The Sassy Sandpiper: O Brave New (Food) World
By M.R. Wilson, Columnist, TB Reporter
Have an ailment? Don’t automatically reach for the pills.
The lab results show an increase in your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
This happened recently to an active, tiny friend of mine who happens to be 83 years old. Her doctor immediately asked if she would like medicine to lower her cholesterol. “Jean” firmly replied, “No, thank you.”
Jean and I pored over the lab reports. For the most part, her 90-pound body was functioning remarkably well.
Typically among primary care physicians, a discussion of dietary habits isn’t part of the conversation. More likely than not, doctors reach for a prescription pad. Just doing their jobs.
Typically a single woman in her eighties cooks infrequently, subsisting on pre-packaged meals in bright wrappings with misleading if not downright false claims about healthy nutrition. “But it tastes so good!” Unwrap. Microwave. Eat. Get on to shopping or bowling or visiting family and friends.
Honestly, I don’t blame her. But lurking in all that processed “food” are noxious chemicals and compounds our bodies do not recognize and cannot digest. The stuff hangs around with nowhere to go but our vital organs and immune systems, where they establish playgrounds for chronic conditions and debilitating diseases.
Jean has embarked on a journey to eat like her grandmother did, and I have volunteered to be her field guide.
The first step is getting reacquainted with whole foods: fruits and vegetables in their natural states (eat cherries instead of cherry pie), and gradually limiting meat and dairy. Like most folks, Jean has been hoodwinked into believing that animal protein is best. Science says otherwise, and for quite some time, only to be debunked by…yes, physicians and of course, the industries that profit from the not-so-great American diet, including the medical establishment, the health insurance industry and Big Pharma.
“No, thank you.”
It’s a lot to take in. It helps to get a little mad about the whole thing.
But lowering cholesterol (and setting the stage for many other benefits) through food choice is not a mystery or a “secret,” although publishers of how-to books on the subject love using the term. Just eat real food.
Jean is finishing off things in her freezer like waffles and French toast, reading nutrition/ingredient labels, and finding out what is actually in processed food. It’s quite an eye-opener. She’s spending time in the kitchen again, “cooking from scratch,” looking up recipes on the Internet, discovering savory spices, and that dried fruit and extra dark chocolate are satisfying substitutes for pie and cake.
I’m enormously proud of her.
Twice a week I host edible tutorials. We’re brainstorming foodies. I share recipes, encourage Jean to try new combinations, and offer my favorites: black beans and rice; Asian stir-fries with tofu; lentil soup; vegan pasta sauce and zucchini “spaghetti.” Homemade hummus.
Unfortunately, she can’t eat nuts or seeds unless they’re ground to a fine powder and sprinkled like condiments. Diverticulitis.
We’ll work on healing that condition next.
As Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine.”
Photo bY M.R. Wilson, Correspondent, Tb Reporter
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