. The first strong hunger pangs of the day socked me in the guts just south of Lake City. As I was halfway through town, my hand instinctively left the wheel and snapped on the left turn signal. No! I'm powerless! Don't undo the health benefits of the salad bar! It was futile thinking on my part, of course. My Isuzu Trooper, like the Millennium Falcon in Return of the Jedi, was being pulled along helplessly by a Fast-food Death Star tractor beam.

In less than twelve parsecs (that's the same amount of time the Millennium Falcon needed to make the Kessel Run, by the way) I found myself speaking to a less-than-enthusiastic teenager through a drive-thru speaker. "Like, welcome to Trans Fattie's, can I take your order?" I felt enormously guilty as I briefly glanced at the salad choices before ordering: "I'll take two double cheeseburgers and a fry off the dollar menu. Oh, and a medium cola."

Hey, Rome wasn't built in a day. Like I said, I'm trying to eat better, but every once in a while I get sidetracked. Hey, if kale and string beans tasted like a hamburger, I'd be the healthiest guy in the world.

If you have comments for Dan or story ideas contact him at e-mail [email protected].

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