Cave Girl Raquel WelchSorry to have dropped out of sight for the month of November, but Huff and Puff are busy little bees and we’ve been remiss in our posts, but doing double time in other parts of life!  One of those parts (for Puff, at least) is getting to the bottom of all this eating business, and yes, a big part of it is Big Business.  Ever hear of Monsanto?  I’ve gone into research mode (again) and have been culling the credible from the crap so that we can all just get on with life and quit spending so much time obsessing about what goes in our mouths.  I’m doing it so you don’t have to!

For those in the know, you are aware that I’ve been in favor of a paleolithic way of eating for several years, but have not quite managed to fully commit (cupcakes were involved).  It’s been at least 6 years since I did the initial research and discovered the delicious truth about animal fats and blood cholesterol levels (inverse proportion) and now there are lots of resources more readily available than reading The Lancet and other medical journals.  Then, about 4 or 5 years ago I did another bit of research on the effects of fasting on health and came across the paleo-compliant idea of Intermittent Fasting (IF).  Again, since that time, the idea of IF has gained traction and is no longer considered to be grounds for incarceration as evidenced by this article in the New York Times.  Approximately 4 years ago I did an intensive amount of research on low-glycemic eating and then, three years ago embarked on a moderate protein / low starch eating plan for about 7 months.  The results were phenomenal (55 pounds just fell off) until I broke my leg at the beginning of the holiday season and proceeded to spend 8 weeks in the seated position with rummy eggnog in one hand and Christmas cookies in the other.  That backslide that has continued to this day.

Hi, my name is Puff, and I am a sugar addict.  There.  I said it.

Recently, I’ve been back at the computer, researching the anthropology, physiology, psychology, and ecology of the way we (okay, most of us Americans on the Standard American Diet — SAD) eat ourselves into the grave.  What I’ve deduced is that we (me included) are a bunch of big fat liars in that we are lying to ourselves about the things we eat.  Time to call out the crap from the credible!

Mini Meals — Crap.  If you are a normal working adult (i.e., running your butt off from here to there all day), the mini-meal option doesn’t really work.  I have tried and I know some of you have too.  It’s just not practical to stand up in the middle of a meeting and excuse yourself for your timed mini-meal.  Or stop the car, or interrupt the kids’ soccer practice, or push the Pause Button on life to make sure you get your dose of food.  The research doesn’t support the “stoke the fire” theory (see linked article above) and most of us have life schedules that don’t support it either.  Plus, there is a huge psychological toll of constantly being “non-compliant.”  And then there is the huge psychological toll of never feeling completely satisfied.  Oh, and let’s not forget that unless you are measuring every portion, most people grossly under-estimate how much is “mini” and end up eating 6 pretty big meals, which inevitably leads to weight gain.  Mini-meals, you are outta here.

Intermittent Fasting — Credible.  Some people (including those that coined the term IF) believe it’s more accurate to talk about the daily meals as Intermittent Feeding, since that’s the focus (rather than “fasting”).  From an anthropological point of view, it’s appropriate, as our bodies did not evolve relying on regular small meals — there were not any snack bars or cold-pack lunch bags in our Cave Girl days.  Instead, in our hunting / gathering primal state, we spent a good part of the day walking, caregiving, toting things (like babies and water), and ended the day sitting around the fire with our tribe having a meal of whatever we hunted/gathered.  I’ve been practicing IF for about two months and nothing bad has happened.  I stop eating around 8 p.m. and begin eating again around noon, so my fasting period is about 16 hours, with meals taken for an 8 hour period in 2-3 meals.  I have not gained any weight, so apparently my metabolic fire did not go out.  And no, I have not died from starvation between midnight and noon.

Processed Foods — Crap.  No good can come of it, so we just have to say NO.  A big, loud, absolute, get that bag away from me, NO.  It may seem convenient to open a can/bag/box and presto, there’s something edible in front of you, but the price we are paying is way too high.  Don’t fall for that marketing VP who put “all natural, healthy, pure” etc. on the package and quit lying to yourself.  How natural can it be if it is “manufactured” or “processed” in a factory and has a shelf life of 12 months?  Our mantra must be to eat simply, in season and local (when possible), and to learn the art of quick cooking methods so we’re not slaves to the stove.  (The secret is in one-dish stir fries, salads, stews, and soups — more on that in a later post.)  Is this easy?  No.  I love crunchy things (hi, tortilla chip, love of my life) and sugary things (cupcake, anyone?), so this is exceedingly simple and horrifyingly difficult, all at once.  Do it in increments or pull off the bandaid in a snap, but either way, we absolutely must not continue to lie to ourselves that processed things are good for us.  They are not.

Fat is a Food — Credible.  And a darn tasty one, at that.  You do not have to fear the butter dish, the chicken skin, or the avocado!  It’s time to admit that low fat doesn’t work and that healthy fats satisfy your appetite a lot faster (satiety signals to the brain) and for longer periods of time (slow release) than a basket of starchy things (insulin spike and crash).  Here’s another New York Times article that summarizes the research and nicely gathers your information in one place.  (No bias here for the NYT, but they have published some readable summaries of other people’s research and it’s “mainstream” so presumably safe for the citizens!)

Protein is Essential — Credible.  It may not appeal to vegans, but our metabolic systems are built to consume animal protein (in varying amounts, depending on blood types, but that’s for another day).  If you are vegetarian, it means you will have to get your protein from things like eggs and seafood (if you’re one that allows it).  If you are an omnivore, it’s time to support your local rancher and do your level best to eat meat that is raised naturally, sustainably, and humanely.  If you want to give it a go, Eat Wild is a great resource.  For fish, please don’t eat the farmed stuff — it’s simply not the equivalent of wild fish in terms of nutrition or food safety.  It’s also important to know that a 16 oz. porterhouse is not necessary.  A gram of protein for every pound of lean body mass is plenty for your body’s daily needs and over-eating protein will just result in weight gain.  Here’s how to calculate your daily portion.

Sugar is Natural — Crap (with an exception).  Sugar is not a natural thing except in four instances that I can identify:  fruit (yay!), honey, raw maple syrup, and sugar cane.  Corn syrup is neither natural nor good for you and there are lots of indications that it can be deadly.  Fake sweeteners are not natural or good for you and there are lots of indications that your body thinks it’s sugar and gains weight accordingly.  There are health risks to the fake stuff that we may not even know about yet.  If you must have sugar (and no, Candy Corn is not an essential nutrient), you should be obtaining it by eating fresh fruit — the totally natural Cave Girl dessert food! — and the occasional honey indulgence.

Vegetables are Good Guys — Credible (with an exception).  Vegetables are our friends.  They are plentiful, versatile, tasty, and easy to prepare.  Vegetables are also packed with nutrients and many come ready-to-eat (garden fresh tomatoes come to mind).  The exceptions are the starches (potatoes and corn, which is actually a grain) and things that are genetically modified (like potatoes and corn).  Every meal should contain a colorful variety of vegetables — organic, local, and in season if you can manage it.  Some vegetables can even be pretty good substitutes for crappy things that our mouth likes, such as spaghetti squash instead of pasta, mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes, and shredded zucchini-carrot latkes instead of hash browns.

To summarize, we’ve been sold a load of crap and we accepted it blindly, with nary a thought as to what our bodies were built for, really need, and crave.  As the dust begins to settle, it’s clear that we cannot continue to lie to ourselves about what is healthy and natural.  The proof is on our hips.

Eat Natural! ~ Puff

7 Responses to “Crap vs. Credible: Nutrition Research Results”

  • Puff:

    Paleolithic Diet is more satiating per calorie than Mediterranean Diet. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21118562
    Note: this is a small sample size but interesting outcomes — more satisfaction with fewer calories. Hmmmm.

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  • Ling Reider:

    Great blog! Sorry to change the subject, but, since Nashville is getting a lot of press lately, I’m looking for a great Nashville sushi restaurant or Japanese restaurant. Have you seen any recent buzz? There’s a new one called Nomzilla Sushi Et Cetera, but very few reviews. Here’s the address of this new Nashville Sushi Restaurant, 1201 Villa Place #101 Nashville, TN 37212 – (615) 268-1424. Thoughts? Thanks!

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