Thank Goodness for Gout

“What’s vegan?” Sam asked after he found out he had just devoured a large helping of vegan lasagna.  Lasagna consisting of whole wheat noodles, pasta sauce, cashews, tofu, and a ton of vegetables.

It’s a plant-based diet.  No meat.  No dairy.  No eggs.  A strict vegetarian if you will.

Seriously?  Why the sudden interest in preparing vegan food you ask.

Well, Jim discovered he had a (non-life threatening) diet related disease.  And he was fed up.  He decided to make a change, and this was it.  A vegan diet.

We know it’s serious because he’s the original “it’s not a meal unless there’s meat” man.  He bought a juicer.  He’s making green drinks.  He’s shaking ground flax-seed on just about everything he eats.

So, as the primary architect of dinner (and loving, supportive spouse), I’m pulling out all the stops to prepare surprisingly delicious plant-based meals–like that lasagna among other things.

Polenta pie with cashew cheese and maple glazed brussel sprouts.

Polenta pie with cashew cheese and maple glazed brussel sprouts.

Honestly, Jim is looking good. While he’s rid himself of the instigating medical issue, he’s still determined to lose those last ten pounds.  The troublesome ones that cling on for dear life. But it’s more than his weight.

His eyes and skin look fresher and brighter.  With his doctor’s supervision, he’s hoping to get his blood pressure under control without medication when he reaches his desired weight.

But let’s be perfectly frank here.  Sam and I are not vegans.  Jim is only adopting this as a temporary measure.  Disclaimer: I am not promoting veganism.  It’s been a useful tool for him to learn to live without all that meat he used to consume.  In the process we’re learning about other healthy food choices and exploring a myriad of new vegetable dishes and other protein sources.

It’s not a forever change–completely.  But we believe food is medicine.  The best kind. And the side effects are all good ones.  It’s a wake up call.  A little less meat and dairy and a lot fewer processed foods.  And (tah dah….) a lot more fruits and vegetables.

Good-bye gout.

For a more comprehensive look at all the many types of vegetarian and vegan diets, check out this noteworthy article at MedicineNet.com.

And here’s to Jim!

Ole Sparkle Eyes

3 Ways to Ensure Your Child Doesn’t Have a Drinking Problem

We all probably identify fast food, potato chips, and candy as some of the bad boys contributing to the current obesity epidemic.  But would you believe juice?  Really?

A genuine wolf in sheep’s clothing, juice has a lot in common with another oft consumed beverage, the much maligned soda.  Juice and soda.  Soda and juice.  What could they possibly have in common?

Sugar, that’s what…

Pediatric obesity specialist, Robert Lustig, said in the HBO documentary Weight of the Nation, “There is no difference. When you take fruit and squeeze it, you throw the fiber in the garbage. That was the good part of the fruit. The juice is nature’s way of getting you to eat your fiber.”

Right about now you’re probably shaking your head in disbelief.  We were raised on the stuff.   We believed it to be a nutritious alternative to sugar-sweetened drinks–health in a glass.  Full of vitamins and minerals…  Well, some anyway. Still skeptical?

An 8 ounce glass of either this root beer or this apple juice contains nearly the same amount of sugar–the juice edging the soda by a gram.  That’s almost 8 teaspoons of sugar.  Yikes!

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following:

  • 0-6 months: no juice
  • 6 months-1 year: 1-3 oz
  • 1-6 years: 4-6 oz
  • 6-18 years: 8-12 oz

It’s really easy to drink way more sugar than you think so pay attention to amount.  Calories add up quickly.  Choose 100% fruit juice and beware of “cocktails”, “punches”, and “drinks”. This is a good indicator that sugar has been added to the mix. In other words, read the label!

And 100% or not, try diluting your juice with some plain or carbonated water to make a real thirst quenching drink with less sugar.  Have you heard of the Sodastream?  It makes sparkling/seltzer water in seconds.  It’s going on my Christmas wish list this year.

Answer the following questions to find out if your child has a drinking problem.

Does your child eat a well-balanced diet including fresh fruits and vegetables?

Is your child’s mouth generally free of cavities?

Is your child at a healthy weight?

Hopefully, you answered yes to each question. If so, then just follow the juice guideline recommendations.  If the answers were no, then it might be time to go on the wagon.  Cutting way back or even eliminating juice would be a good idea.

Bottom line. Should you eat an orange or drink it? Given a choice opt for the real deal. A piece of fruit will give you more nutrition and fewer calories. Treat juice as a treat and not as a liquid replacement for water.