Food for thought

Food is one of life’s great pleasures. I have always had a hearty appetite and yet, like so many people, my experience with food has been a journey of discovery, understanding, and getting to know which foods and drinks best nourish my body.

My interest in healthy food began during my teens and I tried to convert my family to whole grain bread and less salt. I accepted the intellectual argument against cow’s milk and still choose soy milk when I can, but without fanatical avoidance of all things dairy. Your Life in Your Hands by Professor Jane Plant  offers an extremely convincing argument against all dairy foods.

Over the years I have been my own guinea pig and tried: food combining; vegetarianism; Leslie Kenton’s raw food; Dr  Sandra Cabot’s books; Eat Right for Your Type; the CSIRO diet; and the rich European style of eating. I think that the CSIRO diet comes closest to a sensible, nutritional, balanced and manageable plan for eating for life. Balance, portion control, and variety are the keys.

It can be confusing and even more so when we are “fed” on TV The Biggest Loser closely followed by Master Chef. On the Biggest Loser they plead with us to exercise, diet, and stay away from fatty foods, shunning butter altogether. As a society we are fast heading towards chronic obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in alarming numbers.  Then Master Chef tantalises our taste buds and challenges our culinary skills, all the while piling on the butter, fats, and sugar.

Recently I read somewhere that there could be a connection between migraines and gluten in the diet. This is new to me, but seems to make sense. Often my migraines feel triggered by poor dietary choices and particularly if I’ve been eating too much carbohydrate in the form of bread or pasta. So I ransacked the library shelves for books about gluten-free cooking. This led me to the book “Gluten-free girl” by Shauna James Ahern and her blog. Reading her story made me feel very sorry that as a child she was fed a very poor processed American diet. There must be so many people living in the wealthy West brought up on poor nutrition. Yet we are so lucky in Australia to have so much fresh produce easily available; and so many different cultures to learn from and eat as they do.

The theory behind Eat Right for Your Type by Dr Peter D’Adamo sounded right to me when I read it years ago. He states that wheat in particular is bad fuel for people with my blood type. Wheat is the food containing gluten that is so widely used in our diets. It is very difficult to avoid wheat and its products I found.

So on to my next experiment in order to find a diet that nourishes me, keeps me healthy, and does not add excess weight. For breakfast today I made Sweet Quinoa (organic) Fruit Compote from the book Wheat & Gluten Free. It was not bad but required far more cooking time at breakfast than I am accustomed to, and has left a strange aftertaste. For lunch I had avocado, salmon, cream cheese, and salad on a corn wrap. Time will tell how successful I am at finding alternatives to wheat and the impact this has on my health and BMI.

It is not only important to try new ideas and foods, but also to listen to your own body. Only you can feel how food is affecting your body. We are all indeed different, live different lives, and have differing nutritional needs. While vegetarianism may intellectually be a good idea, not all of us are suited to this regime and soon become starved for protein and iron. Your body will soon tell you, so take notice.

Let food be your medicine and your medicine be your food” ~ Hippocrates

You are what you read

Are you influenced by what you read? Does your mind absorb the ideas set down by others? Do you live inside the scenes created, even temporarily? I suppose that’s why reading fiction is a form of escapism.

 

As a Librarian it is no surprise that I value books and reading for self improvement. I value learning from the experiences, and thoughts that others have worked so hard to set down in words. The more you read the more you learn. Even if you don’t retain it all and reject some ideas, we grow and evolve by taking on a little bit from each book we read.

 

At the moment I am reading a novel titled Deception” by Michael Meehan. It is about a young Australian man who traces his ancestry to France in order to unravel his family history. It is exquisitely told, set in the Australian desert, Paris and New Caledonia. He weaves his tale masterfully between the past and the present. I have engaged in tracing my family history in the past and yet for the first time it has occurred to me to trace the one French branch of my family tree. It would be so interesting to learn some more French history while unraveling my own family tree, also fulfilling my love of all things French.

 

Meanwhile someone close to me has discovered they have cancer. It is a shock. I remember reading a few years ago a book titled Your Life In Your Hands” by Jane Plant. She is a UK scientist who had breast cancer, suffered through chemotherapy, a mastectomy, radiation treatment, and was eventually given 6 months to live. As a scientist she researched the situation thoroughly, eventually having a “light-bulb” moment thinking that in Asian cultures the incidence of breast and prostrate cancer is remarkably low and they don’t eat dairy products. Eliminating dairy products from her diet from that moment the tumors shrank and disappeared altogether. She wrote her book in 2000 and now in 2008 she is alive and cancer free. Her experience, research and discoveries provide hope and practical advice for others facing the cancer death sentence. I gave the book to that person to read and make up their own mind. After all what have they got to lose?

 

Not only are we what we read but we are what we eat!