I have been talking about the process of writing since I set up this website, and I think it’s time to broaden my topics to one of my very favorite things. Actually, it’s a combination of related activities–cooking, eating, and learning about nutrition. It might help to briefly share some of my history and perspective.
I’ve always been an easy-to-please eater. I like most foods, and although I appreciate a well-prepared meal with high quality ingredients, I have not shied away from pizza at the ballpark or lunch at the food court, if those were the best options available.
As I got older, I started getting more interested in what I was actually putting in my body. Everything we eat and drink, and breathe for that matter, becomes a part of what we are. It’s absorbed into our digestive system, our lungs, and our bloodstream, and it has the capacity to affect our organs, our skin, our hair, our eyes–everything that makes up our physical existence. For that reason, it’s important to be aware of what we ingest.
That said, I’m not promoting that people outright shun pizza at the ballpark or tacos from the food court. I’m a firm believer in “all things in moderation.” Splurging for an ice cream sundae or a mushroom cheeseburger from time to time is not going to kill anyone. But MOST OF THE TIME, we should be making an effort to eat things that have a positive nutritional effect on our bodies. For simplicity, my goal is that for every “splurge” meal I have, I will make a strong effort to ensure that all other meals for the day are relatively healthy. Some days, everything I eat is pretty healthy, and on occasion, my intake for the day is not all that healthy. But on average I’m sticking to my goal.
My eating habits have evolved a bit a couple of times in my life. The first was probably when my husband Emmett and I started eating sushi, way back in the early 1990’s in a suburb of Atlanta called Morrow, at a place called Mo Mo Ya, which was a really great restaurant. Sushi became one of my favorite meals, and I still try to have it once or twice a week. It’s expensive, so you have to watch for deals, and at times you might find that some grocery stores have decent fare at decent prices.
The other big change to my eating habits started in 2003, when my mom had to have triple bypass surgery for blocked arteries. For that surgery, the medical team essentially cracks open your chest to do what they have to do. And while Mom made a full recovery and lived another four years, the indication was that one factor contributing to her problem very likely was diet. In fairness, some of it likely was hereditary too, because practically all of my family on both sides have died from heart problems. But the hospital staff guided Mom to a heart healthy diet to try to prevent or at least minimize further problems.
Well, warranted or not, that was when I decided that I was going to go to great lengths to avoid having to have MY chest cracked open. So I decided to take steps, granted they were baby steps, toward becoming vegetarian. What happened in 2003 was that I gave up beef that Christmas. The following Christmas I gave up pork. And two years later at Christmas 2006, I gave up poultry (it took me two more years because I loved turkey sandwiches!). This change of habit also worked hand in hand with my spiritual development–I started studying Buddhism on my own in 1995 and had come to believe that killing animals for food should be avoided. I also believed that factory farming was having an extreme deleterious effect on the environment, which means that at that time I had accumulated three reasons to not eat meat.
So I do not include in my diet any beef, pork, poultry, lamb, or any other land or air based animals. However, here we are in 2015, and I have not been able to convince myself to give up fish or seafood, even though I do try to stick with fish that are being harvested in a sustainable way. For example, I dearly love Chilean sea bass but choose not to eat it because it’s endangered.
To sum up, before I start launching into recipes and other food topics in my next blog post, I am now what I think would be referred to as a lacto/ovo/pescatarian. Which simply put means I eat a vegetarian diet except for fish, eggs, and dairy, and even the dairy I limit to a certain degree because I drink almond milk instead of cow’s milk, and I try to avoid dishes made with heavy cream. I do still eat cheese, cottage cheese, and yogurt.
I would love to hear anyone’s comments on this post. Talking about food and nutrition is one of my favorite things to do. Next up for this blog is one of the best Brussels sprouts dishes I’ve tasted–it’s delicious! And if you’re not a BS fan, never fear because I have all kinds of vegetarian tricks up my sleeve.