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Centipedes & a Good Diet Plan

What do these two things have in common?  I'm going to tell you.   One of my favorite poems as a small child was the following ditty:

A centipede was happy quite,
Until a frog in fun
Said, "Pray, which leg comes after which?"
This raised her mind to such a pitch,
She lay distracted in the ditch,
Considering how to run.

This is about the state of diet advice in recent years.  Much more is known about the nutritional needs of chickens, cows, horses and even zoo animals than is known for sure about human beings.

The famous "food pyramid" has changed shape more often than Cheop's tomb once erosion set in.  Your doctor tells you one thing, a specialist another, your nutritionist or dietitian disagrees, the media publishes some other advice, and about the time you think you know what you are doing, here comes another idea or three.  And a good share of the diet advice and plans out there exist to make money for their promoters, not make you healthier. 

The truth is, something is going to get you in the end.  And not everyone's nutritional needs are the same.  

If people spent even half the time, energy, mental anguish and money now dedicated to image, hair or lack of it, shape, larger parts (or smaller ones) and losing weight, to solving the more serious problems of war, famine, spread of disease, contamination of edibles (including hormones, pesticides and antibiotics pumped into the food chain), the fouling of our waters and degradation of the air we breathe, we'd all have a better chance to live healthier, happier and longer.

And if everyone just quit eating and drinking junk food and high calorie treats, and exercised a little more, a good share of these problems would be resolved.  But as far as individual diets, I believe there's no "one size fits all" solution.

Often I link to radical points of view.  Why?  Today's radical is sometimes tomorrow's miracle.  For instance:  theo.jpg (64062 bytes)My Uncle Theo Tupper was living with us in Sarasota.  He was in his mid-seventies, slightly overweight, prone to pneumonia and pre-cancerous skin lesions, had prostate problems, but otherwise seemed healthy.  He had a small construction business and built fine, sound homes which were a source of pride.  To make sure they were built right, he was on the job daily with his men, and when something wasn't being done correctly by some employee or sub-contractor, he laid hands on whatever and saw that it was fixed.   

In Florida's heat, this increasingly meant that at a little past lunchtime, he'd stagger in and collapse, his color distinctly unhealthy.   Finally he was sent to a specialist for a thorough going over.

A few days later Uncle Theo's doctor called my mother.  The doctor knew that Uncle Theo was an extremely nervous person, with a phobia about death.  He didn't want Uncle Theo to drop dead in his office when he gave him the bad news, so he asked my mother to come in.  He informed her that it would be good for Uncle Theo to get his affairs in order, as he had just months to live.  High blood pressure, beginning heart failure, arteriosclerosis, danger of a stroke, you name it.  And he had to stop work immediately and rest.

He didn't count on Uncle Theo's persistence.  He sensed something was wrong and nagged Mother until little by little he got the truth out of her.  He decided he couldn't accept the diagnosis.   After doing some research, he subscribed to Prevention magazine and found a naturopathic gerontologist.  This doctor, who was so far out of the mainstream as to be considered a total quack at that time, prescribed vitamins, minerals, fresh vegetable juices, papaya, lecithin granules, salads, bran, seeds, sesame oil, and I don't even remember what all.  Little by little Uncle Theo began to lose weight.  Soon he had to buy new underwear as they kept falling off, and have his trousers taken in.  His shoes got loose (he hadn't even realized his feet were swollen) and he went down a whole size.   Even his hat, which he wore to ward off skin cancer, went down a half size.  Uncle Theo wore those crinkly nylon boxer shorts that were so popular in the fifties, and made the whole family cringe in embarrassment when company came and he brought out for comparison an old and a new underwear, to brag about his weight loss.  All this didn't happen overnight, of course, nor without dedication on Uncle Theo's part.  

Meanwhile medical doctors were quick to criticize the viewpoint of such doctors, "health food" stores and Prevention magazine.  (A bit of grisly humor - Rodale who started and administered Prevention and promoted healthy eating and lifestyle for longevity, was on a cultural exchange trip in Russia and dropped dead of a heart attack!). 

The medical community and legislators also managed a few years later to put new Naturopaths out of business (old ones were grandfathered in - and by the way, all three of my children were delivered by Naturopaths, the last two with hubby present.  I came home within hours, was up around cooking, etc. within 24 hours.  This was when women stayed in the hospital for up to ten days, husbands were out of the loop and pregnancy was considered an illness.).

Bottom line:  Uncle Theo continued his business actively for another five years.  Then he retired and took up lawn bowling, traveling and going to baseball games. Some years later, after he exulted that his favorite team had won the game the family had watched on TV, he went to bed a happy man and never woke up.

Here's what reminded me of this.   For the past year I've sometimes linked to Dr. Mercola, who has some VERY radical views.   Some of the issues he promotes are now appearing in other publications or being shown as promising by researchers.  Which just goes to show!

The Sneaky Kitchen
Web Site by Bess W. Metcalf   Copyrightę April 1999 - 201

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