The project for the past couple of weeks has been nutrition and cooking. A few weeks ago I went in for a physical, and I brought up the subject of my cholesterol, which regularly comes back high in my bloodwork. My doctor gave me his latest general diet recommendation, which is a low-carb diet. I was kind of surprised when he listed some examples–Atkins and the Paleo diet stood out to me–because I considered these to be fad diets, and I’d always been skeptical of such things. But I like my doctor, and I’d been wanting some kind of change in my diet since at least the beginning of the year, so I put myself on it immediately.
It lasted two days until I ran across T. Collin Campbell’s The Low-Carb Fraud and my skepticism returned. The book was short, so I read the whole thing that day. It reminded me that like many important issues, nutrition is complex and controversial, and it wasn’t something I was going to resolve in a few days.
So instead of drastically changing my lifestyle on shaky premises, I decided to make some less disputable changes that were more modest: I’d limit my consumption of sugar and bad fats, which I learned were saturated and trans fat. I’ve also tacked sodium onto the list, but I’m less concerned about that.
Although I ended up deciding against a low-carb diet for the time being, even seriously considering it was enough to shock me out of my complacency and fling nutrition to the top of my project list, especially since it involves controversy, which usually piques my interest.
The diet I settled on was a whole food, plant-heavy diet along the lines of Michael Pollan’s work, another favorite of my doctor’s. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Mark Bittman has hoisted the same banner and has come out with the Food Matters Cookbook. I have his How to Cook Everything, and for the most part I like his style and approach to cooking. He’s down to earth, inviting, and instructive, and he tries to keep things simple. So I was glad he’s on Team Pollan. I’m not sure what else to call it yet.
My main goal at this point is to see if this diet will reduce my LDL. I’ll have another blood test in a few weeks to see where things are.
I’ve had many thoughts about cooking and nutrition during this experiment, but this much has taken me long enough to write, so I’ll end it there for now.