Archive for the ‘Body & mind’ Category

What’s the Traditional Gift for the Eleventh Anniversary? Oh, That’s Right: Excedrin

11 December 2009

Yesterday was the 11th anniversary of my brain surgery. I celebrated, appropriately enough, by waking up at 4:30 a.m. with a mild but persistent headache that faded in and out but never completely went away for the rest of the day. (I’m pretty sure it was due more to the approaching storm than to the anniversary, though. Over the last few years I’ve been finding that the headaches coincide more and more frequently with big changes in atmospheric pressure.)

When I got up, I took a hot bath. I’m not really sure if that actually does much good or if it just gives me somewhere pleasant and relaxing to lie down while I wait for the headache to pass. Three or four drops of lavender or rosemary in the bath water sometimes seems to help, though.

Unhappy Meals

29 January 2007

Nifty and informative article in yesterday’s New York Times Magazine. A few excerpts:

Once, food was all you could eat, but today there are lots of other edible foodlike substances in the supermarket. These novel products of food science often come in packages festooned with health claims, which brings me to a related rule of thumb: if you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid food products that make health claims. Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a good indication that it’s not really food, and food is what you want to eat.

And:

Within weeks a firestorm, emanating from the red-meat and dairy industries, engulfed the committee, and Senator McGovern (who had a great many cattle ranchers among his South Dakota constituents) was forced to beat a retreat. The committee’s recommendations were hastily rewritten. Plain talk about food — the committee had advised Americans to actually “reduce consumption of meat” — was replaced by artful compromise: “Choose meats, poultry and fish that will reduce saturated-fat intake.”

A subtle change in emphasis, you might say, but a world of difference just the same. First, the stark message to “eat less” of a particular food has been deep-sixed; don’t look for it ever again in any official U.S. dietary pronouncement. Second, notice how distinctions between entities as different as fish and beef and chicken have collapsed; those three venerable foods, each representing an entirely different taxonomic class, are now lumped together as delivery systems for a single nutrient. Notice too how the new language exonerates the foods themselves; now the culprit is an obscure, invisible, tasteless — and politically unconnected — substance that may or may not lurk in them called “saturated fat.” … Henceforth, government dietary guidelines would shun plain talk about whole foods, each of which has its trade association on Capitol Hill, and would instead arrive clothed in scientific euphemism and speaking of nutrients, entities that few Americans really understood but that lack powerful lobbies in Washington.

And:

By comparison, the typical real food has more trouble competing under the rules of nutritionism, if only because something like a banana or an avocado can’t easily change its nutritional stripes (though rest assured the genetic engineers are hard at work on the problem). So far, at least, you can’t put oat bran in a banana. … The fate of each whole food rises and falls with every change in the nutritional weather, while the processed foods are simply reformulated. …

Of course it’s also a lot easier to slap a health claim on a box of sugary cereal than on a potato or carrot, with the perverse result that the most healthful foods in the supermarket sit there quietly in the produce section, silent as stroke victims, while a few aisles over, the Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms are screaming about their newfound whole-grain goodness.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.