Sunday, June 04, 2006

I Went Paleo Last Night!

Felicia and I visited a Japanese restaurant last night so that I could have the ikura maki I've been wanting for the past couple of weeks. Ikura maki is sushi made with roe (fish eggs), often without rice. Felicia didn't want ikura, but she was interested in what type of sushi she could have without rice. The sushi chef, Ryan, was very accomodating - in fact, he was intrigued by the challenge of making sushi without rice or fish. But something was messed up in the translation and he took it upon himself to come up with two attractive pieces of nigiri sushi made with raw tuna and raw salmon, along with a spicy cabbage made with mayonnaise (see photo). This was definitely NOT what I wanted- not a fish egg in sight! But since he was so inventive I felt obligated to eat, and I reasoned that the fish was raw, so...

Felicia is more assertive than I am and she let the chef know that I really did want ikura, not raw fish, and that because we are eating a raw diet, eating the mayonnaised vegetable would set us back on our road to health. She was very friendly about it, and the chef reacted very graciously, telling us that because this was his mistake, that we shouldn't worry about paying for it. He wouldn't take it back, suggesting that we eat it if we wanted. I went ahead and ate the raw fish out of the sushi roll, curious about what effect it might have on me. I'm pleased to report that we didn't get sick, lightning did not strike us, and the Raw Police did not surround our car after the meal!

Felicia's inventive meal consisted of cucumber, avocado, carrot, a tiny amount of marinated onion, wrapped in nori. The cucumber was sliced in a continuous, horizontal manner so as to create a long, thin sheet the width of the cucumber. This sheet was laid upon the nori, and the vegetable strips placed on top of that. Lastly, some smoked salmon was included (Felicia won't eat her fish raw). She LOVED this sushi! I will definitely make this for her at home.

Both of us have been concerned about aspects of our health since going raw. Felicia is more in need of nutrient-dense meals than the average person because her gastric bypass surgery limits the amount of nutrients she gets from a meal. She also has very low iron and has felt tired on occasion. Gastric bypass patients have to pay special attention their B12 levels, sometimes requiring B12 shots. I am concerned about my hair loss, which has been linked in many medical texts to deficiencies in the B vitamins and in protein. Although I take supplements and enjoy a rare kombucha tea which provide B vitamins, I have had a chronically difficult time achieving the RDA of protein. We found that three ounces of raw salmon and tuna have between 17 and 20 grams of protein respectively. Fish roe has about 12 grams of protein for 4 tablespoons. So for a small amount of raw fish and raw fish eggs, I had about 30 grams of protein, plus the fish had 40% of the RDA of B12.

I prefer to get my nutrients through foods rather than through supplements. If I were to eat animal products for protein, I would prefer to eat fish rather than raw cheese. It seems more healthy to me (just my gut feeling- no knowlege behind it whatsoever). However, I don't trust my skills enough to buy, store and eat raw fish from the grocery store- too much risk of illness. I'm also not sure I want to eat raw fish or ikura regularly; a little goes a long way for me! I'd consider having salmon cooked in some way that adds only herbs and spices, but then the dilemma would be that I'm adding a cooked food to my menu. What's so bad about that? Nothing, really (well, animal rights people would disagree with that statement!)

The bottom line is that I don't belong to a cult that dictates what I eat. I have to be the one to make nutritional decisions that enhance my health and well-being. My main criteria are that I get all my necessary nutrients, and that I don't develop the cravings and bingeing that kept me overweight and unhealthy in the past. Although the majority of my diet is raw, I give myself room to explore the options out there. I do feel a little guilty about eating animal products, but I recognize that this is because I am influenced by the ideas of raw foodists around me whom I admire and whom have found success on all-raw diets. I'm not like those people, though. Are they losing their hair? No! I have to find my own way.




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