...for what I'm about to say. We're back on the subject of food. I had a conversation with a fellow blogger the other day and the topic moved towards diet. As some of you may know, I have rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic disease for which there is no known cure and plenty of desperate patients looking for a quick fix. I've tried pretty much everything out there: glucosamine regimens, the raw diet, starvation, strange Chinese herbal medicine, cheap drugs, expensive drugs, positive thinking, exercise, no exercise, vinegar...
It's kind of sad, but starvation is, next to expensive drugs, the best thing. I feel pretty good when I fast. But it's obviously not a long-term solution! However, it does make one think. If not eating has an effect, it seems like, contrary to the claims of Western medicine, that diet really does affect our health and impact our diseases.
In Brazil, I have the luxury of being able to cook for my husband and myself with fresh ingredients. I know farmers here use pesticides too, and milk cows are still given the growth hormone, but most of the veggies are blissfully free of the waxy slick on the outside and are in season. If a product isn't in season, you pretty much have to forget about wanting to use it. As many products are fresh, they lack the ubiquitous Western preservatives, and none of the canned or boxed things I purchase use high-fructose corn syrup (including the occasional soda).
Returning to the USA is great for the inexpensive shopping stock-up sprees and the time spent with family. It is most assuredly not good for my health. Even when I try to eat "healthy". My weight fluctuates, my joints hurt and things just don't go well. Could it be the genetically modified weirdness? The excess hormones in our food? The preservatives? The fake sweeteners, fat replacers? The corn in everything??? Other bloggers have commented on this phenomenon, for example here, and I concur.
I make no excuses for using bacon, butter, whole eggs, sausage, real sugar, cream and liberal amounts of olive oil when I cook. (I just got my cholesterol back and it's quite good! Thanks, Dad, for your genes!) We eat small portion sizes (or try to!) and when it won't affect the flavor, I cut back on the fatty things or trim the sugar a bit. My "diet" kind of goes like this: if you want it, you have to make it. I think twice about chocolate if I know I'm going to be sweating in front of a hot oven in 95F degree heat! And it's funny, because I'm thinner than I've ever really been in my life, while eating almost everything I want. In moderation. And my body and my RA seems to thank me for it.
I do have to get off the couch and go to the gym. I don't think this would work if I didn't go lift weights a couple of times a week! The trade-off, though, is worth it. The freedom to indulge in wine, cheese and chocolate before bed? Yes, please.