Inspired by a little-known picture book from the pen of Bethany Tudor, this is a diary, of sorts, where I document some of my thoughts, activities, and ideas as I explore the challenges met by the characters in the story: hard work, the care and nurture of others, housekeeping skills, life changes, charity, community, and cooperation, among others. Like Samuel and Samantha, the ducks in the tale, I struggle and succeed, cope and celebrate, work and play, handling the tasks that come my way. I invite you to join me on my journey.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

DYK? Anti-Inflammatory Diet Suggestions

According to the American Dietetic Association, March is Nutrition Month.  Who would have guessed? As part of this recognition, Dr. Weil has been doing an e-mail series of “kitchen makeover” tips that focus on improving the quality of food in America’s pantries. Part 1 dealt with cleaning all the unhealthy food out of my cabinets. I was supposed to ditch anything that was refined, presweetened, or made with white flour and replace it with an organic, high-fiber, whole-grain alternative. He also suggested I remove all instant soups, rice/noodle mixes, and instant drink mixes. The soups were to be replaced with natural, whole-grain soup ingredients like brown rice, dried beans, lentils, and peas; the drink mixes with green, white, or oolong tea. So far, so good. I followed most of those recommendations fifteen years ago when my husband was a cancer patient. The good doctor also suggested including some anti-inflammatory spices in my pantry like sage, basil, thyme, and rosemary. No problem there, either.

Part 2 of the “kitchen makeover” series came today. It recommended that I pay close attention to nutrition labels the next time I go to the supermarket so that I steer clear of these ingredients (listed below), which promote inflammation and, consequently, work against healthy aging. Are you ready for this list? Be prepared to look at a bare cupboard if you are new to the health food scene. Also, say goodbye to most of that Easter candy you bought for the kids. It is usually laced with palm kernel oil.

Animal fat (such as lard)
Artificial sweeteners or non-nutritive sweeteners
Coconut oil
Corn oil
Cottonseed oil
Fractionated oil
High fructose corn syrup
Hydrogenated oil or vegetable shortening
Palm or palm kernel oil
Partially hydrogenated oil (source of trans-fat)
Blended vegetable oils
Safflower oil
Soybean oil
Sunflower oil

I don’t have much of this stuff in my pantry. I will occasionally purchase margarine when baking cookies from my “vintage” cookbooks but, for the most part, I have avoided most of these ingredients for a while now.

So, what is a mother to do in the face of such recommendations? Mostly, do as the doctor ordered: pay attention to nutrition labels and begin switching to healthier choices. If your local supermarket looks pretty dismal after this exercise, hunt up a health food grocery store, or find a natural foods cooperative to order from. That’s what I did. In fact, I have to pick up my order this afternoon. Bon appétit!

No comments: