Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Food Matters...

This was the post I planned to write:

“I have to confess, I haven’t read Mark Bittman’s Food Matters yet, but I am intrigued by what I read in this review. A 'Guide to conscious eating' seems especially appropriate this time of year, when we tend to focus on eating well and starting new habits.

As a celiac, I am gluten-free by necessity, and as someone with chronic, progressive lung problems, I am dairy-free by choice. As I’ve written before, I no longer see this lifestyle as one of food exclusion but as one with a different set of possibilities. There is no question I feel better without gluten, and if the removal of dairy has made my congestion even a little better, it’s worth it to me.

I don’t plan on altering this combination too much, but I’ve thought a lot about how I want to embrace the spirit of change in the New Year. Over the past few months, I’ve shifted towards less animal protein and more plant sources, until somehow I found myself not having any animal protein until dinner, and sparing amounts at that. When I read how Bittman and a colleague embarked on a 'vegan until six' endeavor with limited simple carbohydrates to improve their health (there are lots of environmental reasons behind his choices too but I am focusing on health), I thought, 'Huh. Who knew it had its own catch phrase?'

It’s really not too much of a shift from what we’re already doing in our household—planning meals in advance, making things from scratch in larger quantities for later use, shopping the perimeter of the grocery store. In essence, I’m continuing to swap out my midday protein for a plant-based one. But the difference is that now I am doing it more consciously. High cholesterol and cardiovascular disease run in my family, and I figure I have enough issues as it is.

I know many of you out there have made lifestyle changes and dietary changes that aren’t necessary for medical conditions (like going gluten-free if you’re celiac, for example) but have made a big difference in your health and in controlling chronic conditions. What has made the biggest difference, and do you have any regrets?”

So that was the post I had set in my mind until I received an e-mail about Share Our Strength’s “Operation No Kid Hungry” campaign to raise funds to help end childhood hunger and encourage Americans to hold food drives within their own communities. According to Share Our Strength:

“This campaign responds to President-elect Obama's call to
action for corporations to serve our nation's communities and builds on his commitment to end childhood hunger by 2015.”

I got to know this organization when I wrote a newspaper article on Operation Frontline, a nutrition education program for low-income families. It was then that I really started to see that conscious, healthy eating can be affordable and manageable.

Share Our Strength is running the campaign to coincide with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and there are two ways we can all get involved:

1. Text "SHARE" to 20222 on your mobile device to donate $5. AT&T will match all text donations up to $100,000.

2. Holding food drives within their communities beginning Monday, January 19th, which is Martin Luther King Day and a national day of community service.

Visit Share our Strength for more details.

And then I thought about how much food really matters, and how lucky many of us are to have the luxury to decide just how conscious our eating can be.


Kairol Rosenthal said...

I was vegetarian for 14 years, vegan for 7 of them, and danced 6 days a week. Then I was diagnosed with cancer at age 27. I’ve wavered between “screw the healthy lifestyle it did me no good” attitude, to trying raw food green diets that caused intestinal bleeding. The anxiety of what to eat was driving me crazy. How healthy can that be?

I consulted an acupuncturist in Chinatown, expecting him to layout a magic umiboshi and seaweed regimen. Instead, when I asked him what I should be eating, he said two words: “Variety and moderation.”

I heed his words, plus I listen to my body. I don’t eat dairy, not because a book told me so; I noticed I get more colds when I eat it. I eat only organic meats. The lack of accessibility and high cost has reduced my meat intake, and assures when I do eat it, it’s the healthiest possible. I try to eat more veggies, not because a guru or celebrity told me too, but because I like how they make me feel. I stopped striving for perfection, let myself off the hook, and really, really enjoy big bowls of bread pudding.

Em said...

I'm celiac as well. I'm dairy free too. I mostly eat bland vegetables, fruits, chicken, turkey, fish, and brown rice (that's about it). It has been such a blessing. I have a chronic illness that has no cure, but I've found so much relief from eating a diet of mostly plants, whole grain rice, and white meats. It took a while for me to see results but after 2-3 years of super healthy eating I'm feeling amazing in so many ways. I still have some chronic symptoms and pain, but I think clearer, am less tired, and I sleep better!

Unknown said...

Food matters, that can't be more true. There are so many kids who don't get enough to eat here in the US, and around the world... I hope people will help out in any way they can for Share Our Strengths.

It's funny you should write about food today though. I ate cheese on top of french onion soup yesterday. I've been gluten and dairy free since the summer, with no real diagnosis, it just made me feel better. So I get soup without bread, etc, and it helps. I don't have to as careful as someone with celiacs, but I notice when I do eat gluten.
Anyways, back to the cheese, I thought I really want cheese, because it's been so long... but it made me so sick, so I guess I will continue with the no dairy, because I always feel better. I was just kind of testing myself.

Anna's Spot said...

I am not sure if you subscribe to "living without" it is a magazine for allergy and food sensitive individuals. I love it.
Have a beautiful day.

Anonymous said...

Hi Laurie,

Thank you so much for your support! It's people like you who really make a difference, and together we can all help end childhood hunger.

Food really does matter, and I encourage everyone to not only spread the word, but to donate in any way you can - either with a $5 text donation or with food.

Kari Rippetoe
Share Our Strength

Connect With Share Our Strength
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Anonymous said...

I was a vegetarian for 14 years, but I had multiple health problems going on (and a raging sugar addiction!). Now, as a holistic nutritionist, I can advocate vegetarianism only if people are really conscientious about still getting protein: eggs, fish, beans and rice....there are no native societies that are vegan, and only a few that are vegetarian. So be careful to get enough protein!


Term Papers said...

The lack of accessibility and high cost has reduced my meat intake, and assures when I do eat it, it’s the healthiest possible.

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