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.