Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Healthy Reads for Healthier Eating

I'm not sure what got me on this kick -- maybe it was finding Sunflower Market and their plethora of good foods at reasonable cost, maybe it was something that's been discussed on 4real forum, maybe it was a direct result of my finally starting to get back in shape.

All I know is that I'm getting VERY interested in whole foods and feeding my family with healthy, hearty, stick-to-their-ribs food that will keep them healthy through their growing years and into their gone-from-the-house years.

I've always eaten pretty-much "whole foods". If you've ever met my mother, you'll understand that I grew up on everything "made from scratch". We never used mixes, processed foods or TV dinners; we couldn't afford them. We baked things using refined sugar and all-purpose flour -- but it still had better flavor and nutrition than mixes or pre-packaged food.

I've always tried to steer away from synthetic foods -- fake bacon, chemically-engineered cheeses and "healthy" low-fat foods have rarely been in my pantry as they're so full of sodium, chemicals and just don't taste good. Now, I come to find out that all these "healthy alternatives" are actually not! A study showed that some of those ubiquitous "lab rats" were fed on egg substitute and withered up and died! Now, I don't think I want to feed my kids THAT, do you?

My mom is a strong proponent of "anything in moderation" -- and she's talking about food and drink.
  • It doesn't hurt to have a glass of red wine with dinner -- and there are many studies that show that it actually is very healthful. It DOES hurt to drink the whole bottle.
  • It doesn't hurt to eat two pieces of See's Candy. It DOES hurt to eat the whole two-pound box at one sitting.
  • It doesn't hurt to have an egg for breakfast a couple of times a week. It DOES hurt to eat a dozen eggs every day, slathered in butter with a pound of bacon on the side.
In other words, healthy eating can occur from buying whole foods -- foods that are in their natural state -- and eating those in moderation. Studies have shown health benefits from using a bit of butter or olive oil in lieu of the "lower fat, healthier" margarine alternative. Heavily flavored, but high fat cheese is better than using chemically-engineered cheese that has minimal flavor so you end up using a larger quantity.

Here are some books that I've read recently which have really helped me sift through the grocery store hype and to ignore the marketing claims and instead read the labels:
  • The Green Kitchen Handbook: Practical Advice, References, & Sources for Transforming the Center of Your Home into a Healthy, Livable Place by Annie Berthold-Bon is sadly OOP but is a wealth of info about stocking a healthier pantry (and also gives tips on cleaning the pantry!). This book grew out of a group called "Mothers and Others for a Livable Planet" and their "Eight Steps to the New Green Diet" which covers: eating organic food, eating locally grown food, eating seasonal food, eating a variety of food, eating low on the food chain, eating whole foods with adequate fiber, avoiding processed foods, and reducing packaging. The book explains why these steps are not only better for me and my family but also why their better for the environment and future generations!
  • Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon is part cookbook, part nutrition textbook, part food science volume. This large book not only tells you why you should eat whole foods, but it also gives you great recipes for how to do this. It's also an encyclopedia of products and whole foods glossary. Scattered through the volume are nutritional facts and findings from experiements. [This is where I got the info about the egg substitute test!]


guadalupemamma (aussieannie) said...

Mary, you won't believe this, but I've just been to Sally Fallon's weekend seminar last weekend! It was God-sent because I had just found out I was pregnant 2 days earlier and my last pregnancy was my healthiest pregnancy thanks to Sally Fallon's diet! Nothing like hearing her in the flesh and this time, REALLY understanding the heart of the diet!

guadalupemamma (aussieannie) said...

Mary, you won't believe this but I've just spent last weekend at a seminar run by Sally Fallon! (her in Australia) It was God-sent for me as I only found out 2 days before that, we were expecting and my last pregnancy had been the only really healthy pregnancy thanks to her diet - she has changed my life! There is nothing like listening to her in the flesh, I really picked up the heart of her message and I have come away completely inspired.

The Bookworm said...

Mary, I have tended to think along these lines ever since I heard my dh's cousin (a bio-chemist) on the subject of margarine. He wouldn't allow it in his house, but had no problem with butter in moderation.