Hippie Grandma Words of Wisdom to Eat Natural Foods
When I was 16 years of age, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. This was in 1973 and a diagnosis of this kind was very serious and very scary. What is wonderful is that my mom lived for 22 very healthy years after her diagnosis, due in large part on her focus to ‘eat natural’.
My mom grew up the oldest of 9 on a farm on the Canadian Prairies during the Depression. Her mom, my grandma would have been described in today’s terms as a hippie for the way she knew how to live off the land and re-use, reduce and re-cycle! My mom’s family and neighbors all grew their own food in a summer garden and then harvested, canned and ‘put by food’ for the long winters. Living on a farm, my mom was very connected to her ‘women health’, food supply, milking cows for milk and cream, picking eggs from the hen house, helping to butcher chickens, cows and pigs for meat. I know some of this sounds very ‘earthy’ to our pasteurized ears, yet, to this day, most of our food does come from farms!
Having a ‘lived experience’ of being a nutritionist, with her diagnosis, my mom also under took an intense study of natural nutrition and healing. Not having access to scientific research articles (which likely was a good thing), she did the best she could and signed out all the natural nutrition books from our local library. She read the books by Catherine Elwood, Adele Davis and “A Diet for A Small Planet” by Francis Moore Lappe. We had to drive from Fort St. John to Dawson Creek for some of the foods and supplements as it was the closest health food store. She radically changed how we all ate; gone were the soft doughy cinnamon buns; replaced by ‘whole grain and whole food everything’, nuts, seeds, small portions of organic dairy and wild meats (we were living in Northern BC and received homemade butter, venison and moose as gifts) and chicken and lots of organic vegetables grown in her garden. She herself went on a ‘rejuvenation diet’ complete with fresh juicing, brown rice and lots of supplementation. I recall a drink made with liquified organic baby calf liver, however, I may have dreamed that one 🙂 My mom did have conventional treatment too and had a mastectomy and radiation therapy.
As a short aside, if you wish to be nourished with luscious and delicious vegetarian food in a jungle paradise, and are thinking of joining us at the Mindful Self Compassion 9 Day Training Retreat in Mexico, I have personally experienced the amazing and energizing fresh fruit smoothies and meals at Pura Vida Eco Retreat, where we will be staying.
Back to my mom … I also read everything I could about natural nutrition and healing and became so interested in the subject that I decided to study nutrition in University. I truly value my university education and learned a lot about health and disease, food chemistry, nutrition, biochemistry, physiology and more than I wanted to learn about organic chemistry! In my university life I enjoyed cooking and sharing meals with friends. I remember a huge Greek themed feast for about 18 and a particularly enjoyable Thanksgiving when I made stuffed rock cornish game hen and other delicious foods. After completing my degree, I practiced as a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist for over 20 years (BCDNA Regstrant 1980 – 2003).
Reflecting on the last 38 years that I have been a natural foods Nutrtionist, I can say that ‘alMost’ everything I learned about natural nutrition, I learned from my mom. Here it is:
– eat real food, unprocessed, whole food, mostly plants with as little cooking as possible
– cook and eat meals together as a family or friend group (whichever constellation that is)
– eat mindfully, savour your food with enjoyment and thankfulness
– grow your own food, if you can’t, get it at the local farmer’s market or ‘buy local’
– eat lots of ancient whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes and vegetables and fruit
– when appropriate use special fasting, juicing, soups and ‘macrobiotic’ type recipes
– save the ‘doughy cinnamon buns’ for very special occasions!
My mom died from breast cancer October 14th, 1996 and I still think of her as the first real nutritionist that I knew!
Enjoy your cooking, eating and sharing food today and always!