The saying goes that all things come in three’s. Whether these occurrences are good or bad is a matter of perspective but we seem to notice the pattern more often in “bad-times.” A few days ago I learned that a former colleague’s wife suddenly died at work last week. Next I heard that another former colleague was seriously ill and might not make it through her difficult battle with a rare form of cancer. Finally a classmate of my wife’ had a stroke. All of these people were in their prime, and with my focus on how to live well till 100, I am feeling grateful that, in large part due to my spouse, I am still around to be pontificating on these matters. I am also feeling pain and loss for all of the family members and friends affected by these unexpected and tragic events. Finding gratitude in these times can be difficult.
I am especially grateful for my spouse’s constant study of food. She has been researching diets and exercise for as long I have known her. Recently I ran into someone who knew me from before my current marriage who claimed they barely recognized me because I was in so much better shape. My adult children laugh, to themselves until one finally ratted the group of four of them out to me, about the lifestyle “change of the day” every time they visit, which is rather frequent.
Nutrition and diet are an evolutionary study as we re-learn the lessons that our great grandparents knew. We used to say “Grandparents”, but my grandmother discovered Entenmann’s pastries, Nabisco raisin cookies and Bryers ice cream (and knew what to do with them). Throughout our personal journey, we have moved from the Zone, to South Beach (the diet, unfortunately) to high carbs, to mostly vegetarian to wheat free and so on… There were more stops I am sure, but our minds tend to block out trauma.
Recently, my ever inquisitive spouse has taken her study to a new level. In the interest in making my life better she shares some of the more interesting items with me. I have already talked about wheat belly in an earlier blog and I’m thinking I might have started this renewed interest of hers. A couple weeks ago, as I was struggling with not being able to digest the increased amounts of animal protein (the four legged variety), she comes out with “You are what you eat. You eat cows and you look like cows, move like cows. People who eat chickens tend to run around like chickens and peck at things, people that eat swordfish are sleek and graceful, etc.” I am not sure of the validity of this view, but I know that another work colleague of mine once told me that humans cannot digest beef, it sorts of just sits there for a few days and festers until it can be disposed of. Nice image right? Now I wonder why I got constipated when I reintroduced beef into my diet. For some reason I cannot get Meg Ryan in French Kiss saying “fester, fester, fester…rot, rot, rot…” out of my mind.
Today, my spouse comes out with this pearl of wisdom “Chew your food.” Now I remember that statement from my grandmother (at least the food that did not come out of a box) so the advice resonated with me. Frankly neither my spouse nor I are good at following this rule – yet. Apparently, when you chew your food, enzymes are released in your mouth that starts the digestion process. This action also tells your brain “hey I am eating now so you can forget that hunger thing.” Consequently, we fill up faster and are able to more easily avoid overeating. I remember hearing all of this information from my ninth grade biology teacher, so this is not exactly new news, but perhaps something worthy of periodically reminding ourselves about.
I am grateful for this journey, and the wisdom and curiosity of my spouse. I would not be here now if it were not for the lifestyle changes that her lifelong study has inspired. She has never badgered me, just simply given me information. Ladies (and gents) you do not have to beat your spouse over the head with “you know that you cannot digest that steak you are eating ….ever” and “you can only use the protein from the first four ounces of that 20 ounce porterhouse that you are eating at Mortens.” A little information consistently repeated seems to get through…even to me.
I am now, once again, off land based animal protein, except for dairy and eggs, and have lost my desire for a lot of the other “stuff” that was once so tempting. I can look at the Prius sedans in our church parking lot and say “Well, I don’t eat meat so my carbon footprint is lower than yours and I am not sitting on an electromagnetic field while I am driving my car.” My spouse is not just a nutrition expert – more to come on EMF and binding agents used in food – in later posts.
I think that anytime modern science and nineteenth-century transcendentalists agree – the concept must make sense. Henry David Thoreau said that being vegetarian is “just more efficient”, and Michael Pollan says “Eat food, mostly plants, not a lot”. I am the Thoreau expert in the family, my spouse is the Pollan expert, and on this topic at least – we can agree. It is nice to come at something from different perspectives and arrive at the same answer.
So today I am grateful for my spouse and her lifelong affair with learning about health and nutrition and my own lifelong learning. Namaste.