It's December 1, and this morning we had our first frost. The Christmas season has begun. I love Christmas! I love the music, the gifts, and the food. I love how the spirit of the season makes people more charitable and puts smiles on their faces. I'm hoping that I will start decorating the house this afternoon, but I've had lots of yearbook work to do this week, so decorating may have to wait until Friday.
Kristin wrote a blog about cranberries a few weeks back, and I've been enjoying them in a couple of new ways. My original cranberry sauce recipe called for 3 cups fresh cranberries, 1 cup water and, one cup sugar. This week I made cranberry sauce with the same 3 cups of berries, but Â½ cup water and 1/3 cup sugar. I liked the thicker sauce. My family did not notice the missing sugar. Someone eating a traditional American diet might find the cranberries to be too tart, but since we routinely decrease sugar in recipes, they tasted just fine to us.
I also cut raw cranberries in half and tossed them in a salad. They tasted good with salad greens, and looked quite Christmassy.
Figs are one of my favorite foods. Though I rarely get to eat them fresh, I often have dried figs as a snack. A few weeks ago I saw fruit-only fig preserves at the health food store and couldn't resist buying them. Without bread, it's been hard to know how to use them. Maybe it was hearing the Christmas chorus, "bring us some figgy pudding," but today I tried something radical.
We used to eat a lot of carrot salad. But after starting the BTD it just didn't taste the same without the whipped cream and mayonnaise. I've tried several variations, but hadn't found anything as good as the original. Today I had some grated carrots left over from last night's dinner. On impulse I mixed them with a little olive oil and a spoon of fig preserves. It was delicious - creamy and sweet, but not too sweet.
As much as I love the festive traditions of Christmas it's easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of the season and forget the true significance. I'm going to close each blog in December with a couple of verses from the Christmas story, which is, after all, the real reason for the season.
God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. Luke 1:26-27
Without question, the best thing about the Thanksgiving holiday was being with our son. He told interesting stories about his classes and hilarious stories about his friends. He also told stories about what he eats.
He doesn't know his roommate's blood type, but says, "He eats like an O." They fix lots of meat in their apartment, especially ground beef. He asked how to cook a roast, and I gave him easy instructions.
He eats one meal a day in the dorm cafeterias. That is where he gets his vegetables. The dorm cafeterias are all-you-can-eat, so he loads up with vegetables and salad. He and his roommate are hesitant to buy and cook vegetables. It's true, that vegetables would mean more preparation and clean up time. But it would be easy to fix sweet potatoes in the microwave.
On mornings when he has 8:00 classes, breakfast is a quick protein shake in the blender. On mornings when he has late classes, he and his roommate fix eggs.
He isn't trying to be BTD compliant. He broadly aims for lots of meat and vegetables and he limits sodas and desserts. He eats way too much wheat for an O, and he still drinks milk. He keeps a variety of microwave dinners in their freezer for fast meals.
However he is eating infinitely healthier than I was at his age! And I'm pleased with his initiative and independence. One night he decided to fix spaghetti. "I fixed way to much," he said. "So we called a couple of friends to come over and join us for dinner."
I wish I could spontaneously do that. But I would feel like I needed to straighten the house and set the table. Plus I would have to check my husband's calendar and my daughter's schedule. By the time I had everything all ready the opportunity would have passed.
I thought the Forum post by suzedgar was honest and very appropriate for this time of year. No matter how hard we try, there is no way to be both a gracious guest and faithful to the BTD in most social settings. And the next 5 weeks will be filled with parties and dinners.
As we drove home from my husband's mom's house, we were listening to a financial tape in the car. The author said that everyone who succeeds financially will have failures along the way. If your failures make you fearful, they prevent you from attaining your goals. Successful people, he said, find ways to turn their failures into advantages.
Can the same logic apply to the Blood Type Diet? Can I turn eating avoids at a party into principles that will help me be healthier? Here are a few ways that I try to think about unavoidable avoids.
First: While I may be in a situation where I have to eat avoids, I do not have to be a glutton. There are almost always beneficial or neutral foods available. I try to eat more of the advantageous foods and only polite tastes of the avoids. At Thanksgiving dinner, I had three slices of turkey but only two bites of dressing.
Second: I find it discouraging to think of never, ever eating old favorite foods. Knowing that sooner or later I will be at a dinner or a party where I will get a taste of once-loved food makes it easier to totally avoid those foods at home. The breaded zucchini strips I ate at my nephew's house have satisfied my desire for onion rings and fried okra and immunized me from ordering them in a restaurant.
Third: I keep fresh in my memory the way I feel after too many avoids. Those memories are perhaps my biggest asset when I am looking at a buffet of holiday food. They give me the strength to say NO when I am tempted to grab comfort food.
By remembering those three principals, it's been a long time since I overindulged on avoids to the extent that I felt really horrible. If you feel sluggish and bloated after Thanksgiving, I have this advice. For a couple of days eat only meat and beneficial vegetables. Sweet potatoes, salad with olive oil, cooked greens, parsnips, black-eyed peas and adzuki beans are all very filling. Raw carrots dipped in nut butter are also satisfying. Stay completely away from anything with grain or sugar until your equilibrium is restored.
Though I was fairly compliant on our holiday trip, when we got home last night I ran for two miles - good for dissipating stress and for loosening muscles tired of sitting in the car. For dinner I fixed baked cod, kale, black-eyed peas, and onions - all highly beneficial. I feel healthy and energetic today. My weight is up a little more than a pound, but I'm confident that it is mostly water and will disappear shortly.
We had two Thanksgiving dinners. Wednesday night we drove out to one nephew's house to see their new baby daughter. Another nephew arranged for an incredible Italian dinner to be catered at the house. We ate on paper plates, watched basketball on TV, and admired the baby. She is just two weeks old. I am a great-aunt again! What a thrill to hold her and have her fall asleep in my arms.
When I think Italian, I think pasta, and certainly there was plenty of that. But there were other choices as well. Salad with beneficial greens was plentiful. Plus there was steamed broccoli and chicken roasted with Italian herbs. My one avoid for the evening was a zucchini dish that I didn't realize contained wheat until I tasted it. It was too delicious, and therefore too late to stop.
Today's traditional turkey feast was sadly small in numbers. My husband's father passed away last spring and was sorely missed. Two family members had the flu and went back to bed after putting in brief appearances. Another nephew had to work.
The turkey was delicious, and neutral for all. I had two bites of cornbread dressing in honor of the day. Other than that I filled my plate with vegetables and fruits.
Come, ye thankful people come.
Raise the song of harvest home.
All is safely gathered in,
Ere the winter storms begin.
God, our maker, doth provide
For our wants to be supplied.
Come to God's on temple come.
Raise the song of harvest home.
Spent yesterday's austere training session working on something called a 'jump spin back kick,' a strange gyration that involves spinning in the air as you jump, ultimately kicking into a direction that you cannot actually see.
Interesting how easy something like this appears to a twelve year old, versus, say, a forty-eight year old. A kid just jumps, much like a cat, knowing that he is springy enough to get up and around, and flexible enough to not be troubled by the thought of a posterior landing. By the time you get to my age, you start to ponder the osseous consequences of this sort an action, which is why you hesitate and fail.
Napoleon once said that it was amazing what you could get an eighteen year old to do for a piece of ribbon.
The immortality thing.
The forty-eight year old is more likely to say 'Uh, no thanks. I have enough ribbon right now.'
Last night my sister in law Rita, an nurse with an extensive background in research, sent me an abstract from the Journal of Clinical Oncology, titled 'Herbal Remedies in the United States: Potential Adverse Interactions With Anticancer Agents' (J Clin Oncol 2004;22 2489-2503). The crux of the article being the potential threat to chemotherapy drug effectiveness posed by such botanicals as garlic and echinacea, which may influence the body's ability to metabolize chemotherapy drugs, and compromise their effectiveness. She asked me what I thought about the article.
When I finally got a full version, two things stuck out immediately. One, this was a review article, meaning that there was no proof of any such activity being presented, but rather a tenuous connection between the known, but rather modest, effects of certain herbs on the cytochrome p450 system (drug detoxification) and the p-glycoprotein levels (drug delivery).
More accurately an editorial, it provided absolutely no evidence to back up any of its assertions. C'mon guys, talking about garlic interfering with p-glycoprotein and blocking a drug like taxol is like saying that a paper bag containing your lunch has the 'hidden potential' to derail an Amtrak train. Hey, if garlic or herbal antioxidants and p-450 modulators were all that effective at blocking cell damage (chemically programmed or not), there wouldn't be any need for oncologists and oncology journals in the first place.
Amazingly, the article then goes on to advise physicians to look into herbal use in non-responding cancer patients as a rationale for treatment failure, a rather cruel balm to the fact that greater than 99% of those non-responders are simply not going to be cured by chemotherapy, herbal medicine or no herbal medicine.
An article published in the Archives of Internal Medicine (Archive Int Med; 1998;20: 2187-2191) may help explain why medical academics spend their time worrying about garlic blocking chemotherapy. It looked at conventional attitudes toward supplementation. Their conclusions: Throughout 20th century American academic medicine has resisted the concept that supplementation with micronutrients might have health benefits.
According to the authors, this resistance is evident in several ways:
(1) by the uncritical acceptance of news of toxicity, such as the belief that vitamin C supplements cause kidney stones;
(2) by the angry, scornful tone used in discussions of micronutrient supplementation in the leading textbooks of medicine; and
(3) by ignoring evidence for possible efficacy of a micronutrient supplement, such as the use of vitamin E for intermittent claudication.
Part of the resistance stems from the fact that the potential benefits of micronutrients were advanced by outsiders, who took their message directly to the public, and part from the fact that the concept of a deficiency disease did not fit in well with prevailing biomedical paradigms, particularly the germ theory. Similar factors might be expected to color the response of academic medicine to any alternative treatment.
I boldfaced the line about 'outsiders' as I can relate to that one personally, since I am a naturopathic physician (strike one!) posit a diet theory that does not fit in well with the prevailing paradigm (strike two!) and wrote a book on the subject for the public (yer out!)
Instead of wasting time looking for herbal inactivators of chemotherapy these folks should look at ABO polymorphism to help explain cancer treatment variation. Type A individuals may have as much as seven fold higher levels of p-glycoprotein, 30% higher levels of von Willebrand Factor and significantly higher levels of e-selectin and ICAM --all know modifiers of metastasis, drug delivery or resistance.
There is a certain lack of candor in a medical community that rebukes supplements as weak and ineffective medicines, yet warns that these same supplements are dangerously blocking chemotherapy drugs.
Reminds me of the joke about the two oldtimers at the early bird special:
The first one turns to the other and says 'The food here is terrible.'
The second oldtimer turns to the first and says 'Yeah, and the portions are small, too.'