Archives for posts with tag: health

From junior to senior year of college, I was president of the environmental club, and a majority of the members were attempting to save the animals one plate at a time. It’s amazing how our social circles and projected persona can impact the way we eat.

As omnivores, we have the ability to eat a wide array of foods, and with our ever improving cooking skills and ability to chemically and genetically morph foods, the list of possible meals continues to grow. It’s both a blessing and a curse, causing us to often turn to our knowledge, awareness, and philosophical beliefs, to dictate the “best” diet for humankind. We are but mere mortals, and often these notions are not always congruent with what nature has determined is ultimately best for our bodies.

I grew up eating a pretty normal American diet as a kid of a mom who was on a budget but also a gourmet.  I ate Lucky Charms™ every once in a while. I was “normal”-ish, but it soon changed. I can still remember that turning moment when the media announced that Cheeriosaccidentally sprayed Durisban, (an insecticide banned in 2001 that kills insects by attacking the nervous system and has been linked to neurological effects, developmental disorders, and autoimmune disorders, on some of their grain silos) and their customer service was not nearly efficient enough to satisfy my mother.  I can still see my mother standing in the kitchen next to our rotary phone yelling at the lady when she was unable to tell my mother whether or not the bright, yellow Cheerios ™ box in her hand had been effected by this toxic pesticide. A General Mills™ product has never been knowingly permitted into the house since.

By the time my mission became to save the planet and to do it by fighting factory farming, I had eaten crunchy enough through my teens that vegetarianism seemed like pretty logical progression. I flip-flopped from veg to omnivore to vegan and back again.

Once I had graduated and moved home to my parents, I was vegan and doing my 200 hour Yoga Teacher training. The ethics portion of the yogic philosophy kept me going strong in my veganism as I began to delve into the topic of ahimsa, or non-harming. My flexibility was improving and I was losing weight. It all seemed perfect, until my joins became so sore that I found yoga to begin to become uncomfortable.

Luckily, my mother is a member of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a group that supports eating a diet based on that of our ancestors, including organ meats, lots of fat, raw dairy, and especially bones broth.  Bone broth was the key to my rehabilitation. My joints ceased to ache; I had more energy, healthier skin, hair, nails, and even teeth.

It was challenging to mentally come back to eating a diet heavier in animal products, but I soon was beginning to understand, that we must first have ahimsa towards ourselves.

Stocks have been found throughout the cultures of the world for as long as humans have been cooking, and they come with a long list of health benefits from improving digestion, joint, and even thyroid health.  When properly prepared, stocks are extremely nutritious containing gelatin, minerals from the bones, marrow, and vitamins from the vegetables in the form of electrolytes, which are absorbed by the body with ease.  Interestingly, Dr. Francis Pottenger, found that stock supplies hydrophilic colloids to the diet, similar to those of raw fruits and vegetables. Unlike most other forms of cooked proteins, which repel liquids making them harder to digest, gelatin in broths actually attracts liquids even after it has been heated (Nourishing Traditions, Fallon 116).

Living in a society where people so often are seeking youthful skin, healthy joints, and cures to other ailments, stock is a great place to start. What better than cartilage, skin, and bones to support our own? That is exactly what stock does.

Our ancestors’ innate knowledge of healthy cooking is an invaluable resource, and I have yet to hear of any ancestors being vegan.

Now, about 3 years after the flip flopping (minus one last try at ovo-(raw)lacto vegetarianism), I most recently have begun to explore the world of the Paleo Diet, taking on the Whole30 challenge of eating no legumes, sugar or sugar supplements, grains, dairy or alcohol.

While the plan is a short term Paleo extreme as a means of resetting the body and not necessarily a sustainable, long-term diet, it really taught me even more about my body, especially the benefits of taking soy and sugar out of my diet completely.

As a vegan, I found myself avoiding soy, but it was impossible to avoid it when going out. If I went to Starbucks and wanted a latte, it had to be soy, eating the vegetarian options at restaurants, especially Asian, generally all had soy. And yes, I could have drank my coffee black, and I could have ordered my dishes sans soy, but when you are already having to say no to so many other things on the menu, sometimes you just want to be able to order a dish without special instructions.

Grains were another challenge. I’ve been mostly gluten-free for the past 3 years, but it’s not because I have Celiac, it’s because I just feel better, and the way that we process our wheat at this point on the food processing timeline, it just doesn’t leave nearly enough nutrition in it to make it worth the effort of chewing. Being able to eat meat makes eating gluten-free 90% easier than being a vegetarian. Restaurants and cookbooks are constantly padding their vegetarian dishes with noodles, rice, and bread. Going 100% grain-free for 30 days would have been impossible without meat, unless I had been eating mostly salads, and that’s just boring.

The biggest challenge of them all, was giving up sugar, and not just sugar, all sweeteners: stevia, maple syrup, honey, cane sugar, agave, all of it. It wasn’t the biggest challenge because I missed my chocolate (technically I was allowed to have 100% cacao), but because sugar is in absolutely everything!! Seriously, go out and try to find a sweetner-free package of bacon. Go on. Try. I’ll give you $50 if you can and don’t have to order it online. Sugar is in everything, and it makes complete sense. We are programmed to crave sugar, salt, and fat for survival, but now that we can get all the food we need from the farmer’s market, grocery store, or restaurant, we have to use our willpower (don’t you wish you could pick up some extra willpower at the market?) to say no to all of those sweet, salty, and fat filled foods. Unfortunately, giving up all forms of sugar (minus naturally occurring fructose in fruits) I also had to give up dairy to avoid lactose. God, I missed butter.

Along with the soy, grains, and sugars, there were also no additives or preservatives allowed. This meant cooking most of my meals myself. I was definitely very conscious and actively planning my meals, a skill I believe many of my fellow 20-somethings lack. It was a wonderful learning experience in cultivating self-discipline.

While there has been some divide between Paleo and Weston Price, I must say that I learned some invaluable things about my body from this Whole30 dietary reset. I lost about 10 lbs. eating this way (I was not significantly over-weight when I started the program), my skin looked great, I had less body odor, I had no menstrual cramps and my period duration was about 3 days shorter than usual, and I slept great. That being said of the amazing results, it took a lot of painstaking withdrawal to get there—a true testament to the addictive qualities of processed, sugar-laden foods.

Whether you choose to follow a Weston A. Price diet, Paleo diet, vegetarian, or even vegan, listen to your body. Don’t let the ego and dogma come between you and your health. Many of us have forgotten to really listen to our bodies. What does joint pain mean? What does a cramp mean? Are you really hungry or is it just dehydration? What does your poop say? Sometimes these questions make us uncomfortable, or we forget to ask them because ignorance is bliss. Everyone’s body is different and needs different things, but eating an organic, whole food based plan is the bottom line. Whether your food is Vegan or Paleo, if it’s processed, it’s still processed.

A whole week has gone by and I feel like there is some news but not too much. Part of that may because I’m just in the groove now so somethings have just lost that sparkle.

I’ve been eating a lot of snack and left overs and just trying to keep up with calorie consumption while not getting bored and staying motivated. It’s hard to believe that 20 days have already gone by.

I feel like every time a new level of Whole30 has been reached by body back slides a little bit. I’m really trying hard not to over analyze and worry, but when food is your main concern 24/7, it’s hard not to. For instance, my skin was looking great, and then I’d break out, and then it’d look great, and then again, break out. It’s still in that hormonal balancing area of the face like I mentioned last time, so I’m not sure if hormones are truly balancing, or if I’m just getting ready to have my period. I used to break out in this region of the face when I was younger, but it hasn’t been so much lately. The same yo-yo feeling has been going on with the weight loss/feeling as though I look bloated factor. Again, maybe it’s just my period, and I have to say I’m excited to see what my period is like on this diet. (Look out boys! You know that post will be coming at some point!)

All of this most likely comes back to sleep. Sleep. The foundation of our lives. I’ve been trying to get back into the habit of getting up early, and, ideally, getting to bed in time to grab a solid 8 hours. The only dilemma is that I’ve been pushing hard for the 4:30am wake up call. I have a lot of work to do lately between yoga, blogging, going to work, and reading homework (both actual homework for work as well as friend imposed homework), so getting up almost 2 hours before the sun gives me so much more time and freedom to get stuff done. However, in order to get 8 hours of sleep that means 8:30pm bed time, (It’s like I’m 8 years old again) and often I’m not even home till 9 or 10pm… Still working the kinks out on that…

Here are a few glimpses of meals that happened this past week.

Left over ground turkey curry over sautéed zucchini.

Left over ground turkey curry over sautéed zucchini.

My first attempt at homemade mayonnaise. Our pastured chickens' eggs made it super-duper yellow!

My first attempt at homemade mayonnaise. Our pastured chickens’ eggs made it super-duper yellow!

Mom's top-secret lamb burgers. I will tell you that they have toasted pine nuts in them ;)

Mom’s top-secret lamb burgers. I will tell you that they have toasted pine nuts in them 😉

Shrimp Salad (almost the same as the last time, but I used my runny mayonnaise as the dressing)

Shrimp Salad (almost the same as the last time, but I used my runny mayonnaise as the dressing)

All together with some green beans!

All together with some green beans!

Last night's dinner. Ayrshire Farm Bratwurst with roasted beets, sautéed beet greens, pastured eggs, Bubbies sauerkraut, and grainy mustard.

Last night’s dinner. Ayrshire Farm Bratwurst with roasted beets, sautéed beet greens, pastured eggs, Bubbies sauerkraut, and grainy mustard with tea.

Snack lunch. Baby carrots, smoked mackerel, and olive tapenade.

Snack lunch. Baby carrots, smoked mackerel, and olive tapenade.

Homegrown eggs and tomato scramble.

Homegrown eggs and tomato scramble.

Some of the most amazing cantaloup I've ever tasted!

Some of the most amazing cantaloup I’ve ever tasted!

 

Today was definitely better than yesterday!

I slept okay. Still woke up sweating and had some tossing and turning, but had a crazy detox dream. In the dream I went to my pediatrician and he was pulling black goo out of my throat. Gross.

The alarm went off at 8:30am. I wanted to give myself more time to hopefully sleep. I woke up and headed to teach yoga. I picked up a black coffee and a banana at Starbucks on the way. (Boy was it weird not ordering a whole milk latte!) I taught my class and then had an impromptu photo shoot, so I wound up burning a ton of calories more than I expected.

I got home and had so much to do I only got to chug a big glass of water and then jumped in the car for a birthday party of a good family friend. I ate some fresh black currants (which were a super special find!) and pistachios on the way along with some original kombucha left over from the other day.

Fresh black currants.

Fresh black currants.

At the party, I ate the crudités (sans the dip) and sipped my kombucha as I watched everyone drink the bubbly, and eat little sausages and cheese and other yummy things wrapped in phyllo dough. Almost the entire party people were asking me why I was doing the Whole30, since clearly I was healthy and didn’t need to lose weight. Isn’t it funny how everyone always assumes you’re changing your diet to lose weight?

After the party I went to do AcroYoga, slack lining, and frisbee in the park. I ate some more black currants, pistachios, and some SeaSnax . Overall, not too many calories for the amount of activity I was doing.

So, why haven’t I been that hungry today??

I’m not sure, but for dinner I’m having chicken livers, beef stock in a mug, and some almond butter for dessert, just to make sure I can get some nutrient dense, high fat animal products along with a few big glasses of water.

This must be the most beautiful, darkest stock I have ever made!! The spoon even stands up in it cold. Awesome.

This must be the most beautiful, darkest stock I have ever made!! The spoon even stands up in it cold. Awesome.

Maybe this lack of appetite and better mood means I will finally sleep better tonight. One can only hope!

Lyla Evajane

Lyla Evajane

I am so happy to announce the arrival of Lyla Evajane! Born April 5, 2013 at 6:51am she weighed a healthy 7lbs. 4 oz.

Lyla is such a special little girl in my life. Not only is she the first child of my dear friend Meghan, but she is also the first Weston A. Price baby of my group of friends. In a sense, Meghan’s pregnancy and Lyla’s healthful existence, was an example for me of an ideal pregnancy and prenatal diet.

Meghan drank plenty of raw milk, ate cod liver, butter, liver, and all nutrient dense foods. She was a mother-to-be rockstar! She delivered at the hospital in her own private room with a midwife and will not be vaccinating her wee one.

I am so excited to see how this beautiful baby grows big and strong, and hope that Meghan will be able to teach and inspire me to be a Weston A. Price mommy!

Congrats, Megs! xoxoxo

 

I’m so sorry I’ve been away from the blog for so long! Life has gotten a tad bit crazy with the start of Fall just on the horizon! So, I’m going to take a moment to breathe and go back to my amazing foodcation because I promised M. I would write about oysters!

I only started eating oysters over the past two years or so when I started dating my boyfriend. While he doesn’t like the slippery little buggers, his parents love oysters and his sister works at Hank’s Oyster Bar in Alexandria, VA, so family dinner equals oysters quite frequently.

While staying at the beach, the girls and I went out for oysters. Being M.’s first time eating oysters, we proceeded to order oysters in all formats– raw, broiled, and shooters. Well, she loved them, and we put away a good number of those guys!

Oysters are an excellent source of vitamins A, B1 (thiamin) B2(riboflavin), B3 (niacin), C (ascorbic acid), and D (calciferol). Four or five medium size oysters supplies the recommended daily allowance of iron, copper, iodine, magnesium, calcium, zinc, manganese and phosphorus. Everyone should be eating more oysters because so many of us are mineral deficient! Oysters are great for eye health, getting rid of the white spots on your nails, and keeping your hair and skin healthy along with a  of benefits.

While I generally recommend eating wild caught seafood, I support eating farm raised oysters. Almost 85% of natural occurring oyster reefs have been destroyed due to crabs and other invasive aquatic life. Plus, oysters and other shellfish are filters, and getting them from a source with clean water is a must!

Bon Appetit!

 

Me and the girls at the oyster bar!

 

Sources: salishseafood.com

Today I went to the dentist. I’ve never had very good teeth. I’ve had frequent cavities and my orthodontia history is known to make some people squeamish. However, today the dentist told me something that caught me off guard. He said my teeth look terrific! 

I haven’t been to the dentist since just before the 2011 Weston A. Price conference where I was lucky enough to be educated about the importance of a diet rich in minerals and nutrient dense foods. Since then I’ve really been laying on the good stuff,and now I’ve begun to wonder if my good report with the dentist may be due to my recent change in diet.

I started to scour my mom’s bookcase at home (it’s like my private reference library) and found the book, “Cure Tooth Decay” by Ramiel Nagel, who as it turns out even has his own website, www.curetoothdecay.com, dedicated to the message of his book. Much of what he says you can do to restore your teeth to optimal health by following the advise of the Weston A. Price Foundation, and Nagel even references Dr. Price’s work researching the primitive peoples’ dental health around the world.

Since returning from the conference in Dallas, I have  increased my consumption of raw dairy and have been making bone broths fairly regularly. Both of these are tactics Nagel recommends to begin to rebuild the structure of our teeth. Could it be that my change in diet has been unintentionally enhancing my dental health? I know that I’ve definitely struggled with steering clear of the cavity causing sugar and carbohydrates, especially in the midst of Girl Scout cookie season.

I wouldn’t say I’m 100% cured of any type of dental decay, my teeth still have some sensitivity, but if you have issues with your dental health, don’t lose hope! You are what you eat and if your are deficient in minerals there are delicious steps you can take!

Lori Wolfe/The Herald-Dispatch, via Associated Press

Photo by: Lori Wolfe/The Herald-Dispatch, via Associated Press "Titus Bailey, a pre-kindergartener, in line for his lunch this month at West Hamlin Elementary School in West Hamlin, W.Va."

Yesterday, Congress blocked the Agriculture Department’s proposed rule change for school lunches. The rule change would require more fruits and vegetables in an effort to fight the ongoing childhood obesity epidemic across the United States.

“Food companies including ConAgra, Coca-Cola, Del Monte Foods and makers of frozen pizza like Schwan argued that the proposed rules would raise the cost of meals and require food that many children would throw away.”

It’s no surprise these big packaged food industries are fighting against healthier lunches. All they care about it making a profit now. Who cares about nourishing the next generation? Pfft.

Read the full article at www.nytimes.com