Monday, January 28, 2013

My Latest Food Strategy : Paleo + Raw Foods

I have been testing a combination paleo + raw (uncooked) food strategy for the past year and realized it had some additional bonuses besides health that I wasn’t expecting. Before I go into that on the next post, I wanted to quick give a background about what motivated me to completely change around what I’ve been eating:

Up until last year, I had been following what I thought was a very healthy lifestyle, choosing ‘healthy whole grains’, avoiding cholesterol, etc … basically thinking that people who specialized in health had these food recommendations on lock down – all figured out. It never occurred to me that the foods that were supposedly healthy might have lead to digestion troubles I’d been experiencing over the years. I strongly suspect I have a gluten sensitivity. (In general, I'm beginning to suspect most people likely have varying degrees of trouble with gluten – aka: grains/bread/pasta.) I was so relieved and thankful to hear about different approaches to eating that anyone can try out to see if it helps with their health concerns.

My general approach to most things at this point is to find out as much unfiltered data as possible and make my own conclusions; then I’ll tell people what worked for me & hopefully that’s helpful. :) I hope everyone does the same! My concern with the standard advice we get from authority figures is that it is at best based on an extremely reduced data set. (More in a future post.) Suffice it to say that I have found it very rewarding on many levels to test out promising ideas on my own. At this point, I have an extreme skepticism to modern food processing. A key change was that I no longer feel the need to wait for a ‘study’ to declare that modern food processing is harmful, now that I realize I can just test out a new approach myself and see the results myself.

My main misconceptions: 

  • I had just assumed official agencies had the basic health tips on lock down so we didn’t have to worry. Doh! 
  • I had also thought people would need to wait until their later years to find out if their food choices may have had an effect on preventing some horrible disease, but I now realize that common health conditions people experience throughout their lives may be directly related to the food they are eating. Doh!
    • Being healthy throughout your life is much less expensive than buying treatments for ‘normal’ health afflictions.
  • I had thought health ailments were a result of the body running amuck and needed to be saved by the wonders of modern medical science.
    • I now strongly suspect the majority of chronic health conditions are symptoms of an underlying problem. Treating the symptoms with modern medical paradigms are more analogous to turning off the check engine light on you car. At this point, I view symptoms as clues to help you figure out the actual cause of the problem, and supporting your body with whatever it's trying to do.
  • I had expected that any effective remedy to a health condition would work within a day or so. (The magic pill from the doctor mindset.)
    • I now suspect the timeline to remedy the true root source of a health problem (depending upon how long it's been building) can be on the order of years. Sometimes results are noticeable much sooner, but still usually at least a few weeks, or a few months of consistent effort in the 'right' direction. The key is that overnight 'remedies' usually treat symptoms, that soon come back again and again.
Here’s my latest overall food approach:
My food is my medicine.
  • By volume, I eat mostly greens (rotated varieties each day). Blending these in smoothies or juicing makes it much easier to eat at least 1 lb a day.
    •   I also make sure to eat seaweed each day for more minerals (mostly kelp and dulse for the iodine): www.mountainroseherbs.com 
  • By calories, I have been eating mostly fats (mainly coconuts and avocados).
  • For bioavailable B12, Zinc, Omega3, and other fat soluble vitamins: grass-fed beef and bone broth, oysters, and eggs (all from the local farmer’s market), and sockeye salmon (www.vitalchoice.com).

At this point, I only eat organic food. This isn’t a yuppie thing. If individual food items are certified ‘organic’, it comes with particular legal standards that I find valuable. My strategy for choosing organic food is to consume as few toxins as possible. (I view this in a similar way to financial disclosures that companies make for stockholders. I want to place a bet on my health strategy, so to speak; and I don’t want my health to be nickel & dimed.) Although I am increasingly concerned at suspicious chemicals are being slipped into ‘organic’ standards, it is still the main defense consumers have to know what they are buying. Lately, I have been buying most of my food from local farmers. I've asked them all kinds of questions about their growing practices & found a few true gems. (If the people you talk with are excited to explain about all of the care they've taken in producing their high quality organic food, that is a very good sign. ) It’s fun to go to the market and meet the people growing your food!

Side Note: I do think growing your own food is the ideal option. I've been attempting to grow my own garden, but haven't produced much for myself yet. I'll keep trying! I have rock dust to try amending the soil for next year and a brix meter to measure the results. Minerals for the win. :) I have had great luck with sprouts at least, but don't grow enough for the quantity of greens I usually eat in a day.

Although transitioning my lifelong eating patterns was a big process, I was amazed that there really is another way to eat (that doesn’t involve the microwave). I love finally knowing where my food is coming from, and seeing a beautiful plate of colorful food always makes me smile. :)  My food strategy is a work in progress, but I wanted to share my experience so far; hope it helps!

Resources
There are many library books on paleo food, but I found these particularly helpful:
Primal Body, Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas
The Paleo Solution             by Robb Wolf  (he also has an awesome Podcast)

I have found lots of helpful tips watching YouTube videos of people discussing their raw food strategies. I love that people are sharing their heath strategies and experiences online. YouTube is not to get the ‘official’ approved and verified ‘right’ answer; this thing is unfiltered – thank goodness! I find it such a valuable resource to expand your possibilities - to find general idea about what you think looks compelling enough to test yourself.

by Laura A Knauth

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