Last night, I was watching television and the news came on. Typically, I avoid watching the news because I hate being force-fed all the murder and mayhem that goes on. And while I do not at all believe in ignoring reality, I choose to focus on things that are pertinent to my family: politics, health, money, etc. I know very well that bad things happen all the time, but I can’t let that clutter my mind. After years of writing those stories, I just can’t.
So, usually I change the channel when the news comes on. But last night, I heard the announcer say that coming up was a story on a new study that links asthma and a high-fat diet. I didn’t change the channel. That I had to watch. I’ve had asthma since I was a very young child, and it’s been particularly bad for the past five years.
Turns out that a new study from researchers at the University of Newcastle in Australia looked how eating high-fat meals (a burger and hashbrowns) impacted asthma and the effectiveness of albuterol, the rescue inhaler that many asthmatics use. Not only did symptoms worsen after the high fat meal (which was compared to responses after eating a lower fat meal), but the medication’s effectiveness was lessened.
I woke Shawn up when I heard that, astonished that a study had proven something that I had wondered about for awhile. Last year, I stopped cooking and eating pancetta because it consistently gave me bad asthma attacks. We talked about the implications of the study and whether it should change how we eat.
The answer? A clear, resounding yes. I have a high-fat diet, and have had one for years — ever since I was pregnant with Will. I don’t shy away from butter or oil, although I do attempt to use both in moderation, and I adore a good steak. In trying to eat more naturally, I have eaten more fat as a result. A lot more. But if a simple change in my diet can make my asthma symptoms just a little better, than that is totally worth it.
I won’t be going back to low-fat processed foods, like the ones I ate for years and years. But I will make smarter, healthier food choices. More chicken, more turkey, more fish … We’ll have to make smarter choices about the cuts of beef we eat on a regular basis, and even the fat content of the meats. Maybe I will have to eat more spinach (which admittedly, I am not that fond of) for iron … I don’t know. It’s going to be a challenge to find a new way of eating that bridges my desire for a local, natural diet and my need for a low-fat one.
Whether it improves my asthma or just helps me lose weight, I can see only positives coming from this. This was just the catalyst I needed to really commit to changing how I eat.
Now, this is where I would normally come up with some transition between the story and the recipe but there is no natural transition … so instead, I just give you a delicious, homemade hummus recipe. It’s rich and creamy with a tinge of sweetness from the caramelized shallots. Easy as pie … and it falls in line with my need for a lower-fat diet.
Does this study change anything for you? Share!
Read more about hummus in my latest column for Tablespoon.