Older Than Dirt: Imitation of Life

Is there anything left that can't be sold as an imitation these days? On a recent trip to the local grocery store, sister and I could not help but notice. There are pretend foods on just about every aisle of the grocery store. I like to say pretend instead of imitation. That way it sounds like it still resembles what it was meant to be in the first place. From the salad dressings to the coffee, everything has a pretend version.

My refrigerator has pretend butter, as well as pretend mayonnaise. I use pretend sugar in my coffee and pretend spray oil in my frying pan. I buy pretend eggs, and pretend cheese. I like to think that I am eating healthier, but maybe I am only pretending.

There are some foods that actually are sugar-free, fat-free, and cholesterol-free. Those are also usually flavor-free, and taste a lot like chewing on cardboard.

Used to be that one only needed to look at the number of calories listed on a food item. That is no longer the case. Now, it is also about fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates, cholesterol and sugars. Every time a zero shows up, you feel like you are on the right track. The package starts looking good, and then you realize a serving is a half cup! What is that, like a sample? I think my kids ate more than that when they were still in a highchair.

Interesting how we become so concerned about our health as we get older. Forget about the first 50 years that you beat the crap out of yourself! Now it's time to get healthy! Gone are the days of eating peanut butter straight from the jar with a spoon, of having pizza before going to bed. And of course, no more giant tub of theatre popcorn smothered in real butter. Sneaking your own food into the movie theatre now might consist of a sugar-free pudding cup - and maybe a plum.

If we eat badly now we will surely pay the price. With Social Security comes heartburn, GERD, irritable bowel and so on. Sometimes I really wish I had eaten a lot more candy when I was a kid. Those nickel candy bars were so darn good. (But then again it took several pop bottles to get the nickel.)

If you are blessed to have had good health for most of your life, the transition to eating "old" can be difficult to say the least. Red meat may be the first to go. If you are a carnivore, as some people are, giving up those steaks on the barbecue and a good hamburger is the pits! You may find that when you are invited to someone's house for lunch or dinner, you have to ask what they are serving. This is something that may not have occurred to you before.

Sister and I were invited to dinner at our brother's house last week. When we got there, they must have had at least 10 items on the table. When I said that they should not have gone to so much trouble for us, my brother said, "What? Are you kidding? Sister is allergic to tomatoes, you don't eat red meat, corn is out, as well as you don't like most green vegetables. We figured we would just put out everything we had in the fridge, and let you two pick out what you could eat. Much easier this way." (I have to admit it, it made perfect sense.)

It seems that we are bombarded with information on how to eat healthy. We read articles on HEALTHY EATING, and a new book comes out nearly every day on the subject. One day, coffee is good for you. The next day it is not! One day a glass of wine is healthy. The next day it is not! Like we still don't know the rule of thumb yet? "If it tastes REAL good, spit it out!" It is likely very unhealthy. It may be the real thing, with no pretend ingredients.

In all fairness, broccoli should taste like candy, and candy should taste like broccoli. (Never did like broccoli.) In the meantime we are left with pretend (imitation) food on every shelf. Not at all like the pretending we so enjoyed as children. Now we accept this imitation of life and hope it just might give us a few more years ...