Sometimes, I love Oprah

Friday, January 29, 2010

Oprah has the ability to springboard ideas from an enormous platform. She can take an idea and make it understandable and relevant to her viewers, thus spreading a message to an audience that would otherwise be unwilling to hear or unable to understand.

A few days ago, Oprah did a show on the movie Food Inc. Food Inc is a mind-blowing and frankly scary documentary about the TRUE source of our food, the means by which it is obtained, enhanced, and grown at a ridiculous rate. My local grocery store sells chicken breasts that are about the size of an adult foot. That is NOT NORMAL. The only way to grow chicken breasts that big, and that fast, is to pump the chickens full of antibiotics so they can survive. The result is a chicken, lying on its chest, unable to get up, with a bone and organ structure too immature to support the weight of its muscles. That chicken is squashed in with thousands of others, never seeing sunlight or even able to eat bugs or worms or anything that is part of a NORMAL natural diet. They are covered in feces, full of chemicals, and then we eat them. But hey- they're CHEAP!!! You can get a HUGE package of chicken breasts for next to nothing!! So not cool.

For just five seconds, I wish we could all close our eyes and imagine that same scenario, but this time, fill it with cats. Caged for life, never seeing the sun, covered in feces, squashed in like sardines, unable to walk because we've genetically manipulated their growth so that their muscles are enormous... Five seconds is about how long that would last, because no one would EVER let that happen. But because chicken is food, we allow it. I am ashamed of my part in this.

I don't eat beef, but Oprah went on to talk about the part in the documentary where they discuss beef. Beef is fed corn so that it will mature faster, be bigger, have more meat. But without a NATURAL diet of grass they must be pumped full of antibiotics to not get sick. Who eats that? You do. Wonder why the straight-up penicillin of our youth no longer works and the pharmaceutical companies have to work so hard to produce stronger antibiotics? Your answer is in your food chain.

It's funny, but one of Oprah's guest’s rules is simple: don't eat anything your grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. HALLELUJAH!!!!

What about "you can eat whatever junk you want, as long as you make it yourself". YES!!! Because it's a pain in the butt and you'll eat the right amount if it's not at every street corner or vending machine.

EAT REAL FOOD. If a third grader can't read the ingredient list, move on.

It feels so good to see some of my philosophies discussed in such a huge forum.

Think about what you eat. Think about where it comes from, what it's doing to your body, what was required to get it, and what the ultimate price is to your health. Apparently Americans now spend about 9% of their incomes on food, half of what it was a hundred years ago, and they now spend twice as much on healthcare. HELLO!!>?!?! This Western diet was introduced about a hundred years ago- this diet of processed EVERYTHING- and since then, the population has reduced its health accordingly. And this fad of low fat everything? That's what MADE and IS STILL MAKING everyone fat. Fat doesn't make you fat. Processed CRAP makes you fat. We took fat out of everything, and replaced it with sugar. All those low-fat items? LOADED with sugar.

Oh, I am just so passionate about this subject, I'm sorry if I'm ranting. It just makes me crazy that people can't see what they're doing to themselves. I pray I never lose this passion of mine, because it doesn't take long to stop bucking the trend, and join the hoards of people, headed for the trough, ready to slop down the next cheap meal.

What makes me tick

Saturday, January 16, 2010

So, why the obsession? Why am I so bent on making sure that every meal is "worth it", that every snack has some redeeming quality? Food and I have a long history. I'll try and explain.

Once upon a time, I was a happy, healthy child. I was never as lean and athletic as my sister (the jock!) but I was average and healthy. The pre-teen years were tough...and things got ugly. I began packing on the lbs, and became the butt of so many jokes. Years later (15, 16, etc) I resolved to control my eating habits and unfortunately, things were crumbling somewhat around me so I controlled my food intake to a dangerous level. In retrospect, I know that when things got bad back then, and later in life, my panacea was always to grab hold of the one thing I knew I could totally control, meticulously and obsessively. I could effect change on what went in my mouth and it made me feel good.

I have a very deep-rooted fear of becoming overweight again. It was an extremely painful time in my life, one that I will never repeat, but part of me still fears that one day, I will catch a glimpse of myself in a store window- mid 40s, hair a mess, no makeup, and wearing an enormous Tweety Bird shirt and too-tight leggings. I observe others who are already there, making food choices they truly believe are helpful (which are nothing short of utter self-sabatoge) or using food as their own panacea. When I see someone who is ridiculously unheathily large (we're not talking an extra 20lbs here) I am so sad for them- I always wonder what "it" was...what made them use food in the place of what they really wanted. I also renew my vow to never do that.

I now know, that I can maintain a healthier balance, whereby I can eat well, maintain my weight and actually enjoy food. The thing that makes me enjoy food the most though, is finding the magic combination that is both delicious, and nutrient dense. Like finding a chocolate bar with the nutrient content of an avocado. You get my drift.

One of the things I eliminated during my intensely controlled phase, was meat. It was all meats at first, but a few years later, I reintroduced chicken because I found out that I was intolerant to milk, and could no longer rely almost solely on dairy for protein (I was not a very careful vegetarian for all those years).

After I stopped drinking milk and really limited my dairy intake, the suffering I'd lived with since childhood was vastly improved. Night and day difference. Not perfect, but much much better. 

Years went by, and so did two pregnancies. For those of you who have been through it, pregnancy can do some UGLY things to your body (like sending various "parts" south, but not just for the winter). For me, my second pregnancy really did me in. My gastrointestinal symptoms severely intensified. I was tired, sluggish and felt awful.

At the behest of my sister, I began taking a supplement called Seven +. That supplement was the springboard for the months that followed. I slept well again, had tons of energy and really felt like I could start to tackle the things that were bothering me. I went to see a Naturopath and began a very tough elimination diet. For six weeks, I had only whole grains, no refined sugar of any kind (that means reading all the labels and cutting things with Dextrose, etc.), no "fake" sugar, no dairy, no alcohol, and a handful of other things. It was hard, but man...I felt GREAT during that time. GREAT. Again, still had days where I felt not-so-great. But overall great.

After talking with my boss, who is a diagnosed Celiac, I wondered if perhaps the last remaining piece of the puzzle was gluten. I went one step further, and cut all gluten-containing foods (though I was not exceedingly careful about "contamination" of my food). Now, I was REALLY rockin'. As opposed to before, when I felt ...say 60% okay all the time, I now felt 90% most of the time. However, I still have bouts where I feel about 30% okay. So I know that something is still bothering me. I have a few theories:

1) I've got the gluten thing all wrong, and something altogether different is the problem (I sincerely doubt this one);
2) Gluten IS a problem, but I'm missing something else that is ALSO a problem; or
3) I am constantly contaminating my food with gluten (it can be a matter of crumbs, or just the cross contamination that occurs in a factory).

I suspect the problem is #3. But here's the tough thing: you can read all the labels in the world, but about half of them do not actually TELL you when there is a potential for cross contamination in the processing of the product. For instance: Garlic powder. Yes, I'm serious. The big jug 'o garlic powder that I bought at Costco was made on a line that also processes items with gluten. Ergo, I'm not supposed to eat it. How is it that I found this out? various Celiac websites AFTER I suffered through a few of the most painful days since going gluten free. Why? Because the bottle says nothing about it. Very frustrating.

I have a plan to figure out what's going on so that'll be coming up in the next few months. First a consult with my sister's naturopath when we visit with her in February, then an appt with a gastroenterologist in March.

Meanwhile, I strive to keep the pain and digestive issues at bay as much as possible by eating simple, home made healthy foods.

Care to join me?


Small concessions

Friday, January 15, 2010

My name is Kirsten. I am totally obsessed with nutrition, and with finding small ways to introduce healthier options into my family's diet. The world of food labels, salt, sugar, fat, dieting, eating right, food pyramids etc. is very confusing, and honestly, I think someone needs to start demystifying and clarifying how it is people can truly start to make healthier choices.

That's where I come in. I am obsessed with food, with eating well, and with finding ways of making small concessions without becoming miserable. I'm not perfect, and yes, sometimes I eat what my son calls "Junky food", but I want to spread the message that even small concessions can lead to a major improvement in your diet and in the way you feel. It doesn't have to be all or nothing, you don't have to be perfect, and with every small step, you can be on your way to a healthier you.

So as I begin this blog, I want to give you the basis of my "food philosophy":

Eat food that provides nutrient value, and avoid or minimize that which does not feed and fuel the body.

There. That's it. Sounds good, sounds easy. It's a great principle, and one that I grapple with every day. So I want to post about the small successes on my quest to nourish my body and those of my family. I'll share recipes, tricks, and product reviews when I find something really super. I may post a few "do not eat this" posts as well. I am not affiliated with any food producers or marketers, just someone who is on the quest for nutrition that is understandable, and as easy to navigate as possible.

Cheers, and I look forward to going through this with you.

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