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Three years ago my #2 son had an operation that required strict adherence to a zero fat diet for 60 days post-surgery. The consequences of straying from this restriction as described by his doctor were severe and frightening, so we committed completely to the task. Although difficult, it was not impossible to remain compliant to the diet. My son came out of it all fine and I have adopted a more informed diet as the result of his experience.

My first observation was that there is good fat, there is bad fat, but there is definitely fat in almost everything we eat. Identifying the pervasiveness of fat was eye opening as it seems to be in almost all foods whether processed or fresh.

When I noticed that almost every slice of bread at the grocery has 1 to 2 grams of fat in it I sought out breads that have to be fresh baked as many of those have no fat. The pleasure of fresh rolls far outweighs the inconvenience of waiting 10 minutes while they bake in my toaster oven. Even today I check bread packaging and select those with the lowest fat per slice with the highest grams of fiber. Replacing pinto, garbanzo and other white beans with black and red beans in soups and salads has become routine and I no longer think about the white beans having fat grams and the dark beans not having any. I love jasmine rice and was delighted to discover that most packages do not have any fat while basmati and many other types of rice do. Everywhere we look we have positive choices and we do not need to feel deprived.

What does this have to do with the risk associated with medical expenses? Disciplined diets reduce medical consequences. It is really that simple. Claims to improve health through eating certain foods can be questioned, but the fact that some foods or some quantities of food are bad for us is proven. Moderation in all things is a motto that we all need to adopt, but moderation does not happen by accident. Shoot for zero fat in the areas where you can and you will have the opportunity to treat yourself to foods that have some fat in other areas. We need to become aware of what goes into our mouths and how it affects us individually.

Second, disciplined diets give us a track to follow. When we stray we need to be able to identify what our path is. Rather than beat ourselves up about the bad decisions we made we need to immediately get back on track. Stress is bad for our health and we are better served knowing how to go back to what we are supposed to be doing and getting it done than dealing with the stress of guilt over a bad food decision.

Don’t forget, we can’t control everything, but we can control some things. It is not easy, but our food choices and the discipline to stay on task are two of these things.