Monday, July 07, 2008

Food as Food

Me..on a bridge. I'm crossing over to a better way of thinking about food.

A friend recently asked me in passing if I could recommend a good book on nutrition. Without thinking about it too much I rattled off "Nourishing Traditions", because I just bought it and because it's REALLY thick, (that's got to mean it's good, right?), and because it smacks of anti-establishment philosophy. (see the entire title here and you'll get my drift).

I do like the book, but I haven't read the whole thing yet, (it's an involved exploration of a lot of traditional, strange (to me) food preparation methods from diverse and ancient cultures).
So I probably shouldn't have recommended the book yet.

The other reason I shouldn't have recommended any book on the subject of nutrition is that I have yet to get my diet and health in line with what my body needs. I've used many excuses over the last year, and put out a lot of effort and energy on a lot of things beyond my control, but the fact is I've let one of the most important things in my life (health) take a back seat to the urgent things I seemed to be up against, week in and week out. I seemed to live from one crisis to another, and let myself get swept away in the tide of worry and pain and angst, and let my health and other critical aspects of my life get swept away.

What did that get me? Ummmm....I've been sick, exhausted, fuzzy headed, and sore. Friendships I really care about have suffered. My energy levels are so low as to be virtually non-existent. Causes I care about have been neglected. Life has been so much harder than it needed to be.

The basics are simple. Good health encourages resilience. Resilience encourages strength. Strength equals the power to overcome.

I have certainly been blessed with so many moments of love and support since my Dad died, and while he was sick. Today I can think of him with a smile more often than tears. Compassion and patience from those closest to me have helped so much. I had no idea how hard this would be. Yet I know it was harder because I was physically run down, weak and exhausted. A lot of that was due to my lack of care of my own self.

My wonderful, wise friend has gently led in the right direction concerning health and spiritual matters. She is on her own journey, and has faced her own many challenges with glowing health, and a calm, energetic perspective. It was she who recommended Nourishing Traditions. I am testings it's waters, slowly getting my head around the new/old concepts. Dipping in my toes, so to speak. I've also been inspired by this friend who is making wise choices for her health's sake, and accomplishing important goals. (Go Karyn!)

The book I should have recommended to Kathleen when she asked is Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food". He draws much insight from the work of Dr Weston A Price, the same Dr who inspired Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions.
Michael writes about the failure of "nutritionism"....North America's reliance on experts to tell us what we need to be healthy. Modern food science would have us ignore the obvious results of this trust we have in what he dubs "a priesthood" of those-who-know-better-than-us to continually develop better, more complicated and constantly shifting guidelines to eating. We have ceased to trust the ancient cultures we were born into, (commonly known as "mom") and bought into this irrational feeding frenzy of "edible foodlike substances". We have been blinded by the bright lights of consumerism and have failed to recognize the undeniable facts...we are fatter, sicker and more prone to disease than can be accounted for in this age of plenty.

Please, if you're like me, always searching for that magic nutritional bullet, read this book. He outlines a few simple guidelines summed up by the three suggestions:

"Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much."

(Simple. Not Complex. Sound familiar?)

Maybe I'll post soon a bit more of what that looks like.


Karyn/Mom said...

You've had a pretty tough year and a half, Arlene....learning to eat healthy takes time, thought, and energy. don't be too hard on yourself.

On the other hand, you go, girl! Start from where you are.

I found your comments about listening to the nutrition gurus to very interesting. It is true that our society is less healthy and more obese than ever before - and the store shelves are packed with "low cal" or "low fat" foods.

I just read a report that says that aspertame (found in most surgar free "foods" and beverages) actually MAKES you store fat!!!! And that is on top of all the other evil things it does to your body.

I agree with your final quote, because it mirrors the mantra that Jim and I have taken up...."Eat real food, as close to the original as possible. Watch your portions. don't starve yourself, eat"

I look forward to the day you feel good again.

And BTW, Vitamin B is a huge part of feeling good. I can recommend a very good quality supplement, if you like.

arlene said...

Thanks for the good thoughts Karyn. The one supplement Michael Pollan says we are all in need of is Omega 3. Did you know that most of the Omega 3 is bred OUT of factory grown food? (both plants where it originates and animals that are fed the plants.
Omega 3 can cause food to spoil more quickly, so as geneticists were developing plants that ship better, they chose the ones without the naturally occurring Omega 3's.

I am learning a lot of stuff I thought was "healthy" food is not so healthy after all. I think I'll post a bit of what he says about Omega 3.

Kathleen said...

Huh. Interesting. We'definitely bred an "expert" class in NA, haven't we? I'll take a look at both of those books, though.

I just acquired the Sue Gregg cookbooks, and those are like mini nutrition books in themselves. Have you ever used them?

arlene said...

I know Kathleen, "leave it to the experts" doesn't sit too well with me on a lot of different levels.

I have seen Sue Greggs books, and I believe she has one (or some recipes at least) on soaking grains. Interesting stuff.