Friday, September 23, 2011

It's A Christmas Miracle!

I know it's only September.  But something amazing has happened. 

I have finished reading "The Maker's Diet."

This book is a very challenging read for several reasons.  I hope that I can give you a careful evaluation & honestly represent the spirit in which the book is written.

I love a good, gripping, dramatic story.  The author, Jordan Rubin, begins his book by telling the story of his own very desperate health crisis.  He was a healthy young man until he went to college.  As happens for so many young people, once he was away from home & fully in control of his schedule & his eating choices his diet was not what it should be.  The big difference between the author & most young people is that instead of just gaining some weight, he became deathly ill.  They diagnosed him with ulcerative collitis & began treatment.  Unfortunately, in the United States 'treatment' usually means drug therapy.  Don't get me wrong, I work in the pharmaceutical industry; I believe medicine is important & life-saving - in some cases.  His doctors treatments only seemed to exacerbate his problems so he ended up going to live with a man who was an 'eccentric nutritionist' who believed that the illness was caused because he was not eating the diet of the Bible.  Thus began the author's journey to health & his development of 'The Maker's Diet.'

There are a lot of things in this book that scared me, frankly.  Over the past year or so as I have regularly read several different foodie blogs & as I've seen family members struggle with some different health problems, I've become more & more interested in learning more about what I am eating & where it comes from.  I thought I was making a huge step when I started buying milk that said it was growth hormone free.

I had no idea how complex this whole food situation is.

As I read through the beginning of the book I had to set it down on several occasions.  I was just overwhelmed.  First of all, we should be buying meats that are hormone & antibiotic free.  We should be buying organic fruits & vegetables that aren't tainted with pesticides.  All of that makes sense to me & it seems to be something worth trying for, at the very least.  Then it gets more complicated...the animals should be fed the way the Maker intended them to be fed (grassfed).  And the fruits, vegetables, grains that we consume should not be genetically modified.  I did not realize how many GMO (genetically modified organisms) foods are out there.  Seedless watermelon = GMO.  Huh.  Now it's getting tougher.

The author also has a lot to say about how the conveniences of this modern age are definitely adding to our health problems.  We just don't have to work as hard for anything.  And foods of all kinds, many laden with extra fats, sugar, & salt are far to easy to come by.  I see evidences of this in my own life as I go through my day to day activities.  I've come to be grateful for the fact that our washer & dryer are in the basement, causing me to work that much harder to get the laundry done.  It's good for me!

Another point the author made that sticks out in my mind is his encouragement to play in the dirt.  The dirt has many components that are actually good for us - enzymes & other things that actually help nourish us (through the food that is grown in it) & other organisms that help with allergies & asthma.  I found this part to be very interesting. 

The author breaks down the different types of fats we should be consuming & gives information about how to get those fats in our diets.  He also discusses the benefits of raw dairy (that was another one that set my mind reeling).  He discusses fiber, carbohydrates, & proteins.  I learned so much about the composition & function of food - it's kind of like chemistry class!

The author also takes several opportunities throughout the book to talk about the whole man.  Our bodies are not independent of our minds, emotions, & souls.  The whole system must work together in harmony.  The body will evidence the ill effects of unrest & tension within the mind, emotions, & soul.  This struck a chord with me.  I know that if I am not right with God, am dwelling on angry or anxious thoughts, & do not have  my emotions under the Holy Spirit's control that I do not feel good physically.  It just makes sense that they are all inextricably joined together.

Mr. Rubin also points out the necessity of proper rest, regular fasting, & regular exercise.  I must confess that I stink at resting properly.  I am constantly paying for it.  It has become a matter of prayer for me; that I would learn to be obedient & rest.  The section on fasting was interesting to me, too.  He doesn't recommend 40 day fasts or anything extreme.  His suggestion is to fast through breakfast & lunch & then eating dinner.  It makes sense that this would give the body some time to heal or reset & also give me time to focus my mind on the Lord.  He advice when feeling the hunger pains of fasting to turn your mind to prayer.  I like the idea of something physically reminding me to pray.  I try to be conscious of my need to be in prayer but if I am honest, I fail many times to do it.  We all know that if I fast, my stomach is going to growl & I'm going to feel hungry.  And then I'll be reminded to pray!

When Mr. Rubin discussed exercise I found I could not wholeheartedly agree with him.  He strongly advises against any sustained cardiovascular exercise saying that it is harmful & often leads to injuries of overuse.  He advocated using 'functional fitness.'  As I read through his suggestion I could not really get a true definition of what it was, just that our exercise should mimic daily activities.  Then the reader was referred to the appendix where there were resources listed for videos, information, etc.  The author also stresses the importance of walking, suggests rebounding on a mini trampoline for exercise, & deep breathing exercises.  I think some of his ideas are valid, but I personally have received too many benefits from running to lay it aside.  When a runner takes the time to warmup, stretch, & cool down properly many injuries can be avoided.  It is also important to listen to your body no matter what the exercise or there is great possibility of injury.

There was also a chapter at the end of the book that discussed spices & essential oils.  This was very intriguing to me but I'm not sure it's something I'll have the opportunity to explore in great depth.  I kind of wish I could pull this section out of the book to keep on hand for future reference.

Finally, there was a theme throughout the book that I kept picking up on that did not sit very well with my spirit.  My personal desire in evaluating my daily diet & health is to keep my body as healthy as possible so that I may have the strength I need to best serve the Lord.  I also want to live with the knowledge that I am accountable to the Lord for the way I care for this body He has given me.  I am called to be a good steward.  Mr. Rubin does mention this.  But far more often he mentions 'the long-lived' people of this society or that society.  His point seems to be that we clean up our diets & our health so that we can be long-lived people.  That's not really my goal. 

All in all, I would recommend this book.  There were parts that made me cringe with a bit of fear about how messed up things are & how drastic changes in my lifestyle may need to be.  But that kind of evaluation is good for us.  I really learned a lot.  This was a difficult book for me to trudge through, but I'm very glad I finished it.  The public library is glad too, because it's way overdue.  I've got to get it returned or they are going to come asking for our firstborn child!


TwoMuths said...

We've made some changes, too - in baby steps, of course! :-) Yahoo for raw dairy, pastured eggs, and grass fed meat from "my" Amish farmer!

I have found that often, food becomes a little TOO important - will God bless me if I eat what He has provided, even if it's not organic/natural? YES! And there are many times I've seen people act ungraciously when offered foods that make them cringe, even when it's done in love - crushing others' feelings!

Balance, right? I appreciated your review! :-)

Carrie said...

Thanks for the review! This sounds like one of those books that I too would be overwhelmed by. I have read a lot of blogs about natural living and eating, and I have some friends who are way farther along in the "traditional foods" journey than I am. I agree with Jenny that baby steps are the way to go! For us, the baby steps so far have been to eliminate most (not all) processed foods--esp. those containing HFCS and other unpronounceable things . . . eating our own fresh eggs . . . and making most of our baked goods from scratch. We also avoid artificial sweeteners and food coloring (again, not always, but most of the time--birthday cake frosting is an exception ;)). I feel like we have such a looooong way to go, we would love to go with "home grown" meats and raw milk, but at this point we haven't been able to squeeze it into the budget. Hopefully soon! We did do raw milk for a whole summer a while back, but it just got too expensive. While I do believe it's important to study up on all this and make changes as we can, I don't want to get totally consumed with it. Balance is definitely the key. :)

Anyway . . . sorry for the long winded comment! It was really good to read your thoughts on the book. Oh, and I agree that long living shouldn't be our ultimate goal--that wouldn't sit right with me, either. :)

Debbie Moore said...

Sounds like a lot of the ideas go hand-in-hand with the Body Change program. I'm like you...most of it makes a lot of sense to me. We eat way too much processed stuff due to convenience & cost...but that is no excuse. You should try the Augustus meats, eggs & veggies! I'm learning to love more of the "good" stuff and trying to "minimize" the bad in my diet. I'm convinced that a lot of the medical issues we face today are due, at least in part, to processing, preservatives and pesticides. We do have a responsibility to care properly for our bodies, especially those of us who claim to have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them!