It only matters what works for you.

Archive for the ‘cooking’ Category

What do you get out of it?

Your food, I mean.

We’ve been told over and over that if we eat a healthy diet, then we’ll be healthy. I think most of the people who read this know it’s completely untrue, but it persists as a lie. Of course the average person doesn’t do it anyway, so does it really matter?

One idea is that we don’t need to take vitamins if we eat a healthy diet. Hence the war on vitamins and supplements. I’m not sure I really understand the government’s constant attempts to over regulate them. Someone is making money off them right?

Despite my new-found soup way of life I still came down with some severe low iron symptoms. I went through a period where I ate red meat twice a day because I craved it. How much of that was me not absorbing the iron present in the food? Thyroid can cause low stomach acid, as can age, and that would interfere with absorbing the nutrients.

It’s a little gross to discuss, but many people don’t chew nearly enough. Part of that is because our food is more highly processed. It’s also because we rush everything in the US so we’re eating in a hurry. It’s a problem. A friend who had bypass surgery told me that chewing was the number one instruction her doctor gave her as she recovered to make sure she didn’t have problems with regain. I constantly have to remind myself to slow down.

Then of course, there’s the idea that there is no food in our food. That the soils in the US are very depleted by modern farming methods so the trace minerals that we should be getting out of our healthy eating aren’t there to begin with and no amount of chewing and stomach acid will pry them out of food they aren’t in.

Even though I eat mostly organic, with healthy choices, my kitchen table is still covered with various supplements and I can tell you that I notice if I miss even one for more than a day.  Some times I wonder if buying the good stuff in the first place even matters, but then I remember the chemical taste of commercial fruit and remember that it might not be what I do get out of it, it might be what I don’t.

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Ironing out a few things.

I always associate canker sores with stress. When my mouth was suddenly covered in them even though nothing really exciting was going on, I turned to Dr. Google. Where I discovered that nutritional deficiencies can cause them. Particularly iron and B12.

Well, B12 should have been fine because I’d recently had a conversation with a friend who mentioned that metformin causes B12 malabsorption. Really? ‘Cause I’ve been on metformin over a year and I don’t recall anyone mentioning it to me. I did my research and have both a liquid and a spray. I think it helped my energy levels some.

Iron though. I’ve never had any trouble giving blood and I’ve always eaten plenty of red meat, so my iron levels were probably fine. Right? Not so much.Iron can also be a cause of peeling flaking nails, which I’d suddenly come down with too. Hmm. My favorite thyroid site has a lot to say about iron. Specifically ferritin vs serum iron. I talked with my usual group of fellow sufferers and got myself an iron supplement.

Wow.

Talk about flipping a switch. Nothing has made that big a difference since I found selenium. Which, by the way, is also much discussed by my favorite thyroid site.

Before selenium, I just hurt, everywhere, all the time. Life was a lot better once I started supplementing. I’ve leveled off at about once per week. But I was still pretty limp and my default state was something I call ‘couch zombie’. A state where I had things to do, and I’d sort of like to do them, but it just isn’t possible to find forward motion, or even to sustain it once moving. It was fairly horrible. Iron is the key to defeating the couch zombie. Who knew? It isn’t in the apocalyptical literature. But it’s helped me a lot. My canker sores went away almost immediately. My nails have stopped shredding. But moving past couch zombie has been huge.

If nothing else, I’m certainly blogging more regularly!

I’m not where I’d like to be, but I no longer feeling like I’m traveling the road of life on a cart with square wheels. Time to work on picking up some speed!

Getting some perspective

I recently had a great visit with one of my dearest and oldest friends. She’s recently been having fun and excitement with her own health and we’ve been sharing stories and resources. With her encouragement, I’m doing a few new things.

One that I really should have thought of is a new approach to veggies. See, I don’t like them. I’ve never liked them, and I promise you I have tried whole websites full of different ideas on how to make them fun and interesting. Sorry, still don’t like them. I tried requiring myself to just eat them along with the rest of my meal. Nope, I’d rather skip eating than eat them. Not a good solution. My new approach is called soup. Very innovative, I know. Bone broth is an amazing food and I’ve certainly made my fair share. But I don’t care for brothy soup. There are only so many flavors that meld well with coconut milk for a creamy soup, and thickening with flour isn’t really the best for me. My friend’s solution? The food processor.

Oh. How obvious. I’ve never thought to put the meat from soup into the food processor, but why not? It works beautifully. Cauliflower bacon soup in a chicken base was excellent and on the menu for tomorrow probably. Home made duck stock with leftover duck, zucchini, spaghetti squash and a few potatoes was legendary and required a sincere discussion about the inadvisability of a 3rd bowl in the first seating. Ground beef and broccoli has been less successful, but still fine. So now I’m aggressively buying my favorite Kitchen Basics stock in a box, and saving my rotisserie chicken bones, and I found my beef bone options at the market last visit for future reference. So as long as the cool weather holds out, I can go forward with more veggies.

My friend also found a traditional Chinese Medicine doctor when her western doctor couldn’t help her. I’ve shied away from this simply because of the expense, but in her experience it isn’t as expensive as I thought, and well, I’ve certainly tried everything else. I’ve put out some feelers locally to see if I know anyone with a personal recommendation. Their approach is all about balance after all, and I already know my body is horribly out of balance. It can’t hurt.

I think the most important thing was to have some reinforcement. She does not find me lazy, or less determined, or any other thing. She believes I have attempted to work my behind off, but it is just stuck. And that might be the most important thing from the whole visit. Someone who knows me well. Someone who has watched my endless struggle, and finds me admirable, instead of lacking. That is truly hard to find.

So, a nice soppy song in honor of the people who really know us.

When food can’t be trusted

With a title like that, the first thought might be dieting and weight loss. I’ve certainly felt like that many, many, oh so very many times in my life. But this is worse than that.

Let’s talk about food allergies.

Food allergies are exhausting.

Have you ever gone to a scrumptious buffet, and left hungry, not because of any will power or intentional self sacrifice, but because there was nothing you could safely eat?

How long does it take you to figure out a restaurant to stop at after a busy day?

Once upon a time, when I was young and callous, I knew a woman who ‘claimed’ to have food allergies, and she was allergic to a great many basic staples. And I thought she was making it up. Or at least fussing over No Big Deal. We took to calling her “one of those people who doesn’t eat food.”

And now, of course, I am one of those people, and I want to go back and give my young self a talking too. She didn’t mean to be unkind, exactly, but it was so far outside her experience that it didn’t seem real.

Perhaps you are one of those people. If you are, please give me a minute to explain.

Have you ever traveled to a place where it wasn’t safe to drink the water? And you not only had to find bottled water everywhere, you had to remember to always have a bottle in your hotel room so you could brush your teeth? And you had to remember to only eat vegetables that had a peel, because greens and things like that are washed in the local unsafe water?

It’s a little like that.

Any time you eat out, especially at a new place, it’s like spinning a roulette wheel. Especially when your allergy is something ubiquitous like gluten, or something deadly, like shellfish or peanuts. You can order carefully. You can tell the server to ask the kitchen. You can hope that the server will actually ask, and the kitchen will both know and answer honestly. And it’s still giving the wheel a big old spin.

The more allergies you have, the likelier you are to have a problem with something.

I have a lot. My options are limited. I have a very short list of local restaurants that I’ve vetted, taking the risk of feeling awful for a full week to see if it’s safe. My poor husband supports me in my quest for safe food, but I know he loves business trips where he can just go eat without having to study the menu, call the manager, and pray.

I usually just eat at home from my short list of reliable, sensible food. Which means an awful lot of cooking from scratch. No convenience foods.

I’m a better than average cook, but there are so many times when I really, really can’t face my own cooking, but there aren’t really any better options either.

I suppose this can be classed as a first world problem. Much like dieting, it’s about being faced with food you can’t eat, instead of the much harsher problem of there being actually no food. I’m not confused about that.

But since we (I at least) live in first world environments with computers and internet and ridiculous amounts of food, it’s a very real problem.

It makes me tired.

It isn’t just french fries.

I am really conflicted about this ad:

On the one hand, I am utterly appalled at what passes for healthy eating in this country. Our food supply is a nightmare. Refined, mutated, depleted, it can be difficult to get adequate nutrition. It genuinely astonishes me how many adults don’t know how to cook. Not even anything fancy, but how to make a meal out of basic ingredients. Add in a low-fat bias and we’re pretty much doomed. Teaching kids how to make a healthy meal and how to enjoy one is an important parenting step that isn’t always getting the attention it deserves, for many reasons, some unavoidable like economic inaccessibility of quality ingredients, and sometimes just because.

So yes, teaching our kids about healthy nutrition is really important.

But this PSA? It’s all about fear tactics, and it leaves out so much.

The blame for weight issues is always assumed to be food choices and nothing else. And that tunnel vision makes me so angry!

Sure, many people eat badly. Plenty of them are thin too, and no one feels it necessary to emotionally manipulate them into self loathing.

Wait,what?

That’s right. In my experience (personal and direct from friends) every time a fat person fails at a diet program, they hate themselves. Because ‘everyone’ knows that if you just stick to your diet, you’ll lose weight. So if you don’t lose weight on your diet, it’s a personal failing. The medical profession really compounds this by being condescending and skeptical. Because even though I’m a well educated, intelligent adult, I can’t be trusted to watch my own calorie count. If the diet doesn’t work, I must be lying to myself about what I’m really eating.

I could go on about this for quite a while. I have a lot of hostility on this subject saved up.

But back to that ad.

It shows that poor guy who has been overweight his entire life, and pretty much suggests that he’s fat because his mom fed him fries as a kid. Because it’s the only thing that makes him stop crying.

You know what I’d ask a parent if they said only one food would make their kid stop crying?

“Have you checked in to food allergies?”

The problem with reducing everything to the calories in/calories out model is that there can be a LOT more going on, and it makes life very unpleasant for those who can’t figure out why, and don’t have the time and energy to chase after possibilities. We need society to be a little more open minded about causes and a little less judgmental.

Ok, and feed our kids fewer french fries, that’s true enough.

Play it again.

Recidivism is a fancy word for people who won’t learn from their mistakes, even once they’re caught. It means people who repeat an action even when they’ve faced the negative consequences before.

Usually, it’s used in regards to criminal behavior.

In my case, I’m talking about my relationship with sugar.

We need to break up. I know this. I posted about it a year ago.  Sugar makes me mean and argumentative and  depressed. It makes me crazy. And yet I keep getting lured in.

Part of it is social. If I go out to a nice dinner, I want to have dessert ‘like everyone else’. Some nights, I just want a pleasant drink with dinner to take the edge off. And if there were all it was, then I’d have no trouble, I could handle that much.

But it surprises me every time. I think it must be similar to alcoholism, or people on psychoactive drugs. When you’re on the drugs, you feel so good you start to think that it’s all past and you don’t really need them any more. If you’re sober, it’s easy (or so I read) to think you’ve got a handle on things now.

If just a little sugar isn’t a problem, it’s easy to slip right down that slope into more and more until there I am, crazy and mean again.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do about it. I just thought I’d share my issue.

Artificial sweeteners aren’t the answer, I absolutely do not tolerate any of them. I do eat significantly less sugar than most Americans. I just need to do better.

At the very least, I need to learn when I’m sliding down that slope and try to stop it before I crash into the bottom.

When they get it.

In my years of pursuing health and trying to learn about my body I’ve tried an awful lot of things. Some work, some don’t, and some only work for a while, and then stop. And it took me years to figure out when it was time to buckle down harder, and when it was time to back up and choose another direction. I wrote about the difficulty in fighting dogma a while back.

When you’re out on the fringe (of anything, health and nutrition for this discussion) it is such a relief when you get to share ideas and options (and new recipes) with someone who gets you. Understands your perspective on health, understands your need to find your own way no matter what the mainstream says, understands that people are not interchangeable machined parts. Unfortunately, sometimes (often really) you get caught up with someone who feels that they own the One Truth, and there is no discussing with you, they just talk at you. So frustrating. They put so much energy into finding a great alternative solution for themselves, and yet they can’t believe that their perfect solution probably isn’t perfect for everyone. Because if solutions were one-size-fits, said practitioner would have followed the instructions their doctor handed out and wouldn’t have made doing something different their life’s work. They get so caught up in their own dogma that they forget that they started out helping people.

I bring this up because last week I went to a ladies business lunch where I have made a number of good friends and I got to sit and brain storm with an amazing food educator.

 My friend Elaine teaches people about raw food and alkaline diets. She doesn’t start with a major overhaul. She starts with a list of foods that would be spectacular for you and helps you find a few that you could add to your diet. Starting small and practical. But if you say “yeah, I know flax can have all these benefits, but I happen to be horribly allergic” she doesn’t say “are you really sure you’re allergic” and she doesn’t say “it’s really really good for you”, she says “oh, how about chia seeds?” or other options.

Elaine understands that I am healing multiple health problems, and I’m not ready (and who knows, may never be) for her program. That doesn’t stop us being friends, or helping and supporting each other. She never makes me feel bad for not jumping on her bandwagon, because what she really really wants is for me to be as healthy as possible. Whatever it takes for me. She had to find her own solution, and she did a fine job, since she’s a 2 time, no chemo cancer survivor. (I’m impressed. How’s that for some qualifications?)

My point here is, if you get the opportunity to work with people who really get that you are a unique individual, make the most of it. They’re rare these days. But don’t let anyone tie you to their bandwagon if it doesn’t fit.