My dear granny died about two years ago at the golden age of 90. I miss her, but I consider it a blessing that she lived almost an entire century. And she was additionally blessed to be in her right mind and able to speak, hear, and walk independently until the time of her passing. She personally had a front seat to some developments in history and pop culture that I can only read about today — everything from the end of the Roaring 20’s and the Great Depression to the civil rights movement; 14 presidential administrations – to include our first president of color – and the advent of color tv, walkmen, cd players, computers, the Internet and cell phones.
Granny was relatively healthy her entire life. She didn’t grow up with a weight problem, and even in her later years was not considered obese. She was not diabetic, asthmatic, and did not develop complications from any other commonly associated weight-related co-morbidities until she was at least in her 70s and 80s…and she lived mainly on a diet of soul food. If you’re from the South, then you know what I mean – smothered pork chops with macaroni and cheese; oxtails with fried cabbage; smoked ham and dressing; chitterlings and butter beans with rice; collard greens and black eyed peas with fat back and cornbread; grits with a side of country bacon and homemade biscuits; pound cake or banana pudding for dessert. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention her pecan pie; I remember one time when me, my brother, sisters and cousins were little kids, and we picked pecans out the back yard and she made a pie so good I can still taste it today.
My mouth is watering just reading back over that list; even the healthy “new” me still wants those homemade favorites from time to time. Growing up, I ate those same foods as well, but I was a little chubster as a kid that grew up into a morbidly obese adult. If my granny didn’t grow up with a weight problem, and neither did my mom nor her sisters (or my dad, his parents, and his brothers and sister for that matter), why did I?
The truth of the matter is, one of the biggest issues about obesity is that today’s generation is not as physically active as past generations. Not only did our parents and grandparents do more manual labor, but as children they played more outside – thus leading to lower BMI (body mass index) levels and less occurrences of weight-related disabilities and deaths than what we see today. Today, we’re more likely to pick up a tv remote, video game controller, or tablet, sometimes as a function of a tech-related job, and therefore cannot even maintain a strong hand grip like previous generations. When is the last time you walked to work or school? Chopped wood? Picked your own eggs?
Of course, there are some factors that are out of our control when it comes to eating like our grandparents, such as the fact that their foods were less processed and today we use more chemicals in foods and beverages that can lead to weight gain.
So for those reasons, I’m making this the Excuse of the Month. Today is a new day, and whether we like it or not, we just have to be extra mindful of how we eat. In addition, we have to move more….even just walking and taking public transit more often, like our elders did in their younger days, can help make a difference.
Granted, I can still continue eating like my granny and her granny on a daily basis and maybe everything will come out ok, but I’d rather not take that chance. Not that you can never have those foods, but we have to be careful about amount we eat, the nutritional value of what we eat overall, and making sure we get in enough exercise. I hope and pray I make it to 90 and beyond like Rosa Mae Jones. Rest in peace.
What do you all think? I’d love to hear from you!