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Thursday, September 23, 2010

2.3 More on Eating Healthily

Physician's Notebooks 2 - http://physiciansnotebook.blogspot.com - See Homepage
2.3: Kitchen, Dining and Food-Buying  Wisdom - Updated 22 March 2018
The following descending column are headings in this chapter in order of appearance. Use for search & find or scroll down to.
Your food preparer should be 
Microwave cooking is convenient
Bacteria can cause infection or poisoning by toxin
Cleanliness
Safety
Avoid saturated fat
Salting & Sweetening
Toxicity from Container
Cooking pot
The risk of cancer-causing chemical in processed food
Keeping Sensible Non-Neurotic Balance in Food Preparation
Cooking – Energy Use
Portion Food Serving by Exact Amount and Fraction of Whole
Gas and Refrigerator
Qualities of a Good Dining
Overly Hot Food 
Combining eating with Study
Shopping for Food 

Your food preparer should be clean in appearance, with no bad health habit, eg, no cigarette dangling from mouth dropping ash onto food; he or she should wear mouth and nose cover, as well as cover hair. I do not want saliva, nose blowing, sneezing and dripping, and hair dandruff and dirt or hard, sharp objects getting on or in my food because of an unclean or careless preparer. Also he or she should be a near-compulsive hand washer and nail cutter. It is why outside eating place ought to be licensed and inspected.
Microwave cooking is convenient, and, not dangerous; the microwaves are not like x-rays, they emit no harmful radiation other than the direct heat inside the box. If done correctly, microwave cooking is not high energy waste. Before microwaving, use scissors to cut hard, big pieces into small ones that heat will soften, (this will also greatly improve digestion especially for people who are missing their teeth) and add extra water to dilute thick sauces and gravies and up soup volume. Do not eat food from a can or other storage container without first cooking its content (Exception fruits). Empty the contents of can into a Pyrex container or bowl for cooking. (Don't cook in can in microwave) Hard, unripe apple is much more eatable after cutting up and 2-minute microwaving (All timings are at 500W power setting). A particular good delicacy is a persimmon fruit, known as kaki in Japan. Depending upon how you buy it, it may be very hard or very soft and juicy. The hard kaki is almost inedible, but if you cut it in quarters and put it into a microwave for 2 - 3 minutes, you will get a deliciously soft, pulpy fruit with loads of sweet juice. I love it as a side snack. Microwave will make food safe after it has been dropped to ground - for bread a 60-second toast is OK; for non flammable food 3 minutes. Follow microwave instructions so as not to waste the electrical energy. For most heating-up at 500W, a 2-minute is enough; if you are heating a soup and adding flavorful fresh vegetable you may want to do up to 4 minutes. And don't forget to add water to make up for the boiling off effect and also give you more volume to enjoy for the eating.
Bacteria can cause infection or poisoning by toxinBotulinum poisoning kills, while E. coli causes serious diarrhea, (Aug 2012 E. coli contaminated pickled food from a can killed 12 oldsters in Japan) and staphylococci cause vomiting. Two-minute microwaving at 500W neutralizes all bacteria.

Cleanliness: In preparing food, the counter or board and knife & fork and pot & pan should be hot-water cleaned before use. And don’t forget, in midst of food preparation, to rewash cutting board and knife after switching from use on meat or food. 
Safety: A cook or other food preparer may be victim of finger cut from too-sharp knife. Prefer a knife slightly dull, just sharp enough to cut. Another avoidable kitchen accident is the unwise bare-handed picking up of a sharps from the floor. Use of rubber glove. Better yet for the small pieces, use a vacuum cleaner. If you get a cut, stop everything and clean it in warm and then cold water and touch of alcohol; then dry and apply band-aid. Cooking, while feet are bare, risks stabbing from knife falling on it or scald burn of feet. So no naked breakfast, lunch or supper!
   Other cooking burn is on the hand from unwisely pouring hot liquid from pot or pan into other container (eg, hot frying fluid bacon lard into discard container, boiled water into cup for instant drink). Again, protective glove!

Avoid sat. fatUse vegetable oil for frying and as salad dressing. With meat, you need to cut away the fat, and, when cooking bacon on fry pan, lay the fresh fried bacon out on brown bag paper to absorb hot liquid lard. Bacon should be fried crisp. But, best is to have “edge” against high saturated-fat food ("sat fat": red meat and processed product, oil derived from animal and also coconut oil very popular in vegan diets but has very high sat fat) and rich sweet dessert and be in favor of poly-unsat fat.

Salting & Sweetening: Adding sodium chloride (NaCl), common table salt and food or drink with sodium ion (Na+) including monosodium glutamate (MSG) in soy sauce are No-Nos. In addition to the unwanted Na+, the glutamate is a CNS stimulant. No salt added into anything, also cooking too, (Ignore the container instruction to add it when cooking rice, spaghetti). For beverage, no canned, boxed, or bottled because loaded with salt! In commonly used food like milk, shop for low-Na and low-fat, no cholesterol.
Added sweetener should be limited. If food already has slight natural sweetness, do not further sweeten. For sweetening without calorie, the Aspartame sweetener (Nutrasweet; Equal) is safe except for those persons with genetic intolerance to phenylalanine (Phenylketonurics). Honey is a healthy sweetener because its sugar is fructose.

Toxicity from Container: First concerning can: many cans today are aluminum. If we talk about beverage (soda, juice), we are talking about habitual high-volume lifetime drinking from aluminum can that may lead to early, more severe Alzheimer dementia. So, as daily habit, no beverage from can! Canned food or drink occasionally to vary cuisine is no problem. Ceramics have small amount of Pb lead. To prepare hot drinks or food, cook and eat from Pyrex container.

Cooking pot: Consider chronic life-use. Lifetime drinking tea and coffee made from water boiled in aluminum-pot or even stainless steel boiler may be cause of brain disease in old age. Home chef should use Pyrex glass for boiling coffee or tea and spaghetti, potato, rice and cereal. Also use hard-to-break glass for all your plates and saucers and drink filtered water (Office processed, cool/hot OK) and remember to use it making your tea, coffee or soups.

The risk of cancer-causing chemical in processed food that includes fresh-frozen and freeze-dry product, as well as treated to remove substance considered harmful! In the removal, a worse substance may be added. Example is decaf coffee, which is linked to higher incidence of pancreas cancer. Danger is with daily habitual use, not the occasional use outside of house.

Keeping Sensible Non-Neurotic Balance in Food PreparationAdvice like not adding salt and avoiding sat-fat should be strict. But other advice, such as whether or not to use canned, boxed or bottled food and beverage or sweetener, we make exception for and do compromise in life, and the risk must be balanced against the competing benefit. Above all we must see our aim: A long, healthy, happy life which means maximizing hedonic intervals.

Cooking – Energy Use: I want to save money by reducing gas and/or electric bill, and also hope to save our environment and society by reducing fossil fuel use, by doing my bit to prevent buildup of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas as well as toxic-to-lung pollutant in atmosphere. The energy-waste in cooking involves boiling time. It could be boiling hot water for coffee, tea, cocoa or instant soup; or boiling food like potato, spaghetti, rice, hot cereal to eat; or boiling fruit like apple to make specialty food. Each has slightly different energy conservation. 
A special note about spaghetti as a convenient, microwave cooked snack that also saves energy. I use 50 counted out, thin-size spaghetti pieces in about 200ml purified water in a Pyrex glass cooking pot. A <2.5minute microwave will boil it then you mix it with a spoon and then allow it to steep for 5 minutes and - Voila! - you have an immediately edible most delicious, main snack. I always have a box of spaghetti by my desk where I eat. 
Hot water for drink should not necessarily be brought to full boil. No one can drink boiling tea, and it does not make a difference in taste; the same goes for other hot drink. What usually happens is: We boil water, steep tea bag in it and then wait 10 minutes for temperature to fall below 60C (140F) so it’s drinkable without burning mouth. Or if impatient, we cool with ice water. So why not, instead of boiling, just heat water to one's taste and drink it immediately? 
   For making your own coffee, do not follow the written instruction; rather use it as starting point. If it says brew on low boil for 10 minutes, do it at start and sample taste; and then reduce time, minute by minute, 9, 8, 7 to see how far down you get it without affecting taste. In this way you will find that 7 minutes will often do fine where 10 minutes is instructed. (But don't get hooked on coffee; better to do without or to limit it to a need for motivation) For boiling food (steaming too), do as in the above coffee experiment. If it says on box, “Bring to rapid boil then steam on low flame for 20 minutes”, try that at start, to get a taste for comparison; and then reduce cooking time, minute by minute. Also, start timing from the instant you turn on the heat instead of from the point of rapid boil. In my experiment: cooking one full cup of dry rice, I reduced the heating time from the written-instruction advice 20 minutes plus time until full boil (usually 5 minutes) down to 12 minutes.
  Also, if you buy pre brewed coffee beverage, do not drink it all up at one or a few swallows as most do. The purpose of coffee is motivational energy and a third to half the usual portion should be OK. If you depend on drinking coffee from nearby takeout this way, buy the largest container since you get a better bargain per ounce or ml. But best, do not depend on coffee! Tea by bag is free in my office and it got me off the coffee habit and saved me money. And if neither coffee or tea available, hot water only; you will be surprised that a glass of hot water can easily substitute.
   In batch cooking: You may be boiling up to 2 eggs, and then repeating it each time that you need boiled eggs. Instead, why not boil up batch of 10 and then use at leisure as needed?
Portion Food Serving by Exact Amount and Fraction of Whole: We may find it hard to reduce food calorie intake because our food preparer makes a too large serving in cooking and plate preparation. With spaghetti, we often grab a handful of pasta for a more-or-less portion to go in pot. Instead, why not count out the pieces and, by experiment, determine smallest number that satisfies normal satiety? I found that without counting, I was usually grabbing 100 to 130 spaghetti's but by counting I was able to reduce to 50 (1.7 mm thin, remember to correct for varying diameter) and still have satisfying eating. It only takes 30 seconds to count. And it gives consistency in food preparation. I use pasta as example but other food can be thus handled. And if the food comes as larger wholes, then fracture or fraction your previous normal portion.
My System of  Combining Eating and Study as Sessions: I developed a system which combines and emphasizes healthy eating to keep low normal weight and useful study. My sessions are from three to several a day, depending upon calories per session. Each session starts with a no calorie drink as you study, then a break for writing, then a small tasty snack like pretzels or a pudding. Then a fruit snack which is usually a half orange or a slice banana sometimes with cream and then a main snack which is purchased at the nearby Super with a view to low calorie, economy and tastiness. In between these sessions, I totally avoid calories. On this routine I have held my 60kg, 174 cm, BMI 18 and here I am still standin' at age 85. 
A note about orange. It has turned out to be the ideal fruit snack from the standpoint of low calorie, low cost, convenience while reading and tastiness. I cut my orange in half using the half with the session. Then, as I am reading, with a knife, I slice the half orange to the thinnest slices I can and read as I eat each, successive slice orange.
Gas and Refrigerator: Especially if you live alone, consider eating without using gas or refrigerator. I have done without a fridge and gas, nicely saving myself and society money and resources. It also forces one to eat sparingly and economically and healthily. For cooking prefer microwave.
Qualities of a Good Dining: A good meal ideal ought to emphasize promoting long healthy life combined with enjoyment of the moment of the good eating. But that is not all there is, because long healthy life is too far in future to be an effective reward-stimulus for good behavior. If an eating leaves you feeling good, physically and mentally, or even better; if it gives a contentedness in the hours after, then it ought to be indexed in memory for more frequent, future use: Did it satisfy the immediate eating pleasure, did it leave an almost orgasmic aura, was it economic money-wise and, ultimately, will it promote your long healthy life? On a negative note, did your just eaten meal afterwards cause any abdominal or chest discomfort or other bad feeling due to stomach reflux, digestibility, contamination or drug effect?
   Buying in supermarket, go for fresh vegetables; prefer less greasy sauce over greasy brown or red sauces; prefer chicken or non polluted fish over meats from cows or pigs. Prefer fried foods to be un-breaded, eg, the opposite of Japanese tempura. Also go for smaller, lower Calorie number portions and lower price all other things being equal.
Good Food Servings: Over the years, certain food preparations have passed the test of time with me as ideal snacks. Not in order of importance but as they come to mind,  I would list the chicken or bisque pot pie, almost any small spaghetti dishes with tasty sauce, fresh vegetable preparations with a vinaigrette dip. 
Then there is a single portion of three triangular half sandwiches; ham & eggsl ham & lettuce and cheese slice; tuna-fish (this is particularly easy ti eat if you don't have teeth for chewing) Another very good portion is a hand-sized meatloaf with a moderate amount of spaghetti. Among fruits, I prefer pulpy orange that can be cut in to halves and the halves can be quartered making 2 dinner servings per orange. Then sweet, soft mango which can be broken up to 3 servings. 
Overly Hot Food  Not only does hot food and drink cause direct burn on skin but continuous repeated drinking of hot beverage is cause of esophagus and mouth cancer. Using taste and heat judgment, (a thermometer is really not necessary but to help your cook I refer to temperature as follows). Here is my scale for hot beverage in Celsius: Less than 400 C is tepid; 400 to 500, warm to hot; 500 to 600, piping hot; 600 to 700, steaming hot (600 acceptable to serve but higher may burn mouth); and >700 is too darn hot. This can also be applied to semi-solid food like just-cooked rice, cereal, pudding, hot pie. Also from my kitchen experiment: Food and beverage cool down at 10 C per minute between 700 and 600 C. (To convert C to Fahrenheit on your calculator or computer multiply the C number by 9/5 and add 32)
End Note Combining eating with Study is a brilliant approach to becoming idiot savant or even full-fledged genius. Nowadays, as I mention above, all my eating and drinking is done as I study a text or an illustration, or read for widening my views on life. This also tends to reduce calorie intake because you stop the eating on finishing the study.
Shopping for Food is not different in principle from food selection for eating. As a generalization select less calories and lower price. Obviously you make exceptions but always have a better reason than just desire. For protein chose vegetable over animal; for animal food chose, first, seafood then poultry and, last and least, reduce red meat with pork and sheep; they should be lowest on your choice menu. And inspect for cleanliness, lack of contamination and rotting by sniff testing and visuals. A general bad smell in a food store is a reason not to buy there.
A principle I follow is No substitution. It means if you have decided to buy a food portion for your own good-health reason and they do not have the portion but do have a substitute that is not consistent with your good-health reason, do not substitute; rather, refuse to buy; eg, if you decided to buy vegetarian so called green curry rice dish but all they have is  beef curry rice (and same calories and price) do not succumb to the temptation to buy it just because you desire the curry rice; rather prefer not to get it so as to avoid the meat. 
    To continue next now, click 2.4 Drink Water but Watch Out for Pb-Lead

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