Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What You Eat and How You Feel....

What’s your cooking personality?

I took a quiz in the NYT’s Well blog recently and my results were a mix of healthy and innovative, meaning I like to experiment and rarely use recipes, I enjoy using fresh ingredients and spices, and I rely a lot on fresh vegetables and healthier proteins. The point of the post was to discuss how strong an influence the person who buys and prepares food has over household consumption, which I find interesting as well as totally logical.

(I should add here that several days into a lingering stomach flu, I am taking a huge leap writing and even thinking about food. Pedialyte and tea is more my speed right now.)

Anyway, in my more normal solid food state, we have a team approach to buying and preparing food because we both enjoy cooking and we each have complementary goals: I want lots of greens, lots of fiber, and a lot of heat; my husband is especially particular about preparing quality proteins and is always looking to try new preparation methods and new combinations.

Our meal planning has evolved a lot since we first met and started cooking gluten-free; since then, I’ve eliminated dairy and gotten a lot more adventurous, and we’ve both become committed to eliminating processed food. If I think about that in terms of the article on cooking styles, I’d say we’ve both influenced each other’s meals, though in different ways.

I realized our overall grocery store expedition can be boiled down to “Lean proteins, preferable whatever’s on sale, and vegetables.” In addition to lots of herbs and spices, we have lots of vegetable and chicken stock on hand, as well as bulk quantities of quinoa, brown rice, polenta, and risotto. As long as there’s some olive oil and garlic in the house, we’re set for the week and can do many different things with these core ingredients. (Of course we buy other things to supplement breakfast and lunch, but this is the crux of it.)

I found myself telling one of my doctors this last week after a strategy session to map out a way to control my dubious immune system and lungs these days. He was very interested.

“Do you notice you feel better when you eat certain things and worse when you eat others?” (Keep in mind, “feel better” in a lung doctor’s office means, “How is your breathing?”)

I mentioned that I gave up dairy voluntarily to cut down on mucus congestion and that I could tell it made a difference on the very rare occasions I’ve eaten it since: I am much more wheezy, and I cough a lot more. But beyond that, I haven’t really thought about how specific foods may or may not influence inflammation in my airways. I’ve been so focused on the macro—put good things into your body, and hopefully good things will happen.

So my new challenge is to be a more conscious eater, to slow down and think about how I feel and how I am breathing after different meals. It takes time and effort to eat gluten-free, whole foods and keep it economical; if I can parse out added benefit for my lungs themselves, then that’s great.

What about you? Have you noticed you react differently to certain foods (excluding any food allergies/intolerances, of course)? And if you take the quiz, don’t hesitate to share what your cooking personality is!

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In other health-related news, I’ve written before about the effort America’s Agenda Health Care Summit Conversations is making to bring consensus to health care reform. Now, there’s a way you can participate in the movement as well. They are sponsoring a virtual marchto let Congress know how health care costs affect your daily life. You can join the Facebook page, send a photo of yourself, and tell your story. We can’t all be in Washington, but this is one way to get your voice heard. Check it out!


Unknown said...

I just did the cooking personality quiz and I am "Giving." Haha... that sounds about right. I am not always the most healthy with my food choices.
Thanks for the post!

britta said...

Artificial Sweeteners are soooo bad and many people don't realize Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet aka sucralose, aspartame, etc.(which are hidden in lots of things). Well, I completely eliminated those from my diet. One day I was chewing a piece of gum for the first time in months. I couldn't figure out what I felt so terrible, like I seriously felt like I was dying! It was the artificial sweeteners. I know read labels on EVERYTHING. Sadly, the FDA still pushes them through in products.

Kairol Rosenthal said...

I was a super-green vegan when I was diagnosed with cancer at 27. Then I got to sick, too poor, and too busy with medical care to keep up a strict diet.

I'm still living with cancer, but have found a balance of what feels good to me and what is reasonable for my lifestyle. Here's what I try to do:

Eat only organic meat (which means I eat much less meat)

Don't eat ingredients I cannot pronounce or do not know what they look like

Moderate my sugar intake (I type as I eat a huge piece of frosted banana cake!)

No dairy (except for butter, blue cheese, and bread pudding - come on I gotta have some pleasure).

Going dairy free has vastly decreased the number of colds I get and helps to clear my lungs.

Laurie said...

Britta, interesting point! I've recently eliminated Splenda (used it in coffee only) and am curious to see if I notice a difference.

Kairol, love your approach. And it's great to hear about the dairy connection from someone else-makes it easier to stick to when you know it's making a difference!

And Catherine-nothing wrong with giving! That's what makes food a meal.

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