Food as Medicine
Lung disease nutritionist Michelle MacDonald says, “You wouldn’t skip taking your medication, so why would you miss a meal?” and this resonates with me. Even when I am not hungry or have an upset stomach, I do my best to eat. Sometimes, my attitude is just “get it down the hatch,” in other words, don’t overthink it, just eat.
Because it is unreasonable to expect my body to heal if I am depriving it of nutrients. It would be like expecting a wood-burning stove to burn brightly without putting wood in it!
Generally speaking, I like foods that have texture and crunch. I prefer eating fruit and vegetables to a smoothie and cookies over tiramisu. But, when I am not feeling well or am excitedly busy with a project, all of the crunching and munching loses its appeal. To prevent a decline in my nutrition, I make sure that I have my “baby food soup” on hand.
I call the soup that because when my daughters were young and we were living in Italy, that’s what I fed them. It was nearly impossible to find baby food in jars, so like the Italians, I made a vegetable and pastina puree. Che buono!
Now when I need a little TLC, I make it for myself. Sometimes I saute vegetables in olive oil and then add water, tomatoes, broth and beans or lentils. Other times when I don’t want to fuss, I just chop up vegetables and throw them in a pot with the other ingredients. I vary spices and flavoring, but I always cook the soup for an hour or more. Then I use my immersion blender and puree everything to a silky texture. If I didn’t use olive oil, I’ll add that too and sometimes a little quinoa to thicken the soup. Then I freeze the soup in portion-size containers so that it is available on days when munching and crunching aren’t appealing.
Because food is medicine. Not just in a sound-bite sort of way, but in an inherently true and deeply meaningful way.
Linda Cooper Esposito, MPH is a health educator with bronchiectasis. She developed the BE CLEAR Method to Living with Bronchiectasis and writes with compassion and humor about this chronic lung disease.