Jack Simpson: Hard to say 'no' to the grill on holidays

Jack Simpson

Jack Simpson

The Fourth of July holiday has come and gone with many festivities rained out. Since it was my birthday, I admit to feeling another year older if not wiser. July 4th is a day to commemorate adoption of the Declaration of Independence (1776) when we declared independence from Great Britain. It was also supposed to be a day for bands, parades, fireworks, patriotic displays, fairs, concerts, reunions, games and picnics. I suppose it was in places where it was not rained out.

Everywhere those back yard grills were fired up and families were grilling steaks, hot dogs, hamburgers and all manner of red meat. We have been warned about eating too much red meat, but, hey, it is a special holiday and we said yummy to red meats in spite of increasing our risks of getting diabetes, strokes, colon cancer and cardiovascular disease. Yes, it would have been wiser to have skipped red meat and eaten white meat and more fruit and vegetables -- but, it is a holiday, remember? Oh, that beef, pork, dogs and burgers were so-o-o-o good! Now we feel guilty. We should have eaten green and eaten in moderation.

Consumption of red meat increases our risk of Type 2 diabetes. It is true "an apple a day keeps the doctor away," while red meat increases health risks and might cause blindness, kidney failure, nerve damage and strokes.

So the Fourth of July celebration is as good a time as any to remind us to shun red meat and include more fish, grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables in our diet. We may still benefit from eating small portions of lean red meat rich in nutrients and proteins. But, two to three servings of fruit and four to five servings of vegetables daily would be more beneficial to our health. At least health professionals tell us it is so. Warnings about red meat consumption do not mean that all we can eat are plants. Consumed in moderation, red meats can be included in our diets. Yes, particularly if we do not pig out. Practice good nutrition and eat smaller portions.

Come another holiday, I frankly doubt too many people will avoid their grills and the cooking of red meats. I , for one, plan to make a sincere effort to exercise restraint when it comes to doing anything harmful to this old body that so far has served me well.

Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.