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Be Patient: Your Parents are Finally on a Diet

July 16, 2013 4 min read

My parents have struggled with the concept of dieting ever since white pasta was deemed un-healthy.

“But you have to eat carbs! Spaghetti is good for you. Absolutely.”

I am impressed with how far my nearly 60 year-old mother has come in regard to living a healthy lifestyle: she walks for an hour a day with her friends, eats plenty of salads, laughs a ton, and indulges in a cheeseburger every once in a while. [caption id="attachment_9149" align="aligncenter" width="717"]Power Walking with Mom (aka, Power Walking with Mom (aka, "The Beast")[/caption] However, when it comes to discussing the topic of dieting with my 6’4”, sweet tea-drinking, and Oreo cookie-loving father - the process is much like trying to get a toddler into a pair of slacks.

“Your father called grandma last night and said that I was feeding him grass for supper. I  am notfeeding him grass for supper.”

You are, too! I told you I am not giving up my salt-n-vinegar chips!

I often hear my father in the background of these “new healthy lifestyle” conversations that I have with my mother on the phone.

“I told him. I told him he cannot have those cookies anymore! And he is DID!”

I ONLY ATE SIX.

“Your father. I tell you what. We walked twice around the block this evening and then he quit!”

MY FOOT WAS HURTING...A LOT.

“He wanted to get pizza and I said we should order salads. He is eating pizza right now.”

NOBODY LIKES THAT CRAP.

[caption id="attachment_9166" align="aligncenter" width="461"]Sweet Tea Southerner Sweet Tea Southerner[/caption] I receive text messages from my father asking me about the health of my car. About what he saw on the History Channel. And photos of food. Without any message attached. Just a picture. Like this one: [caption id="attachment_9127" align="aligncenter" width="206"]Afternoon Snack Afternoon Snack[/caption] I did not believe my parents when they first told me approximately three weeks ago that they were bothgoing on a diet. And not just better eating here and there; actually incorporating cardio, weight lifting, and calorie counting into their daily routine. I almost dropped the cellphone when my dad admitted that, in fact, large amounts of pepperoni every day is not healthy.

“Well. You know. It is meat.”

I was interested in hearing about their growth in understanding food. They used to think that words like protein, sodium, and carbohydrates are only used by scientists. Not an everyday person. People should just eat.

“Back in college when I would make a box of macaroni and cheese, I would look at the side of the box and see ‘Servings: 4’. And I thought four what? Four mice? So I would eat the entire box.”

I asked my mother to send me some of her tips. Tips from a mother of two adult women. Tips from a spaghetti fanatic, living among a health-obsessed generation. Here is what she has to say:
I have learned to love salad, and I search for new recipes all the time.  If you go from a southwest salad to a spinach strawberry salad, salads are never boring. I found a great web site (everydayhealth.com) where I can journal my food intake and exercise daily.  When I log in each meal, I know exactly how many calories I have consumed, but what gives me hope is logging in my daily exercise and watching 350 calories disappear immediately. Once a month I have a Fatty Patty Day [her name is Patty] where I have something I have been craving.  A chocolate brownie is my favorite.
In the first week of his diet, my father lost 3.5 lbs. He replaced his midnight chocolate chip granola bar with a small serving of Greek yogurt. He watches the History Channel and Star Trek in the basement while pedaling on the stationary bike. He still wonders if my mother has a loaded baked potato in the oven for him at dinner time. He continues to hope that nutritionists will find that lettuce is not only unnecessary, but very unhealthy. A man can dream. My mother is down 13 lbs since I saw her in Vegas this May. She continues to follow the basic rules of lots of exercise, lots of greens, and a little bit of fun. She is a fire cracker. I live in Los Angeles, where advertisements for new nutritional supplements and fitness studios are more common than pigeons. I listen to my parents and try to understand. I smile when I hear that my father ate an entire salad not doused in ranch dressing. I laugh when I can hear my father salivating over the phone about how good ham and chocolate cake are together. I listen to their world. My mother ended our phone interview with this statement:
Had I exercised and eaten healthy in my early twenties like most who read your blog, I would have never had these problems.
[caption id="attachment_9154" align="aligncenter" width="461"]The Dieters The Dieters[/caption]

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