By JULIE JOHNSON
We are grateful that the Sun Valley Center for the Arts brings in so many wonderful speakers. New York Times food writer Mark Bittman is one of them—he spoke last week at the Church of the Big Wood. He was a warm, funny and engaging speaker and related well to his audience.
His message was to eat recognizable whole foods: to learn to cook and use foods from packages containing recognizable and pronounceable ingredients. All of which is a good message to keep in mind.
However, Mr. Bittman is not a dietician or nutritionist and not particularly qualified to make nutritional recommendations to the public. His advice about eating only vegan before 6 p.m. is a bit reckless for most of us descended from Europeans.
In fact, most of us need protein and fat in the morning to fuel our bodies and brains for the many demands of a normal day. Depending on your knowledge of veganism, if you followed this suggestion (he has a book exhorting this method, mostly as a way of losing weight) than most people would stuff their mouths with carbohydrates just to feel satiated. Unless you’re making your own almond milk (because the boxed kind has those unnecessary added ingredients he spoke of) smoothie blended with avocado, flax seed oil, and a scoop of rice protein, you’re not getting that great start your amazing body deserves in the morning.
With Bittman’s direction, the average American will probably grab canned or frozen O.J., butter-less toast, boxed cereal with rice milk (from a box) with a banana, or a fat-free, GMO-laden yogurt in a plastic tub. These high-fructose, over-sugared, simple carbohydrate ingredients (apart from the banana) are actually responsible for our seasonal allergies, auto-immune diseases, cardiac distress and diabetes. This kind of diet first thing in the morning starts the blood-sugar roller coaster that continues throughout the day.
If you wait until 6 p.m. to stabilize your waning blood sugar, you’ll be opening every cupboard in your house, office or convenience store along the way like a DEA agent on a drug bust. Without fat for fuel, we need a quick fix for our on-board computer—the brain, that 3-pound blob on top of your skeleton.
Not only does this message drive a person to eat the very foods advised against, the results leave you grumpy, sluggish, overweight and eventually just plain sick, tired and depressed.
As a nutritional therapist, my advice is to please eat naturally-high-in-protein eggs in the morning. Eat oatmeal if you wish, but put butter and cream on it. Sweeten with honey and dried fruit, but don’t overdo it. We must have our macro-nutrients to fuel the organs in our bodies. We need carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
Carbohydrates start the fire just like kindling. Proteins add that crackle and pop that heats up the fire. Fats are the big solid logs that keep it burning, satisfied all day long. Don’t leave home without a complete breakfast. The world always looks a lot better on a full stomach.
To your good health.
Julie Johnson is a Blaine County nutritional therapist.