Tuesday, October 13, 2009

So What Are You Doing? Part 2 (Diet)

Not only do I have a health care crisis, my country has a health care crisis too. And maybe your country does as well?

Canada now imports 80 per cent of its fruits and vegetables and cannot even supply the servings recommended by its own Food Guide.

So our homegrown food supply – and the Canadian diet – is beginning to look a lot like a Lindsay's breakfast, packed with meat, dairy and grains, and nearly devoid of fruits and vegetables.

As an article on the front page of yesterday's Toronto Star points out, "Two-thirds of health-care costs can now be attributed to chronic diseases associated with unhealthy eating, according to a study released this year by the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute (CAPI), "Building Convergence." The numbers are staggering: $32 billion a year for cancer and cardiovascular disease; $15.6 billion annually for diabetes by 2010.

"Dr. Jean-Pierre Després, director of research in cardiology at Laval University's Heart and Lung Institute in Quebec City, and the first international multidisciplinary chair on cardiometabolic risk is blunt about the cause – toxic foods and our sedentary lifestyle.

"Disturbingly, those toxic foods are everyday edibles that reach our plates in part because Canada has no national food policy, no national strategy to ensure its food system actually delivers nutritious food.

"Health Canada dutifully publishes the Canada's Food Guide, but, bizarrely, healthy food plays an insignificant role in health-care treatment, according to Després."

Not only is there a strong correlation between low fruit and vegetable consumption and obesity, but simply eating those recommended servings could also decrease cancers by at least 20 per cent, according to a recent study by the World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute of Cancer Research.

As Dr. Servan-Schreiber points out in his book "Anti-Cancer, A New Way Of Life", "...the risk of breast cancer in premenopausal women is twice as big in whose who eat red meat more than once a day....The risk of colon cancer is twice as high for people who eat large quantities of meat as for those who consume fewer than 20 grams (about and ounce) a day.

"The risk stems, in part, from the fact that big meat eaters consume a lot less anticancer food, almost all of which consists of vegetables."

As part of my MEDS (Meditation, Exercise, Diet and Stress reduction) Program, Linda and I have switched to a vegetarian diet, low in sugar and salt and high in mushrooms and garlic. We have been following this diet for about three weeks now, and so far, avoiding meat has been relatively easy. I wasn't tempted by the Turkey at Sunday's Thanksgiving Dinner, for example. The numerous vegetable dishes were more than enough to make a feast.

I've been amazed to discover how many people I know are vegetarians. If any of you are and have vegetarian recipes you enjoy, feel free to leave them in the comments section below. When necessary, I'm using the sweetener Dr. Servan-Schreiber recommends, Agave nectar.

Add to that three cups of green tea a day a handful of unsalted cashews and almonds for a snack in the morning and fresh seasonal fruit in the evening (mostly peaches and plums this time of year).

And four ounces of organic red wine with dinner.

Eating out at restaurants can be a bit of a challenge. Where vegetarian choices are available they are mostly pasta dishes, which is fine, but some more variety would be nice guys!!

'Cause now I'm eating fruits and vegetables and nuts and leaving Lindsay's breakfast for her to eat.