Thursday, October 21, 2010

Beware of Little Chinese Lady Carrying Big Soapbox

A couple of weeks ago I went to my seasonal acupuncture appointment. I had been having some new disturbances in my gut along with the regular ache here and pain there kind of thing. The acupuncturist happened to ask me something about breakfast and I mentioned that I had a protein drink, something I quite frequently have. As a matter of fact, I have been having a protein drink for breakfast off and on since I was in junior-high. She immediately gave me the “evil eye” and started to say something about protein drinks. I interrupted her and said this was not something in a can or that I picked up on the way, and that I make wonderful, healthy concoctions at home. She asked if I add any type of protein powder to the mix. These days I do use a protein powder because raw eggs are not advised. She asked me if I eat a lot of processed foods. I really think I eat fairly healthy. I generally don’t eat at fast-food type places and I don’t drink soft drinks. I read all ingredient labels. I’m a “from scratch” kind of cook and I do consider every ingredient used. So I don’t think I eat a lot of processed foods. WRONG!

Out came the soapbox and this little Chinese lady proudly gave me a talking to. I wasn’t able to get a word in edgewise to get clarification on something she was talking about or ask a simple question. She was on a rant about the use of protein powders not being a “good thing” and the importance of eating natural, fresh foods.

Now, I can appreciate what she was saying. I do respect anyone who can eat this way. Walking through the grocery store after the natural, fresh foods lecture, I realized just how much processed food I do eat. Anything in a can or bottle is “processed” – even if there is no sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, m.s.g., food coloring or preservatives. Even if no chemicals, hormones or antibiotics were used. Even if the product is labeled organic. As I’m walking down the aisles, the types of foods I buy were shouting at me, “Hey, over here, I’m the ketchup you buy,” “Look this way, I’m the mayonnaise you buy.” I’ve had homemade mayo and ketchup. Both are fairly easy to make and very good. BUT, who has time to make EVERYTHING from natural, fresh scratch? My acupuncturist makes her own bread after grinding her own wheat. She even grinds her own meats. Trying to grocery shop after this lecture was a bit discouraging, but I gained a better understanding to what “processed” foods encompass.

With my gut issues, due to Crohn’s disease, at times I am significantly limited to what I can take in through my digestive system. When the Crohn’s is acting up, I must stay away from fiber because it just doesn’t move through. I know, we’re all told we need to add more fiber. I wish I could. I would love to eat a raw apple, but that won’t work for me. When doing well, I am able to eat cooked apples without the peel. There are many fruits and vegetables I can only eat well cooked. You can appreciate how important it is for me to pay attention to what goes in as well as what’s moving through.

Walking through the grocery store, I was trying to determine how one would go about eating natural, eating fresh. I wondered if my acupuncturist made her own butter. She probably doesn’t use butter. I use olive oil in most of my cooking, but I am from the Julia Child’s school of thought. Butter is a good thing. You just don’t need to eat the whole stick. I think Julia mentioned something about moderation.

It hurt my head to think about all the changes I would need to make. From my viewpoint, it seemed to be a very limited way to eat. And I already know what that’s entails. I am sure, like most things, you figure it out a step at a time. I could use Crohn’s as my excuse but that’s exactly what it would be – an excuse. It comes down to this, right now, I just don’t want to head down that road. It’s not practical for me. Maybe someday it will be something I am ready to try, but not today. I’m going to continue eating healthfully, processed or not. Lifestyle changes are very difficult to make. So, no matter what it is you should change or want to change, in order to make changes, one must be in sync with the changes you are making in order for them to stick!

Thirty minutes after my well-meaning acupuncturist started her rant, she got down off her soapbox, I told her I would see what I could do and then she stuck me full of needles – not good timing on my end!

Photo courtesy of MonsieruLui

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