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Category: Health & Wellness / Topics: Change Choices and Decision Making Food & Nuitrition Wellness

Simplicity and Moderation

by Dan Seagren

Posted: November 4, 2007

Food is a marvelous invention. It is not an accident.…Our senior moment arrives when we must turn down second helpings even though we are not completely gratified.…

The other day I stepped on the scale at the doctor’s office preparatory for my annual checkup. My weight was just fine, about 25 pounds off from my heaviest weight. I then asked the nurse to measure my height. That too was lower than its norm, about an inch and a half. Don’t tell me, I muttered to myself, I am shrinking. That can’t be.

So, when I got home, I had my wife mark a spot on the door jamb in the garage, just above the marks of our grandchildren. When we measured, it was the same. I indeed am shrinking. After nearly 80 years, I suppose I can afford to shrink a little. Then we spent some time with our son. He was always 5 feet 8 inches, two inches shorter than I. As we passed a huge mirror, I paused, and we gazed into the mirror. Guess what? He was almost as tall as I. Either he has grown or I have shrunk.

When we approach a holiday, our thoughts are on food, among other things. Holidays, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Purim and Ramadan all have one thing in common: food, either during, before or after. I grew up in a Scandinavian home where at Christmas we celebrated with lutfisk, potato sausage, pickled herring and home made root beer which often blew its cork with a big bang in the basement or kitchen. Today we enjoy American food with Swedish traditions merged into the season.

Food is a marvelous invention. It is not an accident. Even as we mosey onwards toward the centennial mark, we not only need our food, we relish the thought. Our senior moment arrives when we must turn down second helpings even though we are not completely gratified. Others, however, have their senior moment by refusing to eat or eating too little to be of value. Whether this is a matter of self-discipline, an anatomical malfunction or pride is not always clear.

The issue seems to be intensified by holiday affairs. Overindulging occasionally seems quite justifiable as long as it doesn’t awaken the voracious appetite we enjoyed when we split wood before sitting down to eat. Alas, our sedentary lives in the twilight years is hardly a match for a vigorous appetite. So, if we seniors are to enjoy ourselves, restraint is not a nasty word.

Then, lest we think we have obesity on the run, we need to get some exercise. Again, too much can be almost as bad as too little. We must find a balance that enhances our health. And for those of us who can, walking (somewhat vigorously) may be the best exercise going, especially since the advent of the remote and a few other conveniences. Since I have a sweet tooth and my dear spouse doesn’t (at least not like mine), I can honestly say I’ve never met a pie or a cake I didn’t like. No, I am not a diabetic but there are diabetics in my immediate family. However, I am encouraging my sweet tooth to lay a bit lower than usual because too many sweets isn’t the best way to go. Substitutes are not always tantalizing but let’s face it, in recent years they have come a long way.

Then there are the twin virtues: simplicity and moderation. We all know we would do better without a lot of fat in our diet with a morsel or two of fruits, grains and vegetables. Ah yes, dining, not only for its food value but also for its unique socialization ingredient, is or ought to be a highlight in the life of a senior. Dining alone out of necessity is one thing; but eating in solitary confinement by choice is not the wisest senior moment.


Dan Seagren is an active retiree whose writings reflect his life as a Pastor, author of several books, and service as a Chaplain in a Covenant Retirement Community.

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Posted: November 4, 2007

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