Saturday, July 21, 2012

What to Eat---Says Who?

Who to believe? Dr. Oz, Dr. Ornish, Dr. Fuhrman, Dr. Atkins, Dr. Mercola or Dr. Demento?! Just because they have the MD initials after their names, does that make them right? Each one of them has his diet devotees and weight loss winners. Kale queens, juicing junkies, raw revolutionaries, protein pounders...all colors and stripes of dietary dictators beseech us from blogosphere and bookstore to eat their way.

Paleo diets push protein and greens and shun grains. How about the Pleistocene Diet, which is what I'm calling the “Eat to Live” approach, one consisting of plant-based, nutrient-dense foods, (like what the dinosaurs ate), advocated by the founding (and word-creating) Nutritarian, Dr. Joel Fuhrman?

As a baby boomer, I grew up on canned green beans and peas, “minute” steak, sausage and cheese pizza, tuna fish sandwiches on Wonder bread, and lots of whole milk. Likely there is no coincidence that I entered puberty at nine and by thirteen, had a BMI (an unheard of measurement in those days) in the overweight range. Fortunately, my height growth outpaced that of my waistline, so that in high school, I was considered skinny. My diet was still typical of the times---mostly cereal or Instant Breakfast drinks in the morning and fast food for lunch and/or dinner (after all, I grew up in San Bernardino, California, original home of McDonald's and Taco Bell).

On my 21st birthday, friends took me to Las Vegas (not known then for its culinary excellence), where I had, for the first time in my life, bright green, instead of dull, yucky green....peas! I still remember how they looked and tasted. I asked the waitress why they were so different from the canned peas I knew---”frozen, I guess”, was her reply. A revelation.

A few years later, I married a man from the Bay Area. One of our early dates was to Chez Panisse, the now-famous restaurant of Alice Waters and birthplace of the Foodie movement, leading to another revelation and the real beginning of my exploration and enjoyment of vitally fresh foods.

As the years passed, my lifestyle became fast-paced and stress-filled, so that getting to an aerobics class was increasingly challenging, whereas treating myself to luscious (and highly caloric) meals in fine restaurants was definitely on my menu (after all, I had to eat, right?). The result was an extra 40 pounds, which I subtracted and added to with crash diet and exercise programs. Eventually, yoga, walking, and a significant food/nutrition change got me to a healthy weight and fitness level.

Now the questions I ponder, as I work with clients who have serious health and/or weight issues, and as I deal with the dietary changes required by having celiac disease, is, what should we eat to ameliorate symptoms and/or heal ourselves? Amongst the nutrition and diet gurus, who do we believe? What does the research show, and can it be trusted? I'll share my findings in an upcoming post.

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