Healing with Whole Foods

Man. Life moves fast. Did I ever fill you in on the Indiana doctor? Whoops.

Thank goodness My Man went up there. Here they were acting like radiation was the only thing that made sense given the prognosis. But the specialist in Indiana recommended just monitoring, no proactive treatment. If he doesn’t do any treatments, the chance of recurrence is 20%, but treatments at that point will be equally effective (over 99%) and the proactive treatments have their own dangers. Radiation has a 2% chance of causing cancer, and if that happened My Man would be dealing with some new kind of cancer, instead of this best possible kind. They don’t have long term data on the chemo yet, they know it can cause some heart problems, but other than that it’s an unknown. The doctor recommended chemo over radiation if My Man wanted to treat proactively, but like I said his top recommendation was just monitoring.

I distrust medicine in general, and had secretly favored the idea of just monitoring. But of course this is cancer we’re talking about and I was ready and willing to trust the doctors on this one. So I was very happy to have the specialist back up my instinct. My Man on the other hand is not happy. He wanted to do something, and after talking with him, I see his point. 20% chance of recurrence is low, but also high. 1 in 5 chance we will have to go through this all over again at some point in the next few years. Which sucks ass, for certain. But then again, 4 in 5 chance we won’t, and he will have never needed to assault his body with radiation or chemo.

Anyway, things have gotten back to normal around here. So normal in fact, cancer already seems like a book I read last month. So normal that all the good, healthy changes we made right away have fallen back into the dust. I told you I read a lot this last month right? Want to know what I was reading? The 653 page tome, Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford. That’s how I roll.

This was actually my second cover to cover reading of Pitchford’s classic. The first time around I was 23 and re-reading it made me realize how much this book set my standards for nutrition. He is absurdly extreme, and somehow, I’ve always liked that about him. At least you know where he stands. Which is for whole vegetal foods, and against animal products except in healing situation. Against fats and oils in any quantity, almost against extracted oils all together. His recommended daily intake for extracted oils is 1 teaspoon! This is the book containing my widely quoted recipe for “Sprout Salad” wherein you arrange three kinds of sprouts in concentric circles on a plate.

That’s it. That’s the recipe. Three kinds of sprouts on a plate.

Clearly the man is half crazy, and I guess I just love crazy people.

As you have probably surmised, we are a most pointedly carnivorous family. I have no compunction about eating animals, since that is just what they themselves do, seemingly without compunction. But I do really like a lot of what Pitchford has to say, and I generally agree with his opinions about healthfulness. He describes foods through both modern nutrition and traditional chinese healing terms. I am usually a very brass tacks kind of girl, and I’m honestly not sure why the “woo-ey” parts of this book didn’t turn me off. I guess when it comes down to it, under my brassy exterior, I do believe some woo-ey shit. Not that particular wooey shit, but I guess I feel like any traditional knowledge, having stood the test of time, has good stuff to offer.

What I like about the book is that the specific constitution of each individual body is given much credit. No food is a panacea and Pitchford gives great hedance to instinct. I like that as a general guiding idea. People seem to do well on all kinds of disparate diets, and I really believe in following our own instincts over the latest nutritional research. In fact, in the realm of nutrition, parenting or anything else, I say figure out what you believe, then find a book that supports it! That’s what most people do anyway, whether or not they cop to it.

Many of my own nutritional instincts were supported and shaped by my first reading of this book, including my excessive concern about high quality oils, my compulsion to include a green food in every meal, my preference for whole milk (although he doesn’t really endorse the use of animal products, he does discuss them), and my un-popular idea that fruit, nuts, soy products and all the supposedly healthy snack foods should not be eaten in quantity, and certainly not in combination (Pitchford recommends a mere six almonds per day and says fruit should be eaten alone, two hours before the next meal).

At any rate, I spent a month re-reading this weighty bible, making lists and plans. I wrote out my “ideal” diet, as well as the ideal for each of our family members, and then how I might combine these for a family plan. I felt inspired, I felt motivated.

Then I felt tired and munchy.

Oh well, I’ll get back on the healthy habits next week. My favorite way to read Paul Pitchford has always been with a cup of coffee and a cookie.

9 thoughts on “Healing with Whole Foods

  1. Baby steps. That’s how we got from The Man not knowing the difference between a Zucchini and a Cucumber. I kid you not. Five years later and the kids can pick it out in the produce section themselves at 5 and 3 years old.

    As a connoisseur of “healthy eating” books, I gotta say that there’s a lot of good info out there, but also contradictory. Find what works for you and yours, and then pat yourself on the back. Personally, I think everyone should eat more vegetables.

    Cheers from my Coffee Cup to yours!

  2. hey chicka! Good to see you back. We’re busy as a bee in a daisy patch at the moment, I’ll contact you in a while to have a chat. But great to see you seeing the world in all it’s hilarious irony again (making plans from a vegan book whilst chewing a cookie and downing a coffee…this is why I love you!).

  3. It’s good you could grab hold hold of something positive and controllable, and within your scope of practice, while your husband was recovering (is recovering)… good nutrition for the body is important, but don’t underestimate the nurturing of the soul, I say! Positive thinking with every bite of that cookie, surely that negates any ‘bad stuff’ in it!

  4. Bwaahh hah hah! I found this post ridiculously funny. Sorry, that’s probably wrong, since it starts with cancer, but…what can I say?…you had me at wooey. (We call it woo-woo in my house, I suspect it’s exactly the same.)

    So, this: “Not that particular wooey shit, but I guess I feel like any traditional knowledge, having stood the test of time, has good stuff to offer.” means maybe check into this?: http://www.amazon.com/Nourishing-Traditions-Challenges-Politically-Dictocrats/dp/0967089735

    Nourishing Traditions is woo that helps you feel **just fine** about butter and beef, which is my kind of woo. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve dabbled in vegan woo as well, but as long as I’m going with woo, I prefer “have some more meat with your eggs” woo to “sprout salad” woo.

    But, yeah – God bless the half-crazies. Without them the rest of us would be all blind. Thinking of you and yours.

    1. i read Nourishing, hasn’t everyone decent read it? for some reason it didn’t blow my skirt up, though i agree with most of the ideas. maybe the writing style?
      thanks for the shout out to my old post. you get a shiny star.

  5. I’d like to hear your thoughts on whole milk. When I went low carb I switched to it, but since making the decision to stop calling my diet low-carb when it wasn’t anymore, I recently switched back to 2%. Logic being that 2% is what you get when you scoop the milk off the top, and since I’m not getting non-homogenized milk then 2% is more natural than homogenized whole. (When I can afford local milk again I’m so switching back to whole though. Yum.)

    1. i don’t have any refined thoughts on the matter, just a basic distrust of an industry that takes the valuable part out (the cream) then sells what used to be pig feed (skim milk) for the same price as whole milk. i also just don’t believe fat is bad for people, especially not for kids. never have taken to that theory.

  6. I giggled at the “wooey shit”. I was just telling my friend the other day that while I think that traditional, natural remedies get unfairly written off and that I usually try them first, I am secretly a woo-healing skeptic. This, I have decided, cancels out an potential placebo effect. So, if a natural remedy works, it probably actually works, at least for me.
    I am a child of the 80’s and 90’s, so I am still fighting my fat-phobia, but I am (deliciously) actively working on getting over it. Whole fat dairy all the way! And I routinely read health-related content whilst sipping coffee or tea and eating something with too much sugar.

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