I recently noticed that my consumption of Häagan-Dazs has increased over the past few weeks. I know there are those who associate this behavior with depression or unhappiness—subconsciously, suicide by cholesterol, I suppose. Not the case here. Besides, my doc has me on statins. That should take care of the after-effects of my vanilla swiss almond habit. Right? Right. Or maybe I should be eating heartier, healthier meals in the evening to curb my after-dinner appetite (well, we know how that goes down around here). But I digress…
It seems to me that the nutritional requirements for a healthy diet change dramatically as we age. In my case I have found that as my body continues its unceasing march toward an advanced stage of decrepitude it does not seem to require as much fuel to keep it going as it once did. This seems to make sense in evolutionary terms: When we were all still living in burrows I suspect the feeble and the infirm were the last to eat. Needing less nutrition under such conditions would no doubt have been advantageous to those who found themselves relegated to the back of the cave buffet line. I could research the validity of all this but I don’t want to.
Back in 1981, the government created the National Commission on Social Security Reform to address what was deemed at the time to be a financing crisis in social security. After many months of diligent work this esteemed group came up with a brilliant, yet simple, recommendation (among others): apply federal income taxes to social security benefits. In other words, keep paying out the same amount, but don’t let them keep as much of it—problem solved. This recommendation was passed by Congress and signed into law by Ronald Reagan in 1983.
So, as it turned out, the declining need of calories by older folks was once again fortuitous, at least for those on a fixed-income who had been relying solely on their meager social security benefits for groceries. Others, having already reduced their caloric intake to the minimum, found themselves downgrading their menu of canned cat food purchased from their local grocer to those dry versions that come in big bags at Costco.
But, sometimes there just isn’t enough to go around. I’ve heard that the Inuit of the far north (Eskimos) long ago figured out how to handle this problem through their seemingly unique extended care program for their elderly. At some point in time, when the fish-head soup started to run a little thin, they would bundle up Grandma, place her on a small ice floe and lovingly push it out to sea. You boomers out there in the lower forty-eight might want to take this into account if, out of the blue, your adult children become suspiciously adamant about how much fun it would be for you to accompany them on an all-expense-paid Alaskan cruise.
Many of us older folks can get by with less calories from traditional food products because we have substantially replaced them with calories from wine and other adult beverages. I have personally found this to be an excellent source of added sustenance, as do others at various watering holes around here that cater to people who have nothing else to do all day but drink beer and watch pointless sporting events on TV such as women’s cage fighting and fútbol reruns. Such patrons include, among others, retirees, laid off employees who have given up looking for a job and hapless salespersons whose bosses think they are out making cold calls.
Lunch at your favorite watering hole: an order of the child’s portion of chicken fingers and a pitcher of Bud Lite. If you don’t eat all the chicken, you can take the remainder home in a doggie bag and have it for dinner before breaking out the Häagan-Dazs.