Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Partially Hydrogenated Thanksgiving

While I had a particularly morose and introspective Thanksgiving, I still did like I do every year and go to my relatives house for the annual Turkey feast.

The one thing I did differently this year, was arrive early this year to help my Aunt out with the dinner preparations. What I saw her doing appalled me. I had no idea...

Everything that went into the dinner that she was making, was somehow pre-prepared, pre-cooked, frozen, canned or boxed. Of course, even though I already knew what I was going to find, I still surreptitiously looked at the ingredients of all the "food" products she used. This year, everything...and I mean EVERYTHING had partially hydrogenated oils in it (not to mention MSG). The gravy, the dinner rolls, the stuffing, the pre-made pie crusts for the pumpkin pie...and of course, "low-fat" and "cholesterol free" margarine in place of butter for the mashed potatoes and to spread on the rolls. Even the Turkey was pre-basted with a coating that included this vile franken-food in it.

I tried my best to limit my intake of the foods containing it...I ate turkey meat without any of the skin (oh how I LOVE crispy turkey skin that has been basted with real butter while it's baking....) and used the high fructose corn syrup cranberry sauce instead of the pre-made gravy. I scooped out the pumpkin pie filling and threw out the crust. But in the spirit of the holidays, I did have some stuffing and mashed potatoes, and I spooned the drippings from the turkey pan onto them for a makeshift, non-thickened gravy.

It was a literal "pick your poison" meal.

Since my Grandmother died several years ago, my Aunt had taken over as the host for Thanksgiving every year. My Grandmother used to make everything from scratch. Everything. She would have thrown a fit if she saw my aunt use all of that pre-made garbage....but for my Aunt, who has a big family, convenience and time-saving is more important than actually preparing real, nutritious and wholesome food.

Now, I largely eat a "paleo" diet, but I do follow what Mark Sisson calls the 80/20 principle. For me...Thanksgiving is a real treat. A splurge. It's the one time I indulge in dinner rolls, pie, cake, bread stuffing, mashed potatoes and all the other carbs I normally limit or avoid. But this partially hydrogenated, monosodium glutemate-laced, processed food crap really put a damper on my enjoyment of my annual, much relished carb-binge.

Some might think I may be psychologically ruining my enjoyment of the meal...that one wouldn't notice the difference if you only ate a single meal loaded with that stuff.

As someone who avoids it like the plague, I notice a very real difference in how the stuff affects me over time...namely, asthma and allergies.

Ever since I changed my diet and began eating healthy, focusing on healthy sources of fats, and avoiding processed foods and Omega 6 imbalanced hydrogenated crap, my asthma and allergies that I've suffered from for almost my entire life, have virtually disappeared. For three days after Thanksgiving, I've had multiple asthma and allergy attacks. Is it psychosomatics or a very real inflammatory response to that processed crap?

My allergies and asthma symptoms are largely due to my allergens to dust and dust mites. So the day after Thanksgiving, I cleaned all of my bedding and sheets and vacuumed up my living space. In the past, when I did start to experience mild symptoms, a quick wash in hot water and a vacuuming of my bedroom usually did the trick and my symptoms would disappear.

Not this time. I've used more asthma medication in the past week than I have for the entire year. I believe it really is related to the overdose of hydrogenated vegetable oil that is largely responsible.

I'm finally, completely symptom free again, 5 days later.. I'm thoroughly convinced that the pro-inflammatory hydrogenated oils is responsible for my adverse reactions...especially since asthma is primarily a problem of the inflammation of the bronchial tubes.


Consumption of high levels of partially hydrogenated oils can increase inflammation in the body. In addition, they also can inhibit the enzymes necessary for reducing inflammation, compounding the effect. Inflammation within the blood vessels can trigger the buildup of plaque and damage blood vessel walls.

I'm thinking of offering to host Thanksgiving next year, just so I don't have to eat that poison again...either that, or just eat my own meal with my wife before going over to there house.


Athol Kay: Married Man Sex Life said...

We started hosting Thanksgiving because at age 33 I was sick of sitting at the kids table lol.

Jennifer does a great brined turkey. :-)

I agree with how some foods can just make you feel crappy. I'm getting further into the paleo thing slowly.

Keoni Galt said...

I think it's much like anything else....the first time you drink alcohol, you are very sensitive to it's eye-watering burn. But over time, you become used to it.

I think it's the same effect for me...since I go out of my way to avoid processed foods, hydrogenated oils, MSG, HFCS and all that other garbage, I think when I actually do eat a lot of it, I can literally feel it's affects like someone who drank 151 proof Rum for the first time.

The worst part for me is that my wife actually wants to cook Thanksgiving from scratch every year...and every year I tell her no, we're going to my families.

This is going to change one way or the other next year!

Fourmyle said...

I agree 100%. I used to have Thanksgiving at my Mom's, and she cooked like your grandma. Excellent. But recently I moved out of state and this year I had Thanksgiving with my cousin. I deliberately volunteered to make the sweet potatoes because I knew if I left it to her it would be marshmallows and sugar to the max. Ugh.

As it was, after eating Thanksgiving with her I felt a soar throat coming on, which is my #1 sign of poor diet. Three days later, gone.

The Original Hermit said...

We had a Thanksgiving from scratch this year. The only thing that wasn't was the rolls we bought at the store, and the pie crust (partially hydrogenated lard!, that seems pretty ridiculous to hydrogenat lard!). No mashed potatoes, but plenty of low sugar sweet potatoes. Even the cranberry sauce was made from scratch. It's still got lots of sugar, but at least it's free of all the other poisons.

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Carnivore said...

I hear ya. Had the family over and I made the dinner. All was from scratch, except for the pie crust. (Maybe I'll do that from scratch too next year.) But, come on, if a single guy can do it (and got plenty of compliments) - it isn't difficult. Just a matter of priorities.

Regarding allergies - since I've dropped all grains, my annual spring and autumn hay fever seasons were almost non-events.

WP said...

I feel you 100%.

And partially hydrogenated oils and MSG are already considered terrible in the mainstream, no less.

Locard said...

Very true. After going for 8 weeks without soda in basic training I have a glass after I arrived back home. I gagged, it burned. Hmm.

knepper said...

I agree Keoni. In my case it was amazing how many pounds one high carb meal packed on, since I had been following a mostly lo-carb diet. I am still trying to get them off. But what really bummed me out about T-giving was my liberal relatives feeling the need to spout their nonsense at the table, but I guess that's a different subject.

Anonymous said...

Hey. Lay off my oils, hydroginated and otherwise.

It is all good food.

Glen James said...

eating all of that fast food nearly destroyed my body, then i made a decision to get myself of it and i have never looked back.

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