Thursday, January 7, 2010

Super Foods Rx

A few months ago I started reading Super Foods Rx by Steven Prat, M.D., and Kathy Matthews. I normally do not read "diet" books but I picked it up and happened to flip to page 26 where they write, "The best approach to any health change is one that is positive. I believe that "diets" that forbid foods or make eating satisfying meals a challenge are counterproductive." After reading that I was hooked.

What I really like about this book is that while he has picked out 12 'super foods' he also includes other foods that are similar or part of the same family. Unlike many of the magazine articles and books that give a list of foods to avoid or a short list of specific foods you can eat; this one encourages a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, but also includes whole grains, and some animal protein. While earning my B.S. and then during my dietetic internship I started to take what I was learning and apply it to my own life. As I think back, my love of nutrition started in Jr. High. Somehow I figured out that what the school was serving for lunch was a pretty poor excuse for a meal. On days when, pepperoni pizza, hamburgers, and french fries were my only options I packed a sandwich, apple, fruit snack, carrot sticks, and bought a milk from the Ala' Cart line. This continued into high school, where bringing my own lunch became a daily routine. I still bought the occasional twix, or peanut butter cup from the school, but we all need a treat now and then.

In college I learned that I greatly disliked the flavor of aspartame(splenda), and that cereal high in fiber kept me 'regular' during times of stress. When dining out or making lunch for my boy friend, now fiance I continued to include fruits and vegetables with the meal. Living with three dietitians last year during my internship inspired me to continue my quest to improve my diet. Granted, some of it was spurred on by a tight budget. Ex: plain oatmeal is cheaper than individual packets of the flavored stuff. We had family dinner nights where one of us would cook a favorite meal from home, or try a new recipe on the rest of us. Through the internship I learned to love sun-butter (made from sunflower seeds), beets, dry beans, and tofu. I also discovered that unless it is fried I do not care for eggplant.

Back to the main focus of this entry...even as a dietitian with a pretty healthy diet; by reading this book I have started to increase certain foods in my diet. Seen here is chili con carne made by Ryan, over brown rice, romaine/spinach salad with carrots and mushrooms, and balsamic vinaigrette. The book is filled with information taken from credible research articles and journals describing why each food is considered "super." Instead of focusing on weight loss, the writers aim to help the reader improve their life by decreasing their chances of chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease through nutrition. For people who wonder what to do with some of the foods (soy beans or pumpkin), they include recipes and other simple suggestions on how to get more of them into the diet. A person can even take what they learn and apply it when dining out. Instead of ordering the Cesar salad, a person would know to order the spinach salad with blue cheese and walnuts simply because the spinach and nuts have more vitamins/minerals/and antioxidants than ice-burg lettuce ever will.

Unfortunately portion sizes are not a huge focus. A suggestion of servings per day or week are included for each food, however readers will need to remember that just because pomegranite juice contains polyphenols, does not mean they should drink it buy the gallon.

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