When I posted about going grain free this week and also eschewing some other foods, I got many comments and emails asking what in the Sam Hill I WOULD be eating. I understand the confusion. As a nourished vegetarian most of my protein came from eggs, dairy, grains, legumes, beans, lentils, nuts and nut butters, greens, and protein supplements. This year I have decided to go grain free and pseudo grain free. This means everything from whole wheat and oats, to rice and Quinoa, is on the chopping block. I am also giving up potatoes, legumes, beans, and lentils. I am restricting dairy to just a small bit of cheese and/or Greek yogurt each day as well.
The comments I got in regards to this were a mixture of confusion (what is left to eat?!) and frustration. It is indeed very frustrating to hear that the foods that have been paraded around in front of you as healthy for all your life, actually aren’t so healthy for you after all. Everyone thinks they have the “right” answer as well. The Weston A. Price folks cling to their lard, tallow, and liver like a security blanket, while the vegetarians and vegans sing the praises of their grains and soy. Raw foodies have wisely ditched the grains but go a bit overboard with nuts and carbs. I have followed all of these diets in the past. None of them seemed to cure everything that ailed me though and recently that has really started to bother me. I truly believe that food should be our medicine and instead of accepting certain nagging health issues as part of life I decided I wanted to get to the bottom of mine. I never imagined that I would want to go paleo or primal and in fact last year I would have said you were out of your cottin pickin mind if you told me I ever would. Those folks are fanatical about meat! And they don’t like dairy, like my beloved yogurt!
So what changed my mind? Actually it was by listening to my own body and analyzing all of my food intake in depth. Thanks to my obsession with SparkPeople.com I have tracked every bit of food that has entered my mouth for over a year. I saw exactly how many grams of carbs, fat, and protein I was consuming as well as all the major vitamins and minerals. It is conventional wisdom that guides Sparkpeople so it is naturally aimed me for a high carb, low fat, moderate protein diet as the goal. Even if I knew that fats were not bad as we have been programmed to believe it still bothered me to get a warning at the end of the day if I went over what they considered healthy. It was almost impossible to eat too many carbs though, which seemed wrong to me. I also had trouble meeting the minimum protein requirements many days.
After I got into weight training I realized my protein load was lacking and my carb load was causing me to feel hungry all day. I was frankly sick and tired of feeling ravenous only an hour or two after a big meal. It got to where I was making dinner for myself later and later because I hoped I would be in bed and asleep before the inevitable after-dinner hunger pangs struck. I knew something was off… my blood sugar and insulin levels. I need protein to keep making gains at the gym. I need less carbs so that I won’t be hungry all the time and be causing my blood sugar to spike all day long. I need more fats in the diet for the same reason… fats are what make you feel satiated and full. My analysis leads me to think I would be better served by a high fat, moderate protein, low carb diet.
If I want low carb then I need to stick to fruits and veggies as my source of carbs and drop any processed carbs that cause blood sugar spikes like grains, rice, potatoes, beans, and the like. After reading books like Wheat Belly I learned of another bazillion reasons to ditch them as well, especially grains like wheat. Going raw again was my first thought but I didn’t want to go crazy with nuts just to get my protein and fat levels higher. They are really hard on the digestive system. I am not a fan of avocados the way most raw foodies are either and coconut products are good but not in massive quantities. Plus raw foodies typically eat metric tons of fruit and dehydrated fruit… ala constant blood sugar spikes yet again. Ironically I had just read a blog post by a raw foodie talking about how many raw food dessert bars they ate in one day, uncontrollably. That sealed it. Lots of dehydrated fruit is no good either because the concentrated sugars will cause you to be ravenous just a short time later as your blood sugar drops. I needed to get off that roller coaster, not find a different version of the same ride.
At the same time I also wanted to address nagging health issues. My thyroid problem was not going away and I am still forced to take meds, something I detest. The hair loss in women is a deal breaker for many, me included. I am also suffering from sleep issues, seasonal depression, some annoying aches and pains, bloating, dry skin, and I broke out like a teenager during a couple of my last menstrual cycles. Yeah, something was way off. It isn’t something I started eating, like the soy-thyroid fiasco, because my diet has been constant, it is most likely something I wasn’t eating.
My research kept leading me back to the paleo or primal diet which is high fat, moderate protein, and low carb (no bad carbs). So why not? Well there is that whole vegetarian thing but I never gave up meat because I thought it was unhealthy to eat. It was out of concern for body acidity and environmental impact that I gave up on meat. I will keep things alkaline by going grain free and the eco issues are solved by buying local, pastured, ethically treated meat and not supporting factory farming. I always said I would go back to eating meat the moment we could raise our own on a small family farm but I guess I can’t wait that long. Of course I will have to put my own spin on the paleo diet and keep most of the fruits and veggies raw, drink my green smoothies, and not forgo dairy entirely. Another big factor is that the rest of my family eats meat and cooking/making different meals has got to stop. It will be such a huge stress reliever to make one meal that all of us eat!
This blog is not vegetarian centric in any way but I know that early this year when I posted a picture of a fish my son caught, some readers acted as though they wanted to come through their computer screens and claw my eyes out. I know some may be disappointed or angry to read I am going back to eating meat but I think I have explained some very solid reasons for doing so. It’s worth a try in my opinion.
I started this diet just before Christmas so it is hard to say with certainty how it is going but I am encouraged thus far that I am on the right track. I am already noticing that I am not experiencing bloating anymore, and I am not hungry between meals. Not hungry AT ALL. In fact I am having trouble getting in all the calories I should be consuming because my body already seems to be using fat stores for energy rather than sending messages to my brain that glucose fuel is needed and I need to eat carbs. I have also been sleeping better already, waking up slightly less in the night. No miracles to proclaim but there is improvement. I look forward to seeing what 2012 brings my way.
Right now I am reading lots about paleo/primal diets. It is based upon meats, seafood, nuts, healthy oils, greens, veggies, and fruit. We all know that previous generations were healthier than our own but rather than eating like my grandmother or my great-grandmother did, I am going back a bit further. The science is there and it is fascinating to read about the way we ate for thousands of years, primal health, and even ways we can exercise that can help us achieve the lean but immensely strong bodies of our ancestors. After reading The Primal Blueprint I was ready to kiss Mark Sisson, whose blog I used to eyeball occasionally but never read in depth, until now. He advises against chronic cardio and shows why that is actually not good for us to run marathons and do extensive cardio as so many do these days. I felt like a lazy slug because I had no desire to run long distances. I am totally content with running a mile or two max (and not every day) and yet all the cool kids seem to be doing marathons and half marathons. Now I am completely content to stick with my mild cardio workouts and weights.
Other Books I am Loving:
The Primal Blueprint Cookbook
Everyday Paleo (pictured above)
The New Evolution Diet
Hope I have answered the “What Will You Eat” question. I wanted to find a happy balance… WAPF with less grains and dairy, raw with more protein and diverse fats, and less sugar/carbs. I think that paleo /primal is a happy middle ground. Is it the “right” way? The jury is still out.
Whole Foods Market is running a 3-part podcast series promoting the “Premium Body Care” standard they have created, and the importance of know what is in your Body Care products.
1. Premium Body Care® – A Worthy Challenge- discusses how their standard helps define What “Natural” really means in body care products.
2. In, Holding the Bar High in Natural Body Care – you’ll hear about why these strict natural guidelines are important. You’ll also learn about Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a national coalition of health and environmental groups that are working to eliminate harmful chemicals from personal care products.
3. Positive Changes for the Industry, for Everyone – looks at how these standards raise the bar for the natural body care industry as a whole.
You can check these podcasts out here.
When we moved last year we finally said goodbye and good riddance to one popular appliance… the microwave. The old one stayed with the house and I knew that we would not be purchasing another. It was time to say goodbye.
We didn’t use our old one very much but the very presence of it meant that we did use it occasionally… say for melting butter or to heat up leftovers quickly. I didn’t want to use it, but it was hard to resist the convenience. It was just one of those things that required some cold turkey action I guess. Now, a year later, I wonder what the big deal is about a microwave. If we can’t eat it raw, or heat it or cook it on a stove top, then we don’t it eat it… end of story.
But why exactly did we want to get rid of our microwave? What is so bad about microwaving your food? Well, the very fact that you can heat food in mere seconds without the microwave being hot to the touch should tell us that microwaves heat our food in a very different way than a stove. Microwaving food is essentially irradiating our food. According to Robert O. Becker M.D.’s and his book The Body Electric, it is unhealthy to even be in close proximity to a microwave. There is a lot of data out there to suggest that microwaves change the chemical make-up of our food, making it unrecognizable to our body as food, creating an immune response in the body, and possibly changing our food to something unfit or even dangerous for us to consume.
If all a microwave did was heat the food and not change the food, then why would a woman have died in a 1991 Oklahoma case after blood for a transfusion was heated in a microwave? The blood for transfusions was usually heated before procedures but not in a microwave. After receiving microwaved blood the patient, who was getting hip surgery, reacted to the blood and died on the table.
For years we have been told by experts not to microwave breast milk since it kills the beneficial elements found in it. We have also been told not to microwave formula, but the reason given is usually the chance that “hot spots” will burn the baby. I think it is because most experts know that microwaving the formula is rendering it lifeless and maybe even toxic. If even some of the research on the effects of microwaved food can be proved conclusively true then it is a travesty how many children have been raised drinking microwaved milk or formula. Could this be another reason, in an ever growing list of reasons, why kids are so unhealthy today?
In that same article (linked to above) it shows how a Swiss biologist and food scientist Dr. Hans Hertel studied the effects of microwaved food and found that the blood of people who ate microwaved foods showed a decrease in hemoglobin and cholesterol values, in the HDL (good cholesterol) versus LDL (bad cholesterol) ratio and in white blood cells, weakening the immune system, and an increase in leukocyte levels, which tends to indicate poisoning and cell damage—conditions ripening the body for degenerative diseases and/or cancer. On the cover of a magazine that published one of his studies there was a picture of the Grim Reaper holding a microwave oven in one of his hands.
Another research paper worth reading is by Lita Lee Ph.D (chemist, enzyme therapist, nutritionist, author and lecturer that has been in private practice since 1984). In this paper she discusses how microwaves are labeled as health hazards in Europe and other developed countries. They are even outlawed in some countries, such as the Soviet Union. It goes on to explain exactly how they work and why they are harmful.
You have probably also done some field work on your own that confirms these findings. Put a lovely dish of fresh food in the microwave and look at how it comes out… a lifeless, melty blob. Microwaved food is VERY unappealing because of the way it looks on the outside… it is just as unappealing on the inside though.
The data on microwave ovens shows that they change the chemical makeup of the food they cook and that those changes can and do lead to changes in our blood that can cause deterioration within our bodies. While there may be much we don’t know about microwaves the things we do know are sufficient enough for me to take an item that I rarely used and ensure it is an item that I never use. After one year without one, I wonder why it was I even thought that having one was necessary. The only area I need to address is the rare time when I might eat out… I need to make sure that any restaurant that I patronize hasn’t used a microwave to heat the food because there are some restaurants that I know of (Applebees for instance) that do.
How do you feel about microwaves? Do you use one? Is getting rid of it hard for you?
Just some weekend reading…
When I got an email from Mike Adams over at NaturalNews.com about a special report available on his site called “Seven Words that Can Change the World”, I was skeptical. It sounds full of hype but I decided to read it anyway. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed it. It really is a remarkable book/report from Joseph R. Simonetta, a master architect with a master of divinity degree from Harvard. He made some excellent points about why the political system will never change things, why the greed of some is ruining our health, happiness, and planet, and why most organized religion as we know it is failing us as a society. The book is full of simple truths and simple answers….seven really simple words that can change the world.
You can read it online here. If you do come on back and let me know what you thought.