I have a blind neighbor, Vicki, with whom I shared coffee the other day at a local café. Vicki is a remarkable woman who has her own radio show and is between guide dogs (they retire after 4-6 years, I think). I've known Vicki through 3 of them now.
The subject of diet came up, and I asked her her blood type. "O", she said, as she munched her scone, one hand on her "latte". It turns out that this woman, age 53, is yet another Californian intuiting the BTD in many ways.
1. She knows she needs to eat plenty of red meat and fish/seafood, and enjoys these regularly and heartily; poultry, too.
2. She knows she needs to "get pumped" every day, and already does, on her Nordic Track at home. But -- get this -- she also cross country skis for real. And she's already well aware of the anger and mood connection to aerobic fitness (cf. 8/10/06: "Two Screechin' O Cabbies") and has it under control.
3. She loves her leafy greens and berries, and avoids orange juice.
4. She's aware that wheat is problematic for her (though she hasn't yet given it up).
She still drinks coffee with cow's milk. Doesn't like soy milk at all.
I got her very jazzed about our way of life, and she plans to visit dadamo on line, via her fancy equipment/software-for-the-blind so she can fine-tune her diet (Are D'Adamo's books available in audio format?).
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Oh, and I asked her (cf. my 3/24/06 Blog: "Infantile-Americans") what she thinks of the term "visually-challenged" (or "sight-challenged") as the politically-correct replacement (euphemism?) for "blind". Suffice it to say, there was howling laughter at our table.
I just love it when she says, "Great to see you!" and "See ya later!"
Ah, the human spirit.
And, if you're reading this, Hi Vicki!
Here I go again, making things complicated. Often my dadamo blogs challenge you, the Blood Type Diet follower, to "Choose Right 4 Your Life".
One of my nieces has gone off to college for the first time. She was quite lonely in high school, feeling that the other girls were shallow and silly, while she, an introvert, took 17 Advanced Placement courses and, yes, participated in sports and many extracurricular activities, including yoga and art. Her parents encouraged her to expect a terrific social life in college, and she's indeed thriving there, adjusting well to her academic pursuits and enjoying dorm life, too. We're all so happy for her, and relieved.
Last week, my niece told me she's menstruated three times since arriving at school 6 or 7 weeks previously. I asked her if she's getting enough iron. She said she thinks so, eating plenty of meat. I do not know her blood type: She says she thinks she's "B positive". She takes her meals at the student cafeteria, a key element in her social life and adjustment. But: What is served at this cafeteria?
"Mostly chicken. I eat lots and lots of chicken". She can't remember if fish has yet been served at all. She's willing to indulge in red meat, but says it's not often offered.
My niece is not combatting any grave health challenges (that we know of!). Even assuming she has Type B blood, there's no reason to prescribe a chicken-free diet at this time, in my opinion. Our family's immediate and pressing concern in her regard is that she make friends and integrate herself into a wholesome and comfortable life there. It's just not the time to vex this child with difficult dietary prescriptions, so I don't impose any. What I told her was that she should enjoy red meats and fish (which she loves) every chance she gets, and snack on dried fruits and walnuts.
Another teenaged niece is going through a pocket of turbulence known as Anorexia Nervosa. I am loathe to impose restrictions in this case, too; we're satisfied with her enjoying and being attracted to any foods at all, for now. The fact that she's been gaining weight to please her parents - despite her own distorted body-image - is a recent positive development, not to be tampered with.
Myself, I need to lose weight, for sure. My weight gain began, and continues, as a side effect of a prescription medication whose benefits far exceed the distress of the side effect. There's a weight loss diet I've followed three or four times in my life that has been a very successful method for me, consistently, though I tend to drop it soon after I reach my target weight. (Most attrition from positive dietary programs is attributable to their restrictiveness and inconvenience. So: Make your régime MORE, not less, convenient wherever you possibly can.)
As a follower of the Blood Type Diet, I might find it easier to give temporary priority to the weight loss diet I've used successfully in the past, until reaching an acceptable target weight, and then - gradually - switching over, or adapting the BTD to what has already proven effective for my weight-control. I have, in the past, "blended" the two programs, but they combine to form an impossibly narrow path, far too constantly challenging for peace of mind and, thus, success. It seems I, too, may have to (temporarily!) unlock the door for occasional chicken and tomatoes, at least. On the road, chicken is often the only easily available protein offered. Tomato is often an ingredient in vegetable juices and sauces. If refusing chicken means I'll have no protein at all, during a given meal, I'll go for that chicken and move on.
See, I'm realizing that many BTD followers, in opting against lectins/"avoids", reject crucial and available foodgroups wholesale, during a given meal or even a whole day or more. The fastest route to B weight gain, and certainly adult female weight gain in general, is regular protein-free meals and snacks. When B's eat that way, while eating full fat dairy, starches, and low- or no- protein fats/oils, we simply must gain weight: That's Basic Science.
What's your current priority? If mine is weight loss, then I'll probably find myself eating/ordering the healthiest high-protein centered meals I can. Going protein-free at mealtime is NOT an option for me and is not compensated by some future high-protein snack or meal; one must do the best one can at each seating.
Blood Type A folks have a tendency to "stress out"; if their mealtimes become saturated with anxiety about each component's nutritive value, this, too, can be counterproductive. Neither can healthy Type O's and AB's afford to forego important food groups altogether at any time, or to beat themselves up about that cup of coffee or glass of orange juice.
My prescription is, generally:
1. Prioritize. Name your most important current life goal and aim straight for it. Achieve success. Then and only then: Tweak. Think: Dorm life for the freshman, meal attractiveness for the anorectic, etc. Your priority may indeed involve high compliance to the BTD.
2. Eat balanced meals that are as nutritious and as "beneficial" as possible without undue stress. Example: If your lunch plan calls for a fruit, choose the most "beneficial" fruit offered. If the ONLY fruit you can obtain all day is an "avoid", eat it and don't worry; it isn't poisonous. Move on.
3. Plan ahead, according to your own unique comfort level. If you can, refrigerate grabbable little Ziploc bags with Blood-Type-compliant snacks or meal adjuncts, or even larger containers of full meals. If this sort of planning or activity is too stressful for you or keeps you from other life priorities, defer this to another day or week or indefinitely. No sweat. Keep going.
4. Use dietary supplements to fill in nutritive gaps during a circumscribed health-focussed period, including "Deflect" by North American Pharmacal, or other source(s) of lectin scavengers.
"Dieting" is stressful enough. No one wins brownie points for adding difficult measures to any restrictive program. Keep your sanity, friends. Don't turn the Blood Type Diet into a major stressor. Don't allow a diet to negatively impact your higher priorities, if you have them, whether these be adolescent social adjustment, teenaged weight gain, midlife weight reduction, or anything else.
I eat to live, not vice versa; what about you? Choose Right 4 Your Life!
Occasionally, through no fault of my own, I've eaten tomato products that were served to me outside my home. I remember one case, in which there was a light smear of ketchup already on my hamburger. Another involved a "Spinach Pesto Lasagna", chosen over the regular Tomato Meat Lasagna, that turned out to be a tomato-sauced meat-free lasagna with a spinach-pesto-marked "X" on its surface, squeezed from a pastry tube!
One does not expect to be handed a pre-sauced hamburger, or for Pesto Lasagna to be a marinara-sauced affair. I could have rejected either dish and demanded a tomato-free meal in its place, but I ate both. On these occasions, I'd say I took in about 1/2 teaspoon of ketchup and a tablespoon-and-a-half of marinara sauce, respectively. And I'm the wiser, should I ever again find myself in similar situations, to be alert to such possibilities. Simple, right?
Though I'm not alone in my liberality, I sense there are hypercompliant types who'd easily send back the burger or the lasagna, demanding the tomato-free expectation be met. These folks are willing to wait another 15 minutes or more for the replacement to be prepared and served them, as if that teaspoon or tablespoon might derail the trajectory of their health's improvement. It is this notion of the trajectory, I believe, that we find at the crux of the Compliance issue: Does a small bump in the road upset the whole journey?
It's a spiritual matter, actually. For some, it's as if permitting the teaspoon of ketchup to enter one's mouth were to be as concertedly avoided as some grievous sin that would seriously compromise one's entire life of faith! (And one would hope that their vigilance re: "Avoids" would indeed carry over to their moral life; likewise resilience in the face of failure.) It does have an almost "superstitious" quality, like the tennis player who is convinced he lost the match because, back in the 5th game of the first set, his second serve wasn't preceded by four bounces.
Did the ketchup distract and derail my general compliance? Not at all. A mere blip on the screen. Did it lead me to crave ketchup on all future burgers? No.
Sometimes perspective is called for. Laughter is good, too.
One of the things I so appreciate about Dr. D'Adamo's books is the supplement guides. The number of nutritional supplements available to us American consumers is truly staggering and can be overwhelming at the shops; D'Adamo's advice for supplements appropriate to each blood type for a given purpose is not only welcome but phenomenally accurate.
Indeed, one of the most convincing factors affecting my initial trust in his work was his touting Magnesium so broadly for Type B. I quote here what I then read in Eat Right 4 Your Type, p. 178:
"Magnesium is the catalyst for the metabolic machinery in Type Bs. It's the match head -- what makes Type Bs metabolize carbohydrates more efficiently. Since you are so efficient in assimilating calcium, you risk creating an imbalance between your levels of calcium and magnesium. Should this occur, you find yourself more at risk for viruses (or otherwise lowered immunity), fatigue, depression, and, potentially, nervous disorders. In these instances, perhaps a trial of magnesium supplementation (300-500mg) should be considered."
I had, solitarily, "discovered" magnesium at least a dozen years before I'd heard of Dr. D'Adamo, and was already using it as my own, idiosyncratic, nutritional tonic. P. 178 of ER4YT almost singularly sold me on D'Adamo. But there was more.
On the following page he names Licorice first among phytochemicals appropriate for B. Again, many years previously, I'd discovered Licorice tea in a tea catalogue from which I'd thereafter ordered it by mail and enjoyed it as my (quirky) herbal beverage ever since...
Well, since discovering and adhering to the BTD, I've had occasion to discover other supplements -- and weed out options inappropriate for my type -- as well as to find my personal preferences repeatedly confirmed by Dr. D'Adamo as of great medicinal value to Type Bs. More examples of his prescribing, for B, my own established preferences:
- Epsom Salt Baths
- Evening Primrose Oil (fem. balance for all types)
- Ghee (Likewise, for all types)
ONE such confirmation might have been deemed a coincidence. But NINE?? (I've also since benefitted from supplements I only discovered FROM Dr. D'Adamo, including Larch and elderberry...)
And then I added his confirmations of my practice of SINGING and my choices of tennis, walking, t'ai chi, and dance for stress reduction and exercise, and I knew that my many years of selecting and self-prescribing components of my lifestyle and "program" had brought me to where I could consider his work an extraordinarily excellent fit, and, indeed, marvellously accurate and trustworthy.
I can say that over the past several years, I've seen this excellent fit between D'Adamo's contribution and my friends, family, acquaintances, and clients numerous times. In fact, a current client, and her husband, and her mother, are all downright amazed to learn from me just how D'Adamo's work jibes with what they know to be true about their own diets, diseases, constitutions, and practices. They have visited the website and, yes, ordered his book(s)!
It's this Confirmation of the established intuitions and practices of health-conscious adults in my orbit that is so convincing and satisfying. It's but one of the reasons I don't usually view the acceptance/adoption of the BTD as a "conversion". All too often, I hear, "I KNEW that!" and "Incredible! I already eat that way!"
There's something to be said for eating what you're served. And when you're a tourist, to some extent it's a good standard of conduct. Sometimes it'll be a matter of choosing the least of all evils: The O can "pass" on the bread, the A on the beef, etc., where possible...but it isn't always so.
Some hosts may take it as an insult if you don't "fill your plate", and, I have to say, you may miss something extraordinary. If you're not ill, think "Tier One" when you travel, understanding that you may have to expand on that, to take in a "serious Avoid", perhaps daily. Enjoy your trip and take "Deflect", I say.
Despite my B loyalty, there's a particular Palestinian chicken dish I wouldn't refuse if it were offered to me under ANY circumstances. It's a regional specialty requiring not only alot of time and experience, but...unspeakable love. It's an HONOR to be served this dish, and, once you've tasted it you may actually, as I did, weep. OK? I might select something different at a restaurant, but if someone's Palestinian mother were to serve it to me, I'd melt. In NO case would I refuse to taste it.
If I were at a Sicilian trattoria and I were told "Today we're serving the Specialty of the House: Blah Blah Marinara etc.", I'd never be so picky/gauche/B-fanatic to say: "No marinara for me, thanks." The rationale would NOT be: "Hey, I'm on vacation, so I'll feast on Avoids." It would be this: "I've CHOSEN to be the guest, this week/month, of numerous hosts. Some are more personal than others and might take offense at my rejecting their hospitality." And then, "WOW! I'm REALLY in SICILY!!!"
And, if there's a very, very special dish in a less "personal" restaurant/buffet setting, e.g., couscous or bisteeya in Morocco, bouillabaisse in Marseille, paella in Barcelona, I'd be at least willing to TASTE it on the side! Why? Just to indulge the proprietor? No. There are other reasons.
To have an Experience: You're not at some formulaic AmerItalian chain: This is The Real Thing: Wake up! Cuisine is an essential aspect of ANY culture. To be unwilling to TASTE the marinara sauce of a Sicilian host who's proud of it, whose ancestors have perfected the recipe over generations, defeats the purpose of Tourism, no? It, in effect, carries an attitude of "closedness" to new things that doesn't quite jibe with the whole notion of Leisure Travel, does it? (Is it even POSSIBLE to know a place without tasting its signature dishes?)
Maybe I'm saying that really sick people shouldn't be tourists, and that if you're ill, you should consider postponing that sojourn in Provence 'til you're better. And that if you're NOT ill, you shouldn't be the guest of anyone you've misled to believe you ARE. Think about it: "I can't eat this" "I can't eat that" (?) - or - "Wherever I go, I just order broiled salmon and rice, daily..." Is THAT the way to learn, experience? And yet another angle is: Is that the way to endear your hosts to Americans?
See, there are 3 questions most American tourists don't ask themselves:
(1) "What am I saying, what is my conduct demonstrating, to non-Americans,about 'American Tourists'?"
(2) "What am I learning about the host culture? How many personal interactions am I actually having with regular local people? How much 'inside information' am I taking away from my travel experience?"
(3) "If the above two issues are meaningless to me, why am I a tourist?"
This "We-carry-our-own-food, thank-you" attitude is really off-putting, anti-social, and actually savors (globally) of Imperialism. It says "We might set up our own versions of 'fast food' all over your cities and towns, but we sure don't stoop to eat what you mistakenly/ignorantly call 'Food'." I wonder: Do many American tourists know how to comport themselves as GUESTS? And are we sensitive to avoid giving the impression of Conquerors?
Spend some time daydreaming before you embark on that whirlwind tour. Imagine yourself being invited by locals, all over the world, to enjoy the very best that their countries have to offer. Then imagine yourself open to, and meriting, those invitations. See yourself accepting the fact that many, if not most, of those experiences involve the sharing of food. It means leaving the beaten path, choosing the road not taken, being open to surprises.
Unless, of course, your diet's pristineness is sacrosanct, in which case your parameters must remain restricted; food serves a socially separative rather than convivial role in your life, in which case: Stay home and remain "compliant". That might be the best option for the ill, whether physically or spiritually. Or: Drop down to Tier One Compliance that you're willing - on sheer whim - to ignore, if "kismet" so require. Now THAT'S an Adventure!