Monday, December 31, 2007

q&a, disclaimer, and philosophy

Robin asked how to fry food properly. I think that is in reference to my statement in my first post that I can eat fried food as long as it is prepared properly. Well, that simply means that it isn't fried in hydrogenated fats. Other than that, I don't know. I don't fry a lot either. I know that you can find a lot of information about oils. Some of them, like peanut oil, are better for frying because they have a higher smoke point.

I think I've answered the rest of the questions. Oh, Monday asked if Splenda is made from sugar. I guess so. That's what they say. I've also heard that they use chlorine gas in the processing of it or something like that. yuck.

Now, the disclaimer: I don't necessarily know what I'm talking about. Just keep that in mind, ok. I am sharing things I've learned either through experience, research or from the nutritionist I used to go to before we moved. I'm also sharing a lot of plain old opinion. If something I say interests you, do your own research, ask a nutritionist, or ask your doctor. Or just take my word for it if you want, but please, remember, I don't necessarily know what I'm talking about.

Healthy living is a very subjective thing. Someone will tell me they eat healthy, but they will eat things that I won't and they shun things that I think are fine. So if we differ, fine! We can all share our thoughts and maybe I'll learn something new from you.

My basic food philosophy is this: the food that God made for us to eat is good. Food that man has manipulated or tainted is not good. I don't agree with the scientist people that saturated fat is bad for you. Yeh, yeh, I know they've done studies. They can prove anything with a study. I don't put much stock in studies. But I do know that God talks about eating the fat as if it's a good thing. I'm going with that.

Jesus is the Bread of Life. So, my guess is that bread isn't bad for us. The bread in that day was different than what we eat now, however, so we might give that some thought. I believe in good carbs, not in low carb.

So, I eat red meat, dairy products, including butter, and potatoes, rice and pasta! I don't eat bread but that's for another reason that I will get to later. Something that probably doesn't affect you, but I'll talk about it anyway.

Moderation is the key.

I can be more specific, and will be, in other posts. But that's it in a nutshell.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

the picture

One of my faithful readers, (mom), asked about the photo on my header, so I will tell you about that today.

On my 40th birthday I had a girls only dinner at a Moroccan Restaurant in Manitou Springs called Tajine Alami. If you haven't been to a Moroccan Restaurant, you should go. It isn't inexpensive, but it is fun and delicious!

You walk in, take your shoes off and are shown to a table where you sit on the floor on piles of cushions. The food is served without silverware so you eat with your fingers!

The dessert we had was called a Pastilla and it was wonderful! Flaky filo dough pastry filled with strawberries and gooey chocolate. The top is dusted with powdered sugar and a cinnamon heart adorns the top. Oh my. So good. I had about one bite of that thing and then it was gone! It was my birthday, too...
You also are served some Moroccan mint tea and the girl does all kinds of fancy stuff when she's serving it. Here she has the cup on her forehead and then she pours the hot tea into it. For reals.

They have belly dancing, too and everyone participates. Since it was my birthday, I had to be the first one out on the floor to show my stuff. Ha. Not much stuff when it comes to belly dancing!!

The dessert isn't particularly healthy, but baklava isn't bad if it is made with honey. And the rest of their food is very good for you as well as delicious!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

about a book and sweeteners

I haven't always been into natural health and alternative stuff. In fact I am an RN, so I have been trained in the ways and thinking of the Medical World.

But when I was faced with gallbladder surgery, I was willing to try anything. That's when I started getting interested in these other options.

In the beginning of that change I found a book called The Liver Cleansing Diet by Dr. Sandra Cabot, and what I read really made sense to me.

I used to roll my eyes at people who said they didn't eat white sugar – only honey, etc. After all, I had taken science classes and I knew that all sugar metabolizes in the liver and becomes glucose for the brain and other bodily functions to use. All sugars do that.

But in Cabot's book, she says that because table sugar is so highly processed, it confuses the liver. Like what I mentioned with the transfat. The liver does its best, but it can't metabolize the white sugar completely. My nutritionist said that sugar is more to blame for high cholesterol than fat. Could be true. The liver makes cholesterol, remember.

And artificial sweeteners were not even created by God for food, so the liver really doesn't know what to do with them. I won't eat them. I will eat white sugar before I eat artificial sweeteners. Besides, I get side effects from all of them. Aspartame gives me headaches and dizziness and Splenda hurts my stomach.

What I do use is Stevia. Robin mentioned it in her comment. It does seem expensive, but it is so much sweeter than sugar that it lasts a long time. It does have a bit of an aftertaste that you have to get accustomed to. Some people just don't like it. I do. More for some things than others. I do have a cookbook for it, but it isn't great for baking, etc. This has no calories and does not affect insulin levels at all.

I also like to use Succanat. It is cane sugar, but it hasn't been processed as much. Follow the link and see for yourself what you think. It is delicious, like brown sugar and has most of the mineral content still in it.

I love to use honey and Agave Nectar.

All of these are still sugars and do turn into glucose in your body. Agave has a lower glycemic index than the others, though. And these all have calories. Moderation is the key.

When I eat white sugar, I feel terrible. I get irritable and tired. But these others don't cause me to feel that way, even the other cane sugar products like Succanat and Molassas.

I think it's the processing that causes the trouble, maybe.

I'm not saying that I never eat sugar, but for the past 3 or 4 years, I eat very little of it. Because I know how it makes me feel, I take everything into account before I decide to eat it. Is it something I really enjoy? I'm not going to feel lousy for something I don't even like. And will the thing I'm eating be worth it? Sometimes I say yes. Now and then I really want some good old fashioned ice cream. Or on a Holiday I might choose to have something. They all have sweets attached, don't they? This Christmas I made Mexican Wedding Cookies and I tell you they are nothing but sugar and fat. But oh, they were good. And they were worth it. I won't have them again for who knows how long.

Now I will have to deal with my cravings again. When you don't eat sugar, you don't crave it. But you have to go through the detox first. That's tough, but it can be done and the cravings really do go away.

Oh, I said I would talk about what the book says about weight. Basically, it says if we don't treat our liver right, we get fat. Or stay fat. And she gives some practical ways we can care for our liver and she has a diet plan – a twelve week thing, I think. I didn't do the actual diet, but I incorporate a lot of her principles.

Friday, December 28, 2007

don't eat that

Turns out the #1 thing, in fact, the only thing I need to avoid to protect my gallbladder is trans-fat.
You've heard about that. My nutritionist told me to stay away from it about a year before the government scientist people started talking about it. It's helpful that they are against it, though, because now it's easier to find food that doesn't have it.
The scientist people are against it because it increases LDL cholesterol. The thing is, it's just not recognized by the liver as a food. Regular food oil is taken and the chemical structure is changed by adding hydrogen molecules in order to turn the liquid into a solid. That's what shortening is. And margarine. blech.
So with this new chemical structure the liver just does the best it can to metabolize it, but it really doesn't know how. The liver is the place where cholesterol is produced. It is also the place where bile is produced and that's the stuff that flows through the gallbladder.
Makes sense, huh?
So now I can have fat, as long as it is God-made-for-eating fat. I have to ask a lot of questions when I eat out, but that's ok.
So, do some research and see what you think.
Next time I'll talk about a book that does a great job of explaining the liver/weight connection.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

food fight

Are we, or are we not obsessed with food? I like the movie Over the Hedge. I particularly like the monologue about the humans' relationship with food. It is on the nose! From a raccoon's perspective, the phone is the instrument we use to summon food, the car is for transporting food, the door is the portal for food, the treadmill is so we can eat more food, etc. And then all the leftovers get put into shiny silver cans.

I have my own food issues. More than I would like to have!! I used to live for food. If you were to tell me I had won a trip to Italy, my very first thought would be about the food I could eat there! When planning a trip to the State Fair, I wasn't thinking about the exhibits I could visit, but about the food vendors I would visit!

"First, a handmade corndog and onion rings, then later a candy apple. I have to get some Cotton Candy; can't go to the Fair and not get COTTON CANDY! And it's always SO HOT! I will need a snow cone. OH, and the Indian Frybread! We will stay long enough so I can have an Indian Frybread Taco for dinner. Then I'll need dessert, of course."

That may sound exaggerated, but sadly it's not. Fortunately the prices at the Fair prohibited my fulfilling these greedy fantasies!

Anyway, you get the point! I was an overeater and food had a tight hold on me!

One day, I got sick. Not the first time I had ever been sick, but this was different and just got worse. I would be so nauseated in the evenings that I didn't eat supper, (not such a bad thing, really). But one day I got Really sick and the doctor told me it was probably my Gallbladder. The tests were inconclusive, however.
Now, as much as I loved food, my fear and loathing of surgery was even greater! So the Lord just happened to introduce me to a woman who had been through the same thing. She had treated herself naturally with diet changes and she was very helpful in showing me what to do. So, rather than have a possibly sick, possibly not, gallbladder removed, I changed my diet.

Ha! Easier said than done! I will never forget the day she said to me that I had to cut out fat; almost ALL fat. Other than taking some nutritious oil, like fish oil, I was to have no fat. And then she said, “You can never eat fried foods again." I went home and I cried as if someone had died. I argued with God. I told Him I couldn't do that. "I CAN NOT LIVE without fried foods!" But after much weeping and time on my knees, I almost physically felt something break. I said something like, "Ok, God, if this is what it takes to be obedient to you. If I have to give up fried foods, I will. The fact that this is so difficult proves to me that I HAVE to give this up. My love for food is beyond love, it is sin." So something in me broke that day...The hold that food had on me.

Now just because it is broken doesn't mean it is gone!! But it is weak and I am able to keep it under submission.

Since that time I have given up many different foods for various health reasons. You don't even want to know the things I can't eat! But on the bright side, I can, and do eat fried foods!! They just have to be properly prepared.

But I still have a problem. I am still obsessed with food!! It is more practical, and it is from a different perspective, but it still causes me to think about food more than I would like. I have to always be thinking about whether or not I should eat this or that. Does this have that ingredient in it? And when I go to a restaurant...Oh Brother!! Talk about high maintenance women! LOL
This constant thinking of food that I do now, does not reek of idolatry the way my old obsession did. But still, it takes up brain space that I would rather use for something else!

But, praise the Lord, I still have my gallbladder! I have lost and kept off 50 pounds! And food? I can take it or leave it! You put a fudge covered brownie in front of me, and I can actually say "no, thank you"! If I choose to.

Because God is good!