The next book in the pile by my bed is 8 Weeks to Optimum Health by Andrew Weil. This was published in 1997, so I am way behind on the Weil bandwagon, but it is an interesting read. Mostly I feel validated in the dietary adjustments we have made over the past 6-9 months.
In general – and compared with the rest of the country – I would say that as a family we eat pretty well. While we are definitely NOT part of the Santa Cruz, organic, local, in-season, sprouted, soy, whole grain ONLY gang, we do fairly well. I generally shop at locally owned, non-mass market grocery stores and our farmer’s markets. I buy organic produce when it makes sense (i.e. organic strawberries for sure, organic bananas not so much) and really pay close attention to what goes into our foods.
After reading Michael Pollan’s Food Rules I became even more conscious about our eating habits. The readability of the book made it easy to include the kids in discussing his ideas and really considering the rules when we shopped. We talk a lot about the nasty stuff found in fast food and take the time to read the ingredients list for the foods the kids really want, but are unhealthy food products. It makes it easier for me to say no when Maya can’t read ANY of the ingredients and they can both see that there are way more than 5 things listed.
The point of this digression is to say that we had already made many of the changes Weil suggests in his book. We have cut back or eliminated many of the less healthful versions of processed or prepared foods we enjoy, I have added more whole grains (with limited success thus far, but I will keep trying), added non-animal protein meals, and generally become more conscious of what we eat.
This is not to say we are uber-healthy or perfect in any way, shape, or form. But if we make poor food choices at least we are doing it consciously!
The Weil book is full of interesting information and since it has been on the bookshelves for over 10 years now I can see that many of the ideas he introduced are now accepted, scientifically validated, and part of our mainstream understanding about food and health. I am thinking particularly of his conversation about trans-fatty acids. On page 49 he says, “I predict that accumulating medical evidence about the harmfulness of partially hydrogenated oils will eventually force them out of food products.”
Spot on, Doc!
To wrap it up – I am enjoying this book because it introduces a lot of non-Western ideas about health. I am aware of several of these already, but this book gives more information about them and Weil does a good job of explaining how our environment and food choices effect our long-term health and healing abilities.
I’m sure many of you have already read this book or are very familiar with Dr. Weil. For those of you who are not you may want to look into it.