Help! I’m drowning in Food Facts!

I just love the library.  My mother would have never in a million years thought I would be saying those words, but I do.  This is coming from a girl who always tried to find the movie or the Cliff Notes of any book that was assigned in high school.  I can vividly remember from back in the 80’s laying on the couch with my head in my mother’s lap while she read to me.  Can you believe she did that for me?    She did this without judgment or criticism.    No lectures on me using my time more wisely, just out of love.  I also remember watching A Christmas Carol late at night with my copy of the book open right in front of me.  “Marley was dead:  to begin with.”  The first line of the book and the first words from the screen.  The version I was watching had to be word for word I reasoned.  It’s a wonder I made it through English at all! 

But the reason I love my library so much is that they have this awesome website and you can request books.  I don’t ever worry if there is a long waiting list.  I know my number will come up and I’ll have whatever title I’m interested in very quickly.  It is such a joy when I get the email saying my requested book is now available and on hold for me.  They even have audio books that you can download for free!  Sometimes I like to have my own copy of a book but since I don’t tend to re-read very often, I like the frugalness of checking them out. 

My number came up this week and 3 books that I had requested all became available at the same time.  In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan the audio version was first.  Second came, Food Rules also by Michael Pollan.  And lastly, Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. 

I am so very happy that In Defense of Food came to me in the audio version.  If it hadn’t, I’m not sure I could have gotten past the first chapter.  Michael Pollan goes on and on in a very technical way about the Western Diet (high intakes of red meat, sugary desserts, high-fat foods, and refined grains) and all the chronic illnesses that are caused by it.  I’m only on the 4th cd out of the 5 but what I am taking away from this book is that I have been born and am living in the worst nutritional time in history.  No more is a person’s diet dictated by culture or heritage.  I’m sure I eat nothing like my mother let alone my grandmother. 

From my very earliest memories I was using Sweet-n-Low, drinking Tab and Fresca, and consuming every low-fat, no-fat item that the food marketers were directing me to.  This makes me very sad.  I remember swearing by Susan Powter’s claim that it was the fat that was making us fat!  Then I remember embracing Dr. Atkins and his claim that the carbs were the enemy.  I even bought and used the ketosis sticks.  Did you? 

Even now I’ve gone from Vegetarian to Flexitarian and now back to Vegetarian.  Why does my diet have to be so complicated?  Why in the world am I spending as much time thinking about it as I do? 

The next book from Michael Pollan was Food Rules and you can read it in one sitting.  I recommend Food Rules wholeheartedly.  No need to get In Defense of Food unless you just love all the technical stuff.  Food Rules gives you all the main points made in In Defense of Food.  Some of the rules that I like the most are as follows: 

Rule number 2:  “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”  When I read this toLydia she immediately commented that meant tofu was definitely out.  I wonder what Michael Pollan would say to that? 

Rule number 13:  “Eat only foods that will eventually rot.”  Ever find a French fry under the seat in your car?  Looked pretty much exactly they way it did when it first fell there I bet. 

Rule number 20:  “It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car.” 

Rule number 37:  “The whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead.” 

Rule number 44:  “Pay more, eat less.”  I can give you an awesome example of this one.  I made a pot of soup out of Eat to Live that I will review later and it cost me over $20.  It called for leeks, raw cashews, and carrot juice among many other ingredients.  Click her for the complete recipe.  The only leeks I could find were organic and the two cost me over $5.  The raw cashews were $5.26 and the carrot juice was $5.49.  I did only use 1/3 of the bottle of carrot juice but wowzer, I was up to over $15 at that point.  I estimated the entire pot of soup to cost around $25 and we got 6 servings out of it.  That will never make the Dinner on a Dime show!  It was very good though.  Even Mason loved it! 

And my very favorite rule of all….   Rule number 64:  “Break the rules once in a while.”  After a week of 3 nutrition books, I’m about to return to being a Flexitarian.  I will probably add back wild salmon or other fish and maybe some other animals if they are truly organically fed and humanely treated.  I’m also going to learn to be more like the French as Michael Pollan reports.  When I think of a chocolate cake, I’m going to think celebration instead of guilt.  After all, as Oscar Wilde says, “Everything in moderation, even moderation.”

The last book I read, or rather skimmed was Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman.  This one, like In Defense of Food, is very technical and long.  I skipped over most of it and got right to the diet he recommends and the recipes.  Dr. Fuhrman embraces a plant based diet way more than Michael Pollan but they are very similar in many ways.  The perpetual dieter in me almost wants to take his 6 week challenge and take out ALL animal products from my diet.  He claims that you can lose 20 pound or more in the 6 weeks.  Even with this claim, he really is more concerned with health rather than weight loss. 

The basics of the 6 week challenge: 

Unlimited raw veggies and try to eat at least one pound a day 

Unlimited cooked veggies and again, aim for one pound daily 

Unlimited fruits but at least 4 per day 

Limited starchy veggies and grains 

No animal products, no dairy, no processed foods, no caffeine, and no alcohol 

A point that Dr. Fuhrman makes that hit home to me was that in some ways, eating meat is far better for you than being a vegetarian that gorges on rice, breads, and other vegetarian junk foods.  He leans very heavily towards a plant based diet but after the first 6 weeks, some meats may be added back. 

I did finish one more book this week but this post is already way too long.  I’ll review, The Help, next week sometime.  If you haven’t seen the movie, wait.  Read the book first!  If you have seen the movie, don’t wait!  Go get the book.  It’s that good.

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One thought on “Help! I’m drowning in Food Facts!

  1. Pingback: Eating to Live | A Handful of Spinach

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