Books: “Real Food: What to Eat and Why”

Just a quick review of a recent read…I love this book.

OK maybe not THAT quick of a review – let me elaborate a bit. First off this book is an easy read. The author does repeat herself a bit throughout various sections, but overall, she makes her point clearly and well. [A disclaimer that I will throw in now is that this book (for me) is the starting off point in a lot more serious reading up on the topics that it discusses – the broadest overview of the topics being that industrialization of our food is making us sick.] I don't expect everyone to read this and then suddenly go out and start eating lard (which is what a lot of the reviewers of this book seem to think might happen) but what I do expect is that anyone with half a brain to read this and maybe do some more digging on their own to find out where their comfort level is with the information and make informed decisions that work for them. I will also say – because many of the reviews I read of this book before buying it seem to have missed this point – is that when Ms. Planck is talking about various diets and foods she also mentions time and time again how important exercise is to the equation. Changing your diet over to fully traditional foods without changing your exercise habits will not do you any good. This book does not tout any such "no exercise" diet miracle…it only gives a wonderful overview on why it may be very, very important for us all to get back to our roots when it comes to our eating habits.

This topic hits so close to home for me for so many reasons…my stepmother, who was an averagely healthy American died of a rare soft-tissue cancer last fall. My father had quintuple bypass surgery a year and a half ago. My FIL had quadruple bypass surgery yesterday. My mother, who is the epitome of health based on today's conventional standards, still has high cholesterol and her doctor wants her to start taking a statin drug. My grandmother was B vitamin deficient (as am I, but on a MUCH lesser scale) and had dementia in her final years. My grandfather suffered from Alzheimer's. A good friend's mother (who never smoked a day in her life) died of lung cancer. My grandfather, who ate two eggs with bacon every morning of his adult life was never overweight and never had cholesterol "problems".  

I have been a firm believer that our food and lifestyle choices were the cause of so many problems for a very long time now…since high school physiology class. When I was in college I was studying for a degree in biochemistry (for medical research, etc.) a lot of questions started popping up in my head about our food and why our society is so sick (generally speaking) – why there was so much more cancer, heart disease, etc. My unsubstantiated conclusion was always that it had to do with pollution in our air and our food. Of course, that didn't address why people who still actually ate well rounded home-cooked meals were also culprits of so much disease. To me the whole fast food/processed food thing was obvious, what was so much less obvious was the real effect new farming methods (particularly when raising meat) had on the nutritional quality of the end product. Sure I had read all about hormones and steroids and such, but knew nothing about the differences in grain-fed vs grass-fed, etc.

Again, this book is really just a high-level overview of these topics, but a wonderful starting point for anyone looking to do a bit of reading up on nutrition and the misnomers of today's popular dietary beliefs.

OK, ok…one last personal disclaimer and then I am done. I have never been a "hippy" or been into "homeopathic" or "alternative" remedies or medical practices (I say this because I know a lot of people who think this sort of thing – anything that goes against the grain of conventional thinking – is "woo-woo" kind of stuff). However, over the past years I have had several health problems that standard medical treatments have done almost nothing for. Because of that, I started looking into alternative ideas and methods to help with those ailments – what I found is that almost ALL of the alternative treatments revolved around changing what I ate. Yes, I am currently very much overweight, I have not practiced what I have learned well at all (I eat crap fast food and pizza regularly), and exercise? Ha! But for whatever reason, this book has really motivated me to make the effort to turn over that leaf and get going with getting myself back to a healthy me again.


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