One of the most stupid maxims in the history of humanity is “Better the devil you know.” I’m sure you’re familiar with this phrase. I get really tired of hearing it. No axiom is better if you want to fritter your life away.
Essentially, the idea is that if you’re stuck in a less-than-ideal situation, it’s somehow better to stay stuck, because changing the situation might make things worse. Ostrich and mud metaphors aside, apparently comfort and familiarity are more desirable than living.
To play my own devil’s advocate, “the devil you know” might serve as a sensible note of caution against change for the sake of change. But I don’t see why the little gems we all seem happy to live by need to be put into binary terms. The opposite of “the devil you know” isn’t necessarily change without purpose, an obviously foolish thing. Restless is one thing (there can be character-building value in sticking with a “devil” you detest). Fear is another thing entirely. When I hear “the devil you know,” I hear fear. I hear defeat. I hear a negative outlook on life.
“Calculated risk” isn’t much of a risk at all. Comfort is just death warmed up. Making a change when you’re stuck is scary – that’s the whole point. So what if you fail? Do you think you’re going to go through your whole life without making some big mistakes? Would you really even want to?
Embrace your fear, embrace the gray, go grab the new devil by the horns. The one you know? He’s you.
(P.S. Things that are more interesting than the devil you know: wet toast, cardboard, reheated oatmeal).
I’m not just talking about Big Macs, for secret sauce isn’t limited to peach mayonnaise.
“Secret sauce” is in many popular menu items – often the ones you’d least expect. From oil to cornstarch to corn syrup, it’s not just portion sizes that are to blame for restaurant meals delivering calorie loads heavy enough to feed a small country. Are you aware of these sneaky sauces?
- Americanized “Asian” cuisine
You avoid the deep fried pork bits and choose a chicken sweet ‘n sour entree instead.
The secret: If it’s not deep-fried with a sauce, it’s still got a sauce. That sauce is almost always a sugary, cornstarchy affair: a blood sugar spike waiting to happen.
The solution: Go for authentic Asian cuisine that contains more vinegar and healthful oils instead of cheap carbs. Clear does not mean calorie-free.
You avoid the ranch and blue cheese dressings and stick to a raspberry vinaigrette.
The secret: These blends are often nothing more than high fructose corn syrup or a cheap oil such as canola or soybean – or a mix of both.
The solution: Ask for balsamic vinegar and olive oil instead, or choose a salad with enough fruits and veggies to naturally moisten the greens (tomatoes, cucumbers, mangos and citrus work well).
You avoid the fried chicken and choose that herb-crusted salmon. Omega-3′s and weight loss are yours. Right?
The secret: Often, restaurant fish is farmed fish, so it’s just as high in bad fats as a meat option. And grilled chicken or fish are typically drenched in more oil or sweet glazes than you realize. “Herb crusts” can contain a lot of bread crumbs, starches and sugary additives.
The solution: Go for grilled or baked protein choices that use white wine, balsamic reductions, or lemon and herbs. Ask for your meat to be cooked “dry” to cut down on the cupfuls of oil. Even healthy oil can be too much of a good thing if your chicken breast is swimming around just trying to cope.
Aha! Veggies are a healthy, no-brainer choice for weight loss and smart dining.
The secret: Vegetables, especially carrots and potatoes, are high in starch. Choose green vegetables, or vegetable medleys. And be aware: that rich, buttery flavor comes from ladels of prepared hydrogenated margarine “sauce”.
The solution: Have your veggies steamed or seasoned without the oil. Ask for a side of olive oil or a small pat of butter instead.
- Omelets (and scrambled eggs)
Eggs – the perfect protein!
The secret: Eggs are typically cooked on a greasy grill. An omelet can set you back upwards of 1,000 calories, depending on the filling choices. Even vegetable omelets are far too oily. Omelets and eggs should not glisten.
The solution: Ask for your choice to be fried or scrambled “dry” to avoid the grill’s caloric generosity.
What am I leaving out? What other foods contain sneaky calories? Chat here.
I am not a vegetarian and I do espouse responsible meat consumption: organic, free-range, and emphasizing fish and poultry. However, I have plenty of family members, friends and staff who are vegheads, and while I’d sooner die than return to Vegan Island, I get where they’re coming from and I respect their choices. I’d love to hear your thoughts, whether you agree or disagree. I would say let’s get into a “spirited” debate, but I think Dubya owns that one.
I believe in nutrition and fitness from what can best be understood as an evolutionary biologist’s perspective, and I therefore support animal protein in the diet. My background in biology, years in pro sports and my own personal experience and research support my view, which I’ve tagged Primal Health.
Here’s a list of great folks with whom I disagree but really dig. If you have a suggestion for the list, let me know. If you like mock meat, well…you’ve got my pity!
The (Growing) List
Don’t shoot the messenger. Weird name, even weirder cartoon-cow-on-carrot action (yeah, I know) but still a great site and vegan-friendly health news resource. Totally unoffensive, entertaining content. UPDATE 6/09/07: This site has been relaunched in a blog/podcast-friendly platform as TasteBetter. Check it out.
I don’t tend to agree with Mark’s views (and I’m not referring to myself here…SoulVeggie is run by one Mark Sutton). But for guys who think vegetarianism is a “girl thing”, or for noodle-armed wimps, you’d be wrong. As I always say, real men eat lettuce. Vegetables don’t meow, guys. Try them out sometime.
Every day, a new veggie basks in the spotlight of the Veggie Evangelist. A simple, useful, tasty site proving that vegetables are about a lot more than iceberg and baby carrots.
One of my staff’s favorite veg bloggers (I confess, it’s mainly because she eats a salad for lunch every day and insists, like us, that this habit is anything but boring). Veggie links, news, recipes and anecdotes with a personal touch.
An excellent blog from a health-minded SAHM that includes book reviews, nutritional advice, and usually-healthy vegan recipes. It’s worth a look.
Live in New York? Follow a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle (or just like healthy food)? You best be gettin’ to Super Vegan. A Zagat guide for the minus-meat group.
A lot of Tuno instead of tuna. If you like mock meat, you’ll love this blog. Aw, hell, even I love it.
I’m biased – this doc is a runner. A very cool personal blog from a vegan M.D.
“Now, you need to exercise at least 5 times a week, cardio wise. You should really try to do weight training as well, to make you stronger. Do you have a gym membership? Do you have any gym equipment at your house? And don’t forget to follow your low fat, low salt, low cholesterol diet. Here are your 13 drug prescriptions. Do you have any questions?”
… And this all happens in the 15 minutes before we discharge you from the hospital. That is, after you have had a 4-day stay with us. And 50% of the time, it is being said by a very overweight, under exercised, cheese-steak-eating nurse! I am not a mean person, but come on! This is yet another little gripe form your friendly nurse at Diabetes Notes and A Hearty Life.
Did your mother ever teach you the phrase, “practice what you preach”? I know I learned manners from observing my mom and dad. So how can a cardiac patient that is being discharged from a hospital take you seriously if you look like you have never walked a flight of stairs yourself? I am by no means a lean, mean machine. But I do try to stay heart-healthy by exercise and a moderated diet. I am also a diabetic, so while I can commiserate with my patients, I can also call their bluffs.
Why do clinicians who have all the resources in the world choose to do themselves wrong? I don’t know.
And why do we decide to do teaching with our patients 30 minutes before they are discharged?
By the way, those last few minutes are when our patients are most anxious. They are going out on their own, having to deal with their cardiac issues without the guidance and security of the hospital staff. Why not start the nutrition and heart health education the day of admission? Allow a few days for the patients to absorb the info and formulate some questions they might have.
After all, isn’t that part of our job? Making sure that the patient has all the resources and information they need to ensure success! Not that success always happens. Believe me, I don’t always see rainbows and roses, just read my last post here at Mark’s blog. And I get just as frustrated as the next nurse with noncompliance and neglect, but I think we are all at fault. We can’t just point our fingers, you know?
What do you think? Have you ever been a patient and had a similar situation happen to you? Do you think we need to rethink our ways of teaching as clinicians? I want to hear it. The good, the bad and the ugly…except if you have a story about me, haha.
Was Kendra’s post insightful for you? How ’bout those cheesesteaks! You can discuss this post in the forum. Would you like to read more from Kendra about health care in the trenches? Let us know! And, for more great insights and heart-healthy tips from this cardiac care insider, be sure to visit Kendra’s blog.
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