Rituals of eating sage. This doctor of nutrition learned from her mother

May 14, 2023 0 Comments

Before the Atkins diet and the keto lifestyle were all the rage, my mom was already low-carb in our house. She did this by increasing the protein and vegetables on our plate. The real “mommy rule” was, “Please eat all your protein and vegetables. Carbohydrates and fruit are optional.” She was not our sous chef and changed meal times to suit our childish whims. We had instructions and were allowed to exercise independence within these reasonable limits.

We were omnivores, and I still am. Usually, protein consisted of fish, poultry, eggs, pork, shellfish, and sometimes beef. Processed meats, such as hot dogs or salami, were rare.

Every month it seemed like our vegetable assortment included a whole rainbow of colorful vegetables (literally, I think she introduced us to every vegetable that was offered in Grandpa’s garden, the grocery store, and farmers markets), be it leafy greens, roots, legumes, and more .

Fruit was considered a dessert. Our taste buds (which are malleable and therefore trainable) still found the natural sweetness of fruit (berries have always been my favorite) incredibly satisfying.

And when my mom said “carbs” are optional, she meant traditional carbs like bread, pasta, rice, etc. In the era of so-white (and processed) Wonder Bread in the 1980s and 90s when I was growing up, my mother went against grain literally. For our lunches, she worked hard to source truly 100% whole grain breads and pastas, along with wild rice and possibly my favorite, stone-ground grits (yes, I’m a southern girl). In fact, my mom was flipping food and reading nutrition labels (and teaching me to do the same) before this happened.

These vegetables, fruits and healthy carbohydrates meant plenty of gut-vital fiber in our daily diet. My mom took care of my gut microbiome long before it was “cool.”

My mother ignored the low-fat diet fad of the era. Fats in our meals were neither demonized nor glorified, they were simply there. Whether it was extra virgin olive oil, butter, or omega-3-rich fish, a diverse array of healthy fats were in the mix.

Hydration was also extremely important. Water and cow’s milk were our main drinks, occasionally garnishing the meal with 100% OJ (with the pulp) or 100% cranberry juice.

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