Skinny Daily Post


I just came back from visiting my folks on the Jersey shore. The water was pristine and the weather was great. While I was there, I was thinking about how when I was a kid in the 60s, they used to run trucks up the highway spraying DDT, and they used to pump sewage directly into the Barnegat Bay. As a result there were no birds, there were signs prohibiting eating any shellfish caught in the area, and the water always had a slick, oily feel to it. It was like a toxic waste dump.

These days, the environment seems to have recovered somewhat. Its been decades since they installed a sanitation system, discontinued pesticide use, and stopped dumping garbage into the ocean. The difference is remarkable, at least to me. For one thing, there are tons of bugs! But there are also many birds, and schools of fish are plainly visible on the many days when the water is clear. The beaches seem cleaner and even the air feels less choked with automobile fumes.

By the same token, when I was a kid, my food environment was equally toxic. I was reminded of this because thatís one area that has NOT been cleaned up at my familyís beach house. The cabinets are full of trans-fatty snacks, thereís nary a vegetable to be found, fruits are limited to rotting bananas and some sorry old grapes, and the meals are laden with fats, refined sugars, sodium and calories.

In spite of myself, I fell head first (and mouth open) into that particular vat of chemicals over the weekend. From the second I walked in the door, I was suddenly downing all kinds of foods that I never keep around my own house (donuts, cookies, ice cream, pastries, candies, crackers, full-fat dairy products, etc.). And like the Jersey shore of old, I found myself feeling queasy, and had kind of a slick, oily sensation!

Flying back to California, having scarfed down in three days the amout of calories I normally would spread out over several weeks, I spent a lot of time thinking about why and how this all happened. On the one hand, I take full responsibility for all of my food choices. On the other, its clear to me that an unhealthy pattern of eating, established early in my life, took hold in a fairly fundamental way.

Iím not sure if it will take decades of clean living for my healthier environment to prevail. Thatís a long time and Iím not the worldís most patient person. At the same time, its pretty obvious that the long-term offers either health or sickness and every step I can take today will have an impact in the future.

For now, Iím relieved to be home in a house full of organic veggies, fresh fruits, lean meats, healthy snacks and Ďcleaní cabinets. I can almost feel my arteries unclogging.

8 thoughts on “Environmental Awareness

  1. kat says:

    I’ve occasionally visited. I just wanted to tell you I think you’re doing a great service to those of us who are overcoming the battle of obesity. I have lost over 70 lbs so far. I have 60 more to go… but I’m getting there… my metabolism has turned the corner and it seems to be coming off quicker than usually. how have i done it? no programs. 800 calories at the most per day. lots of vitamins, minerals and essential oils. getting rid of ALL BREAD AND CHEESE :o), processed foods (including processed milk and meats — it makes a difference really). I’ve gone organic. Most of my plate is vegatables. I exercise like a freak, but not until some of the fat dropped because i have a lot of muscles from when i was in my teens and early 20s.
    i’m 35. my life is so different now. i’m a small person. and i’m getting happy.

    go figure!

  2. Greta says:

    The same thing happens to me when I visit my family. Sometimes I do better than other visits, but mostly that’s a situation in which I fall into old patterns. It can be REALLY hard to pull it together after getting home again. Congratualations on pulling together so fast. Luckily I really do like what I eat at home and how I feel so much better. My parents have a counter of cookies and crackers and I can only look at that for a while without giving in.

  3. jane says:

    ah cheese… if i could stop buying and eating that I think I could make a fair amount of progress

  4. Marla says:

    What memories. I grew up in New Jersey too, and we used to RIDE OUR BIKES ALONG BEHIND THE DDT TRUCKS because it was fun to get sprayed. Seriously. My brother died from a very sudden onset of leukemia when he was 39; his doctor said he couldn’t prove a link but he suspected the DDT…

    I also find it a challenge to bring/find healthy foods on vacation. Part of the problem I guess is that the unhealthy foods keep longer, thanks to all the preservatives. You can leave a bag of chips and some slim jims in the back of your car for a couple years before the go bad!

  5. terri says:

    What a striking image this paints for me, comparing the toxic environment to our early toxic-eating lifestyles. And that it is possible to turn around what went before, if not all at once, a little bit each day.

  6. Jessica says:

    My old toxic eating habits were similar – although they included an unhealthy amount of alcohol, and about a pack a day of cigarettes. I can’t even believe the way I used to live. Thank God I left the toxic environment before it killed me!

  7. wendy says:

    It is SO easy to fall back into early patterns when we go home. 17 years after moving out of my parents’ house, I am still drawn to a particular kitchen drawer (the one that used to be home to cookies and other sweet treats) when I’m visiting and have family stresses or issues come up. Thankfully my parents eat healthier now and all that’s in the drawer are cooking utensils!

  8. Ellie Dworak says:

    Dude, I TOTALLY hear you! I have the hardest time with visiting my Mom vis a vis food. For me, though, it’s more than just old habits. I have to learn to be my new me in the presence of a person who has a lot invested in my being what she thinks I am. Well, I’ll just keep working on it (grin).l

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