Eating your medicine

By Ken Bradbury

A few years ago I read that students in the country of Holland had the lowest rate in the world when it came to missing school because of sickness. No one had studied it carefully, but we know that when each Dutch child enters school in the morning he or she is handed a piece of fish and a piece of cheese. The Hollanders have grown up thinking that these were the keys to good health and the numbers seem to prove something. Let’s hear it for the Dutchmen!

I recently visited my doctor for our semi-annual bout with my nasal infection and before he came in to give me the official checkup, I asked his nurse how she could be around us sickies all day long without getting infected herself. She said, “I eat two oranges every morning. Religiously.” I’m not sure how you eat an orange religiously. Perhaps you have to kneel. I know that genuflecting would smear it all over face so assume she was Protestant, but the woman managed to maintain good health by this simple regime.

And who doesn’t have a grandmother who didn’t claim to hold the secret to good health through food? I know a lady in Arenzville who still claims that the reason we have so much heart disease is that women have stopped using lard in their pies. I’ve not had the nerve to quote her the increasing longevity rates.

Cornflakes were invented by accident when Dr. John Kellogg, a Seventh Day Adventist, left some cooked wheat sitting out while he ran off to tend to an emergency in the Battle Creek Sanitarium. I’m not kidding. When he returned he found the wheat had gone stale so he forced it through rollers and what came out were little flakes, which he served to his patients. I don’t think my grandmother knew Dr. Kellogg, nor did she spend much time in sanitariums although she wanted grandpa to look into it, but she was a big believer in cornflakes being the key to a healthy way to start the day. You could pass on the bacon, eggs or toast if you liked, but you didn’t leave Grandma’s house in the morning without your bowl of Tony the Tiger.

I’ve traveled overseas with folks who go into a full-scale panic if the hotel restaurant doesn’t serve orange juice in the morning. One Jacksonville lady took packets of orange concentrate with her on our trip to the Soviet Union just in case she’d be stuck in a communist country without benefit of Vitamin C. She was delighted that our Moscow and Leningrad hotels served the stuff, and in fact the streets of Moscow were lined with orange juice machines. The only downside of these dispensers was the fact that you had to drink it from a glass cup . . . the same glass cup that everyone else had used that day. It didn’t matter to her. The OJ somehow kept her alive in that land of borscht and vodka.

One of the delightful residents of Knollwood recently told me that her morning regime consisted of handful of vitamins washed down with Diet Pepsi. This is a recommendation you won’t find anywhere on the USDA’s website. However, I do remember that my grandfather pretty much passed on the morning coffee and instead started each day off with a single swing of Pepsi. He lived to be several hundred years old if I remember correctly. Maybe there’s something do that.

Anyone who knows anything about growing older knows that fruit is a great help to get the plumbing going in the back half of our lives. It’s no accident that prunes are a daily staple in many retirement homes and I don’t think they appear on each morning’s buffet because of their tastiness.

I guess the important thing is that you eat something. . .anything in the morning. Thirty-five years teaching in the Jr. High classroom taught me that many kids simply skip breakfast and guess who the deadheads were by the end of the first period? “It makes me sick to my stomach to eat in the morning.” To which I always wanted to reply, “In other words, you’re a spoiled little rascal whose mother doesn’t make you do what’s good for you.” A superintendent of one of our neighboring school districts said that he hesitates to call off school on snowy winter mornings. He said, “We’re breakfast and lunch for lots of our kids. If we don’t feed them, nobody will.” Sad.

Me? I’m fortunate enough to have my own private caterer, living the highlife in Arenzville as I do. He drives a big yellow truck labeled “Schwan’s” and when he dies I’ll have to go without breakfast.

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About the author

Ken Bradbury is an adjunct instructor of theatre at LLLC after retiring from Triopia. He entertains on the Spirit of Peoria riverboat and is the author of over 300 published plays. Website:

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