April 16, 2012

My Father's Diet: Lifestyle Change

Little did we realize that the crazy Thanksgiving dinner would be just the beginning. Have you ever heard of Dr. Udo Erasmus? Me neither...until my father came home and went through the fridge and threw out all of the margarine. Udo asserts in his book Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill that contrary to the media reports not all fat is bad. Some of it is good. In fact, our bodies need fat to rebuild cell walls. Unfortunately, bad fats are the most common fats in our diet. Some of them used to be good fats that were processed and lost their nutritional value. Others were chemically extracted, which makes a cheap fat that would have a long shelf life. Udo's main idea revolves around eating the good fats and leaving the bad fats behind.

Not only did my father throw out all of the margarine in the house, but he also got rid of my mom's Imo (imitation sour cream) and shortening. It is important to understand that for my frugal father whose childhood began with food rationing during World War II, this act was a big deal. He was literally throwing away good food. However, the good in this good food only refers to its shelf life.

As a child, I used to like to hear about my dad being a boy, too. In the early 1940's, my grandmother would take him shopping and put him in the cart with the groceries. To keep his hands busy she would buy oleo margarine (butter was rationed). At that time it was against the law to sell it in a form that looked like butter, so it came in a plastic pouch with a bit of yellow food dye in it. My father would squish that coloring around until the oleo turned a uniform yellow color. Young Bridget thought it would be cool to squish around margarine. Mother of six Bridget thinks it's wild that there was ever a time when it was illegal for food companies to pass off their imitations as the real deal.

I used to think it would be more expensive to buy real foods than their imitation counterparts. But this isn't really the case. A shift in product usage also occurs. If you make half as many batches of cookies because butter is twice as expensive than margarine, then your food budget doesn't increase. However, considering all of the chocolate chips that you aren't buying, you're actually saving money when you buy butter over margarine. I haven't purchased margarine or shortening in twenty years and no canola, corn, soybean oils in ten. Though I spend more on good fats than I used to, I also spend less on food since I'm also making a lot of meals from scratch.

If you think about it, corn isn't oily. So where does corn oil come from? It can be 100% expeller pressed...but that costs a lot and has a very little yield. So to make it economically viable, they refine it by chemically extract the oil out of it (extraction done with hexane, a significant constituent of gasoline - bleh). Then they remove the phospholipids (nutrients), bleach it, winterize it (sounds like what we do to our pipes each year) and finally deodorizing it. I don't know about you, but that sounds like any health benefit that corn oil did have is long gone by the time the refiners are done with it.

Canola and soybean oils are derived from chemical extraction (hexane), as well. There is something fundamentally wrong with creating oil for human consumption in a laboratory. If a cooking oil has to be chemically extracted and refined to become palatable, it seems like a toxin in disguise.

So what do I use to cook with? I started out using just olive oil and butter. Just last year, I added coconut oil to that mix. My father also uses bacon fat. I don't really eat bacon very often, but have used it, too.

Whenever I make a diet change, it's small and doable and it's pretty permanent. Think lifestyle change. I'm never even tempted to buy a cheap oil anymore. I am way more concerned with health than saving a few dollars on chemically extracted vegetable oils. That said, I don't stress about eating the oils in restaurants, at potlucks or at a friend's house. I'm more concerned with the fats I put into my diet on a daily basis at home. That way my body is healthy enough to combat the minimal garbage I consume when out and about.

Diet Challenge #1

Step One: Toss any chemically extracted fats in your home. This includes margarine, corn, canola, and soybean oil as well as any others that have been refined. Don't think about what you might be "wasting". Think about the healing powers of better fats.

Step Two: Keep anything natural such as butter or lard (animal products) and olive or coconut oil. Then buy healthy oils that have been minimally processed. That means it should be expeller pressed  (raw materials are squeezed under high pressure in a single step)


Best wishes for a healthier you! This is the second in a nutrition series. Click here for the first part My Father's Diet: Building Awareness.

2 Riveting COMMENTS:

  1. Awesome post, Bridgy! I'm kinda bummed that I just bought another container of canola oil (wanted something w/ a neutral flavor). What have you heard about grapeseed oil? I guess I could just google it, but mebbe you can weigh in.

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  2. I got a bottle (gallon?) of grapeseed oil once when I saw it at Costco. The marketing on the packaging looked good to me. Maybe a year or two later I saw something (online?) that said it had a high Omega 6: Omega 3 ratio. I just googled "grapeseed oil sucks" and couldn't find anything that gave any helpful info (anti) about it. Apparently, it has some skin use benefits. The wikipedia article doesn't say how it's extracted.

    From Udo's book: "Grape see oil is similar to corn oil, and has no special advantages over other oils. It is rich in w6s and contains no w3s. We'd have to eat a lot of grapes to collect enough seeds to press a teaspoon of oil, but if we buy seeded instead of seedless grapes and crunch up the nutritious seeds instead of throwing them away, our digestive system will extract thier unrefined w6 oil without destroying it's quality or losing the vitamins and minerals they also contain. Grape seeds are used for pressing oil because as waste products in wine and juice operations, they are cheap starting material."

    That's interesting to me...we basically only have grape seed oil as a byproduct of wine and juice making.

    Another thought: if your olive oil has too strong of a flavor it might be rancid. You have to use it right away. We use a 1.5 or 2 liter bottle of olive oil every couple of months. If you don't use that much, buy smaller bottles. I found this helpful link on how to tell if your olive oil is rancid. http://www.oliveoiltimes.com/olive-oil-basics/good-olive-oils-gone-bad/8900

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