Catering Food With Care

Last week it was my Son’s birthday and we planned to take the kids for a picnic to the lakeside park. We decided to make a salad and pack some sandwiches & drinks for the picnic. We prepared the sandwiches at night and took along with us for the morning trip. By mid-day we were at the lake. As we spread the sheets on the grass the kids felt hungry and demanding food. As I opened the basket I smelt something weird.

The sandwiches with chicken filling was giving out unpleasant smell. The food had gone bad. To our good fortune we figured out that it had gone bad and decided not to eat it. Such instances happen with each one of us in our day to day life. We often prepare food at home and then take it somewhere else to be eaten. A lot of people cater from home and supply food to people. As the person preparing or handling the food, it is your responsibility to make sure your food does not make the guests ill. Food poisoning is a miserable and potentially dangerous experience.

You will need to take extra care if any young children, pregnant women, older people or anyone who is ill will be coming to the function. This is because if anyone in these vulnerable groups gets food poisoning, they are more likely to become seriously ill. In spite of using fresh ingredients to prepare food, it goes bad so soon. Let’s figure out what really went wrong?

The most common errors which lead to food poisoning are:

Poor storage of Food
Cold foods not kept cold enough or hot foods hot enough
Inadequate cooking
Not separating raw and ready-to-eat food

Food contamination can happen at any stage be it cooking, transportation and even storage. Inappropriate storage is often reported as the cause of food poisoning outbreak. Food is left unrefrigerated for prolonged period which makes it prone to bacteria infestation. If you are planning to prepare food for a large group ensure that you have an appropriate sized refrigerator and freezer to store food and you use proper wrapping paper and bags to store food.

Raw food and Ready to eat food should never be stored together. This increases the risk of bacterial activity.

Cooked foods that need to be chilled should be cooled as quickly as possible, preferably within an hour. Avoid putting them in the fridge until they are cool, because this will push up the temperature of the fridge. To cool hot food quickly, place it in the coolest place you can find – often not in the kitchen. Another way is to put the food in a clean, sealable container, and put it under a running cold water tap or in a basin of cold water, or use ice packs in cool bags. Where practical, reduce cooling times by dividing foods into smaller amounts.

Once the food is prepared, getting it to where the function is being held can be a problem. This can be particularly difficult when there are large quantities of perishable food involved. Use cool boxes. You will also need to check that the facilities at the place where the function is being held are adequate for keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Adequate fridge and cooker capacity there is just as important as in the home.

Cooking food thoroughly is the key to killing most of the harmful bacteria that cause food poisoning. Large meat joints or whole poultry are more difficult to prepare safely, so take special care with them.After having learnt all this I realized why the picnic food got spoilt. I let the chicken sandwiches out unrefrigerated for way too long and I did not care to separate salads and ready to eat food. I could have used cool box for transporting the food. But I guess we all learn from our bad experiences.

When Food You Love Doesn’t Like You

Before my doctoral program – which required me to narrow down to a specialty (sugar addiction) – I had studied food intolerances.

Many books on the subject start with food reactions, then move into chemicals in our homes and offices, gasoline fumes, and more. Important as those things are, they’re not about nutrition.

My interest in food intolerances has always been their link with addiction.

Recently, I “attended” a webinar by J.J. Virgin, whose first book (I believe) was on food intolerances and how to eliminate those foods to improve health and lose weight. The webinar re-sparked my interest in food intolerance and addiction.

Common triggers for food intolerance include chocolate, corn, soy, wheat (or other gluten-containing foods), peanuts, dairy, eggs, sugars and other sweeteners.

What Does Food Intolerance Look Like?

Signs and symptoms can include headache/migraine, joint pains, fatigue, sleepiness, heart palpitations, depression, irritability, stomach pains, bloating, and many more.

Because digested food moves through the bloodstream, the effects of an intolerance can show up virtually anywhere in the body.

Food reactions might be the same every time the food is eaten, such as a rash.

Or the reactions might vary – say, a non-itchy rash one time and itching with no rash another time.

The reaction might be cumulative. Maybe a small portion of the food causes no reaction, but a portion eaten again that day, or several days in a row, does causes one.

Addiction is another possible reaction that may develop over time.

What Causes Food Intolerances?

The causes are many, but let’s keep it simple.

One cause is a genetic intolerance or a tendency toward it.

We can become intolerant to a food we eat often or in large quantities. Overeating a food uses up enzymes specific to digesting that food, so complete digestion is prevented.

That may result in improperly digested food particles moving through the digestive tract and bloodstream, triggering an immune reaction. The undigested, unabsorbed food provides no nutrients.

We can also become reactive to a food we eat together with another triggering food. So the list of triggering foods may grow, resulting eventually in malnutrition.

Food Reactions May Change Over Time

The guiding principle of the human body is homeostasis.

When a trigger food is first eaten, the body attempts to restore homeostasis by ridding itself of the offending food. It prevents absorption by attaching antibodies to the partially digested food while it’s in the intestine. That might successfully eliminate the food before it can pass into the bloodstream.

If the food does enter the bloodstream, it can trigger inflammation. The acute reaction may be short, and the body may return to homeostasis quickly.

If someone continues to eat a triggering food over time, the body undergoes an adaptation. The immune system may become slower (or less able) to respond. The reaction may now manifest more slowly than the acute reaction. Signs or symptoms may last longer, sometimes hours or days.

How Can That Become a Food Addiction?

The immune response to a triggering food involves a release of stress hormones, opioids, such as endorphins (beta-endorphin), and chemical mediators like serotonin. The combination can produce temporary symptom relief through the analgesic action of endorphin and serotonin, plus mood elevation and a feeling of relaxation.

In that way, eating the triggering food may make someone feel better almost immediately and even think the food is beneficial.

Endorphin release typically involves a concomitant release of dopamine. The combination of those two brain chemicals and serotonin forms what I’ve always called the “addictive package.” Avoiding the food could lead to withdrawal.

After long-term use, someone may eat the triggering food not to experience the pleasure of the chemical “high,” but to relieve the distress and withdrawal without it. It’s almost textbook addiction.

How Does Intolerance/Addiction Affect Health?

As someone addicted to a triggering food continues to eat more of it, the immune system must keep adapting, and may become hyper-sensitized, reacting to more and more foods – especially those eaten together with reaction-triggering foods, or with sugar.

The constant demand on the immune system can lead to immune exhaustion and degenerative reactions, depending on genetic weaknesses. The signs and symptoms listed above are just a start.

Sugar can be a major player in this because it causes inflammation in the body and makes it more susceptible to food reactions. Eating triggering foods plus sugar can make it even more likely that new reactions will occur.

I recall a book by Nancy Appleton, who suggested that eggs might trigger reactions in many people because they’re so frequently eaten at breakfast with orange juice. Cake is another example: sugar plus wheat, eggs, milk.

As the addictions continue, cravings occur, leading to increased consumption. As more and more foods trigger an immune response, the result may be malnutrition, as explained above.

Stats say that rates of food intolerance are rising. My theory is that it’s at least partly due to sugar in our diets – including sneaky sugars that are often viewed as healthful, such as agave, fruit, fruit juice, and sweeteners.

Stopping the Cycle

Definitely give up any foods you suspect may be causing any reactions – even if you love them. Think about foods you eat with those triggering foods on a regular basis, and consider eliminating those, as well. Above all, avoid sugar.

Follow this plan, as J.J. Virgin recommends, for 3 weeks.

In the meantime, you may have cravings. If so, use my proven, time-tested recommendation of a teaspoon of liquid B-complex (complete B-complex) to kill the craving within minutes.

At the end of the 3-week elimination, you should be feeling – and looking – much better.