Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Grandmother's Grains, Or Not

Wheat field, courtesy of thewallpapers.org
Dietary fads come and go . . . and having lived for six decades I've witnessed my share. As a child, my family ate what we have come to know as the Standard American Diet, although portion sizes were smaller, meals were most likely prepared at home, and I recall eating a lot of vegetables, and less meat or grains. Processed foods as we know them were expensive and so my mother cooked "from scratch" as did most in my neighborhood. Yes, we did have Twinkies and HoHos, but even those were most often a rare treat. We ate margarine and called it butter, and shortening was a staple on the pantry shelf.

My first brush with food as a health issue came in the late 1970s. I had moved to a small community and joined a "food co-op".  As a group, we ordered "natural food' in bulk and then met the delivery truck on "bagging day" to split it up among the members. I purchased a Champion juicer, baked whole wheat bread, and only used cold pressed oil. Two books popular among my friends were Diet For A Small Planet and Laurel's Kitchen. I remember some of the young mothers in the group limiting sugar and foods with red dye in it. One of my students was on a special diet designed for hyperactive children, another sometimes drank coffee before school if he was out of his Ritalin medication.

Later, in the late 1980s, my husband and I tried our hand at the Dr. McDougall diet. Hubby's mother had the good doctor's books and received his newsletter and suggested that we might think about going off dairy products and eliminating red meat - or meat altogether. We did that for about a year. Then, when pregnant with our second child, I decided to reintroduce meat and milk, "just to be on the safe side".

From there it has been a slippery slope, Dr. Barry Sears (The Zone Diet), Dr. Pritkin, Dr. Weil, Dr. Schwarzbein (Suzanne Sommers), Dr. Akins, Dr. Agatston (South Beach Diet), Drs. Heller (Carbohydrate Addict's Diet), Dr. Perricone (Perricone Prescription) and even "Dr." Oprah. All have had their opinion, each asserting they have "the answer" to the health questions we are asking.

Of late the dietary trends are the Glycemic Index Diet, the Paleo or Caveman Diet, and the Gluten-Free Diet. Each advocating limiting starches and grains or outright taking them out of our diet, which mirrors what Dr. Akins was promoting. However, now there are claims of scientific evidence that may clear up just what the problem is with grains in our diets. Recently, I have been reading that the rice, corn, and wheat available to us today is not our grandmother's grains. They are being called super starches that are not super good for us. Dr. William Davis in his book, Wheat Belly, asserts, "Lose the wheat, lose the weight."

Me . . .  I'm just confused! I would really like to get it all sorted out because there is most definitely something going on with the health, and weight, of America and my gut tells me it all starts with our food.

Here's some places to go for more information:

Are Wheat-free Diets A Fad? (20 minute audio debate with Dr. Davis and Timothy Caulfield)
Dr. Emily Deans - Evolutionary Psychiatry
Melissa McEwen - Hunt Gather Love            
Julie Jones - Analysis of Statements in Wheat Belly 

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