Intersection of Interests

I’ve spent most of my life working in various areas of the life insurance industry. Currently I am back where I started over 41 years ago as an underwriter specializing in mortality risk assessment. My job is to understand what kills people. Sounds simple but it’s not that simple. As a creative and destructive species people have figured out a myriad of ways to kill themselves. When someone applies for life insurance I figure out what is most likely to kill them and charge an appropriate rate for the risk. I really like what I do. Each and every day is another opportunity to learn and improve.

I also love to cook. The Boss has to declare a No Cook Night otherwise I will cook. This love started early watching my father cook supper every night. Dad was a great cook and I had a role model from the beginning. One day I asked him

“Why do you cook?”

“You’ve tasted your Mother’s cooking. Survival.”

Eat to live. Not live to eat. For me, this was a hard lesson learned. Before the age of 20 I weighed over 370 pounds. I’ve used 370 as my highest weight but it could have been higher. I stopped weighing myself because I really didn’t want to know how heavy I was. The story of how is for another time but suffice to say I managed to lose 200 pounds by the time I turned 21. As the years have passed my weight has slowly crept up. I’m proud to be near 190 pounds and approximately 180 pounds lighter than my personal peak. Eat to live, not the other way around. I’ve learned not only how to lose weight but how to keep the pounds off.

I’m a published writer. It’s been decades since I’ve published any of my writing but I’m still a published writer. I maintain two blogs and a journal. This short piece started in my journal and ended up public. This food blog got started to share family recipes. Over time it has changed to the point where I now describe this blog as a food memoir. Now I’m beginning to think the description should be changed again. There is a lot more space devoted to nutrition science which used to be posted on my other blog. For now though, food memoir still works.

One of the fascinating things about writing here is how the recipes are not the dishes I grew up with eating my Dad’s cooking. You also won’t find a lot of the recipes I made years ago for my own family. Some family favorites are here but not many Box Project recipes. For example I pulled one of my “favorites” from the box, handwritten on a white lined 3 x 5 index card. It’s an old James Beard chicken recipe that is delicious. When was the last time I made this dish? I can’t remember. I suspect that many of the recipes I considered to be family favorites I no longer make. What I’m learning is I don’t cook nor eat the same as I did when I was younger. As Dr. Wareham says you start with one good habit at a time. I say you also stop one bad habit at a time (but I did quit smoking, drinking Jack, and start running all at the same time).

The writing, research, and recipes that end up here are mostly where I am at now. And that’s fine. There’s a pot of Vegan Chili Beans on the stove as I’m writing. Defiinitely not a family favorite recipe from the past. But it might just become a family favorite for now and the future.

 

What About Just a Little Meat?

 

Followed over time, vegetarian diets were associated with a substantially lower incidence of diabetes, indicating the potential of these diets to stem the current diabetes epidemic.

We see the same step-wise drop in rates of another leading killer, high blood pressure. The greater the proportion of plant foods, the lower the rates of hypertension, and the same with excess body fat. The only dietary group not on average overweight were those eating diets composed exclusively of plant foods, but again there was the same incremental drop with fewer and fewer animal products. This suggests that it’s not black and white, not all or nothing, any steps we can make along this spectrum of eating healthier may accrue significant benefits.

Source: What About Eating Just a Little Meat? | NutritionFacts.org

Source: PLOS ONE: Taiwanese Vegetarians and Omnivores: Dietary Composition, Prevalence of Diabetes and IFG

Source: Millennials and A Plant-Based Diet. Better Food, Better Choices.

Each and every meal is a choice.  Make good choices.  In my 20’s I pursued a vegetarian lifestyle for about two years.  Towards the end of that period I was eschewing dairy and eggs.  Then I stopped my veggie ways.  The reason?  I missed pizza.  The lessons learned however were not lost.  I thoroughly enjoy meatless meals now but if I want a piece of dead cow, I’ll eat dead cow.

Try not to get caught up in right vs. wrong.  Use your common sense.  Do not become the woman who fed her 11 month old nuts and fruit.  Just nuts and fruit!

Make wise, informed choices.  Understand as I have your need for calories decrease with age.  You have to eat less the older you are.  Strive towards more plant based meals and you’ll be OK.  Just don’t get too fruity or nutty about it all.

Our Diets are Making us Sicker

 

The good news: fewer hungry people around the world. The bad news: Increased consumption of processed foods is pushing up global rates of overweight and obesity.

Source: Across The Globe, Our Diets Are Making Us Sicker, Report Finds : The Salt : NPR

So fast food and sugary soda makes you fat?  Seriously?

At my personal peak of adiposity I tipped the scale at 370 pounds.  Over the years I’ve done the classic weight loss and gain yo-yo from a low of 163 after my initial weight loss to a current  weight of 195.  I taught myself how to lose weight and the diet strategies to keep the weight off.

I should write a book.

Water for Weight Loss

“Using the responses of more than 18,000 adults in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005–2012, the scientists found that people who increased their plain water consumption by 1 percent reduced their total daily calorie intake. Specifically, people who drank one to three cups of plain water—either spring or tap water, water from a drinking fountain or a water cooler, or bottled water—tended to reduce their “empty-calorie” intake from sweetened foods and beverages. They also consumed less total fat, saturated fat, sugar, sodium and cholesterol. The average person in the study drank slightly over four cups of water a day. Each cup of water, up to three cups, correlated to about 68 fewer calories consumed.”

Source: Water: a Key Ingredient in Recipe for Weight Loss: Health After 50