When looking at the title of this blog post, you’ll probably assume it is related to the Spaghetti Western by the same name; or, perhaps …
It is a tale of a trio of squirrels at Council Point Park that came running for the peanuts that I spread out around my feet on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
But, alas … it is neither of the above. It is, however, a saga of doing what you believe is good, but it is really bad, and turns into an ugly situation.
If you’ve followed this blog for some time, you probably know that I am a poster child for healthy eating. I’m not much of a cook, and, my meals border on blah as I have attempted to follow a healthy diet for the last five or so years.
I have given up eating sweets and treats, salty snacks, fried food, fast food, and, two years ago for American Heart Month, I gave up eating red meat.
Well, hooray for me … or so I thought.
Ten days ago, I went on a long walk to Council Point Park. My boss was out and I had a leisurely stroll on a beautiful Spring-like day. But, by mid-afternoon, I had the strangest tingling in my right foot. Now, I’ve had this tingling feeling in that foot off-and-on for about a year, and, more than once, I’ve taken off my moccasin, or even my walking shoe, to peer into that dark crevice to see if there was a rough seam, or the tongue padding was rumpled up, but nothing was amiss. So, I just dismissed it.
That tingling sensation on February 23rd persisted through the night, and, by the next morning, my instep and base of my big toe were downright sore. I thought maybe I had strained something on my foot. The weather was not so great anyway, so I didn’t walk. By Sunday, it felt a little better, so I decided a walk was in order. I did, however, take the car for a drive and drove to Council Point Park … just in case I had an issue walking.
I even put on my padded walking socks and broke out a brand-new pair of walking shoes. Well, the walk was fine, but my foot not so much.
Finally, I sat down at the computer Monday night to see if I could self-diagnose this problem. There’s nothing like Google where I could plug in the key words “why is the base of my big toe swollen and red?” Google responded quickly, giving me a half-dozen or more sites to read all about “gout” … no, they must be wrong! But, though I was dubious, next I Googled “images for gout” … lo and behold, there was the mirror image of my foot staring at me from the computer screen.
I have spent an inordinate amount of time since Monday evening perusing the net’s medical sites to research gout, its causes and how to remedy it, and, no one could be more shocked than me to find out the healthy diet that I followed, was not so healthy after all!
For example, one of the major causes of gout, which is a build-up of uric acid in your body, is the consumption of certain foods containing chemical compounds called purines. While it was a smart move giving up white bread in favor of whole grain, making that sandwich with turkey and/or tuna was not. Turkey and tuna are both high in purines. I could have chosen chicken and salmon, much better choices, but who knew?
Wait, there is more.
That can of organic vegetable, lentil or split pea soup I so enjoyed, and believed was filling my body with extra vegetables and nutrients, was also contributing to the high uric acid level because beans, spinach, tomatoes, lentils and peas are all bad for gout.
I also discovered that sugar was one of the culprits … how can this apply to me, who eats no sweets?
To begin with, I found out I was eating too much high fructose sugar. I have never been a pop drinker, downing only coffee, milk or water. (Okay, that one quart of eggnog at the holidays.)
For years I used only sugar-free syrup on my oatmeal, but warnings about the dangers of aspartame caused me to switch to regular syrup. At that time, by studying the labels at the grocery store, I found Log Cabin contained the least amount of sugar in its product, so that has been my brand of choice for years. But it has an abundance of sugar in each serving.
Not only was the sugar counter-acting the good benefit of the oatmeal, but, those raisins I sprinkled so liberally through it are full of sugar as well. Sometimes I use Craisins, those delightful dried cranberries – sugary and bad, bad, bad!
I thought those “Cutie Clementines” were beneficial, especially in the Winter months, as they not only taste good, but help ward off colds and flu. Sure, but four of them daily added another 25 or so grams of sugar to my total for the day. Ideally, your total daily sugar consumption to prevent gout should be 25 grams. I blew the entire daily amount on dribbles of syrup on my big bowl of oatmeal or four Clementines. I was devastated to read this.
Likewise, I often eat a banana, or other fruit, or even canned fruit – more sugar consumption. Heck, I might as well have eaten a candy bar.
Compounding all the “bad foods” that I’ve eating, I was ecstatic when the National Dairy Council announced a few years ago that it was acceptable and healthier to consume milk with fats, rather than drinking only skim milk and eating no-fat or low-fat dairy products. I immediately began buying tasty dairy products again. I have now discovered that high-fat dairy products were also a contributing factor to gout.
Over the course of the next three evenings, I went to only the legitimate sites to find out information on gout, then started methodically ticking off all the items in my daily meals, not to mention all the food still in the fridge and pantry, that are now forbidden foods. I planned a Saturday morning grocery shopping trip with a list that was not committed to memory, but I had to keep consulting, as I went down each aisle. Before I wrote out that list, I had studied nutrition labels online, but, at the store I also compared products, to load up my shopping cart with low-fat dairy, lots more vegetables, and multiple bottles of refrigerated tart cherry concentrate. Downing that cherry drink or munching on those cherries once they are available might just be the highlight of my day. I seem to remember my friend Cathy, who follows this blog, telling me a long time ago, her brother was on a cherry-eating/drinking regimen to help tame his arthritis.
So, what is the takeaway of this tale?
I cannot really blame myself for this malady. I thought my monotonous eating regimen was helping me to have a good cholesterol level and thwart any potential heart issues, because heart disease runs in my family. I believed my lackluster, sodium-free diet would help prevent a stroke, and, that healthy eating, combined with the walking was making me fit as a fiddle, as that expression goes.
My mother, who had a host of medical conditions her entire life, woke up one morning about ten years ago, and the second joint of her right index finger was inflamed. She suffered horribly from arthritis most of her life, and this bump, that was warm to the touch and somewhat painful, prohibited her from holding a pen to write. She asked her GP about it. He told her it was gout. I accompanied her to the visit, and can still hear her saying “I thought gout was only in your big toe – in a finger?” The doctor said that it could occur at any joint in your body, and, then he questioned her diet, remarked that her eating habits were healthy and gave her a list of food restrictions. The only one that pertained to her was liverwurst, which she ate occasionally on toast. So no more liverwurst and the painful bump eventually went away.
I refuse to see a doctor and I will beat this on my own, unless there are complications, because I don’t like taking medicine, and I don’t like the side effects of the meds they suggest. One recommendation is drinking a lot of liquid. I am drinking so much water (a dozen cups of water at a minimum) that I feel like I am sloshing when I walk.
And, I won’t stop walking … because exercise was recommended, especially low-impact exercise like walking.
So, life goes on, and, I am mindful that medically, things could be a whole lot worse.
I will toe the line with my food going forward, and, head down to Council Point Park every chance I get, where, like today, I will ensure I hand out every last peanut from those two big bags I bought yesterday at Meijer. (Of course those peanuts for the squirrels are salt-free … um, some habits are just too hard to break.)
[Image from Three-shots from Pixabay]