I was going to call this post “Confessions of a Nutrition Nag”, but I decided that was too self-deprecating. How I got started with reading all sorts of material on nutrition is related to my experiences with Cancer, which I wrote about last week.
Flashback to early 1990’s. I am newly married. I am supposed to be getting used to living in this environment of Highland Park, New Jersey. But a few weeks after my wedding I find out my mother has terminal colon cancer. So my thoughts are really in the Boston area, where my mother has been told she has less than two years to live. And sometimes I am driving five hours up to see her.
My father, after discussing much with medical doctors, contacts the Kushi Institute in Cambridge. My mother is in St. Elizabeth’s hospital in Brighton, and my father and are in our kitchen in Newton. A cook from the Kushi Institute arrives to teach us about macrobiotic cooking. It is all new to me. Before this, I don’t know if I knew what whole grain was. I don’t believe I had ever eaten brown rice (now I eat it almost every day). I remember the cook telling us that he had been to several kosher homes, and why could we not spread some of these macrobiotic cooking ideas to other Orthodox Jewish families? I now know how far apart macrobiotic cooking is from what is standardly cooked in an Orthodox Jewish kitchen. It’s like “chocolate chip cookies with sugar, white flour, Crisco and margarine, please meet steamed kale and seaweed.” They just are not going to click so well, you know what I mean?
Anyway, it turns out my mother has her own opinions. She comes home from the hospital, and her reaction to our attempts to try the macrobiotic diet: “if I don’t believe in it, it’s not going to work.” Which was painful for me to hear, but true. She wasn’t buying into this alternative stuff. She was going to spend her last years on this planet as she needed. And indeed she did.
Getting back to the macrobiotic diet, I had a cousin who went macrobiotic for about two years. Which could be how my father got started with calling the Kushi Institute. My cousin, however, eventually gave up being strictly macrobiotic, because, as she said, “one religion is enough.” She is pretty careful about how she eats (a mostly fish vegetarian diet with lots of pareve food).
I read many books about anti-cancer diets. One of the better ones was by Elaine Nussbaum, Recovery: From Cancer to Health Through Macrobiotics. Read the comments on Amazon. I believe she may live in New Jersey.
Eventually, I incorporated parts of the diet into my own daily routine. One of my favorites:
Eat something green for breakfast.
Today I had cold broccoli for breakfast, leftover from last night.
And I’ve expanded my knowledge way beyond the macrobiotic diet. For example, macrobiotics tend not to eat citrus fruits, which are powerhouses of vitamin C and other nutrients. I will have to go into the “meat is good for you” diets vs. the “vegan or vegan-leaning” diets in another post, if at all.
So I will conclude today’s post by saying I miss my mom, z”l, may her memory be a blessing, terribly. And I apologize to my kids for being Nutrition Nag.