Thoughts on navigating the food scene : What food is good for me?

Last week I had my first surgery for removing my gall bladder. This is apparently a very common surgery and it has been made real simple these days. Single incision, little to no scarring and you are back home in half a day. I had a really good team of doctors and nurses at Charlotte Medical Clinic and I am recovering quite well.
I first found out about my bad gall bladder while on my India trip in September. Maybe all the "eat all you can" attitude caused the gall bladder attack :)
I am glad I got time to come to terms with it before losing one of my organs. I had time to adjust my diet and really think about the food that I eat and serve my family.

I always thought we eat healthy food and it was reasonably true. But anyone who has tried to understand food and what is healthy, what is not, knows that information out there is so conflicting in nature. What was seen as absolute truth a few years ago is now a very questionable truth. There were times when I didn't know what to believe anymore.
Try doing a search on whole milk vs low fat milk and tell me you didn't get confused. Today, the search is pretty much in favour of whole milk but just less than a year ago, it was not as one-sided. Then there is organic vs non-organic, raw vs pasteurized. You could just get sucked into the research for hours and end up more confused than ever. Still on the topic of milk, the medical community tells us to go for skim milk even for kids.

This is just about milk. You could try that for other foods : oils, butter, cereals. It can make you afraid to eat anything. :)
It took me sometime to tone down the madness and get some clarity. All I can say is : Do your research, trust yourself and do whatever changes suit your family and what you believe in.
My takeaway can be condensed into one (maybe two) line : "Avoid processed foods. Eat everything in moderation."

Although I am nowhere close to completing my exploration of this topic, I have at least found a direction and I am doing whatever changes I can to help my family eat healthier.
  • I have switched to whole milk. We are just thinning it out with a little water to cut the richness and calories (not for the baby though). I first read about the milk debate on Chef In You blog quite a while ago but it is only recently we did the switch.
  • I am going to switch out the artificial sweetener to sugar (moderate amount) for our tea.
  • Switched out fake butter (I can't believe its not butter) to real butter (just a few drops on the skillet for toasting bread)
  • I have started making my own yogurt and ghee.
  • I was already making homemade snacks and this just reinforces the guideline to look long and hard at the ingredient list before buying snacks. This is a little difficult because the daughter loves her gold fish and graham crackers.
  • Buy organic whenever possible and buy the version of the product with the least number of ingredients.
  • No fizzy or sweet drinks. We were doing this since our daughter was old enough to want to drink this stuff. We gave her a few sips when we were outside and she really insisted. But now she does not crave it and knows she likes water better.
  • I am adding flaxseed meal to chapati dough and getting wonderfully soft rotis. I am also mixing in brown rice to white rice.
There maybe a few more and some might be added to this list as we move along this path.

I have recently started a 5 week free course on Child Nutrition and Cooking by Maya Adam, MD from Stanford University on coursera. It might sound serious but it is really simple and does not take up much time. Give it a try if it interests you. She too reinforced my belief about processed foods. I loved one of the statements she makes "If your grandmother does not recognise an ingredient or did not use an ingredient, you probably should not too."
I also found two blogs which I really like and they focus on real food : Kath eats Real Food and 100 days of Real Food

I think we all know this about processed foods but get blindsided by the advertising and claims of new research that the food is good for you and you will not get "Fat". That really was what was holding us back from switching to real food - The fear of getting fatter.

I have to say I have been losing some weight without even trying due to these changes and the changes forced due to my gall bladder (I had to avoid fatty food). The biggest factor in that though, is we hardly eat out these days. I have also taken moderation to heart. Earlier I used it as an excuse to eat everything but now I am using it for its true meaning.


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