As a postbac premed student, I spend a great deal of time thinking about the kind of medicine I’d one day like to practice. Nutrition and Alternative Medicine are what originally drew me to make a change in my career path, but I’ve quickly realized the challenges faced by those interested in studying the less popular science of Integrative Medicine (a combination of conventional and alternative techniques).
Reading stories like this one, from the NYTimes, reminds me of where I’d like to focus my education. It should be no surprise that a change in diet may be more effective than drugs; after all, we literally are what we eat and what we put into our bodies directly affects our health. Hippocrates said it long ago: “Let food be thy medicine.” When did this sentiment become a thought of a past?
In this article, a 3 year old boy is diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, and he’s prescribed a drug sometimes used for chemotherapy by a top NYC doctor (a doctor in the same hospital where I intern). The drug has some serious side effects and is not a cure - the boy would have needed to take the drug for the rest of his life. When the boy’s mom suggests alternative medicine and the possibility of treating him via a gluten/diary-free diet and with probiotics, the doctor scoffs. The mother is made to feel embarrassed.
I do not fault this doctor for prescribing a medication that she has likely seen work effectively in dozens of her patients. It does bother me though, that a doctor would not only not be open to alternative treatments, but that they are not even knowledgeable about these methods. Shouldn’t a doctor specializing in one specific category of disease be aware of both the pharmacological and natural treatment plans?
Unfortunately, it is the drug companies who rule our health care system, and grant money to study alternative methods is teeny tiny. I hope this will not be a deterrence for me or others interested in following an unpopular path in medicine, as an alternate route may become all the more necessary in this age of quick-fixes and little blue pills.
Thanks to Lauren I ate things other than coffee and boxed mac and cheese for dinner! This recipe came from the Times, but we left out the added sugar… tomatoes are sweet enough already. Also, we forgot the parmesan and then tried to buy it from 3 different delis.. major fail.
We are now watching the Grammy Awards while a full on Whitney Houston tribute plays out in the street in front of our apartment. It’s a great night for learning all the music the “kids” are listening to. [Did you know Bruno Mars is a singer and NOT tv show?]
I’ve never thought to cook with anchovies before because I never think about anchovies. This is because:
I can remember my grandmother eating anchovies in her kitchen, directly from the can. I’m sure I’ve eaten anchovies before, in sauces or as an ingredient in a dish at a restaurant, but I couldn’t have told you what they tasted like.
So oddly enough, when I saw this recipe in the New York Times for pasta with anchovies, I knew I had to make it. It just sounded so delicious, and DIFFERENT. I’m sick of everything, lately. So began my anchovy experiment….
Midnight Pasta (via the NYTimes)
I added some grated parmesan on top. I also completely forgot the parsley and didn’t realize until I was putting the leftovers in the fridge. I’ll put some on when I eat the rest tomorrow night.
The verdict: I’d call this a great “beginners anchovy dish.” The flavor is subtle, but you can taste them just enough. I felt like I made something fancy with just a few ingredients and in 20 minutes flat. Tonight anchovies made my dinner exciting!
If you have an hour to spare and you’re interested in nutrition controversies, dieting, or the Atkins diet in general, this NYTimes article is a dense, yet fascinating read.
Disclaimer: I have MANY opinions on Dr. Atkins and it’s taken me awhile to figure out where to go with this. Also, I am NOT a registered dietician. All my opinions are based on my own research and experiences. But if you have an interest… continue on below!
I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again. I was lucky to grow up living with a mother who was very educated in nutrition and who was always concerned with what food I was putting into my body. I can remember reading her subscriptions to Nutrition Action magazine and the many articles she’d cut out from newspapers and magazines on the subject. We ate a diet heavy in fruits and vegetables, light in meat and dairy (other than milk and yogurt), and without any red meat at all. I would call it a well-rounded, yet low-fat diet.
My mom (and now me as well) has always been decidedly against fad dieting, restrictive dieting, and gimicky weight-loss products. She was not a fan of the Atkins diet at all, because it meant eating as much fatty animal products as you wanted and cutting out even healthy carbohydrates. This seemed completely insane!
In college, during the time when students are suddenly gaining weight because they have been placed in an entirely new eating environment, my friends often asked me how I managed to stay at the same weight all the time. I watched them do the South Beach diet, Special K diet, SlimFast diet, Lean Cuisine diet, and the Atkins diet and every time they would either lose zero weight or lose a bunch of weight but gain back twice as much. It was a terrible thing to watch.
The Atkins diet specifically bugged me because it would allow people to eat the foods that had always been labeled as incredibly harmful to your heart and health in general. Reading this article made my brain do flips and it blew up many of my preconceived opinions of Dr. Atkins. According to this article, it might be possible to “eat lard straight from the can and conceivably reduce your risk of heart disease” instead of eating carbohydrates. Excuse me?
That crazy quote aside, the article does begin to make sense. Fat and protein keeps you sated and carbs make your insulin level jump around, causing hunger. Okay, I know that. Just because something is fat-free doesn’t make it healthy, ie soda, fat-free cookies, etc. Yes, I’m aware of that as well. I think this is when I had a revelation.
Americans tend to take any nutrition news and take it to the EXTREME. No carb diet makes you lose weight? Great! Cheeseburgers wrapped in lettuce ALL THE TIME. These Baked Lays are fat-free? I’ll take the family size, please. And I think this is my inherent problem with the Atkins diet. It is another “solution” that does not teach proper, sustainable nutrition. It is a diet that is completely out of balance. Our bodies definitely do need carbohydrates as fuel for our muscles and brain. Also, the creation of fad diets, Atkins included, spurs the food industry to create horrifying products like “carb-free bread” and creepy sugar-free products made with god knows what ingredients.
What am I trying to say? I still disagree with the Atkins diet. That said, it does seem like Dr. Atkins was way ahead of his time and was completely ignored by scientists and public health officials, and that this oversight may have lead to some SERIOUS health complications in America. If this turns out to be true, that is a terrible thing, but I don’t think this was caused only by the scientists and dieticians who disagreed. It was also caused by American media and food conglomerates who try to capitalize on breaking nutrition news as fast and furiously as they can. And we know they don’t give a damn about our nation’s health.
All in all, I learned a few things. And I’m not going to lie. I do feel a little better about the amount of cheese I consume. But that doesn’t mean I’m diving face first into a wedge of brie tonight.
What I Made: Spaghetti with Edamame, Parsley and Olive Oil
I found an amazing recipe tonight! This was the most delicious pasta with the least amount of work. Ingredients: whole wheat spaghetti, parsley, edamame, garlic, oil, parmesean. I had everything except for the parsley already!
Amazing. Easy. Healthy. Delicious.
AND and and and and…. I’m doing a test run of my Thanksgiving blondies… and the apartment smells amazing. Best cooking night ever?
That’s a lot of chickens in one cage.
This NYTimes article checks out what egg farmers are doing to prevent another salmonella catastrophe from happening. Prevention methods include vaccinating chicks, conveyor belts to move manure, fans to dry out manure, and concrete walls to keep out mice. However, it seems like the farmers interviewed for this article are not concerned much with animal welfare, as seen in the photo above. There have been countless studies which prove that animals kept in close quarters are breeding grounds for diseases, not to mention they’re unpleasant for the animals.
The alternative is organic, family-owned farms, which allow chickens to roam freely, consume diets that nature intended, and grow at a biologically normal pace. Of course, this makes for a pricey egg, but I bet those medical bills for salmonella aren’t cheap either.
“SABRINA” (1954), paired with a gin or vodka martini, chilled, straight up, with olives.
This is a shiny, polished-looking film with a hugely flawed plot. It seems impossible that the sagging and aged Humphrey Bogart could ever woo the birdlike and very young Audrey Hepburn. But the whole thing looks so great, and liquor is so crucial to the plot, that drinks are certainly in order.
My favorite romance film. An excellent drink. How dare they call the plot flawed!
Accent theme by Handsome Code
Michelle is a: Postbac premed student, former documentary producer, vegetarian, runner, & food-lover.
My life revolves around food. Cooking food, eating food, discussing the politics of food. We’re surrounded by so many false advertisements and misconceptions about nutrition, its difficult to know where the truth lies. This blog is where I share my food choices, recipes, and outlook on healthy-living (and some quips about my path towards becoming a doctor).