How To Kick Your Thyroid’s Ass: Thylectable Reads
One thing you should know about me (besides how I’m enamored with all things thyroidish and food-y) is that I am an obsessive compulsive collector of books. And it’s always been this way for me — since childhood (around 1990 or so), where I borrowed my first book from the public library and didn’t realize that, yes, they did actually expect me to return it. If I really want to be honest, I still have that book in my possession, on my bookshelf — a hardcover children’s biography on Jennifer Capriati. Weird and terrible/irresponsible, I know. Even today if I can’t hit up the used book store (used is always my preference and far superior to brand new) once a week, I get this painful withdrawal that leaves me feeling a little lonely because new-to-me books and the ideas in those books are always the best company. So, in the spirit of neurotic bibliomania/bibliotaphy, this week’s How To Kick Your Thyroid’s Ass is a review of invaluable food- and/or nutrition-related texts that I have stumbled upon, and that have a warm spot on my bookshelf all because they keep teaching me revolutionary things. Think of it as a Dear Thyroid book club. ,
Okay, I’m anticipating some debate over this first book selection, just because Gillian McKeith is sort of a controversial figure. Actually, she’s very controversial. She’s a holistic nutritionist (don’t let that title scare you away just yet), an author, and she has both her own TV show as a spin off of this book (airing in the U.S. on BBC America) and had patient wellness center in Britain for years. The problem people have with her is basically they think she’s full of shit, which might have something to do with the fact that she actually analyzes patient’s poop. Also, although she graduated with a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, she later attended the American Holistic College of Nutrition (where she earned another master’s degree and doctorate in holistic nutrition), which is said to have not been accredited at the time (trust me, you can google her and see the scathing reviews firsthand).
Because I have made it very clear to you dear readers that I need actual science-y rationale to support any natural healing claims and methods, why, you may ask, am I suggesting you read this book? Well, since it’s most important to me to be cynical/skeptical when it comes to my health, I have read her book(s) with a careful eye and actually, her claims not only make sense and corroborate with other science-based natural healing methods, but they have been shown to make people well (or, more well). Quite frankly, her message seems pretty reasonable to me: stop eating processed foods, start eating real living foods (you know, things with nutritive value) and you’ll probably feel better. Not everything she endorses is right for me and my body (namely, soy and grains, and also the fact that while she does address some food allergies, there are many others that deserve consideration), nor will it be for you and yours. But generally she’s a proponent of a gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free (aside from natural ones), meat-free (aside from a piece of chicken or two and seafood), nutrient and vitamin dense, good fats, no-processed diet. Oh, and because those foods are all so good for you, there’s no calorie-counting or portion control — it’s just an eat-until-you-are-full kind of a thing, which McKeith calls “The diet of abundance”. But just to be clear, weight loss isn’t her goal — health is the goal and weight loss usually follows.
What’s great about You Are What You Eat (besides the fact that it’s pretty and full of visually stunning images) is that it clearly spells out physical predictors of deficiency for the reader to relate. For example, chapter two, entitled “Getting To Know Your Body” lists the tongue, ears, hands, head, eyes, and limbs as top indicators of an imbalance or nutritional deficit, which is borrowing from ancient Chinese medicine. The chapters that follow list foods, herbs, recipes, daily eating plans, and other natural remedies to get our bodies the proper nutrition it needs. Trust me when I say McKeith goes into specifics: gas, irritable bowels, dark eye circles, urination problems, sleepiness, acne, pms, immune system weakness, skin and nail disorders, even thyroid dysfunction. The pros for anyone following her diet plan religiously is that she allows natural sweets like fruits and honey and maple syrup, as well as grains and starches to allow you to feel full. The cons are that she’s really into bitter greens and vegetable juices and also advocates no red meat or dairy, which can all be really difficult for alot of people to adjust to. Oh, and on a completely unrelated and biased note, I like McKeith herself because she is really into this food stuff and really wants to see people well and doesn’t apologize for it; she realizes a person’s health is that important and she’s passionate in a come-off-too-strong sort of way, and I enjoy people like that.
2. The Food Allergy Cure by Dr. Ellen Cutler
Maybe something else you should know about me is that I am a food allergy fanatic. Not in the sense that I try to acquire them, but that they interest me more than anything because they are implied in so many health problems and they are something we — the patients — can easily address ourselves without the need for some special pill or insurance co-pay. However, in my opinion, we tend to stereotype food allergies as either a problem that mostly affects children or as something immediate and severe that always involves hives or anaphylactic shock. It’s just not true. The idea that delayed food allergies and intolerances can cause illness is really worth looking into. If we believe that seasonal and environmental allergens cause reactions in us (runny nose, itchy eyes, etc.) can’t we also believe the foods we ingest can wreak just as much havoc? Doesn’t it make sense, especially for those of us with impaired immune systems and disease?
Really, this book should be called “The Food Allergy Bible” because it is so all-inclusive and explains the way foods affect our health and immune systems in the most rounded and descriptive way. Many of the ideas Cutler presents are so revolutionary that of course, they become controversial. Like, for example, her claim that people can be allergic to vitamins (not as in the pills, but as in the chemical entity itself) through years of malabsorption, so we begin to crave them uncontrollably. Crazy, I know, but this kind of information is exactly what we need to be reading — it’s new, it’s fresh, and after we close the last page in the last chapter and whether or not we end up agreeing with what was written, we’ve learned some amazing schtuff that will only be added and expounded upon in the next book we happen to pick up; we end up weighing knowledge against knowledge.
The Food Allergy Cure also gets really food science-y (though, not at all mainstream) and goes in depth into the specific biochemicals and compounds in certain foods that commonly cause allergic reactions: amino acids, phenolics, enzymes, etc. Dr. Cutler also delineates various specific chronic illnesses or conditions and provides common food triggers and the reasoning behind any solutions, as well as ways to get tested or test yourself for intolerances, some of which include more alternative therapies. So if the previous articles I’ve written on yeast, gluten, and grains have at all piqued your interest, you’ll get a much more in depth look at why and how these certain foods affect our bodies. Though, of course, I cannot say I agree with everything written in this book merely because it’s impossible to back and research all of the claims for myself. Also, my one criticism of Cutler is that she endorses her copyrighted specialized program through out, which of course is for her self-promotion, though she does end up sharing the specifics of this program with the reader. However, I can live with that, given the fact that she provides us with a fair dose of science and also information on chronic conditions and autoimmune disease (both, of course, relating to thyroid health and immune system function). Though this is not to say that her book will make all our problems go away, just that identifying possible food allergies and paying close attention to what we eat and how it affects us can help ease some health issues for many people.
Until Next Week,
Have a question, comment, story, love letter, or rant/rave to send me?: Liz@DearThyroid.com,
Tags: Dear Thyroid Nutrition Book Club, The food allergy cure by Ellen Cutler, thyroid food books, thyroid food resources, thyroid nutrition books, thyroid nutritional resources, You are what you eat: The plan that will change your life by Gillian McKeith