Monday, April 4, 2011

The Grandma Diet

One of the preeminent healthy eating mantras you hear is “eat what your grandmother would recognize as food.”  Obviously these well meaning health experts never met my grandma.

My grandmother was a woman whose body ran off a strange mixed bag of food ideas.  Her diet was the hallmark of a woman who was extremely busy, extremely stressed out and consistently thin.  And since we Westerners pride ourselves on one day achieving enlightenment through jobs that stress us out to the point of heart attacks, schedules that permit little to no time for deep thought and bodies that could barely withstand a gust of wind …. I present to you – the real estate tycoon Grandmother’s diet:

A bath tub of diet coke every day

If I close my eyes and try to picture the woman, she is most likely in her Cadillac racing from one appointment to the next, clutching a large diet coke container from McDonald’s with her lipstick imprinted on the straw.  She firmly believed that bottled or canned sodas were the wrong flavor – she would only swallow that which came from a soda fountain.  This meant that she spent at least 15% of her day waiting in line at McDonald’s to get her $1.09 fix.  She thought McD’s food was actually disgusting but never mind applying that logic to her favorite drink

Solve all of life’s problems with Vermouth

To say my grandmother knew how to drink is like saying the Dalai Lama knows a thing or two about Buddhism.  I realize this means I’m basically saying my grandma was the Dalai Lama of martinis (which is probably true).  She was the kind of woman who was infinitely more excited about my grad school graduation after learning that there was a cocktail reception.  Considering the weight of the world on her shoulders (family, business, diet coke addiction) I’m not surprised she decided to escape the stress of every day life in a high ball glass.  And despite her consumption, her high tolerance meant that I never really even saw her drunk.  Although I have heard legendary stories about my grandma dancing on tables at a weddings and playing poker until 6am.  Suffice to say, that the woman knew how to drink and have a good time.

Opa!  It’s Greek salad time

In case you were wondering – you don’t need to be Greek to enjoy the Mediterranean diet.  And by Mediterranean diet I mean iceberg lettuce, chopped olives, feta cheese, liberal use of salad dressing and a small chunk of bread.  While my grandma knew her way around the kitchen, the business kept her away from home for 90% of the day.  This meant she raced to the nearest restaurant (because fast food is disgusting) on the way home to pick up dinner for my grandpa and herself.    And since she wanted to maintain her physique, she would eat the only salad on the menu (almost all of the restaurants in the Chicago suburbs are run by Greek families) and sip her martinis in until Grandpa’s steak was ready for her to take home. 

And lastly, to maximize calories the grandma’s diet does call for exercise.

She was (literally) a master gardener (certified by my Alma Mater) and cultivated zucchini’s that would make a virgin blush.  If you are a city dweller without a backyard, I recommend that you spend all of your weekends on all fours crawling through dirt to simulate the same experience.

Please note, any resemblance to the author (her granddaughter) is coincidental.  I can’t keep a basil plant alive, I’ve only ordered a Greek salad once in my life (I hate olives), and I have never danced on a table at a wedding (yet).


  1. I absolutely agree with your grandma on the whole McDonald's/soda thing. It does taste better from a fountain. I have a hard time drinking soda from a can or bottle.

  2. I soooooooo want to hang out with your grandma!