Hold the Meat, Potatoes, Grease and Dairy Please
This year my father and my step-mother celebrated 20 years of marriage. As a celebratory gesture my father decided to organize a family trip to Montana. He wanted to share his love of fly-fishing with his children and grandchildren and spend some quality time out in nature. He spent a lot of time planning the trip and searching out accommodations to satisfy a group of seven adults plus children with different tastes and preferences. He settled on an Orvis endorsed ranch that offered tours of Yellowstone National Park, fly-fish float trips, shooting, and horseback riding. The ranch also boasted five-star gourmet cuisine that would accommodate any food preference. We were excited to unplug from the city, we packed our outdoor gear and donned our cowboy hats, ready to immerse ourselves in the Wild West.
As soon as we arrived I met the owner of the ranch. He introduced himself and we got to talking about medicine. In my profession once somebody hears that I am a doctor they end up telling me all kinds of things about themselves that I would really rather not know. But eventually the conversation came around to food and nutrition. I mentioned eating vegetables and the owner made a ghastly face and replied, “I eat about one vegetable a month.” That immediately got my attention, I started to think about the food being served on the ranch and who was in charge of it, and if the owner’s preferences at all influenced the menu.
Hum, well we walked down to our room, unpacked a bit and headed up to the lodge for a barbecue lunch.
As we were touring the lodge I noticed a ginormous bowl of chocolate bars sitting on the main coffee table in front of the fireplace. I had to do a double take because I had never quite seen a bowl that large. Then in disbelief I asked the manager, “Is that really a huge bowl of candy?” And she nodded. I had no idea how I was going to keep Bralio away from something so large that was exactly at his eye level. Oh Heck!
It didn’t take long to find out that lunch consisted of hamburgers, grilled chicken, macaroni salad, fruit salad and chips. That wasn’t too bad because Bralio and I were able to eat the grilled chicken and the fruit salad.
The next big test was dinner. I once again ran into the owner at the bar that evening who proudly told me they were serving lard fried walleye for dinner. This conversation was in-between swigs of bud light. I politely asked him if there was a way to pan fry it without the batter and lard and he looked at me like I was off my rocker.
He then scoffed and said, “There’s only one way to eat walleye and that’s fried in lard,” and walked out. Well okay then.
The dinner was served with a cream based clam chowder and the fried fish was served with fried potatoes and two tiny Brussel sprouts. As the plates were presented everyone in our party looked at each other and we all had the same baffled expression on our faces, five-star gourmet cuisine?
Maybe if you consider Paula Dean’s recipes to be gourmet, but we certainly didn’t. Yikes, if this was foreshadowing for the rest of the trip, then our digestive systems were in for a ride.
I ended up peeling the batter off my fish and eating it plain and cherishing my two little Brussel sprouts like they were solid gold.
Lunches were cold cut sandwiches, fruit salad, and either pasta or potato salads drowning in mayonnaise. The biggest problem was no choice, the meals were the meals and that was it. The next biggest problem is that we were starving, after spending 3-4 hours fly fishing or riding or pretty much doing anything outside you work up a pretty big appetite. We had packed packets of nut butter, lots of protein bars, fig bars, even some apples but that didn’t take the place of meals.
It got me thinking about the food and how much meat, potatoes, cheese, cream, butter, pasta, sugar and mayonnaise was being served. Then I started looking around and noticed the other guests were enjoying it with gusto, even the candy bars.
The statistics started running through my head…Heart disease number one killer, check! Cancer number two killer, check! With all the grease, sugar and lack of veggies, this menu was an appetite for both.
That night both my husband and I lay awake in bed with our digestive systems rumbling and off gassing like one of those geo-thermal pools in Yellowstone. We just weren’t used to the oil and dairy.
I vowed to make a vegetable request for the following day.
The next day my husband came up with a brilliant plan around the candy situation. Bralio is almost three and he has never been exposed to candy so when he sees it he doesn’t associate anything with it. He can walk right by lollipops or a bag of m&m’s because we haven’t told him that it’s sugar or chocolate. He does know what chocolate and sugar are but again the association to wrappers isn’t there. The one thing that Bralio knows he does not like is cheese, he vehemently states, “I don’t like it.” So my husband told him that the candy was cheese. Every day Bralio would walk up to it and proclaim, “That’s cheese, and I don’t like it.” Yes, it was a white lie, but it saved us from “sugar-highs” and it worked like a charm.
Overall the ranch, the fishing, and Yellowstone were incredible. We were able to share a beautiful family experience out in God’s country.
My biggest realization that came about from this trip was how much more education needed to be done in the realm of nutrition.
Here’s the thing, coming from both California and New York I recognized what I take for granted; big delicious salads, with lots of greens, broiled fish, and steamed vegetables, quinoa, tortilla chips, rice, beans, kale, green juices, smoothies. It’s easy to forget that pasta exists or people still eat white bread, and some people consider a salad to be something smothered in mayonnaise. My patients are in my office because they are suffering and willing to make changes. Most know that fried, cheesy, potatoes won’t get them to where they want to go.
It took me five years to become gluten-free and dairy free to the point of not missing any of it. After the five year mark I have been able to re-create almost any recipe to fit my dietary preferences. I learned how to incorporate multiple vegetables into every meal and my health has thrived because of it. My digestive system functions optimally and regularly, my energy is steady, and I sleep well. Once we left the ranch my digestive system recovered within 48 hours. Fifteen years ago it may have taken a month for my system to recover. The quick recovery is remarkable and a further testament to how my dietary changes have strengthened my system overall.
To Your Health,