One of the things that brings excitement to my life is food. It was always a big focus in my family growing up, with rituals like wine with Friday & Saturday suppers, favourite dishes, family get-togethers and meals for birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas. When I was away at university my grandma baked banana muffins and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and mailed them to me – just like a hug from home!
Eating has gotten much more complicated lately. I am trying to balance many things, several of them contradictory. I’m hoping that blogging about it will help me sort them out – remember them – and perhaps gain advice from you, my esteemed readers!
Here are the issues that I keep in mind for food, roughly in order of priority:
1. Allergen free (ie none of our allergens)! No eggs, fish or tree nuts.
2. Organic if possible. (still to come: the lists I have found of “most important to eat organic” and “things that don’t really matter if you eat organic or not).
3. Choices with some thought to foods that are supposed to be healthy for you – especially from the “Foods That Fight Cancer” and “Cooking with Foods that Fight Cancer” books by Dr. Beliveau. Overall he advocates more fruit & vegetables, of course, but there are some interesting research nuggets in there. However, I feel that it’s important to keep a sense of perspective. Slavishly following these books doesn’t mean you’ll never get cancer. If you know someone who has had a cancer diagnosis, it isn’t their “fault” for not following these guidelines. I think there’s some great information here but I’d hate to have it transformed into a “blame the victim” situation.
4. Lower carb/more whole grains. DH and I followed the South Beach diet several years ago and it did wonders for DH’s blood lipid levels, and also for his weight loss. I lost some weight too but it was really surprising how well it worked for DH. There’s type II diabetes in my family so I think this is a good strategy for both of us.
5. Less meat, more vegetarian meals/dishes. As I grew up eating meat with every supper, this is a shift for me. (note how this is more difficult w/ the south beach diet, mentioned above!)
6. Eating 3 course meals a la “French Women Don’t Get Fat” – this is a recent introduction to our food habits (for supper), and we are loving it! Some typical things might be a soup course, then a salad course, and then the “main” – all of them small, and meat usually just at the main course – or sometimes it’s all vegetarian. One recent meal was 1) soup 2) corn on the cob 3) a bit of beef stew, mashed potato, sauteed mushrooms & onion, and broccoli. By the time you get to course #3 you’re already partly full, plus I generally use smaller plates. It is a bit more work but I”m starting to get into the groove.
7. Environmentally friendly/locally grown – sometimes I am good at keeping this a priority – other times not so much. Last year we got most of our fruits & vegetables from a farm about 40 min away. It was a great experience but it was a commitment of money & time to drive there and back!
8. Not from BPA-lined cans. (a whole new level of obsessiveness for me)
9. Gluten-reduced (I haven’t really incorporated this much, but it’s something I’d like to aim for in the future)
10. Less dairy (Dairy is so easy, high protein, good flavour for us. But I think we are having too much of it).
So, you may be able to see some of the conflicts here! South Beach advocates a high protein breakfast, and highly recommends eggs – that goes against our allergy! It also emphasizes high protein to keep you feeling full – a bit harder to do when striving for more vegetarian emphasis. Then there’s the preventing cancer thing, where omega-3 fats from fish are fantastic! Unfortunately, we are allergic to that. Then there’s the overall cost of buying organic … argh. Of course a good variety of fresh veggies & fruit is an admirable goal, but you can’t get that much which is local in the wintertime in Ontario.
No wonder I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the (supposedly) simple task of eating!