I am back, with a large a healthy Baby Godzilla to show for my time away. Now trying to review a book that I read all the way back in September… but here goes.
Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family by Ellyn Satter This is a companion book to Child of Mine, reviewed earlier. This time, though, the focus is on the whole family, starting with adults. Satter defines a family as anyone old enough to be feeding themselves, and begins with what she considers healthy eating habits for adults. She’s starting from the assumption that many adults don’t take time to feed themselves properly and includes a progression towards a positive relationship with food. Current society has a food culture often focused on the negative, and Satter believes that eating should be one of life’s greatest joys. So, start with set mealtimes and concentrating on enjoying your food – no eating while driving or watching TV or even (gulp!) reading. If you’re living with a family, make sure you’re eating together, even if it’s microwave dinners or chips and soda. Once you’re really noticing your food, you might get bored with junk food, so she includes a large recipe section including three-week menu plans. The recipes start with tuna noodle casserole mostly out of cans and progress towards beef stew – nothing really time-consuming to cook, but designed to ease people into cooking. Every week’s menu includes both two-night dishes that use differently food made earlier in the week as well as some vegetarian meals and a variety of meats. For everyone, kids and adults, put out good food and eat until you’re done, whether that’s more or less than you think you “should” be eating. She wants you to focus on your enjoyment and what your body tells you it needs, even if you then end up with a figure slightly larger than the current highly restrictive guidelines suggest.
Detailed appendices go over the research supporting her conclusions, once again highlighting the very tenuous studies upon which the most highly publicized nutritional advice is based – there is very little evidence to support low-fat diets, or to link cholesterol consumption conclusively heart disease. She’s a moderate, she says and the country has been taken over by radicals. She is certainly much more moderate than Sally Fallon of Nourishing Traditions. Where Fallon wants every family to have a stay-at-home parent spending hours in the kitchen cooking only fresh organic food in slow, traditional ways, Satter says that if canned vegetables are all you can afford or have time for, they’re much better than none and you should eat them without guilt. Similarly, both Fallon and Satter point out the dangers of phytates (a form of fiber), which interferes with mineral absorption. Fallon believes that we should all be making our own long-soaked sourdough starter wholegrain bread to deal with this. Satter suggests eating about half whole grain and half white, to provide a balance of fiber and easy nutrient digestion. This is practical and approachable advice, good for anyone who wants a positive relationship with food for themselves or their children.