By Sharon Scott
I have put my family through a quiet little food revolution over the past couple of decades.
I grew up in a hard-working, single parent household. My mother hadn’t the stamina left after working two jobs to come home and cook dinner for us. Most days, there was little to no food in the house.
But she was (is) a resourceful woman. You may have read this before, but my mother had a handshake deal with the owners of the local 7-11. We were one of the only families in the neighborhood with a tab. So, most days, the kid-friendly corner of the store – the one with comic books and arcade games – doubled as our family room, and the rest of the place became our go-to kitchen. Obviously, that meant a lot of convenience food – microwaveable burritos, chips, dried beef sticks, hot dogs, Fun Dip, soda… there was no one around to monitor our choices and we exploited that freedom to its full advantage.
That isn’t to say I wasn’t interested in healthier food. I was one of the few kids who said no thank you to jelly in my sandwiches, was eager to hit the school cafeteria, and welcomed the side of spinach. But for the most part, convenient, processed food was all I really knew.
The start of the evolution for me came in my late teens – I had a weight problem and borderline high blood pressure – so I decided to start getting healthier by giving up soda and chips. Several years later, when my not-yet-husband moved in with me, the 7-11 foods shifted to Hamburger Helper and canned vegetables. Perhaps that doesn’t seem like much of an improvement, but to me, it was a serious shift. After all, ingredients like that had to be bought at the actual grocery store… J
The biggest change came when I became pregnant at twenty-one with my first child. My mothering instincts kicked in immediately, and I wanted to give my daughter the best start I could. Since my food intake was something I had control over, I put my energies there.
And as the years passed, that effort continued. I have always “fought the good fight”, refusing to let my children have sugary cereals for breakfast, requiring a glass of water between every glass of juice. One great lesson I learned during this evolution was that I was sometimes focused too much on cutting OUT things, and not enough on whether they were getting everything they needed nutritionally.
And this brings me to my current issue.
My body seems to be finding it harder to absorb minerals. I first noticed it in my face, which was becoming increasingly dry. And though I rarely drink anything other than water, I found myself adding more highly-concentrated moisturizing products to my skin care regimen. Around the same time, I was diagnosed with high cholesterol.
So, like a good patient, I shifted the family diet again to more lean proteins, less starch and red meat, and butter substitutes. But the more I turned to lowfat/nonfat foods, and cut animal and saturated fats out of my diet, the higher my cholesterol became and the longer it took me to recover from simple wounds or sore muscles. It seemed so counterintuitive. I was doing everything I was “supposed” to be doing.
So what was going on?
My frustration prompted me to do more research on cholesterol and to eventually seek out a nutritionist for the first time in my life. Now, my nutritionist, Neal, isn’t the best of teachers. He’s new at what he does and still learning how to convey information so that his clients can understand it. But his passion for health comes through, and foundations of his philosophy challenge just about everything I thought I knew about cholesterol, nutrition, and the real causes of heart disease.
The first tip I learned was simple. Replace the plain, filtered water I was drinking with more nutrient-rich liquids: minerals water, coconut water, unpasteurized juices, homemade beef broth, and whole organic milk.
After just a few days of these liquids, I was seeing already seeing a difference in the texture of my skin. And in the few months of following the other recommendations in Neal’s program, I have raised my metabolism, my sleep has improved, and I have all but eliminated the afternoon sleepies.
In the weeks to come, I plan to follow this article up with more detail on the things I’m learning, and to perhaps create some great recipes that align with this new food philosophy.
At its core, it’s about healing the metabolism and preventing inflammation in the body. And anybody can do it.
I hope you’ll drop in now and then to share in my big fat food experiment.Tags: cholesterol, health, inflammation, nutrition