Saturday, September 08, 2012

Choose Your Foods

As I work on preparing the Myers Family Recipes book for publication, I think about nutrition.  This recipe book will be a culmination of 35 years of cooking for my family.  As a young adult, I read a plethora of nutrition books, and I decided on two things: take supplements and eat natural foods. I believe those decisions kept me centered as I watched the nutrition advice pendulum swing this way and that, over the decades.

Butter? Sugar? Eat them. Don't eat them. Substitute for them. Don't substitute for them. For awhile, we used only honey for a sweetener but then we decided to just eat these foods in moderation.

Proteins? Carbohydrates? Fats?  Don't eat too much protein. Eat mostly protein. Eat carbohydrates. Avoid carbohydrates like the plague. Cut fat from your diet. You need fat.  Over most of those years, my primary goal was simply to provide meals comprised of all three of those components and composed of natural ingredients. We ate lean meats, poultry and fish; used low fat dairy products; and ate whole grains, vegetables and fruits; with some pasta and occasional sweets added in.

In the past decade or so, as we dealt with some major stresses piled on like dominoes, I began to veer from that course. I added lots of convenience foods, sought comfort in an abundance of sweets, and indulged my soda addiction (high fructose corn syrup, sugar, or artifical sweetener? I've tried them all). My weight crept higher and higher.

So I began to look at books to help me with my weight, and to study nutrition, once again. But first I sought counseling. And I learned that I need to love myself. I know. Crazy, huh?  I mean, it's not like I was suicidal or  taking drugs or whatever. And I always knew God loves me. But I kind of thought my whole role on earth was to please other people (just try to guess what everyone wants of you). And you should have heard my self-talk! I still catch myself on occasion. I might silently criticize myself in a derogatory or sarcastic way, and then say, "Boy, is your self-talk bad!  What is the matter with you?!"  Oops, I think I should be gentle in correction. Yes, I believe that loving ourselves - which is not the same as being selfish or indulgent, but having a gentle, respectful, nurturing attitude - matters. I believe it matters even in our ability to take steps each day for our physical health.

And I have found that very attitude of self-respect included in some of the recent nutrition books that I have found. The other missing ingredient in my nutritional past was the importance of mono-unsaturated fatty acids, or MUFA's, as some say.  MUFA's, they say, nourish our brains, help us to avoid or lose belly fat, and help our heart health. They come in olive oil, olives, avocados, and some nuts and seeds and fish. And no, we don't now eliminate all other foods from our diets and eat these exclusively. (Heaven help us!). We need them only in small amounts. It's still all about balance.

And so, I want to share with you these titles, my favorites, my new go-to books on nutrition, in case you too might be interested in them.

General Nutrition, Food Choices, and Recipes:
Nutrition Diva’s Secrets for a Healthy Diet, Monica Reinagel, MS, LN, CNS, 2011
(This book takes you through the grocery store and through the day.)

The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight and Eating Great, Pam Anderson, 2008
(Although the very title speaks of losing weight, this book is largely about nutritional balance.)

Brain Health , Weight Loss, and Recipes:
Feed Your Brain, Lose Your Belly, Larry McCleary, MD, 2011
(This explains the science of how MUFA's help your brain and help you to avoid or lose belly fat.)

Flat Belly Diet! Liz Vaccariello, MPH, RD, 2008
(This is the more practical book on MUFA's and how to incorporate them into your diet.)  

1 comment:

Margaret Mary Myers said...

In the interests of full disclosure :) , I didn't seek counseling because of my weight. I decided to start doing something about my weight because, through counseling, I internalized the importance of taking care of myself.