It is fun to hear from readers that they are making healthy changes in their diets and lifestyle choices.

It is fun to hear from readers that they are making healthy changes in their diets and lifestyle choices.

A reader says she is excited about the changes she and her husband have made in their food preparation.  She says it is easy, the food is delicious, they feel better, and her husband lost four pounds the first week.  She wanted to share with others.  An example of her basic method in steps:  1.She melts coconut oil in a skillet.  2. Sautee chicken tenders (you can use any kind of meat, fish, etc cut into small pieces).  3.  Add a large onion and sautee.  4. Add any kind of vegetables and she prefers fresh over frozen.  Some of her favorites are carrots (cut small), broccoli, asparagus, and the addition of spinach/arugula mixture added shortly before serving.  Any vegetable, or combination of vegetables, can be used.  She seasons with curry powder (if you haven’t tried curry, you really need to), a little salt and Braggs Liquid Aminos (another must try).  You can get creative with this technique, using different seasonings, vegetables, and meats.  It only requires the use of one large skillet and I highly recommend one of the new ceramic types that have become available everywhere.  The green ones are at Walmart now. 

            Another reader thanked me for the Paleo “Morning Glory Muffin” recipe.

            In an Erma Bombeck column years ago, she wrote about “Childhood Innocence: What Did We Do with It?”  She got serious in speculating as to how we are robbing our children of the uncomplicated world they need—childhood.  She said television was a part of the problem. 

            It may well be that television viewing has had almost as profound an influence on our deteriorating health as the foodless processed foods that are over 90 percent of what Americans eat.  They kind of go hand in hand. 

            Unlimited television viewing not only has a “rotting” effect on thoughts, attitudes, and mental health, it is equally detrimental to physical health of adults and children.  Television has changed our behavior in everyday living and it has changed the way we act in the supermarket.  Commercials mesmerize consumers into buying “glamour” food substitutes that in no way provide nourishment. 

            Food ads appeal to the emotions by depicting soft drinks, fast foods, processed foods as “the good life”.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  An important part of a good life is good health, and it is rare to see a health-building food advertised on television.  Fresh fruits and vegetables are perishable.  Therefore, they are not as cheap and profitable as processed foods—white rolls, cookies, chips, boxed cereals, soft drinks, microwavable entrees.  Foods for profit, not for health, are advertised on television.  Over forty years ago Dr. Joe Nichols, author of Please, Doctor Do Something, was saying, “Don’t eat anything that won’t spoil, but eat it before it does.”   He also said, “Every ingredient in a saltine cracker causes heart disease.”  Interesting the things we remember.

            Watching television while eating has become the American way.  Although this may seem like a harmless activity, it not only stifles communication between family members, it can also play havoc with digestion.  Emotions have a great effect upon our ability to digest and assimilate food healthfully.  The stomach is involved in any emotion.  Even the nightly news is likely to evoke feelings that retard the flow of digestive enzymes.  Norman Cousins, in his book (and movie) Anatomy of an Illness, proved the value of positive emotions in curing a disease thought to be incurable.  Television may be having a negative effect on our physical health by swaying our emotions, especially when we are eating.  Food cannot be properly digested when the stomach is tied up in knots.

            Television viewing often encourages mindless overeating.  It may be a carry-over from movie going and the bag of popcorn, but there is something that makes us want to eat whenever we are spectators.  Perhaps we just have to be doing something.  Turning on the television can trigger an impulse to eat, resulting in overweight and poor health.  Having eaten a big meal does little to hamper the hunger induced by appealing food commercials. 

            Sitting inside, watching television, munching on junk food is a prescription for poor health.  A few guidelines might be helpful in keeping television from ruining health:

1.      Best not to watch TV while eating.  2.  If you must watch television while eating, make sure the program is light-hearted and funny.  3.  Fix it in your mind that commercials are strictly for profit and that the highest profit foods are the most lacking in nutrition.  4.  Select fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds or popcorn for snacks.  5.  Spend at least as much time outside as you spend in front of the tube.  Keep in mind, when you are watching TV, you are watching other people live life instead of living it yourself.

It’s summer, a time for activity, good eating, and good health!

(Janice Norris lives in Heber Springs, has a B.S. in home economics from Murray State University, owned and operated health food stores in Illinois and Heber Springs, and wrote a weekly column in Illinois for 15 years. She can be reached at