I've been doing much thinking and reading on food lately. I was feeling less than healthy after the excesses of the holidays and the conveniences of being away. In the space of a month I'd experienced a cold, a very sore wisdom tooth and swelling in one foot. I couldn't even wear my favourite sandals anymore. It had also been quite a stressful time with the fires, but I knew this was more than just stress. It is easy to get off track sometimes, and I'm noticing this far more in my 30's than in my 20's. It was so easy to bounce back then.
So I'd begun taking more care with our diet again. Lots of soups and salads on the menu. Homemade bread back on the menu. Within a week my gums were back to normal, though I was almost convinced the previous week that I would need to visit to the dentist.
I re-read Nourishing Traditions. Always a wonderful reminder of how our diet should be. For those that haven't read this book, it is full of traditional recipes using the ingredients that have nourished people for thousands of years. It is the complete opposite to everything we have been told about what we "should" eat. Grass-fed beef, animal fat, butter, vegetables, raw milk, eggs, fermented foods including dairy and grains that are soaked are all on the menu. There is also much information on what Sally Fallon describes as "new fangled" foods, the dangers in foods such as most vegetable seed oils (with the exception of extra virgin olive oil and some unrefined nut oils), sugar and white flour.
We watched Food Inc, after reading about it here on the Down to Earth blog. Though I thought I had read and watched a lot on food before, I really did find this shocking. I knew that cheap food came at a cost, but I was unaware as to just how far this goes. The animals, the farmers and ultimately the unaware consumer are all the victims in this billion dollar food industry. It is a very sad state of affairs.
While browsing through the Amazon reviews one night I stumbled upon Primal Body Primal Mind : Beyond the Paleo Diet for Total Health and a Longer Life, of which people had some very positive things to say about. So I ordered myself a copy and once arrived, read it within a week. It advocates a similar diet to that outlined in Nourishing Traditions, but with less emphasis on grains. Grains are to only be eaten once soaked, and preferably not at all. Starchy food is also not recommended. This is a version of the the Paleo Diet, based on what our ancient ancestors would eaten. Being a hunter gatherer, there was meat, seafood, animal fat, vegetables, dairy and small portions of grains and fruit available. According to the book, our bodies were designed to burn fat (mostly saturated) as fuel rather than carbohydrates (anything made with flour, sugar and grains).
I read this with great interest. I am not one to say I follow a particular diet, as I don't like to label how I eat, nor do I believe in diets. I know I could never completely cut out grains. Or potatoes or beans. But we can eat less of them. I did cut out sugar (again) a few weeks back and I've cut out white flour, although I'm still eating oats and other soaked grains once a day or every second day. I've been baking the kids spelt bread, leaving the dough out overnight for now. Though we do still sometimes sweeten with maple syrup or honey and we do eat fruit. We've been eating quite a lot of eggs, salads, yoghurt, nuts and local grassfed meat with lots of vegies. Often with liberal amounts of butter, coconut oil or olive oil. Unfortunately I've had no success with sourcing raw milk in our area of no dairy farms, short of buying a cow for ourselves one day. You never know.
I'll admit that the first week of no wheat and sugar had me falling asleep virtually every afternoon. But this week I've got my energy back and then some. I'm feeling less hungry, particularly in the late afternoon which is always a low energy time for me. Also less bloated, and in a consistently better mood.
I don't know how sustainable this is in the long term, but I am definitely hoping that it will be. It is a rather drastic change considering that for many years our diets revolved around white wheat products and sugar. How I used to love bread and sugar.
As a bonus I'm able to wear my favourite sandals again. After about six months of minor swelling, it completely disappeared almost two weeks ago.
Did you see Food Inc?
Have you ever tried a Paleo or traditional way of eating?
Have you read any interesting books or blogs lately on the subject of food?