What Sacrifice! Diet Changes To Try The Soul


January 12, 1992|By ROB KASPER

I believe that for resolutions to have any effect, they have to be made at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve as you force down a spoonful of black-eyed peas.

I missed out. I spent New Year's Eve forcing down medicine, pulling blankets over my head and praying that the flu would miss me. Besides, I hate black-eyed peas.

Moreover, resolutions are so punitive. They always want you to stop doing something you enjoy. And at this stage of my life, I have come to realize that I like my vices. They are like clumps of crab grass. I can't really get rid of them, so I might as well learn to accept them as part of the landscape.

So, instead of making resolutions, I am making what I call "mid-course corrections" in my eating plan. And rather than being restrictive, I am urging myself to eat more.

*Mid-course Correction No 1: Eat More Salt. It turns out that salt is not the blood-pressure demon it was widely thought to be. Researchers are saying now that unless your body is exceptionally sensitive to salt, or unless you have severe heart problems, salt won't hurt you.

And so I have brought the family saltshaker out of hiding, and no longer feel guilty about sprinkling a steak before I grill it. Salt does wonderful things for the flavor of meat and grilled fish.

*Mid-course Correction No. 2: Drink More Milk. Calcium is a comer. It is credited with keeping the bones strong, and now with controlling blood pressure. One of my favorite ways to inject calcium is to drink milk.

I am even lobbying my family to switch back to whole milk, away from the lower-fat, 2-percent version.

As for the health sweepstakes, I figure that my increased fat intake will be compensated for by my increased calcium injection. It is hard for me to drink two glasses of the watery 2-percent-type milk. But I can toss down two glasses of the higher-fat whole milk faster than you can say "clog my arteries."

Besides, after drinking the 2-percent stuff, whole milk tastes like cream. I wonder if the same thing happens when light beer drinkers revisit real beer.

*Mid-course Correction No. 3: Eat More Oysters: This, too, I do for health reasons -- mental health. Winter can be a depressing time of year for me. I seek solace in oysters, which are in their prime during the "r" months of winter.

The other day I read that another way to make winter more enjoyable was to force yourself to perform some sort of outdoor activity.

This winter I am going to try both methods of coping with winter. I am going to bundle up and walk either over to the Lexington Market for some fried oysters, or, on Fridays, over to Marconi's restaurant for Oysters Pauline, oysters stuffed with lobster and Parmesan cheese.

*Mid-course Correction No. 4: Eat More Grapefruit. This plan of action has nothing to do with theories of health. It has to do with the fact that there is a case of grapefruit sitting on our back porch, and somebody has got to eat it.

I bought the grapefruit, along with a case of oranges and a case of microwave popcorn, because I fell victim to the high-pressure tactics of two salesmen, my kids. They came home from school with a stack of order forms and badgered me until I signed. Proceeds from the sales of the fruit and popcorn benefit some worthy group or two, maybe "The School For Citrus-Selling Scouts."

The popcorn and the oranges were eaten pretty quickly. But the grapefruit has lingered. The kids avoid them, claiming they are too messy to eat. My wife has tried, without much stylistic success, to carry grapefruit to work in her purse and pass it off as snack food. I've been toting them to my office in a briefcase. I have managed to place about one grapefruit every two days.

Unless I can find some recipe for massive grapefruit-disposal, the citrus will be with us for some time.

*Mid-course Correction No. 5: Eat More Foie Gras. There was a heartening story from France not long ago about how the residents of the Gascony region, where folks eat more stuffed goose or duck livers than anywhere else in France, also have the lowest mortality rate from heart disease.

Medical authorities are not sure whether it is the Gascons' high intake of duck and goose liver, their high vegetable and fruit intake, their red wine intake, or other factors that account for the residents' good health.

PD But I'm not taking any chances. Foie gras is my new health food.

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