The Vitamin War
One more time: Get your vitamins the old-fashioned way—from real food. Many have been sidetracked by the convenience of synthetic vitamins in pill form and an industry—particularly strong in Utah—arose to advertise and sell such supplements. But there was never any evidence that this was a good idea. We’ve been saying that for three years in this blog—here, here, and here.
Now an L. A. Times article notes three new studies from the prestigious Annals of Internal Medicine that basically say the $28 billion Americans spend on vitamin pills is money wasted.
There are exceptions worthy of note, which may be recommended by your doctor, including these:
- Older people may be deficient in vitamin B-12—especially vegans as B-12 is found in animal products—a difficult to diagnose condition with serious consequences.
- Neurotube birth defects (NTDs) like spina bifida are reduced with folate pills if you don’t get sufficient dietary folic acid.
- Vitamin D pills can help people in northern climes with insufficient winter sunshine.
Other examples of proven benefit exist for certain medical conditions. So there is a place for pills when prescribed by an informed doctor. Still, the starting point is to eat a varied whole foods diet and avoid highly processed factory foods.
Of our 13 rotating themes, the 4th is meals. This is what we’ve said so far:
- Healthy Change #4—Breakfast: Your morning meal must contain more fiber than sugar. Generally speaking, natural fiber is good for you, added sugar is bad. This rule eliminates 95% of the grocery store cereal aisle.
- Healthy Change #17—Dinner: Eat as a family. The logic here is you won’t go to the work of cooking a healthy meal for a family of grazers and snackers. But there are other important benefits for the family that dines together.
- Healthy Change #30—Lunch: If you eat away from home, bring healthy whole foods. For the average working guy, lunch can be the unhealthiest meal. There’s likely a better way to write this rule so feel free to suggest.
We address snacks twice because they’re the least healthy part of your diet. Healthy Change #8 said: Enjoy a healthy mix of snacks by making a daily snack plate. The idea behind the snack plate was to stop impulsive eating. Our own experience is that this is a hard rule to keep, but well worth the effort. If you get out of the habit, start anew.
It’s crazy when you consider the purpose of the season, but America’s worst eating strikes us in the Holy-days (the period between Thanksgiving and New Years). A lot of candy is gifted in these happy days. The Beautiful Wife makes a Danish pastry with slivered almonds that’s prized by her children; it’s sweet but we only eat it once a year, or so.
So this is a good time to rethink your snacking. My best suggestion is to give any candy you receive away. In this case, it’s definitely better to give than to receive. Here are some ideas for healthy Holiday snacks:
- Oranges: The Holidays mark the arrival of Navel oranges (and the last of the juicy Valencias). The Cutie oranges are tasty and easy to peel.
- Nuts: It’s the best season for fresh nuts. We buy walnuts from a northern California grower, shell them by hand, and give them as Christmas favors. This is also a good time to set out unshelled nuts with a nutcracker. Nuts taste good without sugar and are a good source of minerals (read more here). Brazil nuts contain selenium, an essential mineral that may be protective against prostate cancer.
- Pears: There is less fruit to choose from during the Holidays, but there are several varieties of winter pears, like Anjou and Bosc. Perhaps some readers can share their pear recipes.
- Healthier cookies: Do you like the traditional sugar cookies covered with frosting? For your own good, try Skip’s Oatmeal Cookies. They have half the sugar and use fresh whole wheat, walnuts, and chocolate.
- Herbal Tea: I’ve never been a herbal tea fan, it didn’t seem, well, manly. But the Beautiful Wife got me to try TJ’s Harvest Blend and I now have a cup in the evening when I’m tempted to eat something sweet. It’s relaxing too.
Healthy Change #43: Regift all that Holiday candy left on your doorstep and enjoy your favorite healthy winter snacks.
Please comment: Share your favorite winter snacks, especially healthy Holiday treats.