Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Book Review: The Gluten Lie and Other Myths About What You Eat

 We live in a hip, fast-paced world where Smartphones are as common as apple pie.  Thanks to medical breakthroughs, hearts can be transplanted, body fat can be zapped by high-frequency sound waves, and wrinkles can be erased by the botulism toxin. We're so swift and smart, our urban legends don't take decades to form--they happen immediately on Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube.
But did you know that our contemporary ideas about nutrition are steeped in ancient myths and superstition?

 "In ground-breaking work, author Alan Levinovitz peels back the old wives' tales and shows that it's "not what we eat but how we eat it." 

Maybe it's time to put down our Splenda packets and reach for a heaping spoonful of moderation and a pinch of food history. According to the book, our current nutritional knowledge is based on ideas that began two thousand years ago. In China, the Daoist monks believed that grains "rotted and befouled" the human body, and if people eliminated gluten, they would live long, healthy lives. Actually, the monks went further. Those who avoided grains would enjoy "eternal youth and immortality." They would also develop a few magical skills, such as "the ability to fly and teleport." The fear of fat can be traced back to ancient Greece, when patients were advised to eat wild beasts--lean animal meat would, supposedly, keep a human lean. 18th century physicians believed that sugar was "a gateway drug to alcoholism" and promiscuity. 

These food fables make as much sense as a love charm: if you sprinkle hot foot powder in the shoes of an unfaithful man, supposedly you will change his moral fiber. Or maybe the cad will just change his shoes. 

Even today, you can't pick up a magazine that doesn't warn against the dangers of sugar, coffee, gluten, butter, and salt. Other articles say the opposite. It's enough to make a girl's head spin. I have a B. S. in Nursing, and despite my training, I have been seduced by quick weight-loss diets: bananas, cabbage, gluten-free, grapefruit and boiled eggs. I spent seven years on the Atkins Diet, which was a great sacrifice for a Southern woman like myself. I come from a long line of women who have sweet tea in their blood. We like crumbled cornbread in our milk, chocolate pralines during difficult moments, and Louisiana cane syrup on our pancakes. The best move I ever made was to start eating carbs. I remember the day it happened. I'd just finished a book tour in North Carolina.  I was a size 6, but my soul had shriveled, too, desperate for comfort food. (On a cold evening, a bowl of red beans and rice is like wrapping up in a wool sweater. Bread pudding is the food equivalent of a tartan blanket.) I remember sitting in a hotel restaurant, picking at a baked chicken breast. The waitress set down a dessert menu, and without hesitation I ordered a slice of pie--a coconut cream pie with five inches of meringue.
Best. Decision. Ever.

Eating in moderation never goes out of style, but it requires motivation and discipline. Isn't it easier to put your hope in the magical virtues of, say, raspberry ketone pills than to skip a second piece of chocolate-covered cheesecake? Wouldn't it be a snap to get your physician to prescribe the drug Orlistat? Then you can eat all the fat you want (just don't leave the house without a Depends).
I believe that non-medical diets are personal journeys--whatever works is a good thing. I wouldn't tell someone how to select draperies or a china pattern; I certainly wouldn't advise about weight-loss or any kind of diet. I will always sit in my little corner, happy to eat cake (one slice). But the scientific part of my brain will always be an empty cup, never satisfied until I know the facts--in this case, food facts.

An excerpt from The Gluten Lie:
"What we've been told: Going gluten-free will strengthen your brain and shrink your waistline.
The truth: Yes, gluten-free eating is the only effective treatment for celiac disease. But turning the cure for celiac into a miracle diet is silly--and it has happened before. In the early 1900s, doctors treated celiac disease with bananas and skim milk. Soon, the world was swept by "the banana diet," lured by the promise of quick weight loss. At the same time, weary parents fed their babies bananas to help them sleep through the night. 

"The myth of panaceas--cures that work for everything--has always been powerful, and it has always been false.We've been told that eating fat will make you fat. It's true that fat has calories, and if you consume too many calories, you'll gain weight."

"The truth is that no dietary demons have been proven to make us fat and stupid--but there's a long history of snake-oil salesmen that claim they do."

"The Gluten Lie will help you put the bun back on your burger, stop giving in to the latest diet fad, and live a happier, healthier, more delicious life."

Praise for The Gluten Lie:
"The book should be essential reading for anyone who contemplates following a restrictive diet and for all health practitioners."
-- Peter Gibson, MD, Director of Gastroenterology, Alfred Hospital

"Levinovitz shows us how to stop being afraid of food. Everyone truly interested in nutrition should read this book and get back to the joy of eating."
-- Philip Zeitler, MD, PhD, Professor of Pediatrics, University of Colorado School of Medicine

"The cure for Dr. Oz-itis. Well researched and incredibly informative."
-- Jen Gunter, MD

Regan Arts
Barnes and Noble
Slate articles

Thanks to Regan Arts for supplying a copy of The Gluten Lie.

Shared at the following blog parties:
The Scoop,  

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Foodie Friday and Everything Else

 Welcome to the Foodie Friday and Everything Else Party. This week, we visited more stone yards, and Bandy found two Arabscato Vagli slabs that had been tucked away in the back of the warehouse.

The Marble Madness is Over

We returned to the stone yard to look at the Arabescato Vagli slabs that Bandwidth had found the other day. This marble had been tucked away in the back of the warehouse, half-hidden by other slabs.   

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Journey of a Cabinet Door

 My kitchen cabinet door has been quite busy. It spent the day traipsing around middle Tennessee stone yards, looking for a marble slab that was at least 125" long--in other words, Mission Impossible. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Renovation Diary: Hardware, Cabinets, and Tile

 Since my counter-tops haven't been chosen, I shouldn't even think about cabinet hardware. But I found a box of polished nickel knobs and pulls that I didn't use on another project. Medana and I tested a few. I just love to get ahead of myself.


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