Cucina Povera

Abito una vita di cucina povera adesso. Soltanto mangio lentiche; pasta; verdure; dei pesce; e frutta. Aqua, aqua, aqua. Non bevande.

The Italian is elegant: cucina povera is literally “poor kitchen” or poverty food. It sounds beautiful in Italian though.

Years ago I told my shrink: “I want to lose weight.”

His automatic response: “Lay off the pasta”–giving me a Cheshire smile like he knew I was up to no good with the sauce.

Yet I think more psychiatrists should take an active role in having a dialogue with their patients about health, nutrition, and fitness. I think it’s foolish and could be unethical to merely write out a prescription and send the person on their way after a irresolute 15-minute chat.

I have decided that having a poor kitchen eating plan is better: for my wallet, my health, and for our planet.

We need to vote with our pocketbooks and not fork over our hard-earned money on food and drink that is going to make us sick while agribusinesses earn billions and billions of dollars.

Monsant-No! has polluted waterways with cancer-causing PCBs that have decimated inhabitants of a town and left it a ghost town. This company vociferously claimed its Agent Orange product would not harm human beings. Yes right we all know how that turned out.

Eating mostly fruits and vegetables is the way to go now. And I eat mostly organic fruits and vegetables. It’s better for the planet; it’s better for our plates. This is one instance where individual choices can benefit the world we live in beyond our bottom line–our waists and wallets.

I will return in here with cheap, simple recipes readers can cook or make.

I wrote in the Flourish blog about nutritional psychiatry. It’s high time and high tide that psychiatrists strive to treat the whole person: our bodies not just our heads.

Our shrinks must dialogue with us about our eating habits and refer us to a nutritionist if we have to consider this option. From 1990 to 1993 I met with an MD who had a private practice focused on nutrition and health. Dr. K. wrote on her prescription pad the RDAs of protein, calcium, and other vitamins I needed to have in my diet and what kinds of foods were the source of the RDAs.

I doubt it’s a coincidence that after I started seeing Dr. K I lost 20 pounds and kept it off until I was 40 and gained five pounds. Since taking up a weight lifting routine I lost those five pounds again.

There’s something to be said about judicious frugality like keeping a poor kitchen.

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Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She owns a resume writing and career help business. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and a fitness buff.

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