Thursday, August 22, 2013
Common Sense Eating
That whole eating no grains or sugar thing I was telling you about… yeah, that was more difficult than I expected. Dave is still going strong, and feeling better every day, but for some reason, my body was in revolt ever since I eliminated its favorite source of quick energy. I have a fast metabolism, and since my weight isn’t a concern, last week I decided to go ahead and add those grains and fruit back into my whole-foods based diet. I’m still keeping them to a minimum, but mainly just avoiding processed foods, especially those with added sugars/chemicals/hydrogenated fats.
Something that’s been gnawing beneath the surface of my food-lover’s heart since I first started learning so much about nutrition science is that in its base, food is good. God made vegetables AND fruits, leafy greens AND grains, low-glycemic carbohydrates AND starchy ones. I do not believe I am spawned from a cave-dwelling Neanderthal whose evolution never allowed for it to eat grains. I came from Eve, whose children were given dominion over every edible plant. Food is good. Now I just need to focus on eating food not tainted by the muck of big agribusiness.
Michael Pollan (he’s going to end up as my most-referenced influencer on food, I can already tell) helped me figure out what I intuitively knew. Call it good old fashioned, great-grandmother common sense. Instead of getting caught up in the “Nutritionism” of focusing only on the nutrition in food, we instead strive for the more balanced philosophy of gaining nutrition through food; the common sense notion that if your body lacks something, it should eat.
Michael Pollan describes “Nutritionism” as a wide-spread paranoia/obsession Western eaters have about the purpose of food. We break it down into its nutrients and leave out the food itself, part of the reason why processed foods can so easily trick us with health claims like “heart-smart,” and “no cholesterol” . . . as if a denatured, benign food-like substance that has been processed into oblivion can actually benefit our bodies by simply lacking something Nutritioism has taught us to fear, like saturated fat. Scientists think they have singled out the one little thing in a food that makes it healthy, and then supplement processed foods with those nutrients in their isolated form, as if that would be as healthy as eating a fruit or vegetable that God made perfectly equipped to nourish us in one complete package.
I have been contemplating this great grandmother common sense I want to have—the kind where new trends in nutritional thinking don’t toss me about like a wave on the sea—and I think I’ve pretty much got a handle now on how I’m going to eat. But I’ll probably benefit from writing it all out anyway, so here it is:
Michael Pollan’s Food Rules are pretty darn good, and I will probably stick to them for the most part.
When I really crave something, I’m going to indulge that craving with moderation, not deny myself and make that thing an obsession. That’s just silly. I’m going to enjoy life, and part of that is enjoying really delicious cookies.
Bread/carbs are not the enemy. I’m going to make bread at home when I want bread, but I’m going to use the freshest, most wholesome grains I can get. And you know what? I’m going to add a little sugar, because it’s wonderful.
I believe in butter.
I’m going to eat fresh fruit as often as I like, as long as it was not grown thousands of miles away.
Food that is supposed to be fresh but had to be picked green and then shipped thousands and thousands of miles to get to me, ripening through the addition of ethylene or because it’s just old, is not fresh food. Plus, it is more costly than the fresh, local foods I can get in season. The cost is higher for my wallet to buy produce from New Zealand, and the cost is much higher to the whole economic and natural system.
I will eat as much dairy as I like if it is whole, organic, pasture-raised, and even better if it’s raw.
Four words: Olive oil & Sea Salt
And lastly, some more food Rules my great grandmother would have approved: