Monday, August 20, 2007

You Are What You Eat

Have you ever noticed that once you begin to shift your awareness to a specific topic (or a person for that matter) it keeps recurring? Lately, I have been keenly aware of aspects pertaining to a healthy diet; making wise nutritional choices, how the food we eat today influences our long term health, changing old eating patterns, consuming food that is indigenous to the areas in which we live, growing vegetables and eating organically.

This issue has of course been floating around me for some time but it seems that those surrounding me have embraced it more whole heartily as of late. My brother-in-law, Mike, has done his research and is currently enamoured with two books. Each one outlines the positive effects of planning a healthy diet.

The first book is entitled Eat Right for Your Type by Dr. Peter J. D'Adamo. As I understand it our blood type correlates with particular foods that are either beneficial or harmful to our digestion and overall health.

The official website states:

Everything you put into your body today—and how your body interacts with
it—become the raw materials determining your biochemical future. Every day, how
your body interacts with what you eat influences your:
Energy Levels
Healthy Weight
Mental Clarity
Ability to Handle Stress

From what I gather from my cursory review of this book is the premise that certain blood types evolved during our history depending on the culture of the time. If man was ingesting large amounts of meat at a specific point in time the blood type matched this diet to gain maximum nutritional value. As diets shifted to include more vegetation a new blood type arose to compensate and so on. Each blood type can find its genesis in a particular point in time.

Today in our world of fast food, chemicals, processed and manufactured foods we are doing ourselves a huge disservice and actually limiting our lifespans and quality of life. Mike was telling me that our ancestors had longer lives than we will because of the food we eat.

The other evening I was having dinner with my parents. My mom said that she never ate red cabbage or canned cranberry sauce until she met my father and moved to New York. Her family in West Virginia grew all of their own vegetables and if they didn't grow it, they didn't eat it. Simple. My great grandmother lived to the age of 98.

Another book Mike was telling me about is The Maker's Diet by Jordan S. Rubin. This one I have had even less interaction with than Eat Right for Your Type and it has a religious connection that I have yet to understand but the premise seems to be the same.

You are what you eat.

Here is a snippet from their website:

Most of us eat great quantities of food frequently, based on convenience.
In fact, the entire fast-food and TV-dinner industries have flourished due to
our fast-paced lifestyles that demand we eat convenience foods.

Unfortunately, the Creator didn't design our bodies to operate at optimum
levels on junk food, fast food, or prepackaged foods prepared in microwave
ovens. His laws that govern our entire human nature, including our health, bring
consequences when violated, whether or not we accept the fact that they are
still in place.

More and more of my friends are becoming vegetarians or vegans. They are eating healthy foods and making wise choices. In a time when cows are being fed antibiotics and steroids to produce more milk and there is a plethora of artificial substances widely in use this makes sense. Mike and my sister now order much of their food on line from organic farms. They have cut out gluten and various kinds of milk including soy, which is evidently not as wonderful as I was led to believe.

This issue is also playing out in our schools. Most cafeterias provide children with prepackaged, frozen lunches. Preparation for many of the foods consists of "just add water" or microwave. I have seen reports of schools in America that are shifting away from this and actually cooking healthy lunches. They state, in response to the naysayers, that it IS cost effective and that the students have more energy and stamina to participate in classroom/school activities and learning. Many of my colleagues visited the Reggio Emilia schools in Italy where the food is all organic and lovingly prepared with respect for the students. If it saves money AND is better for our children, why don't we provide a healty choice?

The point of all this is that perhaps it is time for me to make some changes as well. But, honestly I am a bit overwhelmed. Where to start? This is where I put it to you -- what are your suggestions?


lettuce said...

hey gary. Enjoying catching up on your blog now i'm back. Till i read the "i put it to you..." - does this mean i have to think of something intelligent to say?

BUT you're right - this is something i've thought about much more over the last few years - healthy & ethical eating, mood food - we get an organic, mostly local and fair trade fruit and veg box now which is a weekly adventure into unknown recipe concoction.

thats been a good starting point.
And just eating less - eating for health and enjoyment not from habit.

theres been quite a widespread change in school meals over here and lots of dramatic evidence of the benefits across the range of school activities and behaviour. maybe there is hope for us?

Junk Thief said...

Thanks for promoting these sources since they relate to my "real" life, a.k.a. work, of promoting healthy food and the people around the world who produce much of what we eat in North America.

Two other great resources are Michael Pollen‘s the Omnivore's Dilemmathat reminds us that every bite we take is political and has an impact on the lives of the people that produced what goes into our mouths and stomachs. The film The Future of Food covers many of the same topics and has some great resources. It's a bit odd, and possibly encouraging, that evangelicals are now embracing healthy food and environmentalism. I hope it could be a place to move towards dialogue instead of the ever growing polarization in the U.S.

justawriter said...

This post has really inspired me to start eating healthier. Right now my diet is not healthy at all as Greek food is very high in fat. Thanks for the book reviews, I will have to check those out. A good way to start working on improving your diet, besides reading on the subject, is talking to people who are vegetarians or vegans. I have a very good friend who is and I plan on talking to him about this, maybe he can help me. Thanks Gary! Your post has really motivated me. Tina

Gary said...

Lettuce! - Hello! Great to see you back from your holiday. I hope you can hold on to some of that peace as things heat up. I missed you. Sorry for putting you on the spot with this post - LOL - but you stepped up! :)

JT - Thanks so much for the information. I already clicked the links and did some investigation there. I look forward to finding out more. You are so great to provide these.

Tina - Greek food, yum! And some good advice. I shall continue to probe the minds of my healthier brothen. But for the moment I am making small changes as Letty said eating less and not out of habit. As I age the 'ol bod is slowing down. If you find out any good tips please pass them along.

marxsny said...

So you won't mind if the kitchen cabinets are cleared of all the Cheez-Its, Devil Dogs and Ho Ho's when you get back home?

Gary said...

baby steps...

J. David Zacko-Smith said...

Personally, I believe that anything taken to extremes is counterproductive, and, to be honest, unless you grow it yourself there are absoultely no assurances that what you are getting is what you think it is. I totally agree with ya about the processed foods and pesticides and eating healthy, I just believe there are ways to do it that are simple - I take my cue from the Europeans and people in Asia, who are not as fat, live longer and, in general, are healthier than Americans. The problem with all these books and theories is that, eventually, there ends up being something wrong with all of them...and in the meantime someone besides me is getting rich. ;-)

la bellina mammina said...

I've started to read Dr D'adamo's book and it is really interesting how he can associate the different groups of food to the different blood types.

We're starting to re assess our eating habits too, going organic, eating a well-balanced meal with fruit, veggies and the likes.
But I crave meat from time to time and I too, am overwhelmed with the different books and advice and suggestions....

Where to start indeed!

Dumdad said...


Firstly, congrats on your blog award. Like you, I originally thought these things a bit naff - until I was awarded one! I share your sentiments that it's nice to be appreciated.

On the food front, I leave that to my wife and her French ways. I'll try to get her to respond to your post (she's away at the moment).

Good news about your nephew Josh. The next few months will be frustrating for him as he gets better but he is still healing and won't be able to do what he wants yet.

Joy said...

uh. gee. you might, I dunno, talk to your BFF about this whole 'vegan' thing. You know... just a thought. ;)

I'll ply you with seitan and vegan cupcakes next time you're staying over!!! That'll do it!

Dan said...

Gary, my friend. I have been a vegan for at least six years. Within the first six months my total cholesterol level went from over 200 (which is normal for our unheathy American population) to 137. I'm much healthier than I used to be.

I have read extensively on the topic and have reviewed about 20 books (veg nutrition and cookcooks) in the past few years for I also learned to cook when my wife and I converted. I have literally prepared about 600 different meals from dozens of cookbooks (many of which I reviewed), all contained in an Excel Spreadsheet with Laura'a and my ratings. I can't believe how many are wonderful. Being vegan is not an ascetic lifestyle. That's clear.

And Manhattan has plenty of wonderful veg restaurants (even vegan), in case you want to verify for yourself.

Why am I telling you all of this? To offer help if you need it!

If you need tips, fire me an e-mail (my e-mail address is in my profile). I'd be glad to help. :)

kimy said...

much food for thought! I have enjoyed catching up on your blog - this morning is the first time I've spend some 'serious time' following your bliss. you definitely deserve all those blogger awards! I know I'll be nibbling frequently from now on out! have fun in florida with the 'rents!

Florecita said...

Hi Gary!!!! I'm a vegeterian since I 13!!!!!! Didn't like meat so I told my parents and the battle started...

I think that if you wanna change your habits you should go slowly, first thing go to your doctor to see if there's some area that needs more care than the other... then cut off, a little bit of the things you think are not good for you.

I'm veggie but still love sugar, home made, of course and chocolates... I think is a matter of balance and doing what's best for you... but for sure Meat is Gross!!!

Have a wonderful video in my blog!!!

Pod said...

yes, who's responsibility is it to re-educate and to stop mass producing crap? where does the responsibilty lie?

i tried to be vegetarian for a few years and i ended up craving blood! disgusting. not just meat but bloody things. i ended up having to eat black pudding. i don't eat meat too often now, but i know my body needs it.

society has become so very greedy. in so many ways.....

Gary said...

J.DZ-S - Wonderful counterpoint and it is nice to remember to listen to one's own body and not whatever fad is popular at the moment. But I think you got my point about finding a way that works for me that includes more wise choices. Hey, if you have a program I'll throw you a few bucks. :)

La Bellina - Are you going along with the good Doc's ideas? I am hoping that for Christmas Mike will get me one of these books. I have to do more investigations before I buy into any specific idea.

Dumdad - French food is a weakness but the French must be doing something right with all of the sauces and cheeses because I don't recall seeing too many obese French folks last time I was there. I would love to read what your wife has to say. Thanks.

Joy - Of course I will pick your brain in this matter. I look to you as a great source but remember that it is new to you as well.

Dan - Thanks! I will be sending off an email shortly. I appreciate your insights.

Kimy - Welcome! I love how you worked in some food metaphors there. Thrilled to have you visiting and look forward to your return.

Florecita - Great video. I watched it yesterday. I also enjoy the videos you have on your second blog. Now, about the food, I do think I will slowly educated myself and implement changes in my diet but I don't see myself giving up meat. I would be happy to take more of a role in deciding what to eat rather than eating things because they are easy and available. As I said to steps.

Pod - Black pudding? I am not exactly clear what that is although I have a notion.

Florecita said...

Hi Gary! baby's step is a good way to start, it's all about your wants and needs.

I think that listening to our heart is essential just for living and growing... I think this is a journey so we have to make the best of it!!!!!

lettuce said...

ps hope to be in NYC in April-ish, in case you fancy meeting for a healthy (or not) meal or something?

Salty Miss Jill said...

Oh MAN, another great topic and personal soapbox...

My nutritionist told me that eating double the amount of fresh fruits and veggies as starch and protein at every meal is a great way to go...and no processed crap, either...

And even though my favorite food is fried stuff with cheese, this has been a great plan to stick to!

Gary said...

Well said Florecita!

Lettuce - I love how you plan ahead. Yes, indeed, I would love to meet up in the flesh and perhaps show you a bit of this fair city. April will be here before you know it.

Miss Salty - First of all I am impressed that you have a nutritionist. I would love that AND a personal chef. I think for now the advice on doubling up on fruit is an easy adjustment I will implement starting tomorrow (after I shop you see). Thanks.

Pod said...

if you must know, it is pigs blood and old bits off the butchers floor. pretty vile.

but pretty tasty.

i wish i hadn't told you that now...

Reya Mellicker said...

Pod, like you, vegetarianism never worked well for me. I didn't crave blood, I just got very pale and listless. One day somebody made me sit down and eat a steak. I was instantly cured.

In spite of the fact that I avoid all books that insist there is a right way or wrong way to do anything, I found the blood type book very interesting. The diet they suggested for my blood type was right on the mark - the foods that work best for me were in accord with what the book said. I was astonished.

My own rules are: eat a variety of foods, try not to eat too much of any one thing. Don't eat anything you hate, even if it's supposed to be good for you. If you love to eat a certain thing, please do, even if it's supposed to be bad for you (just don't eat too much).

I buy all my groceries at Whole Foods - it's expensive, but whoever said high quality food is supposed to be cheap?

Great post, dah-ling. My week has been hectic, glad to catch up today!

pink ginger 珂琳 said...

Eating healthy is not a program, is a change of lifestyle.
I certainly believe that human can live without eating meat.
Veggies and fruits are colorful, crunchy, sweet and refreshing, most importantly, it contribute to good health.

WAT said...

I know, I know. I make excuses all the time for why I don't eat as healthy as I should, but it is very difficult I tells ya! Thanks for this post though. It reminds me that it's never too late (hopefully) to start again. I gots ta cut down on the red meat for sure.

I sure love me those french fries and potato chips though. ARGH!


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