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Food in the Department of Defense

21 April 2009 983 views No Comment

It was good, I admit I started to skim a lot but wanted to include the guidelines. Mostly I wanted the punchline.  But there is SO MUCH good information in this book, Kit’s reading it now. I’m including these notes for myself to refer back to but they won’t make much sense if you don’t read this for yourself. Our library has it, I bet your library does, too.

These are his tips but I added my own thoughts:
– Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother would not recognize as food. If it’s so heavily packaged and processed that it does not appear on first glance to be food, it’s probably not. (Kit jokes that he prefers the kids not eat any food that is a color not naturally appearing in nature.)
– Avoid food products (note he says ‘food products’ since he doesn’t consider them to be actual food) that have too many unfamiliar ingredients, ingredients you cannot pronounce, more than five ingredients, are anything with high fructose corn syrup – not because HFCS is inherently evil but because if it’s there, this food is probably highly processed.

– Avoid food products that make health claims. If it’s packaged enough to have a label claiming it’s health benefits then that tells you right there it’s been processed.  Real food doesn’t need to make health claims since we all know tomatoes and carrots are good for you. (Though interesting to me to note that even produce is now getting labels and wrappers that proclaim their health benefits.)
– Shop the perimeter of the store, avoid the middle. With caution, since there are lots of ‘food products’ even in the dairy section, and the cold cuts are also along the borders. But his point was the center aisles are all packaged goods and as a general rule, the produce is on the outside.
– Shop outside the grocery store whenever possible. The farmer’s market, health food stores, co-ops, etc. More likely to find fresh, local, real food with a shorter field to consumer path. I’ve lost the quote but something about shake the hand that grows the food you eat. Go meet those farmers…

– Eat mostly plants, especially leaves. Eat things that grew, not things that were manufactured.
– You are what what you eats, too. (That one lost me – whatever that pig or cow ate is now in your body once you consume that animal.)
– Buy a freezer so you can stock up in bulk on good food sales (like our bulk berries, woo-hoo!)
– Eat like an omnivore, diversity means fewer of any particular pesticide or harmful substance in your diet.
– Eat well grown food from healthy soil. Not necessarily organic but meet the farmers, go local, and garden yourself.
– Eat wild foods when you can.
– Be the kind of person that takes a supplement (and he explains, it’s not that you need to take a supplement but studies found those that take supplements are generally healthier, better educated, health conscious, more affluent. Not that the supplements cause those things but they are more aware of what they are consuming so he advises to not worry about the supplements but be more aware and deliberate about your food choices.) And if you don’t eat fish, do take an omega supplement (flaxseed is another option.)
– Eat more like the french, or italians, or japanese, or indians, or greeks. Those that eat a traditional diet are generally healthier than those of us consuming a “western” diet of highly processed food like products that aren’t actually food.  Learn about traditional ways of processing food (making yogurt, sourdough bread, resting the wheat, fermenting soybeans) not because you need to make it all from scratch but over generations, the traditions of food were what nutritionally supported a people.
– Regard nontraditional foods with skepticism. “If diets are the product of evolutionary process, then a novel food or culinary innovation resembles a mutation: It might represent a revolutionary improvement, but it probably doesn’t.”
– Don’t look for the magic bullet in traditional diets. There is not one magic food that will lead to health, but look at the big picture and the balance of foods and life style (exercise level.)
– Have a glass of wine with dinner. (Obviously we won’t be doing that one.  )

– Pay more, eat less. Quality food is more important than quantity.
– Eat meals. Sitting, at a table (not desk) and ideally with loved ones so conversation is part of it. Don’t just eat – dine. Don’t mindlessly snack while doing other things. Focus on your food. Don’t stop for food at a gas station or drive through and eat while driving. You won’t notice how many calories you’re consuming, you probably won’t even notice the taste. Stop, eat, converse, enjoy.
– Pay attention to your stomach. It takes 20 minutes for food to hit your stomach and tell your brain you’re full so take your time, eat slowly. (French vs. Americans in survey – french said they stop eating when they feel full. Americans said they stop eating when their plate is clean, bag is empty, food runs out. They waited for an external cue vs. listening to their own body reacting to the food and feeling satisfied.

– Cook your own food.
– Grow your own food, try container or windowsill gardening, even just fresh herbs can be done in a small space and make dramatic difference in dishes.

Last Heidi addition – TEACH YOURSELF HOW TO COOK, seek mentors and read books, watch videos online, but learn how to cook and then teach your children how to cook. I’m thankful for a family that loves food, loves to cook, and thankfully passed that love and knowledge onto me. I’m hoping to raise kids that are confident in the kitchen, too.

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