This 92-year-old Sarasota Bay Club resident was health conscious before it was cool.
Ginny Dreher is a self-identified health nut.
She’s not sure what other term to use.
As a girl of 8 or 9, Dreher realized she came from a “long line of heavy people.” Fat was a dirty word to her, so she walked home from school for lunch every day.
“I lived over a mile from school, so the exercise was good for me, and I would make myself a salad because in those days we didn’t have a cafeteria or anything,” she said. “If we were going to have lunch, we had to brown bag it, which meant a sandwich. Somehow, I knew that bread, I should stay away from.”
As she got older, Dreher, now 92, continued to watch her diet. She became a stewardess, and in those days, she said, appearance mattered a lot. When she married her first husband, they lived in Wisconsin and she planted a large organic garden.
Today, Dreher, who lives in the Sarasota Bay Club, attends a tai chi-qigong combo class almost every morning. She makes sure to schedule all appointments in the afternoon so she doesn’t have a conflict. She also takes a vitamin every day and has found that standard process vitamins work better than ones bought at most stores. Those are synthetic, she says.
“While they’re good, they’re nowhere near the quality [of standard process],” she said. “It won’t do as much for you as the standard process.”
Dreher has learned that one pill won’t fix everything.
“I have people say to me, ‘OK, what vitamin can I take?’ Like you can take one vitamin and you’re going to be in this kind of condition,” Dreher said. “It’s like building a house. It’s brick by brick. If you want good results, you have to put the time and effort into it, and there’s no one pill.”
She recommends reading “Eat Right for your Blood Type.” Although she doesn’t cook as much anymore, she knows it’s possible to make almost any meal healthy. In the book, she found healthy recipes for things like meatloaf that have “all the good stuff in it.”
Dreher suggests people follow a diet plan, such as a paleo diet, to have a starting point. Her favorite is the Mediterranean diet.
“I think the most important thing is to follow like a Mediterranean-type diet and eat lots of greens and vegetables, but don’t deny yourself completely because no one can do that.”
Over the years, Dreher has learned to listen to her body. She knows she gains weight easily, so she is careful about Sarasota Bay Club’s four-course meals and talented pastry chef creations. She tends to ask for strawberries to go instead and eats them with yogurt the next morning. When she goes out with friends, she shares dessert or just takes a bite.
“If I did any of those things, I would gain very easily, and I lose with great difficulty,” she said. “That’s my metabolism, so I know I have to be careful, and I’m smart enough to do that.”
She has arthritis and knows nightshade vegetables, or Solanaceae, make it flare up. She avoids tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and peppers.
“I’ve learned what I can and can’t do, and I really think you are what you eat,” she said.
Dreher’s suggestions for those looking to lead a healthier lifestyle start with buying organic.