Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Che Guevara on Toast

When I was pregnant with Maya I was sick as a dog.  What started out as morning sickness, quickly grew into dehydration, a month-long hospital stay, the loss of 25 kilos (that's 50 pounds) and ended with my gallbladder being removed when I was 15 weeks pregnant.  I literally ate nothing for an entire month and drank only  those milkshake thingees they give cancer patients who are too sick to eat.

Trust me, there's a reason why they give them to cancer patients, you need a couple rounds of chemo to kill your tastebuds before you can manage to swallow that crap.

Anytime anyone mentions San Diego within a 10 mile radius of us, Leo proudly shares the time that I puked my guts out in Target's parking lot.  Something about me hurling next to a little starter tree just seems story worthy I guess.

In short, the whole experience was the biggest sucko imaginable.

The surgery cured the problem but it took my body about another ten days to stop vomiting bile get moving again and start eating.

When I was able to eat again, I tried to eat a lot of soups, I figured the liquid and the combo of veggies would help me to replace the nutrients I lost and I tried to eat a lot of fruit puree and smoothies.

But I craved salt, in the form of baked potatoes, canned green beans, corn and peas, dripping with butter and salt.  The homemade soups Leo bought me from the green grocer sat and sat and sat as I ate baked potatoes, canned green beans canned peas and canned corn.

Let me tell you, we ate canned vegetables in our house growing up, in the winter there was a very limited selection of fresh vegetables and I always looked forward to summer because it meant vegetables without the Del Monte label on the can.

So my instant love of all things Del Monte kind of threw me for a loop.  At first I wrote it off as simple pregnancy cravings but after a week, 3 pounds of potatoes, cans galore and 5 sticks of butter I started to get concerned.

A day or so later I had a follow up at the doctor and I told him about what I was eating and that I was starting to worry about it because it wasn't healthy.  He looked at me and said, your body is craving sodium after not eating for so long, just go with it, when your body has had enough, you'll know because you'll want to eat other things.

And true to his word, a few days later I moved on from my love affair with the 1970's and cholesterol and started eating other things.

The whole experience was terrible, I was depressed for the first half of my pregnancy because I felt so bad and of course I worried about my baby inside of me.  Would she grow?  Was she okay?  My doctors', nurses and midwives all reassured me that little babies are like parasites, they will take what they need nutritionally from their mother and luckily since I had extra poundage to spare there was no concern for the baby who developed completely normally and was at a normal birth weight and size throughout my entire pregnancy and on delivery.

Still, the great baked potato caper of 2003 really taught me that the body really knows what it needs on a primal level.

Maybe it is because I am plugged into the autism community (using that word very loosely) but lately I notice a lot of judgment chatter in the food camps.  The GF/CF (that's Gluten Free and Casein Free which basically is no wheat, no dairy) and the non GF/CF have a lot to say to each other.  Likewise, vegans have always been particularly vocal about what they think of non-vegans.  And even you have the organic people/not organic people.

Everyone's taking sides.  It's food people, not a religion.

Now we could debate for ages why this occurs, why people who are passionate about one food movement or another feel so passionately about it that they feel the need to grandstand and take every opportunity (or non-opportunity) to slam those that think differently than them.

Personally my opinion is that at least part of the reason is tied to the same reason why I needed that sodium. Their body is crying out for what they are being denied, but instead of listening to their bodies and giving into the need, they keep denying themselves and that is making them crabby, irritable and giving them the need to lash out at others.  So basically vegans need a burger (or at least some veggie pizza), veg's need a steak, GF/CF need a bowl of cereal with milk.

OK, I am kidding, well at least sort of kidding.

People should do and eat what they want.  I absolutely agree that eating a certain way can certainly deliver results.  I know quite a lot of people with autistic children who have benefitted a lot from GF/CF diets which not only improve their children's overall health but also help their children with concentration and also improve behavior.

I don't know what causes autism but I do believe that the amount of additives, preservatives and chemicals present in our food/lives certainly is not helping anything and I do think it is possible that the relationship is much stronger and could be a contributing factor to autism which has saturated the western world but in places in the world where there are a lot less chemicals, rural Asia and Africa, autism is still a rarity.

Can I prove that? No.  And I don't believe there is any one cause for autism but it is probably caused by a multitude of factors, some being inherent (genetics) and some being environmental and there are probably numerous perfect storm combinations of this which cause someone to develop autism.

My own view is that I do believe there are way too many chemicals in our life.  The amount of additives, preservatives, flavoring and processing added to our food is staggering.  That much chemistry cannot be healthy.

I have struggled with my weight my entire adult life so I am not on some soap box trying to claim I am the healthiest person out there, I am not, I over indulge in food, because I love it, because eating is fun.  I am not claiming to be some prime example of nutrition, I could stand to be healthier.  However, I do believe in cooking, in starting with good ingredients and turning them into something.  I try to buy organic and fair trade, I eat only free range meat, chicken and eggs.  If I had the opportunity I would try to buy from small local independent farmers.

Organic food in the US is more than a $20 billion dollar industry.  Yes, I do believe organic is better for you but don't forget, it's a business.  By it's very nature it's there to make money.  The people in the boardrooms of these companies have nothing to do with the non-pesticide produce they sell, they are out for profits, which means selling you on the idea that you must buy organic and charging you more for it.  The same can be said for the food supplement industry who are making oodles of money from people by selling them better hearts, lower risks for cancer, diabetes and countless other conditions by taking their INSERT SUPPLEMENT each day.  Every day news shows report about how this or that is critical to your health and within a year or two they tell you that the very same foods cause the conditions you are trying to avoid.  And who sponsors those shows that report them? Advertisers.

Eat healthy but bear in mind there is a corporate strategy too.  

If eating a certain way helps you, then by all means do it.  Likewise if you just want to eat healthier for whatever reason, do it.  If you want to be a vegetarian or a vegan, if you want to eat organic, if you want to guzzle fish oil or throw flax seed ll over everything, please go ahead.

Just please don't tell the rest of us what we should be doing.

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