Thursday, November 10, 2011

Feel Good Foods or We Are What We Eat?

I can’t describe just how much I love food.  I think I can safely say that we all have our “feel good” meals or what some refer to as comfort foods.   Meatloaf with scalloped potatoes?  Clam Chowder? Chicken and dumplings?  Ham hocks and Greens?
I love all food. I suppose you could call me a foody.  There’s only a couple of things that just aren’t on my love it list. Cactus, I tried it once and the taste wouldn’t leave for days.  Anchovies straight up,  way toooooo salty and fishy for me, and I love seafood.   I do confess, my number one favorite is Italian food.  Not the stuff you find here in the States, though I’ve had some that came close to actual Italian.
I love the simple way of cooking in Italy and the fresh ingredients that are used.  Nothing had me so ecstatic as walking through the open air markets.   The smells, I sure wish we had smell o vision just to relive it, were wonderful.  Cheeses, smoked and hanging on racks. Olives, I never thought I’d fall more in love with olives until I tasted them in Italy. I haven’t found the same here yet and believe me I’ve hunted every olive bar in every store I’ve shopped in.
Then you come to the fish, oh my, fish heaven,  Salted in bins, fresh on ice.  Clams, muscles and squids waiting to hit your pot.  The vendors would take insult if you didn’t try their wares before buying it.
A side note here, if you really want to learn about the country you are visiting, go where the locals go, shop where they shop and eat where they eat.
The reason I’m discussing “feel good foods” is because we really don’t put much thought into what we eat or even why we are eating it.  I have inflammation problems in my joints and sometimes the pain of it can be unbearable.  I began to notice that I had certain cravings depending on how I was feeling that day.  Some days when I’m feeling tired and run down I will want nothing but fruit.
Bad headache days I crave carbs like breads and pastas.  Days that I feel like I’m coming down with something, you know, that achey icky all over feeling, I want chicken soup (has to be homemade).   When my joints and muscles are flaring in pain, I crave fish and cheeses.  There have been some unexplained cravings too. Mustard, can’t seem to lather enough on a sandwich some days.  Then it could be cinnamon one day, I add it to my oatmeal, on my toast and even in my coffee through out the day.  Oh, and what’s up with my salad days, breakfast lunch and dinner.
This brings me back to my love of Italian food. I was looking into what foods are good for inflammation and the number one was Mediterranean foods.  I found a really great site for recipes at ‘Mediterranean Food’   lots to find and try.  I must be having inflammatory issues on a pretty regular basis if I listen to my cravings.
Maybe it’s time we all re-think the how and what we eat?  Are we ignoring our ancient instincts that play a role in our survival?  Apparently someone has already asked that question.  In a 2003 article in the New York times by Bruce Grierson,  it’s discussed that in the future we will be going to the doctor get a blood test and have our nutritional panel determined based on our DNA.  Full Article Here
 Ignoring natural inclinations of what to eat in some cultures has caused major health damage. One example is on the Navajo reservation and possibly other native american cultures, diabetes is a number one health issue and in higher percentages then the surrounding cultures.
In Japan, obesity is becoming more and more common as they are introduced to the addictive western foods.  Many other cultures have developed major health issues when they are no longer eating their native foods.
So, next time you pick up that bagel with cream cheese on it, think about what is it that your body is asking for.  
 Happy and healthy eating my friends,