Bulking Up – Is Fiber The Superhero Of Nutrition?

Fiber is the word we hear everyday, a word that was never once spoken aloud in my family until recently.  Dietary fiber is considered one of the most important ways to maintain good health. Fiber discussions are everywhere and that leads to fiber guilt. Now when friends get together, we’ ll often check the fiber content of the muffins before choosing one.   (We don’t always choose the one with the most fiber, but we feel obligated to check.)

The earliest mentions I remember of better living through fiber were worded in euphemisms and had to do with specific bodily functions.  It was mostly older people in my family discussing their bodies as a form of social interaction.   We knew that Gramma’s second husband needed more bulk in his diet.  She told us so in great detail. I’m still not all that comfortable with such in-depth knowledge of other people’s bathroom habits, but it’s too late now.  The conversation is multi-generational and public.

Fiber crossed over into general chat territory when it began to be marketed as a way to lose weight. Overnight, fiber was a food celebrity.  Hello fiber, goodbye fat.  In case you missed it, evidently the world runs on fiber.  They’d been trying to teach us this for years (food pyramid, etc.) but when the sermons switched to how certain kinds of fiber whoosh the fat right out of our bodies, we paid attention.

I saw a show on PBS called “Brenda Watson’s Fiber 35” about how you can change your world by eating that many grams of fiber a day.  It seems a bit ambitious for me.  I counted up and I’m lucky to get 20 grams a day right now.  It looks like I’d have to quit working in order to achieve 35.  But it is getting easier, what with fiber-added everything.

I’m conducting my own very skewed research.  I’m eating only fiber-added foods that taste good.  The nutrition/snack bar selection is huge, but I’ve found only one brand so far that tastes like real food.  I’m enjoying the new sugar-free, low-calorie fudgsicles with fiber added.  There’s a creamy yogurt with several grams of fiber and, of course, a mountain of bread loaves.  I’m trying them all.  (A bread lover doesn’t have any trouble eating bread.)  So far the ones with “double fiber added” are still best used only for toast.

Kashi and Fiber One are the two brands that consistently taste good (all their products I’ve tried so far) and have heaps of fiber.

Like most of us, I’ve developed the label-reading habit.I know, for instance, that when I bring home a bag of Cheetos, it’s not going to bulk me up in the good way.  I still eat Cheetos, but now I’m free to enjoy them with absolutely no expectations.

Ó Anita Garner 2009

Breaking Up With A Friend

Here’s a question that comes up a lot lately:  Do you still hear from her/him?  It used to feel like a badge of honor to say I’ve had the same friends forever, but some of them just don’t fit anymore.  I still cherish a few friendships that have endured through decades , but not all the people I used to know are people I want to be with today.

When we were younger, we clumped together.  Birds of a feather for various reasons and various causes.  We formed parent groups, church groups, hobby groups, business associations and community activist groups.

Today I’m not big on belonging to several groups.  The ones that help create community for a reason – those still feel valid.  But continuing to get together just because it’s what we’ve always done – that doesn’t work so well.  And why, I wonder, am I such a wuss about accepting that friendships don’t always fit forever?

Sometimes we fall out of touch and find we’re just fine that way.  Then, maybe because it’s so easy to do on the internet – we reconnect, only to learn it’s different this time.  A few sentences after hello we might not have anything else to talk about.

Letting go of relationships doesn’t happen without guilt.  I find myself making excuses more often to skip seeing that person.  The answer’s right there, but it seems almost too simple to accept.  History alone isn’t enough.  Seasons change.  Values change.  People change.

My friend, Catherine, who recently celebrated her 92nd birthday, approaches this in the most realistic (almost clinical) way.  She says we need different kinds of relationships at different stages in life and not only does she let go of the ones that don’t fit anymore, but she quickly replaces them with people who do.

Surely I’ve been replaced in the lives of people I used to know and looking back, it was done so skillfully that it seemed a natural evolution.  But I agonize over these things.  I wish someone would tell me how to accomplish what Catherine does without leaving bruises.  

 Ó Anita Garner 2009

Embracing The Generation Gap

It feels right that there are differences between generations.  I like the gap.  It’s enjoyable being with younger people and then it’s sometimes a relief  being with people  who begin sentences with “I remember when.”

When I was in my teens, we didn’t call the progression from child to adult anything at all.  We weren’t “teenagers” or “adolescents.”  We were sometimes “youth” (how’s that for an impersonal label?) but mostly we were somebody’s kid.  Since our generation didn’t have its own name, we didn’t call the spaces between generations anything special either.  We had no “gap” as such.  That term began to be tossed around more during the blooming season of flower children when we cautioned the world not to trust anyone over 30.

By then it was too late to distrust my elders.  I was already looking forward to being older.  I admired women in their 30’s – thought they had all the answers.  I couldn’t wait to look like them, dress like them, and somehow achieve their mysterious sophistication.  It seemed to me then that they owned something I needed.

Now adolescence is prolonged so that sometimes a new generation doesn’t get started at all.  We’re chipping away at what I always considered a natural distance between kids and parents.  Terms like “re-juvenile” and “boomerang babies” describe some in their 30’s and 40’s who either never quite launched from the nest, or because of various factors end up living back with their parents for a time.

The sticky part is that while these grown children were away, some of their parents were taking good care of themselves, eating right, exercising, developing new interests, trying on different things and closing the gap even more, making it tough to tell who’s who in a household.

I embrace the concept of generations helping each other, and during these tough times, we see some families deciding to stay together, returning to an earlier model of more than one generation living in the same house. 

But I’d hate to see the differences between generations obliterated completely.   Nature acknowledges distinct seasons, and it feels natural that we should too.  It is a comfort, especially during trying times, to check in with the generations that came before us and realize that this too shall pass.     

Ó By Anita Garner