I’m taking the 7-Day Real Food Challenge with Mary’s Kitchen. (If you’d like to catch up, start here.) To tell the truth, I had overhauled my eating already, beginning around mid-June, and some posts had been floating around in my head; I thought the Challenge was the perfect time to pin me down! I’ve found some good resources that have helped.
A strict paleo diet doesn’t include any dairy or grains, and though I’m not quite willing to go that far, I am using a modified paleo diet. (I love my rice and beans and half-and-half in my coffee!) With my wheat allergy, their no-grain philosophy has given me some good alternatives, and I’ve learned a lot about nutrition by reading up on this diet. The resources I’ve used have talked at length about the connection between what they’ve termed the SAD diet (Standard American Diet) and many, many of the health problems that plague our country: obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol, lupus, ADD, etc. I understood enough to see that most nutrition absorption occurs in our small intestine, and when we try to process foods that we were not designed to process, (especially all the added chemicals!) inflammation results– and that inflammation affects our immune system and wreaks havoc. Paleo also stresses blood sugar regulation and the dangers of huge spikes resulting from processed carbs and sugars.
by Diane Sanfilippo
This book was recommended by my friend who has lost a lot of weight by changing what she was eating. Like me, she does more of a Real Food diet than strict paleo. What I liked about the book was that the author took all her scientific knowledge and put it in easy-to-follow, practical applications. She has a good website, too, called Balanced Bites. In addition to teaching about how paleo diets work in your body, she has 30-day menu plans designed to address particular health needs like high blood pressure and cholesterol, autoimmune diseases, cancer recovery, and others.
Mark’s Daily Apple website
Read his “Primal Blueprint” in a nutshell on his website. To put it in an even smaller shell, it’s this:
- Diet–Eat things that occur in nature and avoid poisons.
- Exercise– Move around a lot at a slow pace (Think hunter-gatherer); run really fast once in a while (Think being chased by lions); and lift heavy things.
- Lifestyle– Play, get plenty of sleep, get sunshine every day, avoid trauma, and use your mind.
After bingeing a couple of days reading everything I could find about Paleo diets, I found this TED talk on “Debunking the paleo myth!” Dr. Warinner, an archeological scientist, basically says that they are not based on science. However, she says there are a lot of good things about the diet: (If you can’t watch the whole video, please at least watch the 3-point wrap up beginning at 17:00.)
- Dietary diversity: Vary your food types as much as possible– the SAD is headed toward fewer, not more foods: wheat, corn, and soy.
- Fresh, natural foods: We don’t really know the effect chemical additives and preservatives on our bodies, but we are inundating them with chemicals that we were not designed to ingest.
- Whole foods: Consume foods in as close to their natural state as possible, including “their fiber and roughage, and everything.” When we eat processed foods, we get far too many calories in a very compact form, and miss the other important parts that tell us we’re full, slow down the absorption of nutrients in our gut, and regulate our blood sugar. This contributes to obesity and other health problems.
For me the game changer from this whole video was the information about sugar and how our bodies are designed to absorb it. To get the equivalent amount of sugar in a 32 ounce soda, can you guess how much sugar cane you’d have to eat? Anyone? EIGHT AND A HALF FEET! As Dr. Warinner says, there is no possible way you could eat that much sugar cane– even if you really, really wanted to! And now we can get the equivalent amount of sugar in about 20 minutes.
If you want to improve your diet, but all this real food/paleo diet information is overwhelming, simply make a few simple changes.
- Begin reading labels and if there are more than 5 ingredients, don’t buy it.
- If you don’t know what some of the ingredients are, don’t buy it. (They are probably highly processed additives to cheaply add or enhance flavor, or else preservatives.) Instead of buying frozen veggies in sauce, buy plain frozen veggies and make your own. Or eat them plain, with some natural, full-fat butter!
- Avoid foods that are no-fat or “lite.” These usually have other things added to make up for what’s taken out, and they are worse for you than the real stuff. If you are limiting calories, just skip them altogether or limit them.