Archive for the ‘diet’ Category

Should you Give up Eating Lean Red Meat?   Leave a comment

A recent study from Purdue and the University of Texas shows that eating lean red meat as part of an otherwise healthy Mediterranean diet does not have major health risks.  An article by Amby Burfoot of the Washington Post stated that the study evaluated risks of consuming red meat, which, as anyone who’s into nutrition knows, has been on the outs for a while when compared to healthy oils, plant-based diets, and chicken and fish.

The diet followed 41 adults who were overweight.  Along with the Mediterranean diet, at different periods in the study the individuals ate either 200 or 500 grams red meat per week.  The diets were the same in calorie value and balances of carbs, protein and fats in order to make sure that the amount of red meat consumed was the only variable.

Not only did the red meat not cause any negative effects to the levels of high-density lipoproteins, triglycerides, insulin or glucose, which is interesting enough, the study noted that greater weight loss occurred during the 500 gram red meat phase of the diet than during the 200 gram phase.  That’s right, greater weight loss with more red meat.

Not only that, during the 500 gram red meat phase, the study participants experienced a greater lowering of “harmful high-density lipoproteins.”  I haven’t looked the study up on PubMed to see if any other significant findings came out of it, so I’m obviously not qualified to evaluate the overall effect of red meat on one’s diet, but the point is–the Post couldn’t list one negative thing about eating red meat.

However, the title of the article was “You might not have to give up (lean) red meat,” and the final sentence stated, “It appears, modest amounts of lean, unprocessed red meat don’t appear to have major health risks.”

Why can’t the author say that eating red meat caused something good to happen?

Maybe it’s because we all know that red meat is bad for you.

So we can’t admit that it might be good for you.

If you haven’t already decided to disregard every fleeting dietary recommendation issued by the nutrition gurus, now might be a good time to start making your own common sense decisions about what to eat.

Posted August 29, 2018 by swanatbagend in diet

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What is Cooking For?   1 comment

I’ve been forced to examine this question over the past months as I have been doing the GAPS introduction diet.  The diet’s aim is to heal the digestive tract and it requires you to prepare basic foods from scratch, including yogurt, clarified butter, salted and toasted nuts, and many others.

At the same time, while my family has been doing most of their own cooking, since they are not following the GAPS intro diet, I have been managing the schedule of what they are eating as well, shopping for their food in addition to mine, and supervising the cooking and preparation to some extent.

And of course, all four of us have been dealing with the mounds of dirty dishes that are created by cooking meat stock and making three meals a day (times two!) from scratch.

I have realized that I have internalized the advertising and ideas in our culture, even though in general I fight to resist that.

I personally think that cooking should be pleasant and enjoyable.  Food should be nutritious and appetizing.  But honestly, looking at flyers from the grocery,  TV commercials, and product packaging, it’s not hard to conclude that really, the main thing you need to know about food preparation is that it should be convenient.

Recently, I got an email from Kroger advertising their Clicklist service, which is apparently now improved so that you can place your order online and then pick it up within hours, instead of having to wait until the next day.  The email conveys the view that not only should you not have to cook, you shouldn’t even have to shop.  All you have to do is place your order online, and then relax while store employees get it ready.  You drive up to Kroger and they load it straight into your car!  All this is normal, right?  This is what you deserve.  This is how things should be.

Procuring food and preparing it should be convenient–because you can’t afford to waste your valuable time actually cooking real food.

That seems to be the message.  But I wonder if this view is not realistic.  Or perhaps it’s one of those ideas which allow you to get the consequences of your choices.  I doubt that any advertising is going to tell you what those might be.

What is it that we are doing that is so important that we can’t raise, purchase or prepare nutritious fresh vegetables and fruits, locally raised meats, eggs, bread?  So pressing that we can’t cook these foods ourselves, but we must outsource almost all of the preparation of what we intake to sustain our bodies and our lives to large companies who don’t even know us?

I’m not saying that you are a moral failure if you don’t cook every meal from scratch.   I believe in outsourcing any food preparation that doesn’t drive my cost too high and that doesn’t require me to feed myself or my family ingredients that will cause us mental or physical health problems (substances marketed as “food” that do cause mental and physical health problems abound, but that is another blog post).  Also I like to cook and many other people don’t.  So if you don’t like to cook, that’s fine.

What I object to is our culture’s view that cooking is a waste of time.

When did other responsibilities become more important that sustaining and nourishing our bodies?

What is so important about our activity that we cannot utilize real foods to heal our illnesses?

When did our lives become so full that there is no time to prepare a meal and eat it together?

Why is convenience more important than just about every other quality of food that you could mention?

Cooking is not an obstacle keeping you from a better life.

Posted January 21, 2017 by swanatbagend in diet, food

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What I Didn’t Expect   Leave a comment

There’s always something I didn’t expect that throws me off balance, but this time is worse than usual.

I started the GAPS introduction diet November 12th and have now been on it for almost 6 weeks.  It took a few months for the pieces to come together in my mind to convince me I needed to do this diet, and then it took me another several months to get all my menu plans in order and my basic items purchased and prepared.

So I knew just based on how long it took me to get ready that it was a complicated diet, and in fact, I should probably call it a lifestyle change.  It’s not like reading about it over and over left me in the dark as to all the things I would be preparing.

But it’s one thing to carefully plan for a big change, another to live it.

And as often happens, when I set out to do a good thing, I always underestimate how much time it is going to take to accomplish the work.  It reminds me of when I joined the ICAN board in 2003.  Somehow I thought that I would magically be able to do a job the previous volunteer said took twenty hours a week in less time than that.

Nope, not going to happen.

And it didn’t this time either.

So, when I cook meat and vegetable meals from scratch, and make broth every other day, and make my own yogurt, sour cream, whey and ghee…that’s going to take time.  I haven’t even done my own fermented vegetables yet, been buying those.  Then, I’m still managing the food and shopping for everyone.  The rest of the family, mainly the kids, are preparing their own main dish, vegetable and salad many nights, and nobody has said one complaining word about the amount of dishes that this plan has created.  And it has created a veritable mountain of dirty dishes.  So it is wonderful they are just doing them.

But, the reality is, I’m still the mastermind behind what is to be served and what their options are to choose from.  I’m still the one figuring this out, stocking the fridge and the pantry, and being on hand to give advice if needed.

Some nights I combine us all, if we are just having meat, and vegetables as sides, and that helps.  But more nights than not, five or six items get prepared, creating all the dishes.

And while I estimated in a previous blog that cooking, shopping and food prep took me about twenty hours a week, my current total is 27 to 30 hours a week.  So I’ve added seven more hours, about an hour per day, to planning and cooking, in a schedule that already felt tight.  I was definitely not expecting that to happen, as I already cooked mostly from scratch and did not think this would be that much different.

It’s odd.  I’m feeling some guilt and shame for not being able to manage this better.  I’m asking myself where I could cut unnecessary activities or events, or if I could do some component of my day faster, or if I could delegate more to the rest of the family.  They already do most of the cleaning, laundry, dishes, and now a lot of the cooking.  I’m moving as fast as someone with chronic problems can move.  I can’t think of anything.  This diet protocol just takes time.

So I find myself wishing that somehow amidst all the reading I did, that someone had warned me how stressed I would get doing this diet.  I don’t think I saw that anywhere.  I am stressed right now, and I know that is not supposed to be the outcome of a truly healthy diet, that comes with detox baths every night.  The outcome is supposed to be improvement.

I’m not there yet.


Posted December 23, 2016 by swanatbagend in diet

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My Bathroom Scale Isn’t Helping   Leave a comment

In more ways than the one you undoubtedly thought I meant.

Yes, it is not inspiring to mount the scale and find that you have gained a pound after eating a dinner consisting of one small chicken breast stuffed with garlic and spinach, half a baked acorn squash, and a romaine salad.

But our bathroom scale takes it further than the basic insult of finding out you’ve gained weight despite eating healthily.

If you stand on the new digital scale (I saved the old one, guessing that at some point the computer chip will fail), it gives you a message if you stand on it too long.  I’m not sure how long, but it isn’t more than three or four seconds.

It throws a pile of numbers at you about your goal for weight loss, and then at the very top, there are two little words.

They are “Get off.”

I laughed out loud the first time I read them.  I have laughed again, because this keeps happening.

When I’m standing there, other words spring immediately to my mind because they should precede what my scale keeps telling me: “I beg your pardon, Madam, but–”

Only my scale isn’t as well-mannered as Zazu.


Posted January 14, 2016 by swanatbagend in diet, humor

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Yum   Leave a comment

Must — stop — picking — blueberries!

Cannot make self stop picking blueberries.  It’s just too easy.

There is something so satisfying about feeling a ripe berry come off in you hand, and then seeing it drop into your bucket.

Or even better as my experience today at Blueberry Hill Farm north of New Castle, Kentucky, where I got to experience that repeatedly, and at times had up to 6 or 7 berries in one hand as I pulled them off the loaded bushes.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many ripe berries in clusters as I did this morning.  There are at least two varieties being picked now, and it was a good morning, not too hot, and with some cloud cover.  My daughter and I gathered two gallons in about 75 minutes of picking.

I had brought a folding stool and I would set it up in one spot and literally could pick for probably ten minutes without having to move it, the bushes were that loaded.  My daughter filled up two-thirds of a gallon bucket purely from one large bush!

Now that we’re back home and have sampled our work, the flavor is really good also.

Sigh…what a lovely way to spend a morning.  And now I’m thinking of all the great things I can make with them, besides of course the basic pleasure of just eating a nice sweet chilled blueberry.  I’m making crisp tonight, crepes for tomorrow morning.  I also love just blueberries in slightly melted vanilla ice cream. That’s how my grandmother and I used to eat them on a hot evening in Oklahoma City when I was there for my summer visit.

Anyway, if you’d like the pleasure of the easiest berry picking you’ve seen in a while, here is the website for the berry farm I went to this morning.


Posted June 24, 2014 by swanatbagend in diet

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Got Mental Health Issues? Consider this.   Leave a comment

Before you even go to the psychiatrist or your doctor, unless it’s a pressing or urgent situation, the first thing I’d recommend is the MSG free diet. Thank you Ruthie for exposing me to the possibility that what my children were eating was creating a plethora of unpleasant symptoms.  You can look up the diet online and find several websites that explain it more fully and teach you what the specifics are.

The basic idea is that you are just eating real food.  You are specifically avoiding MSG and all its derivatives.  This does mean goodbye to onion soup mix, canned soup, prepared dinners, frozen food, and convenience food in general.  But don’t panic, nowadays there are lots of good quality convenience items on the market, so you can go that way if you don’t feel like cooking from scratch.

The other good news is that you may not have to eat like this always and forever.  We actually do use commercial bread, rolls and tortillas; we go out to eat and eat with people in their homes without problems.  We just don’t consume a regular steady diet of the main culprits.

Also, I would recommend giving it a long trial, more like a couple months than a couple of weeks, especially if you don’t see any improvement on it in the first days, or think you don’t.  I didn’t think we had any changes, but kept on because I liked the way the food tasted and felt happily crunchy about the whole experience: I was making more things from scratch, roasting organic chickens and cool stuff like that.

Glad I did, because it eliminated completely some problems my children were having.  Nightmares.  Bed-wetting.  Insomnia.  Sleep onset problems.  Anxiety.  Hallucinations.

The insomnia and bed-wetting were just kind of an annoyance that we had been dealing with for years.  I don’t know why, honestly, it did not occur to me earlier that perhaps regular bouts of insomnia in a child starting at three years old were not, strictly speaking, normal.  But it didn’t, and when the child was about eight years old, we had reached a point where the anxiety was interfering with our lives, but it had no source I could figure out.  Over-analyzing our personal family dynamics looking for clues changed nothing.  I thought we were going to have to see the shrink when hallucinations started.

But thankfully all I really needed to analyze was what we were eating.

That led to a a transformation: a child who would not go outside because of fear became a child who went outside on her own and out of sight of the house without even giving it a thought one year later.

The added benefits of no insomnia or wet beds were a nice surprise.  A surprise because I did not believe those annoyances could be caused by onion soup mix.  Wrong.

I also didn’t think whatever was affecting my then 8-year-old was affecting my 4-year-old, but after we had done the MSG free diet for a couple of months, the 4-year-0ld was able to doze off at bedtime within 10 minutes.  It had been taking him a good half hour or more to go to sleep and the time just kept getting longer.  Again, I had no idea what was causing that.  I can’t tell you how much magnesium these children got to take at bedtime and how much lavender they got to breathe, to no particular effect, before we took MSG out of our diets.

There’s really nothing nicer than tucking in a preschool child…and having him fall asleep.  How simple and wonderful is that?

So anyway, that’s my story.  I was in favor of eating good quality food before I read up on the diet.  What I didn’t realize was how many prepared foods had substances in them that were stimulating the kids’ brains unnecessarily.  Now, I’m really truly in favor of eating real food.

I strongly recommend the MSG free diet to anyone with mental health issues.  It’s worth trying for a couple of months.

It could be as simple as what you’re eating.

Posted February 13, 2014 by swanatbagend in diet, mental health

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