October 01, 2022

COLUMN: My overly naive simple plan for health

According to Harvard, a banana has about 110 calories, 0 grams of fat, 1 gram of protein, 28 grams of carbohydrate, 15 grams sugar (naturally occurring), 3 grams fiber, and 450 mg potassium.

A food science organization states one cup of orange juice (8 oz) provides 110 calories, 2 grams of protein, 27 grams of carbohydrates, and 0 grams of fat. Orange juice is an excellent source of vitamin C and potassium.

Both usually have started my day for many years.

I don’t know exactly when it started. Over a year’s time, there are probably seven to 10 days when I don’t start my day that way; usually because I’m at a vacation spot or with family in other states and the two may not be accessible. There have been times the juice was apple or white grape, but a majority of the time it’s orange. (Not all orange juice is the same. Some hotel breakfast juice just isn’t good.)

Sometimes the banana and juice are the only things I have.

During the summer months, the banana and juice can sometimes have cousin visitors with mixed fruits like blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. When August rolls around, a fresh peach is a choice. I was raised to eat fresh peaches in a bowl of half-and-half, (so the nutritional value gets discounted to an extent.) Growing up in Colorado, peaches are done well there (mountains on the west side of the state) as they are shipped across the country. Missouri has grown a good one, too.

I was raised on breakfast, usually cereal as a kid. As I aged, the sugar, fun cereal switched to the more healthy choices. Every so often I make a French toast; I’m quite proud.

But back to the OJ and banana.

I think it’s all in my head convincing myself something that simple as those two has prevented me from getting a bad case of the flu or a cold. Granted, I have had the sniffles some winters, but I’ve never had it bad enough to think I shouldn’t go to work or be out in public. (I know that issue is enough to create another column. I’ll save that for another day, maybe.)

I like to think my banana and OJ is my defense against getting significantly sick. I don’t know how true that is. Others who are more health-food conscious than me have said there are health advantages to both but the added sugar to the juice is a drawback. I won’t argue with that. Another study I’ve read is the creation of juice exposes more of the orange’s health benefits. That doesn’t negate the sugar.

I don’t see myself quitting this routine. If my wife has to put me in a nursing home, I hope there is a place on the forms about food to note banana and juice daily. But in my perception of my own health, which probably isn’t far from the gate of delusional, will having ate decades of bananas and orange juice prevent me from assisted health care during my senior years?

We are approaching the time of year where appointments for flu shots are being made. Admittedly, I have never had a flu shot in my life. Others say as I reach 50, there are health issues that I should consider stronger, including a flu shot. It can be harder to shake a case of it compared to being a couple of decades younger.

I just wish I could lose a little weight. Maybe the juice sugar is showing its results. Most of my time is being seated at a desk. I try and at least walk when I have the time. I stumbled across a smartphone app the other day that suggests how much you should walk based on age, weight and gender. The number of miles in a schedule will estimate how much weight should be lost over an amount of time.

I’ll continue to walk to the produce and dairy section to get my two daily needs.

John Van Nostrand


An Iowa native, John's newspaper career has mostly been in small-town weeklies from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. He first stint in Creston was from 2002 to 2005.