January 30, 2013

Natural Foodie: Two writers share sexy, 'mindful' food changes

By Avery Yale Kamila akamila@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

Food is meant to nourish, but too often it becomes an addiction, an obsession or, worse yet, an enemy.

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“Food Fix” is Susan Lebel Young's guide out of the wasteland of unhealthy food choices.

Courtesy photo

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“The MILF Diet” by Jessica Porter is one road map to follow if you want to flee unhealthy food choices.

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In this land flooded with over-abundant, overprocessed fake foods heavily laced with sugar, fat, salt and chemicals, but devoid of the nutrition our bodies crave, disordered eating has practically become a national pastime.

If you turn to food to soothe your feelings, dull your emotions, slack a seemingly insatiable hunger or cope with the stresses of the day, then you'll want to check out two new books from women with Maine ties.

While differing in format and approach, both address the underlying issue of unhealthy food relationships and offer concrete solutions to help you turn away from fake food and fill your plate with real, plant-based foods instead.

In "The MILF Diet," former full-time Portlander and current summer resident Jessica Porter presents a beautiful cookbook that shows women how to use the techniques of macrobiotic cooking to bring their bodies and lives back into balance.

In "Food Fix," Falmouth resident Susan Lebel Young provides an accessible self-help guide based on personal experience and the principles of mindfulness to lead readers out of the junk food abyss and into a real food oasis.


"The MILF Diet: Let the Power of Whole Foods Transform Your Body, Mind, and Spirit Deliciously!" by Jessica Porter. $35; milfdietbook.com

First, let's talk about the cheeky title.

If you don't know what the acronym stands for, I suggest you Google it (since we're not allowed to tell you in a family-friendly newspaper). But in PG language, I can tell you it means a mother with sex appeal.

Porter, who now lives in Santa Monica, admits that "perhaps I live in a bubble of Southern California," before saying all the female friends she asked about the term viewed it as a compliment (even those who lived far from the liberal lifestyle).

Still, this hasn't stopped bloggers and commentators (particularly those who haven't read the book) from criticizing the title as sexist. However, the first thing you read on picking up the book is Porter's feminist embrace of MILF as a term that shatters the madonna/whore complex.

"It occurred to me the word MILF contained maternity and husky, musky sexuality," said Porter, who authored "The Hip Chick's Guide to Macrobiotics" when she lived in Portland. "Those things have been driven in separate ways by our culture."

Porter says the MILFs she knows combine good looks with the more important emotional and physical health.

In order to regain or maintain one's MILFness, Porter advocates eating whole, plant-based foods that follow the macrobiotic principles of balance. This starts with limiting or eliminating extreme yang foods (meat, baked goods) and extreme yin foods (sugar, dairy) and adding cooked whole grains and leafy greens. And chewing them really well.

Those who want to take it further, add in beans, more vegetables and seaweed.

But Porter is well aware that many women may pick up this book after being stuck in our society's merry-go-round of disordered eating and dieting and may need to proceed very slowly toward change.

Writing that she "grew up on TV dinners and Tang" and later moved onto dieting and bingeing, Porter demonstrates that it is possible to break out of this cycle and create a different relationship between food and your body.

"A macrobiotic diet is a daily seeking of balance based on healthy ingredients and that person's age, gender, desires and what climate that person is living in," Porter said.

While her book is firmly centered in the cooking philosophy of macrobiotics, Porter isn't a big fan of the word.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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Susan Lebel Young

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Jessica Porter

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Jessica Porter’s tempeh “tuna,” which stands in nicely for the high-in-mercury real thing, works well in sandwiches, salads or right out of the bowl.

Joshua Shaub photo

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