Best Diet for Health
The human diet should support optimal performance – feeling great, staying healthy, having lots of energy, and being in great moods. What is the best diet for health? How can parents feed their children a diet that supports their health? What about lifestyle along with diet? After trying many diets over the years, here are my conclusions and lessons learned about the best diet for health.
Diet = Physical Health, Behavior, Mental Health & DNA
“We have almost no sense of hunger for the minerals and other chemicals and vitamins that are needed for building new and repairing old tissues.”
– A quote from one of Weston A Price’s 1934 letters
What do we have a sense of hunger for these days? Sugar. It is in everything these days – from meats to ketchup. Fruit today is like candy of my grandmothers generation; it has about 10x fewer nutrients and 10x more sugar than the fruit she ate [2,3]. Honestly, most of us these days are addicted to sugar. Recent studies have shown that sugar is more addictive than crack cocaine . Unfortunately, sugar isn’t giving us the nourishment our bodies need. Nor is it giving our immune systems the nourishment they need to function properly. Unfortunately learning how to break a sugar addiction is not easy.
Studies have shown correlation between diet and behavior. Researcher J. Breakey states “”an important, unexpected finding is the number of researchers who emphasize that the symptom most affected by diet is mood, especially irritability .” From an article by the pioneering diet and violence researcher Gesch in Science in 2009: “Decades of studies by Schoenthaler and others have supported a connection between nutrition and violence, but for a variety of reasons—some scientific, others political—it hasn’t yet translated into policy.” Dr. Emily Deans, M.D. states “My theory is that our relatively nutrient-poor modern diets contribute to a great deal of modern psychopathology .”
Dr. David Perlmutter recently wrote a book called the “Grain Brain”. He correlates carbohydrates typically regarded as healthy, like brown rice and quinoa, with dementia, ADHD, chronic headaches, and Alzheimer’s, over a lifetime of consumption. “The brain thrives on a fat-rich, low-carbohydrate diet, which unfortunately is relatively uncommon in human populations today,” he says. A summary article can be found here. The best diet for health doesn’t just mean physical health, it also means mental health.
Even more concerning are studies indicating that your diet can effect your grandchildren’s DNA. A popular CBS news summary can be found here. I also believe that our diet effects our gut bacteria, which is critical to our immune function, digestion, and overall health. We pass our gut bacteria on to our children and grandchildren.
I am concerned about this research and my own observations. I watch Americans becoming more sugar addicted. I watch sugar in more and more foods in the grocery store. I watch our culture have less discipline to raise children with healthy diets. The attitude today is – give them the sugar they crave so they will be quiet. I am greatly concerned for the physical and mental health of future generations, and what it means for our country. I digress… Back on topic.
No matter what the goals –resolution of health issues, better moods, weight loss – a healthy, real food diet is going to do some good. The question is, what is the best diet for health? And how to break a sugar addiction to get there?
Best Diet for Health
Over the years, I have been vegan, vegetarian, and many variations in between. I look at diets very practically – what diet gave me the optimal results? Optimal for me is defined as feeling good, healthy, not often getting sick, lots of energy, and great moods. I thought that a vegetarian plus fish and chicken was the right answer for many years.
Once my eldest child became sick, we tried GAPS (too much sugar that fed dysbiotic bacteria), SCD (also too much sugar), and finally our family was forced to try a strict ‘Autoimmune Paleo’ diet. The transition was brutal, but we had no choice. We basically ate only grassfed meats and non-sweet vegetables. After a few weeks, the whole family felt better than we had in years, and I was convinced that this diet was the best of any we had tried. The big surprise for us was that my husband’s cholesterol dropped a whopping 30 points! There is lots of controversy about the Paleo diet right now, but the best summary of science we have is from Mark Sisson here.
So what is the diet that I recommend? The best diet for health and vitality? Grassfed meat and non-sweet vegetables. Some people call this ‘Autoimmune Paleo.’ Stay away from dairy, grains, sugars, beans, or artificial ingredients. Everything else in moderation. Jason Seib, Robb Wolf, and Sarah Fragoso have described the details and offered support in their blogs, podcasts and books. I can’t do any better than them. I will, however, offer opinions on a few Paleo hot topics:
- Honey, Stevia & other sweeteners – Honey is sugar, even though it comes from a natural source. I avoid it (and I have bees in my backyard!). Keeping even Stevia in the diet makes it really hard to get over sugar cravings. The body still produces an insulin response, even to Stevia. We’ve had to give up desserts completely as a category. I can’t remember the last time I had a birthday cake. Honestly, there’s something very liberating about celebrating holidays with people and new traditions instead of with food addictions.
- The “Paleo” Fruit & Nut Diet – I see lots of people go ‘Paleo’ and basically all they eat is fruit and nuts. The fructose in fruit is also sugar, so I would stay away from fruit. Nuts are difficult to digest and have a skew towards Omega 6 fats. I’d rather get more Omega 3 fats, or a better balance of Omega 3s & 6s. Paleo to me does not mean fruit & nuts, it means grassfed meat & vegetables.
- Fermented Foods – I think fermented foods should be emphasized a lot more than they currently are in our diets. Our family eats ferments at every meal. Personally, I think the probiotics in fermented foods are important for digestion, even for healthy people with healed GI tracts. We rotate most often between sauerkraut, kimchi and pickles. The children eat them too! I haven’t found a great source that is reasonably priced, so we make our own in large batches in an old-school fermenting crock. A typical large batch for us is ~12 heads of cabbage that we process by hand through the food processor before salting and pounding by hand. (Great kids activity!)
- Chicken/eggs – Chicken are typically grain fed animals. Since we stopped eating grains, we also stopped eating grain-fed animals. We focus our diet on grassfed lamb, beef and bison. We were lucky to find a local farmer who raises pork without grains. We also started our own flock of egg laying chickens and fed them mostly grass, worms and vegetables. This eventually became too much work for us, so we finally ate them too. Now that our stool tests are clear and our health is great, we do occasionally eat some organic chicken. We have a local soy & corn free chicken farmer, whose chickens are on pasture. However, the chickens are still fed supplemental organic grains. Overall, we eat organic chicken in moderation and still focus our diet primarily on grassfed meats.
- Restaurants – We went years without ever eating a meal in a restaurant. I think this was important to healing our guts, and I’m glad we did it. It offered us more family bonding time, and the kids learned to help in the kitchen. These days there are a few grassfed beef burger restaurants near us. Those didn’t exist when we first started having health issues. Now that we are feeling well, we will occasionally eat at one of these, maybe 1-2 times per month. We order the burgers with lettuce wrap and usually add bacon, extra mustard and onions. Yum!
- Gluten free bakeries – Several gluten free bakeries have popped up in the last few years. Some of them are even marketing themselves as ‘Paleo’. I don’t know what to say on this – sugar is still sugar. Most baked goods have some form of sugar. In general, I consider foods with any kind of ‘flour’ a dessert.
- Water – I generally don’t think people drink enough water. In our family, children drink 1.5 Liters per day, adults drink 3 Liters per day.
- Bone Broth – There have been a few articles about a 2013 bone broth – lead contamination study. Our bodies store heavy metals in our bones, and the same is true for animals. There is some controversy surrounding this topic. If you are interested in an independent study, please donate (shameless plug). Bone broth toxicity studies are on our laundry list of things we would like to do given the funds. We are interested in testing beef as well as chicken, and from different geographic regions of the USA. My opinion for now? We drink bone broth in moderation, and have drastically slowed our consumption since this study. We simply don’t have enough data. It certainly makes sense to me that any lead or other metals consumed by these animals would be stored in their bones.
- Fish – Due to heavy metal contamination, I no longer believe that wild fish are safe to eat. Test results to back this up can be found in the Chelation Note that a thoughtful friend did her own testing and concluded that anchovies are safe to eat. I have not verified her results. Our family stays away from fish, with the exception of a few anchovies in our homemade Caesar salad dressing.
- Alcohol – We know that alcohol stresses the liver. The liver is extremely important to detoxification. If any health symptoms are present that one is trying to resolve, then I definitely wouldn’t drink alcohol.
- Social issues – It’s extremely tough socially to embark on a new diet. People addicted to sugar will pull out any crazy arguments to justify their addiction: You aren’t getting enough calcium, not enough fiber, not enough calories, fat is bad for you, etc. I generally take the approach that I’m not going to change anyone’s mind, so I usually don’t bother. I accept them for the way they are, and hope that they accept me for the way I am. Our family lost LOTS of friends over the topic of diet. It’s amazing how polarizing it can be. Surprisingly, the friends who dumped us after we changed our diet ended up doing us a favor. It was a good time for us to find out who our real friends were, and to focus on them. This also gave us more family time and free time, which has been a blessing. A lot more about Social Aspects of Debugging Your Health can be found in the social and emotional aspects of healing section.
- Cost – Eating meat and vegetables is expensive. Period. Do I have any tips? First, I tell people give up the hair highlights, the Starbucks, the monthly mani-pedis, the lunches out, cable TV (yup, we have no cable), and expensive vacations. In my mind, the most important thing in life is my health and happiness, and the health and happiness of my family. Spending money on healthy food reflects this priority. As for specific tips, here goes:
- We grow as many of our own vegetables as possible. We even start our own seedlings.
- We buy whole animals directly from the farmers, and store them the freezer.
- We eat the whole animal, everything from organ meats to tongue.
- If we order extra meat, we usually order directly in bulk from a local butcher, and we order cheaper cuts like tongue, liver, heart, shoulders, roasts, and ground.
How To Break A Sugar Addiction
If one is trying to resolve any health issues, I do believe that the sugar addiction needs to be broken. Otherwise the gut never properly heals, and dysbiotic bacteria will come back. Without a healthy gut, the immune system never has a chance to work properly.
Sugar is more addictive than crack cocaine. How in the world can one learn how to break a sugar addiction?? Our transition was brutal. My husband stayed home in bed shivering for a whole day. I had massive brain fog and difficulty functioning for about a week. The children’s behavior got worse, and our oldest child’s autism was the worst it’s ever been. Things got a lot worse before they got better, and we wanted to quit. Luckily I had read Robb Wolf’s 30-day challenge and knew that this was actually a relatively normal response. We hung in there, and we were rewarded. No more mid-afternoon slump, no more tantrums or bad moods from the children, better energy overall, the severe autism faded away, and my husband’s cholesterol was down 30 points. All that from learning how to break a sugar addiction!
Learning how to break a sugar addiction was one of the hardest things our family has ever experienced. But also one of the most rewarding. We were forced into the change by major health issues. Otherwise I’m not sure if we would’ve made it. Here are the things we personally struggled with, and our lessons learned about how to break a sugar addiction:
- Support – If I could do it again, I would use Jason Seib’s Paleo Coach book and Sarah Fragoso’s Everyday Paleo book as supports and guides on the journey. These two have this stuff nailed, and they have the right attitude. They also have some great free podcasts.
- Detox and Drainage –I didn’t really fully understand detox or drainage when we changed our diet. In hindsight, some binders and drainage remedies might have really helped with our transition. Details on Detox and Drainage can be found here. Specifically for breaking a sugar addiction, I would test Caprylic Acid, Berberine, Grapefruit Seed Extract, DE, Activated Charcoal, and Terrain Drainage Remedies.
- Emotions and Food – I was raised an emotional eater. Something didn’t go well at school? Have a cookie. Or two. Grandma died? Comfort brownies. Promotion at work? Alcohol and ice cream. We used food both as a crutch for difficult emotions, and to celebrate positive emotions. I came up with a few other ideas instead, in an attempt to break my emotional eating habit. Sometimes I get myself a special drink – water with a squeeze of lemon and salt. Instead of comfort food, I do comfort push-ups. I’m one of those competitive people who try to break my previous record for push ups from the last time I was upset enough to do push ups!! Now that our health issues are resolved, we occasionally still sometimes celebrate with food. We always make it ourselves, and almost always delete the sugar. If the kids don’t participate, then it doesn’t get made. Celebration in our house now is really more about making and doing than it is about eating. Note that when we were still sick, we didn’t make any ‘treats’ at all. Ever. We focused on celebrating with things like letting the birthday person choose dinner – broccoli or chard? What about after dinner – should we go for a walk or a bike ride? We tried to take the birthday focus away from food.
- Break the Habit – I found that certain routines in themselves caused me to crave sugar. Like the afternoon snack at work. How about an afternoon walk instead? Instead of business meetings over lunch, a friend had the idea to do them over ‘hiking.’ The first step for me was becoming aware that certain routines were leading me to crave sugar. Christine Carter’s new book The Sweet Spot has more tips about breaking habits, including making new micro and mini habits. Changing habits was a big part of learning how to break a sugar addiction.
- Social Situations – What about birthday parties and social situations with food? My response to this depends on the crowd. If it is a crowd where I don’t mind talking about diet and health, then I might say that I’m trying to break a sugar addiction. If I don’t want to focus the discussion on issues of diet and health, then I just say that I’m full or I ate too much breakfast. If it’s a situation involving children, then we most often leave the party before the cake is served, saying that we have to get going. No need to say where we are going to! When we were first transitioning, we found it easiest to just avoid social situations all together.
For a more blog-style article that summarizes this information, check out How to Break A Sugar Addiction”.
Parenting & Diet
“Being a parent is so hard — there are no clear-cut answers for anything, and if your life doesn’t revolve around sugar and TV then you’re ‘weird’.”
– A wise friend
Along with diet, I want to just say a few words about parenting as it relates to the best diet for health. I consider food to be a special blessing, and I am thankful for every meal. I think it is important to instill the same respect and gratitude for food in my children. Food’s primary goal is to nourish our bodies. My parenting style as it relates to food reflects these principles.
Choice & Ground Rules
Usually, there is no choice at meal times. I prepare the best diet for health. I don’t often have the time to prepare multiple items or even to ask the children in advance what they want. If they make a special request, I usually comply, but sometimes it takes a week or two. The children often volunteer to help, and along with helping often come choices – e.g. beef jerky in small or large pieces. Broccoli or kale in the turkey roll-ups?
Here’s the part where people start to say I’m a mean ogre… If the children do not finish their meal, it shows up at the next meal, and the next meal until it is gone. Since we are consistent about these ‘rules’, the children eat anything and everything without complaint. We do not tolerate, screaming, crying, or complaining at the table. The children are welcome to go play instead of eat, but they will not be given food again until the next meal, at which time they will get the meal that they didn’t eat the first time. I realize this approach is not popular in modern culture, but I think it is essential to raising health children. It is also the only way I have seen children actually eat vegetables and break their sugar addiction. (If someone has a better, easier, faster way, please let me know!) People can call me a mean ogre. I call myself a parent with well-behaved, healthy, happy kids who eat food that nourishes their bodies and helps them stay healthy.
What do I do if the children really, really don’t want to eat a specific meal? There’s usually little sympathy. Sometimes we talk about where the food came from and how thankful we are to have the meal. Sometimes we go around the table asking for future meal requests. On rare occasions when a child really doesn’t like a particular meal, I will do an emotional clearing on it. This may sound hokey, but it has always worked (knock on wood). Here is an example video:
Under no situation, tantrum, vomiting or otherwise, do the rules above bend. Otherwise the children learn that they can use these methods in the future to bend the rules.
Control & Rebellion
It is hard for me to understand how children under age 9 can completely control the household menu, their eating times, and their bedtimes. Yet this seems to be the norm in today’s culture. Some of them use tantrums to get their way, and I have seen lots using vomiting to get their way. Honestly, it’s way easier in the long run to tough it out with the diet than it is to have manipulating, poorly-behaved children. We actually have it way easier than most parents!
Will my children will rebel when they are older because they weren’t allowed to eat sugar? So far I have yet to see it. I have a pile of Mother’s Day and Birthday cards where the children voluntarily write, “Thank you mama for the healthy food.” It still amazes me every time they write it, but it happens almost every year. They really are thankful and appreciate the hard work and hours I spend in the kitchen. The 8-year-old is noticing on her own that the children who can’t read are the ones who have candy in their lunch boxes. Sarah Fragoso’s son wrote an interesting teenage perspective on paleo. I never even thought that perfect skin might be such a big advantage in the teenage years!!
Sarah Fragoso has two great posts about transitioning kids to better eating habits and feeding kids healthy food. Me? I went cold turkey with the children. Their behavior got way worse, but it only lasted a few days. They starved themselves, but only for about 36 hours. I like to get to where I’m going as quickly as possible. Then live on.
What about social situations with children? We are the family that typically has ‘somewhere to go’ before the birthday cake comes out. Hey, who doesn’t always have somewhere to go? At our birthday parties, we typically serve hot dogs with homemade fermented ketchup and veggies. There are definitely children who don’t want to play at our house because they don’t get sugar. That’s fine with us.
What about at our birthday parties? We usually don’t have a cake. Sometimes we have made ‘cakes’ out of hot dogs, tooth picks, and vegetables:
In school situations, I tell the teacher that we have allergies. Allergies are a great excuse – they are very common these days. This avoids the conversation completely about which diet is the best/healthiest. Let’s face it – most teachers don’t eat well and will take offense at anyone implying that their own diet isn’t promoting health. I’ve found that even if I phrase things in “I” or “We” statements – like “We feel better when we don’t eat grains and sugars.” Many people hear this as a personal attack that they shouldn’t eat grains or sugars.
As for the crazy comments that happen in school? We are thankful for the awesome lessons that we can learn from them. Here are some classics from the first 6 months of 1st grade:
- First grader, “Mom can I have Starbucks coffee? Mrs. X said that it is energy for the brain.”
- E-mail from teacher sent to all parents: “…I was so proud of them that I gave them a lollipop as a reward. A little bribery never hurt anyone :):) “
- 1st grade Sugar Stats:
# of days kids given candy to take home or eat in class = 2
# of days kids ate candy/sugar during class time = 4
# days total with sugar = 6
# days total of 1st grade = 55
% age of ‘Sugar Days’ in 1st grade = 11 %
On each of these days, we had a whole dinner table discussion about not just addictions, but about how addicts make up lies to justify their addiction. We talked about how breaking addictions is hard, so it’s best not to start in the first place. Deep discussions, thank you first grade!
At lunch time, other kids often do make fun of the fact that our kids have salad, vegetables and meat. Luckily, our kids have enough education and self esteem to speak up. They say that their food is healthy so that they grow strong, feel good, and their brains can learn. For school food events, I either pull the kids out if there won’t be anything healthy, or I send them a ‘special snack’. The special snack is usually things like Kale chips from the grocery store. (Yes, this is special for them!)
I have one funny school party story. Soraya, second grader, really wanted a shrimp cocktail for her ‘special snack’ at in class end-of-the-month birthday party. By the time of the party the next day, the shrimp cocktail stuck like old fish. It stuck up the whole classroom when it was opened! Since then, the teacher provided carrots and tomatoes for Soraya to eat during the end-of-the-month parties. Guess what happened? Slowly all the kids started taking carrots and tomatoes instead of Oreos and gummi bears! Side rant: Why do public schools need end-of-the-month parties anyway?!?!
For team situations, I tell the parents that we have food allergies so we don’t eat sugar or grains. Can they please bring a bag of carrots so that our child can feel included? Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. However, when we bring snack for team games, here’s what we’ve got goin’ on: Guacamole, carrots, peppers, olives, hot dogs. Believe it or not, a lot of the kids start eating once they see our kids eating. Some of the parents eat too!
Tips for Eating a Real Food Diet
How can we eat a real food diet given our modern lives: work, social events, infinite to-do lists, and information flying at us constantly from our electronic devices. Who has time to make sauerkraut, cook, do dishes, let alone sit down and eat a real meal these days? Best diet for health? Forget it, one might say. Dr. Christine Carter tells us in her books that sitting down to a meal is important for not only raising happy children, but for our own happiness .
So, how does one make real food and maintain sanity? I’m not perfect, but I’ve developed some routines and habits that have helped. Here’s a quick list of ways I’ve optimized:
- Habits & Routines – My habits and routines include time in the kitchen. For instance, I get up in the mornings, go to the bathroom, and then head to the kitchen to start making breakfast and lunchboxes. This takes me about 1.5 hours, including clean up. After the children go to bed, I immediately clean up the dishes/kitchen for the day. I also set out any items from the freezer that I might need the next day. This takes about another hour, and then I go to bed. (Sleep is as important as food!) I sometimes listen to podcasts while I’m working in the kitchen. Making the kitchen a part of my daily, normal routine helps make it more automatic and reduces the stress of meal times.
- Leftovers – I make huge batches of food and then we eat them for 3-4 days in a row for lunch, breakfast, and dinner. Usually a recipe needs to be doubled or tripled to 4+lbs of meat to make it worth my time. Mostly I do slow cooker & super easy recipes because I don’t have time to do anything fancier. I often repeat favorite recipes. Christine Carter  even recommends making the same thing every Monday, every Tuesday, etc. I find with our whole-animal purchases that this doesn’t work so well. Big batch leftovers is our key. I honestly don’t know how I would maintain sanity without leftovers!
- Breakfast = Lunch = Dinner – We eat the same thing for breakfast that we eat for lunch & dinner. So the timing of the meal doesn’t matter much. This may sound weird, but we are used to it, so it’s normal for us. Breakfast is also often leftovers. We energize with things like lamb stew & lengua carnitas for breakfast. Here’s a picture of chicken hearts with Caesar dip for breakfast!
- Buy grassfed meat in bulk from farmers – Not only does this save us money, it saves me a lot of shopping time. If there are cuts that I don’t know how to cook (there were lots of those at the beginning!), then I search online. I usually order extra organ meats and cheap cuts like ground and tongue with the bulk animal order. I save fat from recipes and render it to use later. We are so lucky and thankful to have so many amazing local farmers in California who are stewards of our land.
- US Wellness Meats – They have wonderful grassfed organ meat products, and their grassfed sausages are wonderful. Liverwurst. OMG. They ship all over the US.
- Shopping – I shop once a week early Friday mornings at our local farmers market. I usually come home with about $100 in organic vegetables for the week. This is in addition to the vegetables we grow in our garden. Meat is already in one of our three freezers from our whole animal purchases. About once a month I make a Trader Joes or Whole Foods run for things like toilet paper, paper towels, or sundried tomatoes. I do a bulk buying club order with Azure once every 2 months, mostly for these items: glass jar organic tomatoes, organic tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, Selina’s Natural salt and coconut milk (we don’t eat much of it, just for the occasional curry).
- Amount of Food – In a single meal, we eat 0.5-1lb of meat/person, plus a bunch of veggies. It depends on the meal as to how much meat, fattier is closer to 0.5lb and leaner is closer to 1lb.
- Habits & People – Break habits that involve non-real food, like staying for cake at a birthday party. This may cause some social relationships to break too. Our stories of losing friends, and discovering true friends, can be found in the social and emotional aspects of healing section.
- Get Help – If you can afford it, hire help. Who needs new clothes when you can wear hand-me-downs from the neighbors and use the money to hire help in the kitchen? Just unloading dishes and cleaning up the kitchen after breakfast & lunchbox duty is a blessing. If you can’t afford to hire help, perhaps organizing a food swap or finding another family to eat with once a month might help.
I’m constantly looking for new ideas and ways to save time and money. Suggestions to this list are most welcome!
Favorite Recipes & Snack Ideas
Over time, I’ve developed favorite go-to and snack recipes. It’s taken many years of trial and error. I gravitate towards recipes that don’t take much time, minimize sweet vegetables, and are yummy!
Favorite cookbooks (not too much sugar, or I delete the sugar from the recipes)
- Internal Bliss (I delete honey/sugars from recipes) – great Caesar dressing
- Nourishing Traditions – I don’t like their recipes that much, but they have awesome instructions for broth & ferments
- Everyday Paleo (The original Everyday Paleo book is awesome. 2nd book family cookbook is OK too but more time-consuming, other books have too much sugar and are way too time consuming)
- Beyond Bacon – Huntsman stew, Lengua carnitas & Ham Pot Roast with Horseradish Mustard Glaze are particular favorites
Some of my favorite free online recipes:
- Chili verde (use olive oil, cut down on spicy peppers, increase mild peppers
- Beanless chili
- Perfect Pork Pot Roast
- Lamb stew (good even without the prunes/apricots & almonds)
- Lamb burgers from the Everyday Paleo cookbook
- Smokey Roast with Broccoli (I leave out the cocoa powder)
- Chicken slaw from Everyday Paleo cookbook.
- Chicken Hearts
- Italian Dressing – My recipe:
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (Azure has the best ACV ever!!)
1tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Shake and allow flavors to blend for at least 1 hour.
- Beef Jerky – My recipe:
2lbs ground beef
1/2 Tb Creole / cajun Seasoning
Grind above in food processor for smoother jerky. Put in jerky gun and dehydrate on 150 for about 6 hours. We like it a bit pink in the middle. Store in fridge – it has no preservatives and will mold.
Creole seasoning is here:http://homecooking.about.com/od/spicerecipes/r/blspice14.htm
- Cut up veggies with Caesar dip from the Internal Bliss Cookbook
- TJ’s organic broccoli slaw with either Italian dressing or Caesar dip (from Internal Bliss).
- Green Salad with kimchi/sauerkraut, leftover meat, and whatever veggies are in the garden
- “Stacks” with fun forks holding them together, e.g. cucumber, seaweed, tomato, salami. I know, the forks are plastic and made in China. They really help especially when kids are first transitioning. Now I only pull them out a few times a year for fun.
- Chicken skin – I bake chicken skin at 350 for 15 min, and it turns into a crispy, salty special treat! Any fat left over I save for sautéing.
Lifestyle – Sleep, Exercise, Stress
Sleep, exercise, and stress reduction are also extremely important to supporting the best diet for health. The immune system cannot function if the body is struggling with lack of sleep, exercise, or stress. Again, here I default to the work of Jason Seib and Sarah Fragoso for tips and ideas better than I could ever give. Here’s a short summary of my ‘solution’ to these issues in our modern overwhelming time.
- Overall – I made a list of my top 5 priorities and I only say ‘yes’ to activities that are consistent with these priorities. My priorities are:
- Health for myself and my family
- Happiness for myself and my family
- Raising awesome children who are great citizens of this earth
- Finish Debug Your Health
- Energy Science
Diet, sleep, exercise and stress reduction are essential to achieving priorities #1 and #2. I actually do prioritize those above all others, otherwise it would be impossible for me to achieve #3-6.
- Sleep – I need 8 hours per night to function well the next day, and the science has shown that most of us do too . I have a watch alarm that goes off at 8:45pm when it’s time for me to start getting ready for bed. I usually sleep from 9:30pm-6am.
- Exercise – I do some kind of exercise every weekday. On the weekends, I play with the kids. During the week, it’s usually 2 days strength training, 1 day sprints, and 1 day stretching (yoga). I try to walk as much as possible per day. I focus my strength training on core, because I find that supports my posture and spine through the work week.
- Stress reduction – This is one that I still don’t have nailed. Two kids and work make stress a part of daily life. Sleep helps. Deep breaths help. Gratitude practice makes me remember the positive . I usually find time to meditate at least 5 minutes per day. Even though I’m not very good at it, the quieting of my mind helps me remember my goals and not stress over the little stuff. Unplugging from electronic devices helps a lot. Practicing being ‘present’ and ‘mindful’ helps too. I have piecemeal things that help a lot, but no one blockbuster solution.
Diet and lifestyle – once these are dialed in the body can start to heal. Dr. Simon Yu often says ‘If there is time to heal’ to his patients. My advice: Don’t wait until you are debilitated. Get these dialed in before any health issues have the chance to take hold!
Q: Where do you find recipes?
A: We like the old classics on the sarahfragoso.com (formerly everydaypaleo.com) website. We also make a lot of regular Paleo recipes but just omit the honey, fruit, etc.
Q: I need to gain weight, not lose it. Do you have any suggestions?
A: You won’t gain any healthy weight until you start being able to properly digest your food. I would start with healing your gut. Note that I don’t believe eating more sugar is a healthy solution, or even a working solution, to gaining more weight.
Q: I changed my diet, but I still don’t feel well. Any ideas?
A: I would check in on other lifestyle factors like stress, sleep and exercise. Detailed tips can be found in Jason Seib’s Paleo Coach. If you’re still not feeling well, then I would look at the health of your gut, dental infections, and for parasitic infections.
Q: I am curious about your parenting style. What do you do when your children do behave badly?
A: We sometimes do time outs. More often, we run 1/2 mile laps around the neighborhood block (yes, 0.5 miles with a 4-year-old running at full speed!).
Q: I’m not satisfied after a meal of meat & vegetables.
A: Most likely you are still physically addicted to sugar, or still in the habit of needing sugar to feel satisfied. See the discussion above about How to Break a Sugar Addiction. If it is a habit, perhaps break it by forming a new habit, like taking a walk after meals. If still physically addicted to sugar, then I advise eating more fat and protein. I was surprised how much fat and protein we started eating once we stopped eating sugar! The metabolism will switch from digesting sugars to fats. If inspiration is needed, I would turn to The Paleo Coach or The Paleo Solution (Note: I don’t like Robb’s American slang bad-boy tone, but he does have a lot of things figured out.)
 Weston Price Letter to Nieces and Nephews can be found here.
 “Declining Fruit and Vegetable Nutrient Composition,” HortScience, 2009; 44:15, Summary here.
 “Dirt Poor: Have Fruits and Vegetables Become Less Nutritious?” Scientific American, April 27, 2011.
 An easy-to-read summary of the study can be found in the Forbes article “Oreos More Addictive Than Cocaine? Study Shows Cookies Might Produce More Pleasure Than Coke In Rats” here.
 Emily Deans MD, “Diet and Violence,” Evolutionary Psychology, May 2011.
 Carter, Christine “The Sweet Spot” 2014.
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