Friday, July 10, 2009
Chinese Restaurant Syndrome
There are people who believe that the food additive and flavor enhancer, Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), causes headache, chest pains, drowsiness, weakness, tingling and numbness sensation in the head, etc. There is a doctor who published an article in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1968, describing these symptoms as routinely appearing in himself within 15-20 minutes of eating food from chinese restaurants. Then there are people who assert that all the fear and paranoia about MSG is unfounded; rather, it is a great flavor enhancer producing a savory meaty flavor to foods with no proven ill-health effects. Who to believe? Well, I believe my body. I just ate some chinese take-out yesterday from a nearby restaurant (Leola) and had a horrible headache within a half-hour. It lasted for about 5 hours with a constant pressure in the front of my head. My 7 year old daughter ate the same food and experienced the same thing. It tasted great, but I can't imagine ever going back to that restaurant again. When I asked the man at the counter if they use MSG, he said something like, "MSG...I don't know. We don't put it in, but we buy our sauces pre-made, so we use whatever is in there. I don't know what's in it." Hmmm... I say to myself... the likely culprit. My self-study will go on. I just want to encourage you to be a student of your own body and listen to it well. Feed it well. Care for it. We have God given instincts that often get over-looked in a fast paced life. Believe your gut when it tells you not to eat "that thing" again. And be confident that it's ok to ask about ingredients in restaurants. I'll end with some healthy thoughts on making your own stir-fry at home. It's easy and colorful. The most time-consuming part is washing and chopping. After that, it's like riding downhill on your bike. Start by soaking brown rice in water overnight. This is an easy step that brings the best absorption of nutrients from the rice to your body. By the way, white rice is kinda like white flour. It's missing the vital parts of the grain. If your family is not used to brown rice, you can slowly acclimate by using half brown rice and half white rice until you make the switch. As the brown rice is simmering, lightly saute your favorite veggies in extra virgin olive oil. I like broccoli, carrots, water chestnuts, snow peas, bean sprouts, shredded cabbage, seaweed, etc... Cover and set aside. If you wish to add meat, saute it in olive oil as well. Combine the veggies and meat and experiment with sauces. I like to mix up some "Bragg's Liquid Aminos" with a little sesame oil, garlic, and peanut butter. That gives it a really hearty flavor. Stir it into the meat and veggies. Top it with some chopped cashews. Yum!