As any astute reader might surmise from the fact that it has been almost eighteen months since my last post, it seems that I have run out of things to say. This has been true, to a degree. While restaurants come and go all of the time, by the time I stopped writing food reviews back in 2013, I had covered much of the local Akron scene. Between that and the fact that my life was pulled in new directions, I decided that while I would leave this blog and its myriad of reviews up, I wouldn't force myself to write additional posts if I didn't have something valuable to add to the conversation.
Additionally, if you've been with me and my adventures for any length of time, one might be forced to inquire, "How does he manage to eat all of that rich food and stay healthy?" The short answer is, I didn't. And everything kind of came to a head back in May when a routine doctor visit uncovered several very important issues, the biggest of which was high blood pressure. Facing the possibility of a lifetime of medication, I decided to take the matter into my own hands and make some radical lifestyle changes to see if I could tackle the issue without having to resort to medication.
First up? Cut out salt. Until I began looking at how much salt I was actually eating, I had no idea the pervasiveness of salt in the modern American diet. Now, I'm certainly not saying that YOU have to cut out salt from your diet, gentle reader. What I am saying is that because I have to, I've become highly attuned to the kinds of foods I can have if I want to stay within my daily salt budget.
Second? Cut out booze. Completely. This wasn't really an issue for me, but I did enjoy (and post about) a cocktail with dinner from time to time. That being said, attending a wine dinner or even the occasional Dinner In The Dark becomes moot; why pay for something you can't participate in? There isn't much point in going to a wine dinner when you can't drink the wine.
Third? No cheese. Cheese has salt (and most has a lot of it) and thus was eliminated from the "can have" list.
Finally? No butter. Although I have relaxed this rule slightly because many desserts have butter in them and I still enjoy a sweet treat from time to time (still adhering to my rule of avoiding salt), I still try and steer clear of butter as much as I can. I figured if I was going to clean up my diet, butter and saturated fats had to go. In place are heart healthy oils: olive, avocado, canola, nut, seed, and the omegas found in wild salmon.
That seems like a lot of changes. When you consider how much of our diet has salt, butter, or cheese in it, it can be pretty overwhelming to start to grapple with the simple question, "Well, then, what the hell can I eat?" And I have to admit, the first couple of months I spent pondering the answer to exactly that question. I did a LOT of reading and asked a LOT of questions. Along the way, I spoke to a number of very supportive people (both readers and non-readers) who suggested that I write about my experiences because others in the same boat might find it useful. But, as I stated at the beginning of this post, if I didn't have something new to add to the conversation, I'd rather just wait.
So I waited. And now I think I have something useful to say.
So, Exploring Food My Way will continue to document my journey through the food world, both in the kitchen and in the restaurant world, but funneled through the lens of someone looking to eat healthier: low sodium, healthy oils, more heart-healthy. This means no more reviews on double bacon cheeseburgers. But it does mean pointing out the places where you can get a delicious no-salt-added medium-rare hamburger with lettuce and tomato. Will this new format appeal to 95% of my old readers? Probably not. And I'm okay with that. My hope is that by putting this new energy out into the Internet, I'll find a home for new readers, ones who might be new to the game of no/low sodium or seasoned veterans (pardon the pun) who might like to leave tips in the comments.
I invite you to come along on this new and interesting journey to good food and better health.
You'll be seeing lots of the #nosalt #nobutter #nocheese hashtags in the upcoming months.
[Editorial Note: I am in no way trying to dispense medical advice. I am not a doctor. Radically changing my diet and incorporating regular exercise to get my blood pressure under control is what worked for me. If your doctor advises a different method for you, by all means, listen to him/her.]