My food biases

Everybody has their own biases and preferences for diet and food. Here are mine and the reasons behind them:

(1) My father had a heart attack at age 45 years. I was 15 years old. After his heart attack our family diet changed. He died from a stroke 4 years later. That was in 1974. His death had a devastating effect on my family and on me. Through the grief of my father’s death I resolved to follow a healthier diet and try and avoid obesity and heart disease which took him so young. I have tried to live by that conviction my entire adult life. It has not always been easy.

(2) My mother was a third generation type-2 diabetic. I am also conscious of trying to avoid this disease if I can.

(3) My second son suffered chronic health problems from the introduction of solid foods. At age three, specialists at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, Australia diagnosed him with sensitivities to salicylates, amines, glutamates and some food additives after an exclusion diet and food challenge protocol. Salicylates are natural flavours in a wide range of foods including most fruits, some vegetables, herbs and spices. I underwent the same exclusion diet and challenges and found that I am sensitive too. A low-salicylate / amine glutamate diet was life-changing for me.

(4) With foods high in salicylates, amines and certain additives much reduced, the family diet became basic plain foods. My own diet remains much the same today. It leans towards mainly high-starch foods (potatoes, pasta, cereals); moderate amounts of pears, vegetables I can eat, eggs, milk, poultry, fish, legumes, bread; and small amounts of fats and sugar to make meals more appetizing. The variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices in my diet is limited due to these being high in salicylates. It is free of processed foods such as cheese, ham, chocolate and wine as these are high in amines. It is practicality devoid of ultra-processed foods due to problem additives.

(5) All my four children grew up healthy, left home lean and, as far as I know, do not feel deprived that processed snack-foods, fast-food and convenience foods were virtually absent from their diets for their entire childhood.

(6) I am an advocate for family gatherings round the table for the evening meal and at times of celebrations.

(7) I do feel a sadness regarding the change in our society towards a fast-food culture of disposable utensils, paper cups and meals on-the-run. Even without the above health reasons, I would not have supported the fast-food trend or a reliance on convenience foods or snack foods. I have never read anything to convince me of any reason for needing these in my own diet.

(8) I read carefully about food companies and the sources of their ingredients and try and avoid any that can be traced to the use of child labour, social injustices, palm oil or productions harmful to the environment. This is not an easy task.

(9) In regards to my long-term health in avoiding heart disease I admit I am quite strict on not having many foods high in saturated fat (which has been associated with higher LDL), and I include oats, barley and legumes (which have been shown to lower LDL). I have experimented with foods in and out of my diet to reach these conclusions for my own diet which I have written about in my food history.

(10) I have an annual check-up with a full-blood count, monitor my blood lipids annually (due to my father’s history), monitor my morning blood glucose levels and occasionally post-prandial levels plus annual HOMA and insulin (due to my mother’s history). I try to exercise daily which for me is a daily walk in nature.