Compared to most of the population, I eat… strangely. Back in 2009, I came across a fun little website known as Mark’s Daily Apple. Immediately, I was drawn to it – everything talked about eating heathily, what I would come to know as the Real Food Revolution, with a focus on unprocessed food. I grew up eating meat my family raised ourselves, & veggies from our overflowing garden. Organic, but nobody called it that at the time. Anyways, so I loved what I was reading initially. I found similar blogs, & discovered it was this thing called paleo or primal, depending upon with author you read first. It was fascinating – an entire population living without consuming grains! I couldn’t imagine it. What would I do without bread, pasta, or perogi? Well, I was in for a big surprise, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
So as I’m reading, I discover that paleo/primal is basically the opposite of the raw vegan movement. These people love their meat of all kinds, & frankly, so do I. But then I realize the emphasis on fats as well, & am a bit perplexed. Aren’t we supposed to avoid it? I thought fat-free was the way to go. Saturated fat is evil! That’s what everyone says!
But. All these people keep talking about their vibrant health. I drift away from it, but eventually come across it nearing the end of the year. I read the success stories; see the photographs of all the great food. I read the research dealing with evolutionary nutrition – it all makes a lot of sense. Human physiology hasn’t changed since we were cave boys & girls; we should still be eating like them! Grains were the worst mistake of the human race, & this idea that we can nourish our bodies on skim milk & sugar-loaded crap is going to kill us all off. It can get a bit preachy at times, but its our health as a species we’re talking about. We certainly haven’t been doing any better of late since the advent of the food pyramid’s advice of 9-11 servings of grains a day, whole or otherwise.
I decide what the hell; I’ll give it a try. As of January 1st, I got my Grok on, as they say.
This has probably saved my life. Do you know what I’ve discovered? First of all, I cannot tolerate gluten. Giving up wheat has cured me of many health issues I thought was just my body being weird. If I eat too much corn, like a taco shell? I get itchy all over. Soy gives me gas, as does dairy.
Secondly, you need the good fats. Saturated fat? Not a bad fat. The best sources are avocados, coconuts, full-fat dairy, & quite frankly, bacon. My hair & skin is soft now; naturally moisturized. When you cook with fats, you eat so much less. I bet you didn’t know that fat is the most satiating of all the macronutrients. But you’ve got to stay away from the processed stuff – no trans fat, & definitely no vegetable oils. Canola oil? Gross. Lard? Awesome. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s true! I have never felt better in my life since adapting this way of eating. I sleep better, have more energy, & above all, feel more alive than I have in years.
I’m first & foremost gluten-free. It’s been months since I had a migraine; little did I know that all the aches & pains from my stomach to my joints were also contributed to this nasty little thing found in wheat & other grains. It’s possible I have celiac, but I’ve no idea, & frankly I’m okay not knowing for sure. I avoid it, I feel awesome. I ingest it, & I’m in pain. That’s a definitive diagnosis & treatment for me!
I also avoid soy; not only does it bother me that it’s in everything, there’s quite a lot of research that says it may lead to cancer. The jury is still out on it, I guess, but the truth is that I don’t really like it, & it bothers my tummy.
I shouldn’t eat much dairy, but I do. I’m way down from the way it used to be, but still. Since giving up gluten, I can tolerate it better (perhaps because my gut is healing), but still. I’m exploring alternatives for some things, & I need to learn to make my own ice cream, but so far, I like coconut & almond milk the best.
I cook & bake a lot with coconut flour now, & have had to sort of re-learn how to do both. Eggs are prominent in my recipes, & I cook with ingredients like unsalted butter, heavy cream, coconut oil, potato starch, rice flour… it’s definitely interesting. Sometimes I’m amazed at how the unfamiliar ingredients come together in ways I would have never imagined. You can make pizza crust out of egg whites & cream cheese! Whodav thunk?
As much as I love this new way of eating, I’ve also taken it & made it my own. I still eat white rice & potatoes, if for no other reason than they’re cheap, & I’m a librarian. I refuse to give up my fruit; most primal/paleo followers would never eat a bowl of fruit like the one up top, no matter how nourishing I found it. On a hot summer day, there’s nothing like it! But mostly, I focus on eating real foods. Most everything I eat these days comes in a package with one ingredient, & then I combine things myself. Processed food, with it’s soy oil, high fructose corn syrup, & mishmash of chemicals have no place in my kitchen or on my plate. It’s Real Food for me, baby!
What’s this mean for you? From here on out, all recipes will be gluten-free, & many will be grain-free. I’ll use ingredients like butter, bacon drippings, & spaghetti squash. You can substitute your margarine if you really want to, but I encourage you to try using Real Food. You’ll feel amazing. Frankly, I can’t think of a way to live more naturally than to eat Real Food. Here’s to life!