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Trial and Error Or Becoming a Flexitarian

Into the fourth week of my healthier eating plan and I have been doing a lot of reading about gluten, dairy, soy and meat.  There is a great deal of contradictory studies and hypothesis regarding all of these hot button food items.   So who to believe and what to eat?!  These are some of the choices I have made for my diet through trial and error and what works for me.

Common sense dictates that eating a lot of red meat is NOT good for you.  First off, it takes a long time for your body to digest and process any meat, so serving size is important.  No bigger than a deck of playing cards.  Secondly, eating meat has been scientifically proven to increase the acidity in our body and it can cause inflammation which is problematic for almost anyone.  That being said, tofu is nothing like braised short ribs! Sorry, did I just yell?  I will always be a meat eater but now I eat meat less frequently.  As an accent to my meal instead of the main event.

That brings me to soy.  Seems a lot of smart people are on the soy bandwagon.  Dr. Andrew Weil, who I read regularly and respect, encourages people to introduce more soy protein into their diets and cut back on red meat.  Except I have an almost instant reaction to soy in the form of a running nose...should tell me something.  There are also a number of studies and reports warning against consuming soy, especially processed soy products like soy cheese and soy milk, whereas naturally fermented soy items like tempeh have been nourishing people for centuries.  Quite frankly, I don't think I would enjoy cooking as much if I didn't use soy sauce.

What about gluten?  About 4 years ago I made a conscious decision to cut back on the amount of gluten I consumed.  I immediately noticed an increase in my energy level and an improvement in my seasonal allergies.  I still indulge in great bread, pizza, pasta and baked goods, but the key word is indulge.  I eat them occasionally and as more of a treat.  This seems to work for me.

This brings me to dairy.  I have had problems with allergies for about 15 years.  I have gradually cut back on my consumption of all dairy because of the mucous producing effects and have had great success in lessening my allergic reactions.  And lattes don't cut it for me.  I LOVE cheese in all its forms and have a great affection for good yogurt.  Back to consuming dairy as a treat to have in moderation.

With all of the choices I have made regarding my diet I would now be called a "flexitarian".  Wickipedia defines this as "a semi-vegetarian" or "someone who occasionally eats meat".  Funny, my grandparents were farmers in Saskatchewan and this is how they ate.  As one of my favourite food writers, Michael Pollan says "Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food."  Good advice.



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