State of my art

I first started learning about nutrition maybe twenty years ago when I first started doing much cooking for myself, from Laurel’s Kitchen & Diet for a Small Planet. I’m not & never have been a vegetarian, but I like a lot of what I’ve learned from vegetarian cooking. I had met up with hummus & tabouli when I was in college, & those are still two of my favorite foods.

Then perhaps a decade ago from a book by Dr. Nathan Bland, Your Health Under Siege, which debunked a lot of the fad food advice, for example the idea that eggs were unhealthy because of cholesterol in the yolk. Bland pointed out that most cholesterol is manufactured within the body, & what makes a difference to our cholesterol levels has far more to do with what kind of fats we’re eating — saturated vs. mono or poly-unsaturated. Then some other book I can’t remember that gave me important advice I’ve never forgotten: shop on the periphery of the store & stay out of the central aisles that are full of overpackaged, over-refined prepared foods. Since then, my partner has been a long-time advocate of organic & whole foods, & I’ve learned a lot from her too or from books she’s brought to my attention, such as Nourishing Traditions, which has given me an appreciation for raw, unpasteurized foods: pasteurization removes a lot of the enzymes that help us digest those very foods, & there are some indications that this may be behind the increasing incidence of lactose intolerance.

In any case, my downfall has been in lack of knowledge so much as it’s been in acting on what I know. But of course, with a diagnosis of prediabetes, there’s a lot more to learn, so that’s where How to Prevent & Treat Diabetes with Natural Medicine, the various GI books, & various books that people have told me about that I have yet to read — D’Adamo, Perricone, Bernstein, etc. — come in.

My approach is to go with what I already know I can comfortably & healthily eat, & (permanently) substituting healthy alternatives for those things that I know are bad news. For me, high protein/low carb would be like a complete tossing out of my old “normal” diet, both baby & bathwater. I prefer to change the bathwater, but keep the substantial portion of my diet that does work healthily for me, & use that as the foundation from which to add on the other stuff. If I already ate a very high protein diet, that would be different, because that’s what my body would be accustomed too; but as it is, to switch to high protein/low carb would be pretty stressful to a body that’s accustomed to getting the opposite emphasis.

I also think that since so much animal protein comes packaged with fat, & it’s not always easy to separate them, the high protein/low carb approach would be a problem for me from the get-go. I have had long-term problems with heartburn/acid reflux, & too much fat exacerbates it. I’ve had periods when four or five nights of the week I’d be waking up in the middle of the night having to take something to calm down the acid — which amounts to abuse of antacids. When I went down to Spokane in December after my mom’s death, every night but one of the nine I was there I had to take Alka Seltzer. But since making these dietary changes, my acid problem has been almost completely absent, including on my second trip to Spokane earlier this month. (I had already found that a stir fry in a wok never once would give me acid stomach, no matter how late I eat.) I have gall bladder issues as well, having had some gall bladder attacks after ingesting too many fats. I don’t particularly want to lose my gall bladder because that can lead to other consequences; the answer is to control how much & what kind of fats I ingest, which I feel I can do more easily with carbs as the highest proportion of food in my diet, & proteins & fats a bit lower.

I gave up pizza a couple of years ago because over the last few years, without exception, whenever I ate pizza (which I loved!) I would get heartburn/acid stomach. Same with any bread with raisins in it. Same with popcorn with added butter — I find hot air popcorn with nothing added to be completely wonderful, & I’ve been eating it that way for years. This is just an extension of giving up the foods that mess with me, & eating healthy foods instead. Most of which I like to begin with.

Last night’s dinner was a stir fry (in a wok) using sesame oil of garlic, green onion, collard greens, shitake mushrooms, black bean sauce, & skinless chicken breast with sobe noodles, which are made with buckwheat. (Leftovers for today’s lunch.) Breakfast this morning was a satsuma (small orange-like fruit) & half a piece of Bavarian whole rye toast with sesame tahini, cinnamon, & lox (wild salmon). I feel like I’m eating better than ever.

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