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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.

book coverSecrets 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.
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Another excellent recommendation from my friend Dr. M. I think the next book by Satter, Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family, aimed at school aged kids through adults, is probably better for us now. But, this is one is still very good. For those book-averse among you (though I'm not sure why you'd be reading this in the first place), she's got a lot of useful information on her website: http://www.ellynsatter.com

book coverChild of Mine by Ellyn Satter This fabulous book covers feeding children from infancy through preschool. Satter has been counseling families with food issues for nearly 30 years now, and the book is full of references to other studies, so this is an authoritative book. If you’ve found yourself engaging in any of the following behaviors with your child, then this book or its sequel, Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family, would be excellent choices: Making separate meals for your child; bribing your child to eat; avoiding eating out of the house; battling with your child to finish rejected food or to eat less. She sets goals for preschoolers such as being able to try new foods, rejecting foods politely, stopping when they are full, and being able to eat out of the house. Feeding and mealtimes should focus on enjoyment for parents and children and on children learning to eat the food of their family and culture.

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When friends are wanting or having babies, I naturally want to point them to resources. And so many friends are going through this right now and I’m going over the same information over and over in emails, which is tiresome. So I’m going to start a small series on my recommendations for the best in books, internet resources and other services. I'll link to my original reviews, if I did them in the first place.

Books I’ve Read

TCOYF coverTaking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Wechsler
(note: teen book available, too) This is the classic and recently revised guide to monitoring your own fertility. Most people won’t need anything else. Looking on her web site, I note that she’s also got a book for teen girls, with probably less on getting pregnant and more on understanding your body.

Fertility, Cycles and Nutrition by Marilyn Shannon. This is put out by the Couple to Couple League. On the one hand, it is aimed at Catholics. On the other hand, Catholics appear not to believe in using drugs to solve fertility problems. That means a whole lot of cycle and fertility problems with really detailed nutritional solutions. This could probably be used well in conjunction with other methods, according to your own beliefs and situation.

GPNW coverGetting Pregnant the Natural Way by D.S. Feingold and Deborah Gordon, M.D. I found this book by the very scientific method of pulling all likely-looking books off the library shelf, and then skimming and reading bits to see which one looked best. Plus, of course, already carefully selected by our medical librarian. This book, as well as covering the basics fairly briefly, gives nice coverage of nutrition, herbal therapy, movement, massage and stress reduction for conception. This was my favorite for the even coverage of all kinds of therapies, including when they can be integrated with conventional drug therapy and when it is or isn’t safe to self-medicate. There have a lot of solutions to a lot of specific problems, as well.

The Vegetarian Mother’s Cookbook by Cathe Olson has detailed notes on nutrition for preconception as well as pregnancy and lactation, including suggested recipes. The recipes are full of micronutrients, include nutrient breakdowns, and are really, really yummy.

You Could Also Try

The Garden of Fertility by Katie Singer
– recommended by Toni Wechsler
Healing Gourmet Eat to Boost Fertility by the Healing Gourmet – on Amazon

Web Sites
www.ovusoft.com - Toni Wechsler’s site, with her ovulation-tracking software (not free.)
www.fertilityfriend.com - Free ovulation tracking software, lots of FAQs, plus support communities for all types of trying to conceive – by age, number of children already, using donor sperm, etc.

Good luck and sticky vibes, as they say!
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book coverIn Defense of Food by Michael Pollan After Michael Pollan wrote The Omnivore’s Dilemma, he apparently got a lot of questions from confused readers about what they should actually eat. This is his answer: no recipes, but a lot of research and thoughts. He starts with his basic philosophy, shown on the cover: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Then he goes through it all. First, a detailed critique of the American food philosophy that he calls nutritionism, which is basically the idea that we can break food down into its basic components, figure out what we need, and feed ourselves based on those ideas. We’ve been trying this for over a hundred years now, defining new things as good or bad, but it hasn’t worked. The more we try, the unhealthier we get as a nation. Humans have been proven to thrive on any number of diets, he says, but the modern Western processed food diet is not one of them. Pollan argues that it’s time to stop eating nutrients and start eating cuisines, real food proven by tradition. In this section, he also talks about the work of Weston A. Price and other nutritional theorists of the 1930s whose research – pointing as it did towards organic farming and traditional food preparation – fell into disfavor in the 1940s when chemical farming and industrial food came into fashion. As a counter to nutritionism, Pollan suggests that we eat food that doesn’t come with health claims and that our grandmothers or great-grandmothers would recognize as food, both in its finished form and in the ingredient list. All in all, I have read nearly all of his advice other places, but rarely with such engaging presentation. This is a good choice if you’re fascinated with the topic, like me, or if you haven’t been reading the newer thinking on nutrition and want a good place to start.
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book coverSneaky Chef by Missy Chase Lapine Lapine starts the book with a rather lengthy argument for hiding veggies rather than forcing kids to eat them undisguised. She then gets down to business, explaining the theory of hiding unpopular nutrition inside favorite foods, matching color and texture and adding whole grains without being obvious about it. Next come recipes for several purees – white, orange, green, purple, bean, as well as several juices. Most of these use multiple veggies for added nutritional punch. If you're handy in the kitchen, you can stop right there – just read the theory, and start adding her purees to your food. Or, go on to the recipes. These look quite solid. Yes, she uses veggies purees and whole grains, but they are mostly real food. She will mix butter and olive oil for a buttery taste without all the cholesterol, but not call for trans-fat free margarine, or separate the eggs to cut down on the fat. I'm still of the opinion that kids need cholesterol and natural saturated fats, but her approach is both easy to substitute full-fat items back in, and moderate as far as the low-fat crowd goes. The recipes that we've tried have gone over very well – macaroni and cheese was actually creamier after the addition of white puree, and went down like a charm. Mr. Froggie Pants is also excited about trying breakfast ice cream and cookies, and any of the desserts. I'd use the theories for adults as well as kids, because couldn't we all use a little extra veggie power in our meals? And don't we want it to taste yummy, too?
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This one comes recommended by my doctor. Complicated enough to think about that I've been putting off this review for weeks. But, finally, here it is.


Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon Our modern diets, both the typical bad American diet and the USDA food pyramid diet, constitute a major change from the way humans have eaten over thousands of years. According to author Fallon, the change is not for the better. The book draws heavily on the work of 1930s dentist Weston A. Price, who traveled all over the world looking at native peoples and their diets and finding correlations between the diets of those peoples who were strong, healthy and didn’t get cavities or other dental problems. (You can visit http://www.westonaprice.org for more information on him.) This book includes both his observations and lots and lots of more modern studies, leading to some startling conclusions.
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