Thursday, January 3, 2013

Food for thought

At the start of the New Year a lot of folks review their diet and exercise habits and vow to make a few changes.  I love to cook, bake, and eat!  I have always been interested in nutrition, especially these last few years when faced with thyroid issues, followed by the need for a hysterectomy last spring.  During this time I gained about 20 pounds.  I'm barely 5'1, so it's hard to hide the extra weight on my small frame.  I figured it was time to look at my diet.  I started reading everything I could get my hands on.  What I found startled me.

We are a country obsessed with diet and nutrition, yet we are getting fatter.
There is sugar and bad oils in almost everything we eat.
We are more interested in quantity (Big Gulps, Big Macs) than quality
We fuel our bodies where we fuel our cars (burrito at the gas station store?)
Pay $7.99 for an Iphone app, but whine about the price for organic vegetables.
My mom was admitted to the hospital on New Years Day with pneumonia.  She is probably coming home tomorrow, and is doing fine.  She is borderline diabetic and takes a pill to keep her blood sugar stable.  The doctor took her off this medication for a few days, because of her infection, and so they will treat any blood sugar problems with insulin while she is in the hospital.  I was in her room when the cafeteria staff brought her breakfast.  Because they put her on a "heart healthy/diabetic diet", she was restricted to certain foods.
This is what was on her breakfast tray:

Rice Krispies cereal (processed, high carbohydrate which turns to sugar)
Banana (again high in carbs and natural sugar)
English muffin (more processed grains, and carbs ,which you guessed it, turns into sugar)
margarine (bad processed fat)
jelly for the muffin (sugar again)
low fat milk (let's take out the fat and add bad stuff in to make it taste good. Contains carbs and sugar.)
Scrambled eggs. At least they looked like eggs.  It could have been those fake kind. 

As far as I was concerned there wasn't one thing on her tray fit to feed a healthy person, never mind a sick person (okay the banana was the only REAL piece of food)
And surprise, surprise, she needed insulin later.  They should have just brought her a piece of chocolate cake for breakfast.

Here is what I would have fed her:
Real eggs, scrambled in butter (good fat)
a side of ham or sausage
whole fat plain yogurt with some berries
coffee with cream or tea

 I could go on forever about our school cafeteria food, hospital food, restaurant food, blah, blah blah. Some of my family members are sick of my rants.
I would just urge you that if you are looking to loose weight and get healthy in 2013, then clean out your pantry and start over.  This is some of what I have learned:

Shop on the outside aisles of the supermarket only (meat, dairy, fruit, veggies) and stay away from the processed junk in the center of the store.
Visit a farmers market
Eat real, whole foods
Vote with your fork.
Look back at how your great grandparents ate and use this a a model
Educate yourself on the latest scientific research regarding nutrition

I know, some of you are probably rolling your eyes at me right now.   I am just as guilty of cooking hurried processed foods for my kids, stopping at McDonalds on the way home from school games, and ordering pizza and Chinese take-out.  And let's face it, eating right takes some effort and planning.  We are often busy and too burnt out to make a nutritious meal.
But when someone pointed out to me that the ingredients in a box of Cheerios contains many of the same ingredients as a bag of dried dog food, I started to pay attention.
If you are interested, here are some of the books that have changed the way I shop and eat:

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan
Why we get fat by Gary Taubes
Good Calories, Bad Calories By Gary Taubes
The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf
Deep Nutrition by Catherine Shanahan M.D.
 The Schwarzbein Principle by  Diana Schwarzbein M.D.

By the way, I still love to cook, but my plate looks a whole lot different now.  Thanks for listening.


  1. Yeah, I've often thought that with all the information available on nutrition, it's a crime what they serve in school cafeterias and hospitals! I have Why We Get Fat on my Kindle, but haven't read it yet. Your recommendation may get me motivated to open it up!

  2. yeah - I really need to pay better attention....thanks for sharing a reminder.

  3. Amen, sister! So right, so true. If you can't pronounce it, it ain't food, no matter what the FDA thinks, and if it comes in a box, can or bag, it's probably not worth eating.

  4. Very informative post! I began living a Paleo lifestyle last August. I have made a few concessions...I eat some dairy as I feel the calcium benefits to my aging body are necessary - and I've recently allowed Cheerios (the plain ones) and Oatmeal (again, plain) to find their way back into my breakfast regimen. I needed to lose weight - and I have. But more importantly, I feel so much better! My daughter and I were just talking about how much better we feel minus the bad foods in our lives (my daughter is living the Paleo lifestyle as well). As a society, we are bombarded with all the bad choices. When I am "pure", I'm better able to look at the television ads, the marketing techniques in markets, etc. and it is truly appalling! Good for you for sharing your knowledge here. If the info reaches just ONE person who is in need of it, you've made a very big difference in SOMEONE'S life. The only time I enter the interior aisles at the store anymore is for my husband! LOL He does NOT yearn for the healthy way of life...yet. Happy New Year to you. Annette

  5. Great testimonial! Thank you for your feedback!

  6. You had a lot to say today, and I read it all. I started eating more fruit and salads this year, and I think thats a step into the right way.

  7. I've always had a weight problem that has just increased as I've increased in age. My husband and I are going to try changing our diet as much as we can, strip back the bad foods and get back to the naturals. We had salad for dinner last night and it was SO good! Hard boiled eggs mixed in with lots of veggies and different lettuces, and we felt good afterwards. Yum.

  8. As a vegetarian of many years I could say I eat a healthy diet but I know I don't. I may not go to MacDonalds or other burger bars but I still eat chocolate and like everyone else love quick meals. I have no idea what I am eating. I have thyroid problems and an auto-immune disease so I should be more aware of what I eat but I don't. I blame the drugs I have to take for the increasing weight gain but that is just an excuse. Thank you for the gentle reminder to "wake up and smell the roses" so to speak. Happy New Year. Philippa xx

  9. Thanks for the heads-up to come over and read. Very nice entry! Nice book list too. I have read a couple of them already! Congrats to your sister for sticking with her low-carb eating. You can do it too, and so can I!


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