Residential Space A creative outlet during residency, turned ongoing virtual soap box

Thoughts on Nutrition  0

Posted on May 2nd, 2006. About Fitness, Ramblings.

I have been thinking a lot lately about overall fitness – not just exercise, but also stretching, strength building, getting enough sleep at night, and particularly, about nutrition. Perhaps this is because I am currently in the midst of Week 3 of 24 of Portland Marathon training (follow my training progress on my running blog). Or perhaps it is because I am a year into my medicine residency and have seen the horrible effects of diabetes and heart disease. The conclusion I have reached is that eating healthily should be easy for 98% of the population.

I began subscribing to Fitness last fall, and the recipes alone are worth the $19/year. Two nights ago I made Thai Coconut Shrimp Curry from a recipe in their April 2006 issue (with my own tweaking, of course). Basically, lightly stirfry thinly-sliced zucchini and chopped carrots in olive oil. Add minced garlic, ginger, and curry paste. Add 1 cup of reduced fat coconut milk, 4 oz water, and 4 oz white cooking wine. After cooking for about two minutes, add 1/2 pound of frozen shrimp, 1/2 pound scallops, and fresh spinach leaves. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Granted, the scallops can add to the price (frozen shrimp is relatively inexpensive and tastes just as good), but when done correctly, it probably only takes about 15 minutes to prepare this meal. I had a cup serving for lunch with fresh strawberries and purple grapes, and for dessert (since I have a sweet tooth) I ate a prepacked cup of fat-free chocolate pudding. I am stuffed, and feeling quite nourished!

There are so many wonderful foods that can be integrated into a vast array of meals – pureeing skinless tomatoes in the blender, for example, can be an excellent source of vitamins and minerals while functioning as a soup base, a stew medium, or as a sauce over pasta. Baked chicken goes well on salads, over pasta, or as a baked potato topping. Chicken can be flattened with a hammer, have ricotta and garlic spread over the flat surface, rolled up, covered with fresh tomato sauce and oregano, and baked. A large filet of salmon at Costco can run as low as $11 and can be cut into at least 8 individual salmon steaks – an awesome way of absorbing omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Marinated in low-fat Greek salad dressing, baked, and then tossed over steamed brown rice is an excellent way to enjoy salmon.

I fear I could ramble on about this for hours. There are so many tasty foods just dying to be consumed by the American public, and instead – I’m saddened to see how many people walk around with their Whoppers, french fries, potato chips, and Biggie-size Cokes. I’m saddened when a diabetic patient has his other leg amputated and is found to be covered in bed sores that won’t heal, but remains alive on dialysis three times a week. I’m saddened when a man who has just become a grandfather dies from a huge myocardial infarction stemming from coronary artery blockage. It is horribly sad when a 55 year old woman has a stroke that leaves her paralyzed and unable to swallow or communicate. I often wonder – did anyone ever teach many of patients about how fun it can be to eat well? What difference could it have made?

I would support an effort to teach the upcoming generation in this country more about nutrition – not dieting, but just how enjoyable it can be to savor a well-balanced, wonderfully filling meal that also happens to provide excellent nourishment. Home economics, for example, should not be a nothing high school course – it should be required of all students graduating from high school, and they should have to learn proper food preparation. Schools should have vegetable gardens and fruit trees that the students tend, the products of which they can then enjoy with monthly parties of food preparation to celebrate their efforts. At Halloween let’s focus on making sweet bread from the pumpkin and savoring the roasted seeds while bobbing for regular Red Delicious Washington apples (plug for the WA apple industry here). Alas, who am I kidding?

If only I ran the country… 🙂

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