Friday, January 15, 2016

Cuchillos y Cucharas

On occasion, I moonlight at a restaurant (as you can probably tell, I love being around food). As part of our serving duties, we are required to roll silverware consistently, meaning I'm constantly walking back into the kitchen, asking, "cuchillos y cucharas?": essentially inquiring if the knives and forks have been washed even though cuchillos means knives and cucharas means spoons (my Spanish is no bueno). But aside from my nightly references to cutlery, I recently came across a film which deals (in name) with this rare topic: Forks over Knives.

Trailer time.

Surprisingly, although I love being around food, I'm not a huge fan of the documentaries which cover the topic. Aside from the alpha-models of the group or those original pieces which spawned a cavalcade of copycats, a lot of documentaries leave some questions unanswered or just come across as whiny. Rather, I enjoy reading books on health through food. Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food and The Omnivore's Dilemma are both beautifully written and researched pieces and, of course, I always reference Salt, Sugar, Fat on my blog. But Forks Over Knives proved entertaining and brought up some good points.

The film centers around Drs. T. Colin Campbell and Caldwell Esselstyn, both of whom advocate towards a heavily plant based diet and associate the consumption of animals products (meat, dairy and eggs) with an increase in heart disease and a decrease in one's quality of life. One particular point addressed in the film is the way our bodies respond to certain types of food. Amazingly, when we eat plant based foods (fruits, veggies, seeds), our stomachs indicate we're full at a much faster rate than if we eat meat or oils (read: chocolates, etc.). This may seem counterintuitive as the latter two ingredients contain many more calories per portion. But I'm always amazed at how many nutrients are contained in vegetables. Indeed, a single serving of kale (1 cup) contains 329 mg of potassium, 133% of your daily recommended of vitamin A and 134% of your recommended vitamin C intake. Dr. Campbell even goes so far as to state in the video that while Americans have often relied on animal products as a source of protein, vegetables like potatoes (which rank low on the nutritional index) often provide enough nutrients to aid our bodies in this area (per serving, potatoes contain 4.3 grams of protein as well as a whopping 897 mg of potassium and 30% of your daily B-6 intake- an essential nutrient which aids our nervous systems among others). 

When I was young, I found myself in a mall, browsing through rows of purses. I found a beautiful white one- not for a small price and, while it was on sale, I felt bad about making a three-digit purchase while an unpaid intern. Beautiful as it was, I put it back while my "shopper-in-crime" snatched up a few handbags (she could afford to be an unpaid intern). Essentially, once I did get paid again, I searched high and low for that bag, buying up several that looked like it (as well as some that didn't). At the end of the day, had I bought the purse, I would have ironically saved myself hundreds in an attempt to recreate something similar to it. The same goes for the food we eat. According to Forks Over Knives, when we fill our bodies with food it doesn't need it often remains hungry until it gets what it does, leaving us to consume more animals, sweets or whatever until our brains tell us we've had our fill. This form of eating sans nutrients carries health-related, aesthetic and moral consequences as we choose (either with our bodies or our head) what we consume.

I've always liked veggies, probably because I've always liked blue cheese. As an old nanny used to say, "you like your salad to be swimming in it." So, in this regard, I'm lucky. But I also like sweets. Mississippi Mud Pies, doughnuts, or, really, milk chocolate malt balls, are essentially part of my daily diet. It's the yin yang combination we all have and my wallet thanks me every day for not being a large fan of alcohol. In short, I don't have sophisticated tastes. But as I watched Forks Over Knives, it made sense. In Deprivation Sensations, I mentioned how I sometimes I get concerned when my appetite seems fit for a mouse. Indeed, as my appetite has stabilized over the last few months, I've come to see that the consumption of veggies has played a role in this phenomenon. While there have been many factors which have played into a small appetite, I've often noticed that when I eat (raw) veggies, I eat relatively few in a single sitting. 

When I was young, I used to complain to my mom that I was thirsty, hoping she'd get me a Gatorade. On one occasion, she called my bluff, giving me an apple and telling me, "look, this is mostly water." Indeed, such is the case with most fruits and vegetables which I'm wondering may be the reason we feel so full so quickly after consuming them. In Deprivation Sensations I spoke about trusting your body. Just as butterflies know, inherently, the route to Mexico, I believe our bodies know what to feed us if we simply listen to it. 

To be continued...

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