Category: Uncategorized

A Game Changer You May Wish to Consider

People are always asking me for “baby steps” to a whole foods diet/eating clean (whatever you want to call it). I’ve blogged about this in the past.

 

Recommending baby steps is one of the hardest thing for me because 1-I didn’t do it that way (which doesn’t mean it can’t be done…I know!) and 2-I think it’s super hard to break the addiction to fake foods while continuing to eat them (they’re intentionally engineered that way and I’m not making this up to try 12011356_10153721089234558_4566575597644088043_nto woo you over – see for yourself – and see for yourself).

OK. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, Imma share a little something that has been huge for us in eating a straight-up whole foods diet and I think it’s completely reasonable as a “baby step” for those of you who have some willingness but aren’t “all in” just yet.

It’s kefir cheese dip. Plus veggies for dipping.

If you’ll go back to my post on building a healthy meal you’ll see that were you to eat this as a meal, it only falls short in the protein category (although it’s probably not completely devoid of protein because it’s unlikely that all of the whey strains out). But the micronutrient value in this is a total home run, especially with the veggies! And let’s me real, we’re aiming for “overall” balance. Not every meal will be perfectly balanced.

Back to the kefir cheese because I do realize there’s a chance you don’t even know what it is. I briefly made mention of kefir in my “weird foods” post because it’s a superfood. The probiotics it contains is what makes it a superfood. And if you make it with exceptionally high quality milk, BONUS!

12049567_10153721089274558_1049040108749878478_n

Kefir and kefir cheese are slightly different though. Kefir is fermented milk resulting in lots of beneficial bacteria & yeast minus the lactose (yes, the lactose is converted to good bacteria & yeast!). Kefir is protein (whey) and fat (curds, or cheese), so if you strain off the whey (don’t throw it away!), you are left with cheese!!

Here’s how to make kefir. I always second ferment mine and then blend it with preserved lemons or limes and coconut oil. But other than making it, the rest is optional!

(Note: this is a GREAT website, obviously – since I’ve linked to it three times already! – with lots of info about fermentation!)

To the cheese, I add lots of different flavorings such as fresh, crushed garlic & dried herbs or other seasonings like preserved lime & cumin or minced hot peppers. The list goes on…

12036636_10153721136829558_4528011944375841320_nAlways keeping a container of cut veggies in the fridge is a must, even if you never make kefir cheese. But, really…why wouldn’t you?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: I’ve known a few people who have not tolerated kefir well. If you do not tolerate diary protein, you may still tolerate kefir cheese because most, if not all, of the protein (whey) is strained off. If you do not tolerate dairy fat, only non-dairy kefir (which I did not cover in this post), is an option for you. It seems for some folks though, that the yeast is problematic. For most people, the yeast in kefir is beneficial but everyone’s different. Possibly if you have a systemic yeast issue or an allergy, you may be one of those who doesn’t tolerate it. But for most people, kefir is absolutely worth a try!

Eating 101 – How to Build a Kickin’ Nutritious Meal

For Starters

It’s impossible to do this topic justice in a simple blog post. Plus, there’s no one-size-fits-all. So please know this is just the “intro” stuff.

But it’s enough to get you thinking and doing! And then we can delve deeper later.

Super Simple 101

I’m going to keep this simple but I really do think that if you are ultimately going to assume responsibility for your own individual health and food choices, you are going to need some basic nutrition knowledge. Why? Because (gasp) a calorie is NOT a calorie and it simply ain’t that simple!

Ultimate health is achieved only through loading your body up with nutrients. ALL of them (macros & micros).

Macronutrients = carbohydrates, proteins, and fats (calorie-carrying components of foods) NOTE: NO! All calories are not all created equally!

Micronutrients = vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, organic acids, and phytochemicals (non-calorie-carrying components of foods that are needed for your body to function properly)

See…that’s IT (for now)!

Every Meal

Build every meal around:

#1 – Vegetables – I’m not going to be super specific here except to remind you that corn is not a vegetable and that starchy veggies can be easily overdone (and more importantly, take the place of better choices). But let’s be honest, who’s really building their meals around veggies? So doing this is already a win for almost everyone!

Please note this is a pleural. It’s in your best interest to have numerous veggies. That’s all there is to say about that for now.

#2 – Healthy Fats – The truth is that in the Standard American Diet, our dietary fats are secondary, meaning they’re added to make food more palatable which isn’t, in an of itself, a no-no. The point here is that fats are necessary and we should be included them with intention which is probably a big ol’ shift in mindset for most people.

I’ve blogged about health fats here.

#3 – Protein – Odds are good that some of your fat choices (especially if they’re in the form of food & not just an oil) will also deliver you protein. As a rule of thumb though, animal proteins are more digestible (meaning you actually get the benefit of the food, not just the calorie!) than plant sources (beans, grains, fruits and veggies).

This is a list of proteins in order of “quality” (meaning they deliver a greater value and your body is actually able to absorb & use them):

  • meat, poultry, seafood, & eggs
  • dairy products
  • fruits, vegetable, nuts & seed (good sources of micronutrients but not necessarily protein)

Note: All foods, but especially your protein sources, should be “clean”. OK, that’s a fake-ish word and definitely material for another blog post but, for now, foods should be responsibly & sustainably raised without synthetic fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics, and/or pesticides. Think “locally sourced” (not locally “sold”, locally “raised”). And for crying out load, no foods made in a factory!

#4 – Carbohydrates – If you’re doing #1 and maybe including a fruit or two, you’re likely getting plenty of high-quality carbohydrates. You may need to make adjustments over time based on how you feel, but generally speaking, #1 really does take care of #4.

One More Thing to Ad

Herbs & seasonings are powerful deliverers of micronutrients. Fresh or dried. Use them liberally if you tolerate them well.

How Much Should You Eat?

Contrary to conventional thinking, this is a lot less complex than it’s been made out to be. The same is actually true for what to eat.

You see, there’s this thing called “nutritional intelligence”. It’s not the result though of having “studied” something. Instead, it’s an inherent knowing of what and how much your body needs to fuel itself and thrive. I am all geeked about the subject and will definitely blog about it in the near future but for now, what I want you to know is that processed foods and low-quality factory foods (conventional meats, fruits & veggies) are interfering with our brain’s ability to tell us what & how much to eat. True story. Processed foods are making us dumb…

If you still feel like I haven’t answered the question of how much to eat, apply these two pricinples:

  • Pay really close attention when you eat (I know…I am suggesting the insane!) and eat until you are full but not uncomfortable.
  • If you find you are hungry between meals, consider that you either didn’t enough food or that you didn’t eat the right food. With the right nourishment, our bodies were designed to go for very long times without food.

One last thing to consider (maybe this should be first) is if you are dehydrated. Thirst is often mistaken for hunger. I’m not saying you always need to drink something before you eat. I am saying you need to know your body well enough to know the difference.

How Frequently Should You Eat?

The answer to this question is very individual. But almost unanimously it’s less than we think. I don’t want to get all caveman-mentality on you, but our bodies were designed (as I mentioned just a bit ago) to go for long periods of time (if needed) without food. Think about it, we’d be extinct if we needed a steady supply of food, right?

The steady-stream-of-carbs dogma and mentality…it’s just not working. It’s not working because it’s not accurate. The theory behind all of this is worth exploring more deeply but not today. Just know that there’s science to support this. Unless you’re a one-off (and there are always those), you’re probably really safe to not eat every two hours!

Still. How frequently should you eat? I don’t want to give you an exact number but I will say that I think it’s best to shoot for no more than three meals a day. No snacks (not never, but not usually). If you’re hungry between meals, again, you either didn’t eat enough or you didn’t eat the right foods.

Snacking (for the Die Hards)

If you aren’t successful in transitioning away from needing a snack and you simply must snack, eat meal food instead of snack food. Have a mini-meal following all of the same meal-building above principles.

Addicting Foods

There’s still one small potential trap even if you follow all of the above principles. Most of us find certain food “hyper palatable” meaning they taste so good to us that we have a hard time moderating their consumption. Avoid those foods.

As usual, I am not saying “never”. But I am saying “not often”.

Almost Nothing is Hard & Fast – Or Forever

Conventional health fails to allow for all of the variable and individual differences that effect our nutritional needs. Quite bluntly, if you’re not ready to take personal accountability for your health and nutritional needs, the simplicity I’ve presented here likely won’t work for you.

Also, things will be different for you than for someone else and what works for you will change over time.

In that vane, most of the information I share is a good strong reference & foundation for a deeply nourishing diet. But it has wiggle room. And a lot of variability. Take responsibility for your results.

Individual Meal Science

What I really want to communicate here is that every meal doesn’t have to be “perfect” based on the above principles. For the most part, our bodies aren’t that fragile that one or two imbalanced meals will not cost us our health (if that were true the Greater America would be dead!). What’s more important is that “over time” you meet all of your body’s nutritional needs.

So What (About Nutritional Needs)?

This is definitely a topic for another blog post and I kind of trust that if you’re here & reading this, you are at least somewhat convinced of the power of food (despite what conventional thinking and modern medicine says about food). I guess my appeal to you if you have not yet experienced it’s healing powers is to stay open to the idea.

It really is a thing! And it can change your life in ways you cannot imagine if you are currently living with chronic bs-y stuff that has become normal but really isn’t.

To Give You an Idea

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter, you probably get a bit tired of seeing what I eat. I tend to post a lot of pictures. They’re intended to be helpful. But then sometimes I’m just so dang excited about how great my food is that I want to share it! Point being though, I walk my talk. Here’s what I had for lunch:

  • leftover homemade ceviche (seafood cooking in lime juice with veggies & avocado) – fat, protein & a few carbs
  • sliced bell peppers & broccoli & cucumbers & cauliflower dipped in dairy kefir cheese (homemade) with Italian herbs and elephant garlic – carbs, fat & some protein & full of micronutrients
  • dark chocolate – yummy!

I’ve received some comments that the size of my meals is more like the size of their snacks. Two things I want you to know: 1-I am not walking around hungry! and 2-studies clearly conclude that lower calories lead to longevity. I really do believe this is all part of the nutritional intelligence piece.

Shoot

What are your questions? I’m ready for them!!

 

DISCLAIMER: Some of the info in this post is fact and some is opinion. It’s a representation of the knowledge I’ve gained and my experience applying it over the course of my journey to health through food. None of my knowledge or experience is a substitute for your own. But I do hope you find it helpful and that it opens up some possibilities for you!

Healthy Fats to Prioritize in Your Diet

Poor “Fat”

It’s truly an atrocity that dietary fat and bodily fat share the word “fat”. Let’s be honest, no one wants to be fat. But we all sure do want to eat fat!

Say whu???? Eat fat?? Surely she did not just say that!

Yes. I. Did.

Because fat (dietary fat) has been misunderstood, demonized, and left out in the cold for something it didn’t even do; make you fat or cause your heart disease.

Yup. I said that ^^.

The truth is we need to eat fat! OMG – here she goes again. Even saturated fats.

Plus, it goes a really long way toward satiety which is a super big deal!

But you already know that, right? You’ve been hearing this buzz for a while now, so you’ve already begun to shift your thinking. Good for you! The only question that remains is “which fats should I be eating?”.

But in the interest of few words, here’s what you need to know…

The Short List to Eat Liberally (as oils and foods)

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (cold, first press)Coconuts and coconut oil on wooden table, on nature background
  • Coconut Oil
  • Avocado
  • Palm Oil
  • Eggs (the yolks!)
  • Dairy (if tolerated)
  • Butter & Ghee
  • Macadamia Oil
  • Animal and Animal-Rendered Fats*
  • Fish & Seafood

The Short List to Eat in Moderation (as oils and foods)

  • Most Nut & Seed Oils (except Macadamia)
  • Nuts & Seeds
  • Avocado Oil
  • Nut Butters

The Short List Not to Eat

  • Canola Oil
  • Safflower Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Corn Oil
  • Wheat Germ Oil
  • Soybean Oil
  • Cottonseed Oil
  • Peanut Oil

*Please note that I will blog in more detail (almost nothing is an absolute and the above info requires a bit more explanation to be applied for the long term) about fats in the near future, but I get asked often what are “healthy fats” and it seemed the efficient to share them quickly in this manner.

Please feel free to leave questions & comments. It helps me know what info to share!

ripe avocado cut in half on a wooden table ** Note: Shallow depth of field

Beans, Beans! They’re good for…

I just started my first “Whole Foods Diet for Life” Group (so exciting!) and a question came up very early on that I think is a pretty common question, so I decided to answer it here! I’ll keep doing the same as their questions (and maybe even their challenges) arise.

Today: about beans……

legume abstract (fava bean, red lentils, adzuki bean, soy, mung bean,navy bean, yellow pea, French lentils) - top view of paper price tags against slate stone

You know the old saying about beans (also called “legumes” in the nutrition world), “…They’re good for your heart. The more you eat, the more you <flatulate>…”.

Most people are quite surprised to learn that fairly commonly, legumes are not consider part of a nutrient-dense, whole foods diet. In some cases, legumes are considered a “gray area food” (we’ll get to that!).

At first glance, I realize not eating beans really makes no sense. I mean, they’re plants after all! And don’t we want to concentrate our food choices around plants?

Well, yes. But…

Here’s the problem with legumes (and this is true of all plant foods to some degree but with lots a variables), they contain anti-nutrients. In the interest of sparing you the crossed-eyed, don’t-be-a-complete-geek face (if you want that face, you can go here), let’s just say that there are several types of anti-nutrients and their purpose is to protect the plant so that it can propagate even if eaten. In humans, it mostly means that some (and sometimes “a lot”) of the nutrients in the plant are not available for absorption because the food goes undigested (typically resulting in flatulence!). In other words, the nutrient value of the food to humans is less than the full potential of the food when extracted in a lab. They’re just not as nutrient dense as their nutritional profile :(. Nor are they as nutrient dense as many other whole foods.

As is true for almost anything you wish to educate yourself about, there is much conflicting information available on the subject. I typically follow the thinking of several very well respected thought & opinion leaders but even amongst them, I’m not able to find a common opinion on the subject of legumes and anti-nutrients (or pretty much anything for that matter – even “The Man” agrees & addresses legumes here too).

Some thought leaders even go as far as to say that anti-nutrients are “harmful” to our intestinal integrity. Oh, no bueno!

Yet nearly all traditional cultures have legumes as a pretty prominent staple in their diets. You can see all the shades of gray on the topic emerging. And honestly, it is quite possibly minutia, the splitting of hairs. Who has time for that??

Here’s the deal about traditional cultures, they’re not eating beans “the American way”! Traditional cultures know & understand their foods and properly prepare legumes by soak, sprouting, and sometimes souring them before cooking them and this has an effect (although the degree to which it is effective is also debatable – you see the trend?) on the anti-nutrients.

As to whether or not to eat legumes, it’s up to you! My personal experience was that my gut health was not good enough to tolerate beans very well when I first began my journey to health. So I bid them farewell for the time being. As my gut health has improved and I’ve learned how to more properly prepare them, I occasionally eat them in small quantities.

Another strike against legumes: they’re also primarily carbohydrates (they have protein in them but they typically don’t give that up to you!) which is potentially only problematic if you have metabolic disease (even if it’s not diagnosed).

Your take-home message? Life is gray!! This is why I tout personal accountability first. You are your own best boss!

I’m here to empower you to develop your own wellness compass. There is a great deal of information I have to share with you (most of it being your springboard to critical thinking about the foods you eat). But, with the exception of a very few “foods”, I’ll never be able to tell you exactly what to eat/not eat.

You can search the ends of the earth for a consensus on what is the perfect diet. The truth is: there is no perfect diet. Perfect changes from you to me to the next person. And perfect changes for each of us over time.

The long & the short is if you currently eat beans and your health is the best it can possible be, keep eating beans! If you’re health could be better and you’re looking for areas of improvement, consider eliminating beans for a time. Pay attention to how you feel. Reintroduce them. Pay attention to how you feel. You get it!

This goes for all foods even if they’re on the “Eat This” of “Don’t Eat This” list!

PS. There are a few “Never” foods that I feel are non-negotiable and I’ll blog about them too. But, again, there’s no consensus on these either. Maddening. I know…

 

 

Shift In Thinking

Thus far my schtick has pretty much been food. But I’ve been fairly ineffective at catapulting many into the realms of diet change that I’ve personally experienced. At some point, it felt yucky to poke and prod people while obviously lacking the tools or right words to burst lackluster food bubbles. Major breakthroughs just weren’t happening.
 
So I took a time-out. What the heck was missing?
 
Both of us thought that what was probably missing was this meticulously created menu plan to be followed to the tee that will magically transform everyone’s health should they follow this ridiculously simple and doable (otherwise you won’t do it) plan that I had yet to create.
 
OK. The elephant in the room is so obvious. You can’t eat what I eat and have the same results because our chemistry and genetics and histories and environments are different. Every individual ultimately has to take personal accountability for their diet. For this reason alone, the meticulously created menu plan theory is flawed.
 
But here’s what I’ve come to realize is like the Sperm Whale in the room. It’s really not about following a menu plan at all. NOT AT ALL.
 
It’s about changing your relationship with food. You see, I’ve enjoyed a health transformation because I changed how I thought about food.
 
OK. But how?
 
Gratitude. Cliche but TRUE.
 
I quit considering food & eating a burden & chore and began to look at it as a privilege & honor. I sourced high-quality food and looked it’s grower in the face. I visited their farms. I listened to them tell me with pride how they tend to their crops and herds. I met their kids. And watched them have babies. And move to bigger & better farms. And win awards for being innovative farmers.
 
I also put my own hands in the dirt and tried (not very successfully, I admit!) to grow some of my own food. You’ll never savor food like you do the food you’ve raised yourself!
 
I began to judge food based on its ability to make my body function top-notch.
 
The point is my transformation wasn’t about food. It was about how I thought about food.
 
It was my THINKING.
 
NOW we’re gettin’ somewhere….

When the Scale Lags Behind Your Healthy Diet

k13312084 Let’s face it eating a clean diet for the purposes of feeling great, having super-human energy & immunity, and thinking like Einstein is all well and good. But the real reason we eat real food is the immense joy (albeit fleeting) of slipping effortlessly into a single-digit sized cocktail dress.

So whut-up when you eat & feel better but the little-black-dress-joy doesn’t come because the scale doesn’t seem to be budging? It’s frustrating. Disappointing. Downright egregious!

Here’s where weight gets a little bit more complicated than simply calories in & calories out. In fact, losing weight is your body’s last priority. So you kind of have to make your way through the list of reasons your body wants to hold on to extra weight to protect itself before your body knows and agrees it’s okay to let the scale budge.

There are numerous potential causes for weight loss resistance. I could not possibly cover them all or guess which one(s) applies(y) to you which is kind of a mute point anyway because,  in general, it’s a good idea to apply all of the strategies below when you are recovering from having eaten the Standard American Diet for years & years. The SAD is known to cause impaired gut integrity which often leads to inflammation. Without going into detail here about “leaky gut”, the single most important treatment is to clean up your diet.

Still, the gut can take a while to heal. Thus, weight loss can lag behind. So I can see how it’s tempting to think you’re doing something wrong. In all likelihood, you are not. And the weight loss will come.

If you otherwise feel well but simply aren’t losing the weight, here’s a quick list of checks just to be sure you’re set up for success:

1-Continue to eating a clean, whole foods diet rich in variety of deeply colored & fibrous foods. Rethink your diet. Yes, even your new & improved diet. I’m not saying it’s not great. I’m just asking if it needs to be even greater. That’s all.

A few possibilities tweaks come to mind: 1-you may need to eat more (and if I know you, what you need to eat more of is fat) and 2-you may need to eat fewer carbs while your body becomes less carb dependents and more fat adapted

2-Avoid toxins. This might be “duh”, but in reality there’s a good chance you’re exposing yourself to some things unnecessarily and without even knowing it.

  • Eat organic when possible.
  • Buy locally raised foods from trusted sources.
  • Drink filtered water.
  • Avoid GMO foods.
  • Rethink what you’re putting on your skin (especially the stuff that does not get washed off quickly).
  • Breathe cleaner air if you can.
  • Eliminate harsh household cleaners that leave toxic residues on surfaces.

3-Restore you gut bacteria. A series of 8-10 posts is needed to fully explain gut bacteria and how it impacts metabolism & health. It’s unreal. What you need to know is that many, if not most, people (for a variety of reasons spanning from c-section birth to artificial sweeteners!) have a less-than-ideal balance of good to bad bacteria. The bad bacteria are exceptionally good at wrecking your weight loss efforts. There are two equally important ways to address this: 1-eat living/probiotic foods such as organic fruits & veggies (uncooked) and probiotic foods such as sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha (all also uncooked – because heat kills the little buggies) and fibrous foods and 2-take a quality probiotic supplement (this is the exception to supplementation – see below).

article-1315772-0B60CBD5000005DC-281_468x3074-Consider withholding supplements. In some cases synthetic vitamins can be problematic because our body’s may lack the ability to make adequate amounts of the enzymes needed to convert the unusable form of vitamins supplied in their synthetic form (also commonly supplied in processed and “fortified” foods) to the usable form. Of course, this is not medical advise and if you have specific diagnoses and/or are under the care of a medical practitioner, you should discuss this with them first.This is a complex topic and most general practitioners are not adequately educated (if at all) on the matter.

As luck would have it, this podcast episode was magically delivered to my inbox at the very time I needed it most; right now. Sean Croxton of Underground Wellness does a great job of breaking this down with Dr. Ben Lynch, so have a listen right here. It’s pretty important stuff!! And there’s a good chance it applies to you.

A note about supplements: they may be necessary over the long haul, but in the beginning supplements can complicate & confuse results. Ideally, meet as much of your nutrient needs with food as possible. Due to soil nutrient depletion and other factors, particularly magnesium and vitamin D will likely need to be supplemented eventually. Please work with your health care practitioner to determine the correct dose for you.

5-Enhance detox/elimination. Dr. Mark Hyman does an exceptional job of covering this right here.

6-Sleep. I intend to dedicate an entire blog post to sleep because it’s that important. But for now, get 8 hours of sleep. If this means you have to spend 10 hours in bed to get 8 hours of sleep, do it. It’s that important. And you really need to be asleep by 10. Yes, that’s important too! This is your body’s healing time and it won’t give up the extra weight until the inflammation is healed and hormone balance is restored. Capish?

7-Manage your stress. Meditate, do yoga, walk in nature, spend time in nature, laugh with friends, have strong & meaningful connections. Breathe. Increase your mindful awareness. Get a therapist if you must. But find a way to manage your stress.

8-Exercise smartly. This deserves it’s own blog post as well but for now, if you’re actively addressing a possibly broken metabolism, your best bet is strength training. Lift heavy things (including your own body weight via squats, lunges, push-ups and pull-ups if you don’t have access to a gym) but not too much and not too often. A few times a week is plenty and be sure to allow for more than adequate rest in between. As important as it is to do it is to not overdo it. The concern here is that your body doesn’t need more stress placed on it. In addition to strength training, walk a lot.

This is not an exhaustive list. There are other potential, more serious causes for resistance to weight loss and these would require the assessment and intervention of a skilled health care practitioner. However, you should know that if you do not have bothersome symptoms, these more serious possibilities are much less likely.

It’s cocktail dress season!!!! I can’t wait to see you in yours (and if you’re a guy, go with this post like the super hero you are and know that everything everything in this post but the black dress part applies to you too!).

As always your questions are encouraged!!