This is the fourth in a series of posts on ‘My Responsibilities’
I have a dreadful family health history with my father and his mother dying relatively young from strokes; and my mother having had high blood pressure and diabetes for many years. From my youngest days I have had a voice inside of me telling me to take responsibility for my own health through dietary means.
- As a young teenager, I cut out chocolates, confectionery and junk fatty foods having observed that people who consumed a lot of these foods were overweight.
- When I was fifteen, my father had a heart attack and our family diet changed drastically. Gone forever were saturated fats of butter, cream and fatty meats. Sadly this was too little too late for my dad who passed away from a stroke 5 years later.
- After being diagnosed with post-natal high blood pressure at the early age of 28, and scared of my family history of strokes, I went on a series of strict diets including the Pritikin diet, amongst others with an emphasis on salt restriction. I managed to bring my blood pressure under control.
- My second son was a failure to thrive suffering bouts of diarrhoea and respiratory ailments. After a two year struggle I did some research and took him to specialist immunologists at Sydney’s largest hospital. After an exclusion diet and food challenges, he was diagnosed with food sensitivities reacting to preservatives, colours, MSG; plus salicylates and amines found in natural foods. With his modified diet, I was able to keep him happy and healthy throughout his childhood
- On the same diet, I discovered ailments I had suffered, such as asthma, were triggered by certain foods and food chemicals. More importantly, I ascertained my high blood pressure was triggered by foods high in biogenic amines, found in aged and fermented foods such as cheese and wine. Excluding them from my diet, I have been able to control my blood pressure and at the age of 59 am still drug-free. Interestingly, many foods high in salt are also high in amines (cheese, preserved meats) and my earlier dietary exclusion of salt also reduced amines.
- After finding “the answer” for my son and myself through diet I went on and did a post-graduate course in nutrition so I could help others.
- Over time I modified my diet to one that continued to be low in fat and salt, and also low glycaemic and high in soluble fibre. A low glycaemic diet helps control appetite and prevents the spiking of blood sugar levels. Foods high in soluble fibre reportedly help lower blood cholesterol.
Despite this theoretical ‘perfect’ diet; when under stress, when feeling glum, when I do not feel like cooking, or when busy, the diet can slip away. The diet entails a fair amount of home prepared meals. Not only are restaurant and cafe foods laced with preservatives and spicy foods I cannot eat; they rarely offer low glycaemic foods such as barley, lentils, and beans. Even oat-porridge is a rarity on ‘breakfast menus’. Foods I can eat when out tend to be high-glycaemic which do not sustain me and I tend to overeat.
To get back on track I need to focus on my health benefits as being as important as the busy things I am doing. I have to re-rate it at a high level of importance, just as I did when my son’s health was at stake, just as I did when I wanted to make sure my children’s mother (me) did not die prematurely from stroke.
This last week I have got back on track. I have restocked my pantry with the right foods. I have taken the time to prepare foods to take to work. Most importantly, I am focussing on my eating pattern and its long-term health benefits, as being as important as the crucial big-picture decisions confronting me in my life at the moment.
Menu for the day
Breakfast: Oat-porridge with soy-milk and chopped apple
Lunch: Brown rice, with bean and vegetable salad.
Dinner: Barley, lentil and vegetable soup. Chicken optional.
Gradually the old (good) habits are returning. Onwards and upwards to a healthy long life.
Beans Image Courtesy [Witthaya Phonsawat] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Oats Image Courtesy [Grant Cochrane] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Good for you! I think food really does play a role in our health. How is your son doing now? Does he continue with this diet?
Yes, I believe diet plays a crucial role.
Yes, my son still follows the diet, more or less. He is 30 years old now.
By ‘more-or-less’, it is dose-related and his tolerance level has improved so the exclusions are now quite subtle.
You’re an awesome Mom Elizabeth!
I LOVE lentil soup but don’t know how to make it. Love it.
I agree your health, your responsibility. Good on you.
Lentil soup is easy. Rinse half a cup in a colander or sieve, then add to your normal soup. red lentils take about 20 mins to cook; yellow, green and brown lentils take about 30 – 50 mins. I will post a full recipe one of these days.
Excellent – thank you so much, Elizabeth 🙂
I admire you. Diet is one of my weak points — though, like you, I am completely drug free at 59. In fact, have rarely even required antibiotics in my life and seldom get colds. — but, I know when I’ve eaten the ‘wrong’ foods because my body tells me.
And see, you’ve inspired me to get back on healthy eating — though I’m not sure about the wine…. I like its age! 🙂
Yes the wine was hard to give up and I have learned to accept its replacement of distilled spirits such as vodka with grace and dignity 😉
Great post. As a society, our diets are extremely unhealthy as we have sacrificed good nutrition for convenience, taste and profits. I have a number of food sensitivities, so I also have to be very careful about what I eat. One thing though, omega-3 fats are healthy and a necessary part of a balanced diet. Coconut oil is an excellent source of healthy fats.
Have an awesome day … cheers! 🙂
Yes, you are correct about the omega-3 fats, but the post was too short to bring in details about the different types of fats. Having said that, regarding weight control, one still has to be careful as fats do have the highest kilojoule content so amounts need to be watched.
Your reply to me summarizes society’s role in the demise of good nutrition – convenience, taste and profit. Food for thought for another post!
have a great weekend 🙂
Good for you, Elizabeth, for returning to a proper way to eat that works for your body. Diet is the most important element in good health, so it seems, and I always feel better when I avoid the processed junk that passes for food these days .Also, I have been taking probiotics for years which has eased my digestion.
I made lentil tacos once and they were awesome.
Yes I have found that when life is ‘normal’ i am too busy to focus on diet. Then when life is in ‘chaos’ i am too traumatised. Time for me to stop these excuses. 🙂
Thanks for your reply.
Women’s health is such a priority not only for the woman, herself, but also for the children she parents (even when they’re all grown-up) and for the community at large
How right you are that eating right is do-able in our busy, busy, busy lives only with focus, with prioritizing personal health and nutrition on a daily basis, and with a ready stocked pantry,
Keep us posted because you keep me motivated!
You are correct in your comment “even when they are grown up”. When I was talking about my ‘priorities’ to me son one day (aged 27), when he had sort of implied that I had almost given up on myself yet was frantically tripping the globe keeping up with all the children. I said to him that my responsibilities to him and my other children came first. He said ‘No, Mum. Your responsibility to yourself comes first because if you get sick or cannot cope with your own situation, then you are no good to us’ .
Poignant, truthful words.
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I am amazed at your taking a good course and helping your son’s and your lives change for the positive. I never thought that wine would be “bad” for you, vodka better. My daughter is a health and wellness coach, has her bachelor’s in marketing and communications. She completed coursework at Integrative Nutrition and has helped herself, with JRA from age 11, to become a stronger, less “sick” young adult. She gets a lot of meaning out of helping others, while her “day” job is as a financial planner for UBS. I love lentils, quinoa and we grab guacamoles like crazy on almost anything! She just baked a batch of peanuts with hot sauce for us to munch on.Great to know we are on some similar paths…
That’s fantastic and the food ideas sound so scrumptious!
Thanks for stopping by. Yes, I do feel we are on similar paths and I feel so supported by the kind comments I receive to my posts and comments. I really appreciate it.
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