Here I am, five years after surgery, scrolling through the Internet and my old files for recipes!
Sometimes when people hear I’m a nutritionist, my dad a hardcore athlete, and his cousin a homeopathic doctor, they’ll exclaim: oh! how fortunate that you’re all experts in those areas given your health issues.
Um. Yeah. It was just coincidence!
I started studying nutrition on my own in…1991 when I was twenty years old. I was a senior in college, finally buckling down in my studies, trying to be a “grown-up,” which let’s face, still trying to do that. (Does anyone really, truly feel like a grown-up, I wonder?) and I found this book called the Self-Healing Cookbook by Kristina Turner. It’s a macrobiotic cookbook written by a woman here in the Seattle area and basically inspired my entire culinary/food/nutrition career.
It was the very first cookbook that I cooked from on my own (not including my grandma’s chocolate chip cookie recipes and all the Betty Crocker recipes I made as a kid) and it’s still on the shelf.
For anyone new to macrobiotic cooking - which I think should come back in style, it’s about time, so tired of these trendy things that omit healthy carbs, makes me bananas, spinach is a carb! I’d holler to my students when they asked me about paleo, don’t even get me started about keto. All vegetables are carbs! It’s such a misnomer to “educate” people that they should reduce their carbs - let’s be specific as I like for everything: WHITE, REFINED carbs are what we should be eating less of - even the science teacher at that school I taught at would say this and I’d be like wtf? But that’s the Internet for you, spouting incorrect nutrition information all over the place - the diet was brought to the U.S. by a Japanese man, Michio Kushi. Almost everything is cooked, AND they note HOW the food is cooked. So for, example, fried foods, not so great. Steaming and baked is the best way to retain nutrients.
Here is an overview I found on the Kushi Institute website - it’s a super healing diet associated with Zen Buddhism and based on the balancing of yin and yang:
“Macrobiotics is a system that can be used to create extraordinary health, through using both traditional wisdom and modern knowledge to ascertain the underlying causes of an individuals current health challenges, and make adjustments to their food and lifestyle choices that support health improvement. Not simply a diet, macrobiotic recognizes the profound effects food, environment, activities, and attitude all have on our body-mind-emotions.”
It’s strange what diet fads take off, and which do not.
Of course, the more practical and balanced ones are rarely the “popular” ones these days. When I think of how much money the paleo vendors are making off selling their products…I mean, some are decent, some good granolas and that sort of thing were great for me when I could still eat dry food but avoiding grains.
But still. SO. MUCH. CONFUSION. still about food in the world, 25, no 27, shit almost 28 years after I started getting into nutrition on my own.
The first soup I made was a disaster. I didn’t know how to “read” recipes back then. Part of “reading” a recipe is scanning it to see if it even makes sense. A LOT of recipes are CRAP on the Internet and not worth making. Sorry, blogging world. I’ve seen soup recipes with no added liquid, I mean recipes I could write better without ever making the dish.
Thank goodness, all my years in the food industry will come in handy in this next chapter. If I want to keep this body going, I can’t fuck around anymore with the oreo filling crapola. I need to make every calorie count.
It’s just too dangerous for me to take chances now.
After all that bragging to my doctor about how I’m getting to 1000 calories on average, I’m now noting how many days I’ve skipped eggs and my routine recently. Between the shiva (mourning events in Jewish tradition) and the grieving and the visiting, I’ve had a lot of things thrown off.
This is what happens when I travel too. The safest thing for me is to replicate as much routine as possible and not deviate - which is why traveling is so risky, because I have to deviate so much of the time and I never know what I will encounter. Even now, in my cocoon, a day here, and a day there without eating eggs or stretching or getting enough calories because I’m running around all day means I drop a few pounds, which is not great.
My cushion is ok right now, I managed to put on a few pounds recently, but they’re gone again. And I work so hard at it!
I was too tired again to do my routine last night. I forced myself out of bed and ingested as many calories as I could in the hour as I puttered in the kitchen. Second jar of broth, avocados were all crap which has been a recent problem, need to go get some good ones - that’s like 20% of my daily caloric intake - but gobbled down some quality coconut ice cream, all my powdered concoctions, and some cream cheese.
I likely ate a good 600/700 calories in that time frame which isn’t too bad for me (if you compare to some restaurant meals that total 2000-2500 for ONE MEAL - this is the amount someone my size could eat ALL day, and even some would think that’s too high for a short woman, but my calories were high quality for 20+ years which is likely why I’m still alive…more on that later. It’s bananas and not a mystery why we struggle with weight in this country - but that’s not to shame, it’s just to point it out, I’ll be talking more about how we can work on improving our health without focusing on NUMBERS - you know by know how much I dislike “rating” ourselves by numbers! Though I loved having my nutrition students research worst restaurant meals as part of their homework. They LOVED it because it’s eye opening to see how bad it can get, and really educated them about how to study menus carefully).
The reason I had to get in bed early last night and couldn’t eat eggs or do my routine was because I was sooooo tired yesterday when I woke up. But I had a doctor appointment with an integrative doc who is IMPOSSIBLE to get into so I never changed it. My driver took me last time and they wouldn’t even put her on a wait list, they said call back in the fall. I have no idea how I got the appointment. I’m not sure if it was luck or a friend made a phone call…that privilege, only reason I’m alive, I’m tellin ya.
So we get all the way to my appointment that I’m not in the mood for - I can only do so many long, exhausting “overview” type appointments and my long one plus the biopsy on Wednesday wore me out - but when I check in, they tell me: we tried calling you, the doctor had to fly out of town last minute.
I’m like: whaaaa?
I’m so tired, I couldn’t even compute what she was saying.
She got a bit snarky with me: well, we tried calling you.
Me: ok but who listens to voicemail messages right away anymore.
Her: well, her father is very sick, and she had to go out of town.
Me: well, my dad just died a few weeks ago, and I’ve got a lot of health problems so getting here wasn’t easy.
That changed the look on her face. Yeah lady, don’t get snarky with ANYONE, especially when you don’t know their story.
Her: ok, well you can speak to the office coordinator.
Fortunately, the coordinator had some compassion and agreed that voicemail is an awful way to alert people at the last minute these days - she said nobody listens to them (which means I must have been the 10th patient to show up that day). At least she didn’t try to patronize me like the front desk woman.
More and more, that’s my biggest irritation.
I get that not everyone realized my dad was dying. I totally understand.
But when one male person in my orbit tried to make me feel like a BAD daughter for pointing out how sick he was and was likely dying (“Well, I’m choosing to remain positive about Marv, that’s what I’m going to do” in a tone that tried to shame me, like I’m a bad daughter for acknowledging that he is dying, as if me FACING REALITY is a HORRIBLE TERRIBLE thing to do, how DARE I say such a truth out loud!), that REALLY gets my goat.
I get denial. Makes perfect sense as humans that we’ve developed a way to cope with trauma, and war, and famine.
It’s just that Americans who have never faced any real tragedy have taken it to a whole new level of denial.
Like I’ve said before: I think it’s actually to our detriment that we haven’t faced enough things that create coping skills. That’s not to say I wish for war or famine at all! God no. But I do think it’s been a bit of a mind fuck for a lot of Americans to wrap their head around how truly awful things are at the border, or in the medical system, etc. because they’ve had this other American experience for so many years that well, has been sugar coated.
This has got to be part of why suicide rates are going up, depression and anxiety are at all all-time highs - these things are going to happen, I get it - we don’t talk about these things enough, there aren’t enough resources, and people don’t have the access to DEVELOP coping skills for challenging times. I saw a piece on Huffpost where celebrities talked about mental health issues today and was so relieved that it’s becoming a “thing” more and more now. I love that two dudes mentioned toxic masculinity! Progress!.
So much denial happening. I hear so many people saying: wow, climate change is so bad, I don’t even know what to do, omg it’s so bad, I DID NOT KNOW it was SO BAD.
I think of all my colleagues who have been hollering for YEARS about how our food production is going to be adversely affected as the planet warms up, and our water is so polluted and and AND so many things. I mean, A Diet for a Small Planet came out in the 1970s! The information has been around for a long time. (I’m thinking about creating classes - not taught by me! - for teens and young people that will teach them really practical skills like aquaponics, how to grow heat and drought resistant crops, and protein and nutrient dense crops, vertical farming, crops that can grow in the dark, jarring and canning, things like that, maybe it will ease their anxiety AND also create a generation that will at least prepared for what’s coming, my goodness, I’ve been tracking all these things at conferences for years, but didn’t think it would all be unfolding like it is, not this fast, not this bad…but the information for them exists, we just need to get on the survival track here…)
People don’t always want to hear it. As they keep watering their lawns and throw out so much plastic….
My current reality is this: I am stable for now. I do need to figure out how to up my calorie intake now that I’ve got a plan in place to ensure I’m getting all the nutrients. And I need to figure out why the heck my gut breaks down - I’ve GOT to get a handle on that otherwise…the next round, or the one after…well, it’s not good.
Calorie intake bides me time - that’s hugely important these days for me.
For anyone that’s not familiar with nutrition, let me explain:
The nutrient piece means I’m getting enough let’s say B vitamins, minerals like copper and zinc - they are called micronutrients.
Macronutrients refers to fat, protein and carbs and make the bulk up of our calories - the Magnesium in my IV bag, for example does not give me any calories, but helps my cellular function, Mg is part of like 700 enzymatic reactions (don’t quote me on that, but it’s a lot).
The overview of macronutrients is a lesson I teach every single classroom of kids and adults no matter if it’s a cooking class or a knife skills class or if they are only 4 years old, it’s the foundation of all nutrition learning - to this day, all eight of the kids in my family can list off protein foods because I’ve - and my siblings have kept it up too - been training them since they were small to assess what they’ve eaten all day, if they need protein to balance their blood sugar after a junk food day, etc. It’s amazing to me how many adults still don’t know this information.
If I don’t have enough calories - and most people know this part! - I will lose weight. But for me, it also means I wasn’t getting enough fats and protein. The fact that I’ve even been able to share this information in a more structured way in today’s blog posts could in all likelihood be due to the fact that I’ve been super diligent about my Omega 3, 6, and 9 supplementation because that Spectracell test indicated I was deficient in all three. It’s all about nutrition!
Most Americans are only deficient in omega 3! That’s how limited my diet is that I’m deficient in omega 6 and 9. Barleans has some GREAT products that a lot of my friends take themselves and give to their kids - the orange one is a favorite. I’ve always encouraged Omega 3 supplementation for all kinds of people, regardless of their health status. Most Americans get plenty of Omega 6 (canola oil, soybean oil so most processed foods have plenty) but not enough Omega 3 (flax, some fish, some eggs have good quantities).
We need a 2:1 ratio of Omega 3 - here I found an “official” page that describes this - some websites are saying 4:1 is ideal, others are touting 1:1.
I’ve done this work for a long time, and I’m comfortable endorsing a 2:1 ratio - omega 6 to omega 3.
The easiest way to achieve this is to take Omega 3 supplements which I’ve recommended to Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis patients for YEARS. Many came back to me and said: out of all the things you suggested, the ground flax seed (a great way to do it before you had these awesome tasting Barlean’s products) helped their gut the most.
You see why I want to figure out how to download all of this? It’s so vast, and so much, that my brain can’t even begin to think about how to organize it….but at least it’s working a bit better these days.
What’s SO maddening is that low Omega 3 has been shown in MANY studies to be connected to mental health issues like depression. HELLLLLOOO, a little spoonful of supplement could help so many people. This is why I’ve GOT to get my shit together. I hate knowing all this info, and be drowning myself, but not be able to get the it out there. I mean, it’s out there, but I want to find clever ways to share it.
Anyway, getting out of bed for no reason yesterday wiped me out yesterday.
I got into bed in the afternoon, and never got back out. My back is not happy today! Because I kept sleeping on and off through the late afternoon and evening, I woke up super early this morning and couldn’t fall back asleep.
At least, it makes me excited to have people sharing recipe ideas with me!! It used to sound overwhelming, because I didn’t have the bandwidth to manage the content coming to ME, let alone, organize it in a way to share with possible cooks.
But now! I figured out: I’ll make a Google doc of possible recipes and if people want to cook them for me, great! If not, at least I have some resources, and maybe I can figure out ways to share them on this website with some nutrition info.
“Do you wish you got an MBA instead of a nutrition degree?” A male person in my orbit asked me years ago.
I was like: whaaa? No, not ever, not once. Plus, one can save my life, and one would not.
It’s my network that’s keeping me alive now. The money helps! Don’t get me wrong. This fucking medical system requires a LOT out of pocket. But the closer I get to getting my nutrients in different ways, that will drop my expenses a ton, and give me more freedom. Then I can develop protocols…with me as the guinea pig of course. And I can share cost effective ways to maintain good health for EVERYONE.
So here we have it. I’m working on crowd-sourcing recipes now, hopefully I can find some local cooks to prepare some things for me, make sure my diet is a bit more varied - that’s been a huge concern for me, but I felt better eating my new bone beef broth and the mineral veggie soup this week - and make sure I’m getting those calories up! And GOOD calories.
Oreo filling is not going to prevent cancer, that’s for sure.
Quality coconut milk based ice cream? With added juices? That’s at least a good source of good fats and maybe even some vitamins and minerals if I add say, blueberry juice or something like that.
Ok I’m making myself hungry.
I’m feeling a bit calmer these days. Dang, what a rough fucking year. I had so much anger I had to let out and work through. I feel like that’s better, thank GOODNESS because it’s not great for my body long-term. I’ve learned now, you’ve got to let that OUT, but in a healthy way with the right people (therapist, etc.) - you can stew. I used to stew a lot. I still stew! I’m trying to not focus on the lame shit, but it’s not easy when I have so much of it.
It’s weird when people don’t get how frustrating the medical system is for me.
Or that WHILE I’m mourning my dad’s awful death, I’m still in medical hell. i live here. It’s my residence.
I don’t get to escape.
It’s my life.
I still can’t believe he is gone. The Forever part is really hitting me now. He’s really not coming home. He’s not going to come in with his cursing (he loves to curse, hmmmm…I wonder if I inherited that from him, both my parents do although my mom likes to think she is doesn’t) about something random. He’d do these exaggerated FUCKS! And in more recent months, I’d come running, are you ok? What’s wrong?
And he’s like: oh my water bottle spilled in my bag.
The fridge seems so empty. I already don’t take up much room except for all my juices. He LOVES vegetables and fruit, so there was always a ton. His dad sold produce for awhile - the Greek one - before my dad lost his stomach, he’d eat TONS of fruit, salad, all of it. I definitely got that love of vegetables from him (my mom, not so much).
When you have no stomach, you have to make sure every bite counts so he couldn’t eat the huge salads anymore, but he still ate a LOT of produce for someone with a compromised gut! He never stopped or used it as an excuse to not eat healthy.
He loved peanut butter too. I don’t know why I’m writing that. Maybe I want to make sure to remember these things. He also loved my mom’s chocolate chip cookies - shit, EVERYONE loves her cookies, we call them Crack Cookies - she’d make an extra crispy batch for him and cook them the regular time for the kids.
For years, one nephew thought that all chocolate chip cookies were eaten frozen! For real. Because his Noni always had a bag in the freezer of her chocolate chip cookies.
He never gave those up. Maybe the last few months but not before then.
He and I both total health nuts, but we loved our cookies and chips. Probably helped keep us alive, that extra weight around the middle, for longer than if we’d been doing the American gaunt thing. I’m looking at that photo of us at the race I posted on Facebook, and I’m like thank goodness for my middle. Even though it meant so many doctors didn’t believe me these past few years.
Well, I have ones that believe me now and that’s life-saving.
So I continue on. I haven’t cried today! I got teary reading IG comments, but I haven’t cried. Ok I can cry just thinking about not crying so no more on that. I need to work on my tattoo sketch for tomorrow’s meeting and keep looking through recipes.
I can’t BELIEVE I’m formatting recipes like it’s the old days. OMG formatting recipe packets - who’d think I’d actually be happy to be doing that again for myself. Such a pain in the ass, writing recipes and formatting them and making sure other people can follow them even when they don’t have a lot of cooking experience. I’m so bummed that web developer jerk destroyed my recipes page on my old blog - I don’t even know how he managed to do that - I had a great post on how to scan recipes and see if they’re worth cooking.
I guess I can replicate it. Thank goodness for long term memory….
Until then, cook and be well.
I might have to take a nap before drawing and formatting…