Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Book Report and Random Thinkiness

Michael Pollan - Paula Poundstone was pretty rude to him (but funny) when he was a guest on NPR's "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me." I decided to finally check his book "In Defense of Food" out of the library.

It's an extraordinary book. It's written in everyday (not overly-scientific) language that isn't preachy, it's just uncommon common sense. He points out that we're in an odd state of affairs when we're turning to him, a journalist, for nutrition advice, and that no other culture at any other time has had a hard time figuring out what to feed themselves and how. True enough.

I highly recommend the book if you haven't read it. If you want a quick summary, it's this - "Food is more than a lump of protein, fats, carbs, and vitamins. It's FOOD. Cook your own as much as you can. Eat food as it was intended - orange juice doesn't naturally have calcium, so don't drink it that way. There are lots of ways to eat a really healthful diet, and vending machines and food that never rots isn't part of any of them. Science doesn't know everything."

The anti-inflammatory diet - Also at the library, since it's in the same part of the Dewey Decimal System, was Dr. Barry Sears' "The Anti-Inflammatory Zone." Dr. Sears is the creator of the Zone diet, and I took the book out to see what he had to say.

After getting about one-third of the way through I decided it was quacky and brought it back to the library. Any book that talks about the Secrets Mainstream Medicine Doesn't Want You To Know is, in my opinion, trying to sell something. Like, say, Dr. Sears Zone Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (it's on Amazon). I haven't ruled out the idea that there is something to an anti-inflammatory diet, only that this book reads too SHAMWOW for me to take it seriously.

That said, I'm a little over two weeks into my three-week experiment and I'm feelin' pretty good, even if I don't know conclusively why. There is little agreement on what exactly an anti-inflammatory diet really is. I've removed a lot of simple carbs (bread, pasta), sugar, and nightshades (alas, tomatoes and potatoes), from my daily consumption. I've also let go of cheese, which I generally eat too much of. I'm eating more fish and vegetables. My new gym has a pool and I've been pretty regular in attendance.

So is it the anti-inflammatory component of what I'm doing that's helping? Or the overall health-supporting diet and exercise? Or both? I have no idea. But what drove me to this - wanting relief from constant achiness - is apparently a stronger motivator than "I want to lose weight." Good to know.

It's pretty unlikely that this Italian girl is going to permanently give up tomatoes and cheese. In fact, Sweetie and I went out for pizza this weekend because neither of us had the energy to scrape together something in our own kitchen (and I was REALLY craving pizza). And it's just hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that millions of earth's tomato-eating people are "secretly" battling some sort of painful malady, you know?

Pool Fitness - For crying out loud, if you get in the pool expect to get your hair wet. Seriously. You don't have to go underwater during most pool fitness classes, but you really should expect to be splashed.

Pool Fitness II - When someone with a 4-prong cane enters the pool area, GIVE THEM THE LANE NEAREST THE STEPS. She was elderly, in her skirted swimsuit and floweredy bathing cap and determined to get her workout. She really needed to be in an outside lane to hold onto the side as she power-walked up and down the length of the pool - and good for her, I say. Her reaction when I vacated the outside lane for her let me know that she can't assume folks will make simple accommodations for her. Sad.

New Tag - My blog project right now is adding a "Health Conscious" tag to the selections on the right, which will take you to all the yummy recipes I have from various healthful-cooking sources. Basically, I eat what tastes good and some of it has really healthful qualities and some of it (hellllllooooo, brownies!) not so much. Clicking on "Health Conscious" will take you to those recipes that are, as they say, more of an "everyday" food and not a "special occasion" food.

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