We love food. We salivate over it as we watch television commercials, spend hours enjoying it as we dine out with friends and family. And, if we fancy ourselves chefs, we spend time pouring over new recipes and finding new flavors. Still, we don’t always take into account what the foods we put into our bodies truly do for us — or to us.
Vegetarians are popping up all over the autoimmune world. Paleo Autoimmune also has become a popular diet, but there are many who are ditching meat altogether. If you have ever had a lupus flare triggered by food, then you probably are a little more cautious about what you are consuming and a bit more diligent about reading the labels on your foods. Almost every day you can find a pre-packaged item making news because it is being recalled.
The foods we are consuming have become controversial because of genetic modification, carcinogens caused by herbicides and pesticides, and the very labels we rely on are being exposed as fraudulent. It’s difficult these days to get the facts straight about something as basic and fundamental as food. As a result, many lupus sufferers are opting to lose the labels.
Of course, it has not always been that way. There was a time when you knew exactly what you were getting because often, you and your family grew it or nurtured it prior to ending its life and putting it on a plate. (Because this article is about being a vegetarian, we won’t talk about that life-ending food option.) Let’s focus on the growing part.
There aren’t many of us who were born with a green thumb, and even fewer of us have time to nurture a garden. We want to open the refrigerator and find what we need.
Farmers’ markets often have healthier vegetable options than large chain grocery stores. Often these small markets are dealing with local farmers and they have more control over what goes on their crops. Often you can purchase organic vegetables, and sometimes from pesticide-free farmers, very inexpensively. They offer their fruits and veggies for less than the big grocery stores because they need to sell them before they go bad and lose not just money, but the crop. It’s a misconception that you cannot eat healthy for a low price; you just have to be willing to take a little time to explore what’s offered in your area.
Shopping in local farmers’ markets also will get you a different variety of fruits and vegetables than you find in the chain grocers. Farmers will grow what is in season; they don’t have the luxury of airlifting avocados from Mexico when the growing season is over in their area. They grow other vegetables and fruits that will earn them income and keep their gardens going year around, offering other things that are truly local and seasonal, and not in the mainstream market.
For the consumer, this is wonderful because it allows you to try new things, each with its own nutritional benefit. The vendors at the farmers’ markets recognize that some of their items are not of the typical fare, and if you ask they will let you taste. Keep in mind that a vegetable is ready to eat without cooking when it pops out of the ground ready to harvest, so tasting is fun. You capture it at its best moment. They also can make serving suggestions. Lastly, farmers’ markets may have deals on items that are just about to spoil. These are great finds for freezing or canning, extending the life of the fruit or vegetable and saving you money.
While many of us want our refrigerator to produce that produce, some of us actually do enjoy digging around in the dirt, hanging with the worms and playing in compost. For those of you like that, I raise a glass of fresh-blended juice and say cheers! Good for you! Growing your own garden can be not only therapeutic, but can also rewarding in the abundance of the harvest. It also saves you a ton of money at the market, and you can sell or share your extra, which has the bonus of helping someone else eat great nutritional food.
There are a lot of misconceptions about vegetables. People think there are only those select few they see at the local grocer. Those just happen to be the more popular, but the selections are many. Having your own garden allows you to decide what you and your family will try, and once you figure it out you’re not limited. You can change your mind about what to plant and try new things for pennies (unless you count your time). Seeds are pretty cheap for the amount of food they provide. There are so many flavors, and so many ways to cook these items, that many YouTubers are making a full-time living just sharing vegan and vegetarian recipes.
The mouth-watering photos in this article are all vegetarian. “No meat” does not mean “no flavor” and the benefit often is higher fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, anti-inflammatory properties and more. Give vegetables a second look if you have been avoiding them because you think they lack flavor. You won’t regret it. Your energy, your gut and your waistline (your “bottom line), will thank you.
Note: Lupus News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lupus News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lupus.