Food as Medicine

The first Blandford Farm CSA pickup is about a month away.  Yet I’m already plotting the use of my half-share.  You see, this year, I’m focusing on using food as medicine.  But I needed a little push.

I must confess, I haven’t had a primary care physician since my early college years.  I procrastinated as long as I could until my health insurance provider basically said, “ya gotta get one.”  So I did.  And I went through a couple of initial “meet and greet” exams, complete with blood tests.  The results were troubling, but not tragic.

It's a brave new world, Peaches!

It’s a brave new world, Peaches!

When I lived in Dallas, I was afraid I would die while driving on Central Expressway or the Dallas North Tollway.  When I moved to Grand Rapids, that fear faded in my rearview mirror…so to speak.  But I’ve learned my latest risk of mortality comes from the inside.  My blood tests tattled:  I have hyperlipidemia and hypertension.  In layman’s terms:  high cholesterol and high blood pressure, respectively.

I made a face when the nurses and my primary doctor suggested medications.  I preferred to use non-pharmaceutical means of treatment.  Amazingly, they gave me the benefit of the doubt.  Suggested course of action:  more exercise, lose a few pounds, and adjust my diet.  Since I never smoked, that’s one vice I can’t lose.  And I’ve come to enjoy the benefits of Beer City USA.  Surprisingly, my doctor didn’t see that as an issue.  That left exercise and diet.

I now practice yoga or exercise on a dusty Nordic Track in the basement, each day.  And adjusting my diet?  Well, that’s where the CSA comes in.

A story on npr.org earlier in the year caught my eye:  Food As Medicine: It’s Not Just A Fringe Idea Anymore.  A couple of the referenced studies (here and here) suggest that one can reverse the effects of high cholesterol by eating more fruits and vegies.  When my doctor quizzed me about my diet, I was already practicing many of the changes she could recommend.  So, she suggested Dr. Andrew Weil’s web site for advice on other nutritional avenues to manage my cholesterol and blood pressure.  A quick search on the site for “diet high cholesterol” produced a list of useful articles.

This nudges me (and my household) toward a more vegetarian diet.  Since I’m the primary cook, this will be a shared experience.  But I don’t mind the change, and my wife is always clamoring for more vegies.  In fact, I ordered a book from Amazon today, The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison.  I wanted to recreate some dishes served by my friend “BF#”.  And I definitely must make full use of this year’s CSA bounty.

I know I’m not the first person to alter their diet in response to a health issue.  For some, they like how they feel after the changes.  As a data-driven guy, my blood chemistry numbers are the benchmark for success.  And so, I have a date with a blood-sucker in September.  With luck, my primary doctor will continue to give me the benefit of the doubt in October.  I guess that sort of tracks this year’s CSA season, doesn’t it?

Image_20150822_01About the author:  Dave Gillen didn’t want to eat hotdogs for the rest of his life, so he learned to cook.  His mother taught him to boil water, fry an egg, and make oatmeal cookies.  Dave forgot how to make the cookies, barely remembered how to fry eggs, but is spot on at boiling water.  Currently, he divides his days between being wife Lois’ in-house techno geek and personal chef…and walking his greyhounds.

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