When I first started this blog, I was fairly new to paleo/primal/real food (whatever you want to call it) eating. I had been eating this way for close to a year, but I hadn’t learned much yet about the whys behind it. I just knew that eating this way made sense to me – there was no doubt in my mind that choosing whole, natural foods, was the healthiest way to eat. Plus, I felt good when I ate this way & my workouts improved.
As I started this blog, I received lots of questions from friends/family/acquaintances. As people asked me questions like isn’t eating egg yolks unhealthy? I realized I had to do some research. Just telling people “no, how could it be unhealthy when it’s a whole natural food?”, wasn’t explanation enough when for many many years we have been told (by people that have way more authority than me :)… Egg yolks = cholesterol = heart disease = bad food. It is a little bit hard at first to take it all in. Meat and animal fats have been pretty well demonized in our culture. We have constantly heard that they cause high cholesterol, heart disease, and a whole host of other health problems and rarely are the essential nutrients they provide to us discussed. When people asked me these questions, I really wanted to be able to answer them because I wanted to help people make healthier choices. Plus, anyone that knows me, knows that I don’t like losing debates ;).
But, really this blog, the readers, my friends, plus some health conditions challenged me to learn more about the science behind why this type of lifestyle is optimal. I started reading lots of blogs, scientific & anthropological papers, & nutrition books. I always thought science wasn’t my thing, I loved humanities, social sciences, & literature. In college & grad school, I read lots of dense theory, philosphy & sociological studies, but if someone told me … fast forward 5 years & you will be reading scientific studies & nutrition books, I would have never believed it. I have surprisingly become fascinated by nutrition and the science behind it. Having no background in science makes it a little tough, but at least having one in research is helping (had to take lots of research methods courses in grad-school, & worked as a researcher in the high tech field for several years). I am really enjoying learning about this stuff!
With all that said … what I really wanted to blog about, is that since I have learned more about nutrition, the way I eat has significantly changed from when I first started this blog. I thought it would be helpful if I gave you a quick overview of some of these changes.
Like most people following a paleo diet, in the beginning I ate ALOT of fruit & nuts. I think the big reason people do this is because they do not eat large enough meals – essentially not eating enough protein & fats, so we are left hungry & need more snacks. Fruit & nuts are tasty, easy snacks – but what I slowly learned is that they aren’t the healthiest of options.
- I eat much less fruit – 0-2 pieces a day. Fruit is mostly fructose & according to the Healthy Skeptic, “Unlike glucose, which is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and taken up by the cells, fructose is shunted directly to the liver where it is converted to fat”. However, for people with healthy metabolisms, a couple of pieces of fruit a day seems fine.
- I eat way less nuts – I used to eat several ounces a day. I now use nuts as an accent, I will throw them in a salad or add them to a dish. I rarely snack on them. This is because nuts tend to have a high content of omega-6 fatty acids. It would be ideal to have a 1:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in our diets, unfortunately modern day foods are loaded with omega-6 & contain very little omega-3. I learned that reducing omega-6 intake wherever I can, will help me get a closer balance & help with some of the inflammation issues I am experiencing (omega-6 is inflammatory). If I do snack on nuts, I stick to macadamias as they have a low omega-6 content & I stay away from walnuts, as they have a very high one.
- I eat larger meals – Paleo type of diets typically tend to have a much lighter caloric load than grain based diets, so I found that I needed to eat a lot more than I was at first to stay full. I think we find this hard to do because we have been told over & over again — eat small portions. That concept was so ingrained in me, it took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I need to eat until I am full & with paleo foods that was just more food for me than I was used to (at least it looked like more food, although it was actually much less calories).
- I eat lots of animal fat!– this is a tough one to over come … we have been fed so much propoganda about how animal fats are so bad for us, blah, blah — According to Mary Enig, Phd “Most people would be surprised to learn that there is, in fact, very little evidence to support the contention that a diet low in cholesterol and saturated fat actually reduces death from heart disease or in any way increases one’s life span” (post on this coming soon).
So, what do I eat…
- lots of grass-fed beef
- wild-caught fish
- some chicken, some pork (mostly because they aren’t my favorite meats)
- lamb (rarely – I tend to forget about lamb)
- bacon (nitrate & nitrite free)
- soups from home-made broth
- grass-fed butter
- lots of veggies
- lots of sweet potatoes (I have no metabolic problems, so this works for me)
- some fruit
- lots of coconut oil
- lots of avocado
- olive oil on my salads
- lots of eggs
- kimchi & sauerkraut
- white potatoes with no skin (as this is where the toxins are)
- white rice – i learned from my practioner that this is a “safe starch” – all the bran is removed, so it is pretty much like eating a a potato. Why I eat this only occasionally is because when I eat rice, I tend to overeat and get bloated. And that just feels icky.
- dairy (occasionally) – usually grass-fed if available: raw milk, full cream, cheese
I have also learned a lot about what works for me! I have learned to kick back & relax. If I want to have a “cheat” sometimes (as long as it is gluten-free) … It’s fine! I don’t stress it. I am not trying to lose weight, I have no metabolic problems, I just want to maintain eating healthy & these are the things that work for me. I have found that a lot of this is about experimenting & figuring out what works for you & what is sustainable for you in the long run as a lifestyle!
Have a great weekend full of healthy, nutritious food!