Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

April 9, 2014

A cheeseburger may be paradise, but a salad and a little exercise is healthier

BLUEFIELD — Years ago I would eat out at restaurants just about every day. It was a somewhat unhealthy practice that also took a financial toll on the wallet. I was a lot younger back then, and didn’t think a lot about what I ate, or how much I consumed in a single meal. Salads were rarely on my menu — back in the day, the bigger the cheeseburger the better. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been obese in life, and I normally stay thin. But it is always hard to resist the temptation of a good cheeseburger.

Nowadays, I bring my own lunch with me to work, although I will still normally eat out one day a week — usually on a Friday. I am more mindful now of what I eat, and the amount I consume for a single meal. I would love to eat a salad every day, but carrying a fresh salad to work each morning isn’t easy. You can buy some pretty decent, pre-made salads at local grocery stores and big box department stores, but they don’t stay fresh very long, and the expiration date is normally only a day or two away. So that option doesn’t normally work out very well.

Sadly, we don’t have a lot of salad bar options in the region. That’s why I kind of miss the old Ponderosa and Western Sizzlin, as well as the old Shoney’s that we used to have here on Bluefield Avenue. In the absence of a good salad, the eating out options normally range from a cheeseburger to a loaded taco. And the last time I ate Mexican food a few weeks ago I became quite sick. I initially thought it was food poisoning — having experienced this once before — but quickly realized that it was instead the dreaded 24-hour stomach bug that is still going around. So at the moment I’m avoiding tacos and other Mexican entries — at least until I can build my appetite back up for such a delicacy.

As a guy, grocery shopping is about as difficult as writing this weekly column. But I think I am getting better at it. I’ve learned not to buy groceries on a Saturday, because Saturday is apparently ground zero for grocery store shoppers. Why does everyone wait until Saturday to swarm the local grocery store? You can expect crowded grocery aisles on Saturdays and long waiting lines at the check-out line. Even the convenient self-check out aisles appear to be more crowded than normal on Saturday. I have found grocery shopping in the evening hours to be more convenient — less crowds, less hassle and less of a chance of leaving frozen food items in a hot vehicle for a long period of time.

Having forgotten a time or two in the past about having groceries in the back seat, I have now trained myself into the habit of getting the groceries home fast, and in the freezer even faster. Losing $50 worth of food is never a fun thing to do. Of course it is always easier to eat out, and I may lax my schedule a little bit over the summer months. That’s because as the long and lazy days of summer drag on, the temptation to step outside of the newsroom for a few minutes — and enjoy a lunch break in the sun — becomes greater. Even if that means eating out a few more times at local restaurants over the spring and summer months. Such is normally not the case during the cold winter months.

But at the end of the day, I’m still trying to eat healthier — even if a salad is not immediately on the menu. And eating a cheeseburger and fries every day is not a healthy habit to adopt. That’s not to say a TV dinner isn’t healthy — but you can at least buy low-fat TV dinners. Those are supposed to be somewhat healthy. And I’m sure they are least healthier than a loaded cheeseburger.

But the best thing I can do is exercise. And walking is the preferred method of exercise now that spring has finally arrived. However, this isn’t possible every evening — particularly in light of the unusual hours and schedules those of us in the newsroom keep. But I am still trying to walk outside, and on a regular schedule as much as possible. And the spring and summer months are a great time to walk. But I also must resist the temptation of buying a large cheeseburger and fries before or after walking — as that sort of defeats the whole purpose of the exercise thing.

Charles Owens is the Daily Telegraph’s assistant managing editor. Contact him at cowens@bdtonline.com. Follow him @BDTOwens.

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