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HEALTHY LIVING — Food, the love/hate relationship

I love food. I love to talk about it, cook it, smell it, and — of course — eat it. And that has been a problem for me all of my adult life. Do you sometimes feel like food is your enemy?

I yoyo dieted all my life, up and down the scales. I had a closet with at least 3 sizes of clothing. I wasn’t a gorge eater, more of a grazer. In an effort to finally get a handle on my uncontrolled eating, I had bariatric surgery in 2015. I lost a lot, got to my goal, relaxed, and now I am up a size. Even with a very small stomach, grazing can get you in trouble. So, I continue to fight the fight.

I don’t eat food that is bad for me, occasionally I do have a normally off-limits treat. As we have discussed previously in this column, don’t routinely deny yourself, that will lead to an over indulgence and that is where the trouble starts. Here we are in January and we have come out of the minefield of holiday eating, we are back on track, feeling better, and WHAM — Mardi Gras season hits us squarely in the stomach with an abundance of king cake, boudin, pistolettes and crawfish boils that are just around the corner. My sweet cousin owns a cake bakery in Lake Charles, and who doesn’t love a good cake? You see my dilemma? What to do?

To begin with, stop beating yourself up over this. Are you familiar with the 85/15 method? It involves eating very healthy 85% of the time, lightly indulging 15% of the time, “lightly” being the key word here. There’s no specific “cheat day” — that is a terrible term, right up there with the word DIET. It is setting yourself up for failure.

Stay the course with the veggies, chicken, fish and whole fruits. Fill your plate 2/3 with green vegetables and 1/3 protein. Salads are good, but be careful. Some salads that are loaded up can actually have an entire day’s worth of calories. Steer clear of the high carb foods like white potatoes, rice, breads, pastas, beer (also known as liquid bread), and whole milk. 2% milk and nut milk are fine for adults, but growing children need that whole milk. Keep up that exercise routine that you started and add a bit when you can.

Enjoy a little taste of that delicious king cake, a very small slice eaten slowly to savor every bite will be quite satisfying. Crawfish boils? YES! Avoid the potatoes and corn and enjoy the mushrooms and other veggies that can be thrown in the pot during the last minute or two of boiling. We have discovered broccoli is amazing cooked in the crawfish boil. Brussels sprouts are another favorite. Gumbo? Sure! about once a month I make chicken, Andouille, and Tasso gumbo. I use a powdered roux mix to avoid extra fats, I add extra bell pepper, celery, onions, and okra for body and we eat it without rice. Yes, it is an adjustment, but you get all the great flavor and not all of the calories and carbs.

By all means, go to Mardi Gras and have that Pork A Bob, share that funnel cake with a few other people, and do some of that street dancing to burn off a few of those extra calories. Have a taste, you do not ever have to eat the whole thing.

Focus on what you can have and not on denying yourself. The most important thing that you can have is a healthy body and that will lead to living an enjoyable life. Have fun and stay healthy, my friends.

Jody Holton writes about healthy living for The Port Arthur News. She can be reached at jholton3@gt.rr.com