Deep Fried Frenzy

 As my kids stood in line at the Heart Attack Café at the OC Faire about to indulge in deep fried food frenzy, I was filled with mixed emotions.  I was excited for them to “just be kids” and partake in this deep fried insanity and horrified by the thought of all these people in line about to stuff their face with processed sugar, trans fats and ingredients I can’t spell or pronounce.  Deep fried Snicker Bars, fried chicken, curly fries smothered in ranch dressing, deep fried Twinkies, chocolate covered bacon and the end-all, deep fried butter on a stick. 

 Casey and Harrison decided on a deep fried Snicker bar.  As I watched them devour cancer on a stick, I pulled out my raw organic sprouted vegan gluten free nut bar I snuck into the fair.  No outside food or water allowed. After a bit of sweet talk’n, I used my cancer card and got my Mountain Valley Spring water bottle past the security guy at the entrance check point.   

 I don’t want to seem holier than thou.  There was a day I would have indulged in the deep fried frenzy myself.  And, I don’t want to keep my kids from having a bit of fun either.  I know that the deep fried snicker bar was more than a treat, it was an experience.  But, by the look of many of the Heart Attack Café patrons, fried food is not a new experience.  It is a familiar practice.

Since my battle with cancer and my better understanding of how food plays a part in our health, I admit it is difficult for me to watch.  Even though I have always eaten what I considered to be healthy, salad instead of a Reuben sandwich for lunch and salmon instead of pork chops for dinner.  I realize that it was not healthy enough.  I’m sorry that it took a life threatening disease to help me see the light.

We humans are interesting creatures. Why do we wait until we are sick and all hell breaks loose before we make major changes in our lives? We smoke when we know it causes cancer.  We sit on the couch and promise to exercise tomorrow as our waist grows, our muscles shrink and we lose bone density resulting in osteoporosis.  We drink too much alcohol even after many studies connect alcohol consumption to breast cancer.  We think French fries are a vegetable and Red Bull “gives you wings.” 

And, sugar!  Don’t get me started on sugar. Americans eat on a per capita basis 156 pounds of sugar per year.  This is equivalent to 31 five-pound bags.  I admit I had a major sweet tooth.  I used to devour Robin Eggs at Easter, demolish dozens of cut out cookies with powdered sugar frosting at Christmas, gobble down slices of  my mom’s apple pie for my birthday, stole Kit Kat bars from my kids pillow cases at Halloween and snacked on pretzels and M&M’s chased by a beer for happy hour.  Sugar!  Sugar!  Sugar!

Resulting in Cancer! Cancer! Cancer! 

Sugar is to cancer as oxygen is to fire.  It is pretty clear we are what we eat.  But, just as important, we are what we don’t eat.   According to Joe Cross in his film, “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead,” Americans are not eating their vegetables.  In fact, for many, veggies only make up 5% of their overall diet.  In his documentary, Joe shares how he ditched his old ways of eating and stressful lifestyle with juicing and exercise.  He not only lost a ton of weight, he helped others do the same.  And, “ta-da,” today he is off all medications for a rare skin disease that appeared with his growing waist line and now has disappeared with his shrinking waist line.  How?  Veggies! Veggies! Veggies!

Why are vegetables so important? Answer:  Phytonutrients.  According to the voice of sustainable wellness, Frank Lipman:

”We have known for a while that plant-based foods are extremely beneficial to consume, and phytonutrients may be the reason why. There are literally thousands of them in our food. Some phytonutrients help our cells communicate better with each other, others help prevent mutations at a cellular level, some are anti-inflammatory, others are potent antioxidants and many have functions we are only beginning to understand. What we do know is they help prevent cancer, heart disease and most chronic diseases in general, are anti-aging, boost the immune system and generally promote health.”

Cancer grows when the immune system is on the fritz, genes mutate and inflammation is rampant.  I didn’t eat my veggies.  Sorry I didn’t listen Mom! 

Veggies just don’t taste as good as cookies.  Ask my daughter.   But, the less sugar we eat the better and sweeter fruit and veggies taste.  These days I actually prefer a slice of a sweet organic apple over a Kit Kat bar.  I would not have said that 10 months ago.

Maggie prefers a Kit Kat bar.  She is not alone.

Americans in general prefer fast food to organic fruits and veggies.  Food stands at the OC Faire like Chuck Wagon Charlie’s Fried Chicken Shack and The Heart Attack Café depend on this fact.  But the problem is as fast food consumption goes up, medical bills go up.  According to Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Diet book, in 1960 18% of our national income was spent on food while 5% was spent on health care. Today 9% of our income is spent on food and 17% on health care.

Eating healthy in America is expensive but so is cancer.  I easily spend over $300 a week at the local health food store on groceries and supplements.  But, we have spent thousands and thousands in medical bills for my treatments and we have medical insurance for god sake! 

My family has not yet embraced my new eating habits but they are making small attempts. Tonight I made Urban Zen Juice, a recipe from Kris Carr.  After pushing kale, celery, broccoli, fennel, apples, lemons and ginger through a juicer, Maggie made a valiant attempt to drink it but to no avail.  She honestly could not swallow it.  

I am hoping Maggie will eventually like it but change is difficult.  When I am faced with the choice of eating a deep fried Snicker bar versus a raw organic sprouted vegan gluten free nut bar, I will choose the later every time.  Not because change is easy for me.  Not because I have amazing willpower.  Not because I want to fit into my skinny jeans.  Because I want to live!

8 Responses to “Deep Fried Frenzy”

  1. Maureen McAndrews Says:

    GREAT post, Deanne!! I was at the OC Fair last week and couldn’t get over how many overweight people were there eating such horribly fattening and exorbitantly expensive food! I’m sorry you had to be faced with Cancer this past year, but I think your passion and commitment to a mire healthy lifestyle will save not only your life and your family’s, but many of your readers!
    Thanks for inspiring me! I hope you are doing as well as you you sound!

  2. Mom Says:

    We eat semi-healthy! I will have to rethink what we eat after reading your wonderful blog. I have never been big on sweets, you got that from your Grandmother. I will start working on a (veggie) pie for your birthday instead of apple pie I guess. Maybe an apple pie without sugar, I don’t know!!!!
    Great blog honey. I love reading what you write.

  3. taria Says:

    it took a heart attack for us to change how we eat. actually we changed how we ate
    and 6 months later dh suffered a heart attack. the effects of a lifetime of crap linger.
    everyday is still hard for me to make changes in how I eat. not drinking alcohol is not
    much fun. it is tough to be social when you eat and drink different than the rest of the
    world. maybe that will change over time (or I need healthier friends!) eat well and be well
    Yes Mom. We send you our wishes for that.

  4. Cathy Says:

    Well said, Deanne! And, you have inspired me to pull out my neglected juicer. I have to admit that I like apples and beets in my juice. My sweet tooth shows up even when I’m trying to be healthy. Oh, well.

    Maureen, I have a great healthy apple and cranberry pie recipe w/ gluten free crumble. Yes, it does have sugar, but not all that much. Let me know if you want it!

    Deanne, I’m glad you let your kids eat junk sometimes I do, too. Laney has been on a health kick lately, eating lots of veggies, but not enough carbs. I had to keep reminding her that an adult’s ideal menu is different than a growing kid’s.

  5. Stacy Says:

    http://teamhopechest.wordpress.com/2011/08/03/i-walk-with-one/#comments

    saw this on my neighbor’s facebook page…you should read!

  6. Lisa Says:

    I love what you just wrote and want to pass it on. I find it interesting how it seems everyday this discussion of fast food, over weight kids, etc… in this country is on TV and yet NOTHING has changed. We’re not perfect here at this house but we’re not HORRIBLE either. I didn’t allow the kids much junk at all when they were younger and now they make their own choices their own money and have become fast food junkies. All that showing them NO and they can do what they like now. I sure hope they’ll out grow their new found freedom sooner than later.

  7. Bridget Says:

    I just watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead last night on Netflix and I just got around to catching up on your blog today. Perfect timing! If anyone hasn’t seen it, it’s worth watching. So true – we really put such garbage into our bodies. I do feel guilty about what my kids eat too. It’s all about balance – life, everything. I have been juicing for a couple of years but have to admit I has been very lazy about it this summer. Back to the green juice!

  8. Deanne Says:

    Thanks for all your comments. So many strong women out there. I truly love to read what you all have to say.

    I admit I miss the beer, and chocolate and french fries. Old habits die hard. But establishing new habits are exciting and empowering.

    That being said, I think it may be time for a juicing party!!!

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