Thursday, January 29, 2009

Toxic Diets

There is more talk every day about diet. What is healthful to the body? What foods are toxic? What is the ideal diet?

While I personally think that a lower carb (150-200 grams a day of carbohydrates in any form) is healthful for anyone, I do best on a very low carb diet (45-65 grams a day). I, and many others, have found benefits ranging from weight stabilization to mood stabilization by cutting down carbohydrates. The more I read, though, the more I think that the biggest benefit to low carb is that it naturally cuts down your processed foods.

Most recently is news that high fructose corn syrup is full of mercury (Auntie Zilla's post about it). But that is only the most recent release in a long series of realizations that we are killing our food, and therefore ourselves, with chemicals. All the preservatives and over processing, the cheaper, quicker methods... All they have done is make us sicker for cheaper. This doesn't seem to be a good trade to me.

As more and more people choose organic diets, or at least cut a lot of the processed and refined foods from their diets, the more readily available the healthier choices will be. At the moment, my diet is very expensive. It is all fresh vegetables and (as often as we can afford it) free range organic meats. Usually I settle on cheaper meat because, well, I can afford it! I don't buy much at all in the way of packaged foods. I still buy a few canned goods (organic) and frozen veggies are my friend (too expensive to get organic, unfortunately).

Most people I know eat organic as often as possible and many have allergies to the preservatives and cannot handle refined foods. I am not alone in this by any stretch of the imagination! I know many people with depression and other chemical imbalances who have been greatly helped by a diet rich in fresh foods and lower in carbohydrates - especially white flour and sugar. I know I sure as hell have been. I could not handle my job if I wasn't on such a strict diet.

So why does anyone choose a toxic diet? It isn't easy for any American to be unaware of the dangers in a highly processed pre-packaged diet. I know quite a few people who will say they realize how unhealthy it is and keep eating it! The main reason: healthier diets require knowing how to cook. Plain and simple: if you aren't buying packaged food you are preparing your own food. This is more time consuming and requires more energy.

In order to prepare food, you have to either know recipes or find recipes, prep the food, cook the food... You have more dishes to wash... People aren't taught to really cook anymore. We are taught that we don't have the time and that it is old fashioned. But I think we are going to see more of a return to "old fashioned" in any case.

Because of the financial situation, more people are semi home steading - buying chickens to lay eggs, having small herb and vegetable gardens, cooking from scratch and avoiding fast food... And cooking.

I might be idealistic and silly to think so, but I believe we are going to move away from toxic diets and back to fresh local foods. I see the beginnings of the movement already.

A few healthful links:

Mother Earth News
Elana's Pantry
My recipezaar site (lots of good chefs here, and check out the Once a Month Cooking!)
Dr. Mike's blog
The Heart Scan Blog

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Work is tough!

Now, don't get me wrong... I don't think work is especially enjoyable for anyone. My job is from home. I remote in to do customer service. So I am several steps happier from those working in a call center!

I also read the IMs from everyone I work with (we basically have an IRC server for work - we can ask questions and get help); I know that they are all stressed and bogged down, too.

Yet I still get the vague impression that I struggle a bit more with the "holding it together and not having a meltdown" aspect of our job. I do much better than my coworkers, however, in other areas. The system upgrades that are causing lags don't really phase me. I don't consider a customer is grumpy or excessively angry just because they are panicked or frustrated at their lack of service... So I have fewer upset customers than most people.

So there are pluses and minuses to my way of viewing the world.

I was really worried that I'd struggle a lot more than I have. Working from home is helping immensely, and so is the structure I receive from my best friend. Every day I cook dinner, which is my favorite hobby, so that helps me calm down. I also get a coffee (fresh ground and brewed in my handy espresso maker with real cream) during the last half of my day.

I haven't been blogging the last few weeks because work had me so bogged down and stressed I was afraid I'd whine terribly. The last thing I want my blog to be is a "why it is so so sad to have autism, we poor poor misunderstood creatures". So I had to wait until I'd found my equilibrium again. As my father says, buoyancy is the key to survival.

I keep jigsaw puzzles going at all times. I can put in a few pieces on breaks and lunch and work on them before and after work to help me focus away from my job. It works wonders!

Really, it's the cooking that keeps me going. Good food, lovely smells from the kitchen all day, a wonderful and nutritious dinner (and lunch next day)... Life is good!

All of my energy outside of work is going towards more cooking. I've been renting DVDs from the library about cooking. I've been checking out new cookbooks. I've been studying online. I'm planning a trip to Denver to pick up herbs and spices!

It's all about perspective. If this job allows me more money to cook better food, it has a major positive!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Auties aren't affectionate??

I keep reading and hearing about the surprise felt about someone autistic being affectionate as a child.

Autism is a neurological disorder that affects the way one processes information. Because one is greatly lacking in filters between parts of the brain and from their senses, things are so overwhelming they often pull back into their own world to protect themselves.

In what way does this mean a child would not be affectionate?

My mother, when I told her I was HFA, looked confused and said "but you were so affectionate as a child"... as though that solved that. My father, on the other hand, said "that explains it. All you kids were different, but you were more different than your sibling". *laughs*

As an adult, I am better capable of dealing with things and have learned to articulate. Now only people who spend substantial amounts of time with me, or know autistics, realize that I am. Funny that everyone who has lived with, worked with, or seriously studied autism can pick me out in a matter of minutes though!

And I am, without any doubt, affectionate. If I like someone, I pet them, snuggle into them, stand very close to them, sit practically in (or actually in) their lap... I find it very difficult to be near anyone I like without touching them.

My faerie godson, Max, is a low functioning autistic (or PDDNOS) and he is quite affectionate. Most of my friends who are autistic are affectionate...

I think this stems from when "autism" only meant the extremely low functioning cases where the nerves are so sensitive the child couldn't be touched. But they still snuggled into things of their choosing and banged into walls to get touch. So even then, it was more a lack of insight than a lack of affection.

However, if you assume a child can't be affectionate, are you going to be as likely to give affection? Or to recognize their attempts at affection? I worry that this concpt keeps autistics from learning about affection or getting their needs met.

The broadening of the autistic spectrum has had interesting ramifications for everyone involved. I would not have counted as autistic when I was going to school. Possibly not even a decade ago. However, my brain certainly works in the same filter-free fashion, so it's good that they are learning more.

I have high hopes that "affectionate" won't be considered anti-autistic for much longer. It's a misconception that can be a self fulfilling prophecy!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Recipe of the Week

On the suggestion of a friend, I am going to post a recipe each week that is, for me, very autie-friendly. Low carb, preferably organic and unrefined...

This week's recipe is hot and sour soup.

This is a very quick and easy recipe.

You need 2 cups of chicken broth (I use either Better Than Bouillon or Free Range Broth)
1 T minced ginger (fresh, or use 2 t powdered)
1 T minced garlic (or 1 t powdered)
1/4 cup shoyu
2 T rice wine vinegar (start with half the amount and add vinegar to taste)
1 T chili-garlic sauce

Mix all the ingredients and heat to a simmer. Beat an egg in a bowl and add it to the simmering soup. Let it cook for a minute or two. Serve.

You can add scallions or peas or mushrooms or any other veggies you enjoy.

You can buy shoyu (a rich soy sauce), rice wine vinegar, and the chili garlic sauce at most grocery stores. However, you can use any soy sauce and white vinegar if you need.

This usually takes about five minutes to make. You can make it heartier by adding cooked chicken, veggies, or extra egg.