Primal Eating – Ramblings & Resources

I’ve been fiddling around with ways of eating for a long time now, with occasional ventures into the extreme (vegetarian for seven years and nearly two years of raw foods, for example) and sometimes trying to finagle my way back to “normal” eating (that would be the kind that includes bread and cereal, a complete and utter failure, I might mention). The most successful route by far, has been when I do a basic “paleo” type of diet (and for your information, my blood type is A+, which really makes me think very little of the blood type diet), that includes lots of wild (or grassfed, when I can get it) meat, eggs, veggies/greens and happy fats (lard, coconut oil, palm oil, sometimes butter, nuts) as well as moderate amounts of fruit, starchy squashes/yams and nuts/seeds and small amounts of  whole food sweeteners like honey or maple syrup. It’s actually really simple, and my body loves it, and Wolf has been suggesting it for a long time. I don’t eat any grains or dairy (ok, sometimes I really need some raw goat cheese or ice cream, but it’s an exception) and I try to avoid all processed foods like the plague (that includes reduced fat milk products, white sugar, granola bars and many kinds of sausage, sadly enough).

I really nice overview of the general life/foodstyle I embrace can be found over here, called the Primal Blueprint, by Mark Sisson. The basic premise is something like

  • Eat lots of animals, insects and plants.
  • Move around a lot at a slow pace.
  • Lift heavy things.
  • Run really fast once in a while.
  • Get lots of sleep.
  • Play.
  • Get some sunshine every day.
  • Avoid trauma.
  • Avoid poisonous things.
  • Use your mind.

I personally would adjust a few things, like where he says Avoid Trauma, I think he really means Cultivate Awareness, which would have been a better way of putting it, avoid trauma sounds an awful lot like Play It Safe, which isn’t terribly natural or primal. Besides my nitpicking though, he’s got it really right and his blog is a great resource for eating/living in a healthy against-the-grain (pun intended) kind of way, his recent post called Grain Pain, is almost an exact replica of my own experience with IBS and grains, and the healing I found after eliminating them. Another great resource is The Modern Forager: Respect Your Food, Respect Yourself. Kickass nutritional breakdowns, nice evaluations of current scientific studies, good recipes, controversial topics and an opinionated person not afraid to admit he doesn’t know something now and then. Refreshing, to say the least, and you gotta love his post on Humans’ First Protein Source (don’t forget to read the comments). And also the post covering the new study showing that Low Carb = Low Inflammation.

I’m not suggesting that there’s one diet for every person (far from it), but I do think that humans in general would be better off using our evolutionary diet as a healthy jumping off point for customization rather than vegetarianism.

31 Comments

  1. Kristen
    Nov 19, 2008

    The problem is that so few people can get really healthy meat. Factory farms are really scary and the meat that comes from them, also. You have access to healthy meat, and so do I, but 99 percent of Americans do not. In that case, I really think vegetarianism is a very healthy “jumping off point” for a healthy diet. Vegetarianism can include eggs and raw milk products and it’s easier and cheaper to get healthy eggs than truly healthy meat. (Raw milk, on the other hand, is almost impossible to find ).

  2. Kiva Rose
    Nov 20, 2008

    I disagree. Most people, especially those in cities, have more access than I do to healthy meat. Almost all vegetarian diets are grain based, and that is extremely unhealthy any which way you look at it. I know many people all over the country on a very tight budget who still manage to buy adequate amounts of grassfed meat. Farmer’s markets, local butchers and farmers are all good routes to go. That failing, you can always get great deals on grassfed meat online if you have any freezer space whatsoever. Also, make friends with hunters, many of them hunt annually and can’t or don’t want to eat all the meat they get, they’ll often give you a great deal.

    It would be unethical of me to advise people that grain based vegetarianism is a healthy way to eat, considering the still unfolding evidence of grains’ (and sugar and processed foods) primary role in so many chronic “civilized” diseases. A vegetable based diet (with no grains) that includes fatty wild fish and good eggs would be MUCH better than a grain based vegetarian diet but still inferior to a diet that includes meat, IMHO.

    This is not a snap judgment on my part, I’ve been researching the nutrition aspect for years, and treating clients this way as well. No herb or supplement can fix what’s seriously awry nutritionally.

    The ethics of the whole world eating paleo style is another matter. It would, of course, require a serious drop in the world population to work well. Nevertheless, I am still at odds with Michael Pollan’s well loved advice to mostly eat plants….

  3. Kristen
    Nov 20, 2008

    Yes, even Pollan seems to ackowledge we eat too much grain… it’s been a couple years since I read that book but I seem to recall that after he stated we should “eat more plants” he also clarified that he meant more LEAF, more FRUIT, and less “seed” (wheat, etc).

    I think grass fed meat is really expensive in the cities, and it’s hard to find a hunter in the city. That’s what I’m saying– you live rurally and so do I and it’s easy for me to raise my own meat and get some fat elk steaks off my neighbor in trade for whatever I’ve got … all my neighbors have cows that graze the forest all summer and I can easily buy meat from them at a pretty low cost. I just think it’s not so easy in the city and costs a heck of a lot. Look at the meat prices at Whole Foods… ouch.

    Pollan also had a section (I think it was him?) looking at the cost-per-calorie analysis of a healthy diet vs. a so-called SAD diet and it’s important to point out that the cost-per-calorie of even a banana is ten times higher than the cost-per-calorie of Cheetos. Once you add in good meat (and I really don’t think eating factory farmed meat is a good idea for anyone) the cost-per-calorie of a healthy meal is through the roof. And, meanwhile, rice and wheat and oats are cheap — even whole grain and organic.

    I think this is just a fascinating discussion, and I don’t disagree with you on the benefits of paleo diet, I just think it’s probably too expensive for some people. I know that I could not afford to feed my family good meat if I had to buy it from the grocery store.

    Question: What do you think of potatoes?

  4. Siobhan
    Nov 20, 2008

    I’d like to jump in here and make a point. How many people have access to wild fish ? Most people do not and IMHO fish is so polluted it is one of the most unsafe things there is one can eat. I speak from experience having had to deal with toxic mercury as a result of fish eating. I now take mercury free fish oil supplememts. All fish is mercury polluted to some degree, even wild fish, with maybe the exception of wild river fish. But even some river fish come from the sea.

  5. treesa
    Nov 20, 2008

    Hm, as someone dealing with rhuematoid arthritis, I will definitely be checking out the low carb=low inflammation post… I knew my body was saying no to bread and potatoes for a reason. (Not to mention the nightshade-family aspect of potatoes!) Maybe this will help the extra winter aches… :)

    Thanks for the tres informative post!

  6. Kiva Rose
    Nov 20, 2008

    I think almost anyone in N. America has access to wild fish, I believe they sell it at wal-mart even. It’s canned, but it’s still wild, and some of it is from alaska and pretty affordable. Mercury contamination is certainly an issue, but I believe the salmon from alaska has less contamination that much of what’s available. And yes, anyone taking a fish oil supplement should make sure it’s free of mercury (it’s on the label, if it’s not, don’t buy it).

    There’s lots of hunters in cities, I’ve lived all over the country (and have spent much of that time in cities, ghettoes even, in the SE, NW, mid-atlantic, and even New England) and pretty much everywhere I go find lots of redneck hunter types who every year venture off to some rural area to take down deer, grouse, turkey, elk, antelope, whatever…. You can always put wanted ad in the paper or a sign up at your local grocery store.

    You have to understand that we’re pretty poor existing on donations and feeding many of our guests for free. In fact, we have to have credit at the local grocery store for times we can’t afford to pay the bill (winter is great for that, no guests for months sometimes). Thankfully, when guests do come they often offer to bring us some food from the city, which is most appreciated. Especially considering how impossible it is to get fresh produce here most of the time.

    Food is still more affordable now than it has been any time in the civilized past as far as I know. In some ways that’s not a good thing, it means that good, nutritious food is less of a priority than it used to be.

    Personally, I think the ethics of factory famed meat is horrendous and to be avoided as much as possible. Health-wise though, I’d take factory farmed meat over industrial farmed grains any day, and then eat extra fish and extra fish oil to help with the omega 3/6 imbalance.

    There’s no doubt grains are cheaper than meat, but heart attacks and diabetes are pretty expensive too, and don’t taste as good as meat :)

    Plus, when you do buy meat, some of the best cuts are the cheapest. Good chuck steaks or roasts can be great, heart and liver are often super cheap, and so is tongue I think. Heart tastes GREAT, it has the best texture of any bit of meat in my opinion.

    And if you use the whole animal, you definitely get way more bang (and nutrition) for your buck. If you eat the fat and organs of the animal, it goes a lot further and provides more nutrition.

    Oh, and for rural people take note that many people who raise chickens have to cull their roosters on a regular basis and are often happy just to GIVE them away, which is a great happiness for your stew pot.

    Many cities allow people to raise chickens now as well, and there’s often decent hunting not too far from cities (with the kill off of so many predators, there’s certainly lots of deer and bunnies in many places. This probably won’t work in LA, but it will not too far from many cities like Portland, Kansas City, Albuquerque, Pittsburgh even….

    And for good paleo budget ideas, check out Darcey’s blog, like this recent post http://desertmedicinewoman.blogspot.com/2008/09/budget-friendly-paleo-meal-chiipotle.html if she can eat well on her tiny amount of funds, I’m convinced almost anyone can.

    I don’t think much of potatoes, although heirloom, homegrown ones are different than generic store potatoes of course. Unfortunately, they’re all pretty packed full of carbs and often trigger IBS and inflammation in the body. I don’t (can’t actually, instant belly troubles) eat them, but I’ll let Rhiannon have them once in a while.

  7. Isabel
    Nov 20, 2008

    Hi Ladies, What a great discussion!

    re. the paleo diet-oh, that’s what you call it! That’s pretty much what we are eating, and it feels healthy. A bit boring, but very healthy!
    I just recently gave up wheat/breads because I have been thinking about this new/old idea surfacing of “Victory Gardens” and it’s kind of dumb because most people if they grew a garden couldn’t feed themselves because they can’t grow enough grains to match the processed and grain-based diets the love so much.
    So if figured, do I really need to buy bread? It’s part of the commerce/advertising thing.

    My main goal is to grow what I eat and eat what I grow and not spend much on food.
    For instance, we eat a LOT of sweet potatoes, because we live in the S.E. US and they grow like crazy!
    I think Mamma Gaia gives us regionally what we need, and that’s what we should be eating. (IMHO)
    As for fish (and seaweed) one of my teachers said if it’s a choice between eating it and not, I’d say eat it. Maybe not in huge quantities but eat some.

    We are working on developing ponds (we have a completely dry piece of land) so we will have tilapia, fresh water muscles and grass carp. Yum!

    Folks in the city can have chickens (in most places or should work to get the laws changed), which means they could eat more eggs and less meat, and trade for good meat! Or spend their money judiciously on really good stuff.
    The other thing I think a lot of Americans need to cut down on is coffee, chocolate & tea.
    Those are generally imported resources (although we are growing our own tea). I will admit to still having a chocolate addiction!
    I do think that folks need time to change their diets. Every change I have made has come very slowly, but I feel healthy! I can’t imagine how I survived for so long on processed and junk food, sugar and coffee!
    I am glad I live in the woods!
    Peace, Isabel

  8. jim mcdonald
    Nov 20, 2008

    from the comments about protien sources our ancestors ate on the link kiva posted:

    “When have you ever seen a cave drawing of a pile of beans?”

    f’ing beautiful.

    As for getting healthy meat in the city, I live just outside of the detroit sprawl, which is among the biggest slabs of connected concrete in the country, and the world even. I can get healthy meat. maybe I can’t get organic chicken, but I can get good amish chicken, waiting for sales and freezing the bulk of it. I can buy buffalo, I can get elk, there are hordes of hunters here, and http://www.localharvest.org is yeilds an amazing network of local options for people raising animals in a good way, close to home. I can get healthy bacon from someone a little ways down the road for less than I can buy shitty bacon at the grocery store for. Even for the really low income (I certainly aint rich) the way you prepare your meats can make them yeild more. For example, you can get a rotisserie amish chicken at on of the family owned chain supermarkets here for $5, eat it for dinner, and then make broth from the bones & scraps.

    As for whole foods, yeah, I can’t buy meat there. But they sell wild alaskan salmon caught from the same river as another grocer in town for $10 more a pound. Shopping there for meat is asking to pay for their immense overhead.

  9. Kiva Rose
    Nov 20, 2008

    Hi Isabel, I agree completely about the bioregional emphasis, although primitive peoples have always done some trading in order to get important foods (and choice spices and tobacco, heh) like seaweed and so on. In general though, I try to get as much as possibly locally, although this being the SW, it can be really difficult to get good produce outside of cities (this is NOT farming country). I try to really immerse myself in the wild foods especially, because this area is not really viable for agriculture without a lot of struggle and artificial means to an end. Watercress, nettles, mustards, dock make up a big proportion of our greens and we use a lot of local spices as well, like juniper berries and wild oregano. Not many root veggies grow around here, but berries do surprisingly well. I am slowly working at cultivating wild weedy gardens with things like Gila squash, devil’s claw, more mustards and other plants that grow with very little interference from humans.

    paleo is the name Cordain gave the diet when he wrote his books, because I don’t perfectly subscribe to his standards (he preferred lean cuts of meat etc) I call mine a more paleo-type diet. I don’t think it has to be boring either, although it can certainly require a whole new mindset about what a meal is like, that’s for sure.

    I agree about the coffee, chocolate and tea as well, although you have to start adding a lot of spices and other commonly imported staples as well at that point…. personally, I already try to do this, most of my infusions and herbal teas come from here or very near here but of course I do love good chocolate, good coffee and fine green tea once in a while too. Mostly the chocolate :D Of course, it would be dreadfully hard to give up cinnamon and nutmeg, the very thought brings tears to my eyes….

    People do need and want time to adjust, unfortunately, we’ve had LOTS of time to adjust and we just ~don’t~ most of the time (I’m speaking on a societal level here) unless forced into it by economics or some other stress factor. But I guess that’s human nature in general — evolution, after all, is triggered by stress and the need to adapt, not by comfort and full bellies.

    And that, is the great blessing of the current times imho, it really seems to be helping to trigger a great deal of interest and activity in local foods and other resources. it doesn’t even touch the root of the problem, but it’s a very important step.

    here’s to local foods, in whatever form!

  10. Kiva Rose
    Nov 20, 2008

    thanks very much for that, jim… I was going to post the link to the localharvest folks if you didn’t get around to it. I should probably do a post on just that with resource links. It can be kind of overwhelming to create the network and community necessary to this kind of eating. Of course, that’s also the beauty of it. It forces us to connect with each other and our food.

    I have that box ready btw, it will go out on Monday, hell or high water.

  11. Kristen
    Nov 20, 2008

    Some really great thoughts here. I am writing a piece right now about Victory Gardens, actually , for a magazine, so this is very helpful for me in a way I didn’t expect!

    Yes, it’s true, I”m amazed at how many young roosters I can get for free! Lots of people in the cities near me are now keeping chickens for eggs, but they often accidentally end up with roosters… and want to get rid of them fast. Free meat for me!!

    We grow a LOT of potatoes, a lot of fingerlings and colored potatoes and old Peruvian types, and although I agree they’re better than massive industrial-farmed white potatoes, I find I get very addicted to them, and they make me fat. But it would make sense to eat some potato in a Paleo diet, wouldn’t it? I know many hunter/gatherer societies have eaten quite a bit of various types of Starchy Roots, and still do (cassava, etc, etc, ). But probably like anything in our culture, we overdo it. I think generally the same of grains– I know some prehistoric peoples gathered some wild grains/grasses, too, but certainly our consumption of wheat is way out of whack.

    Hmm ,well, I need to start figuring out what to eat for breakfast, then, if I’m not going to eat oatmeal…

  12. jim mcdonald
    Nov 20, 2008

    “Hmm ,well, I need to start figuring out what to eat for breakfast, then, if I’m not going to eat oatmeal…”

    an omelette, with fresh eggs, some kind of meat and greens. Super for ya, especially with some mix of untended lawn greens… our staples include dandelion, ox eye daisy greens, slivered plantain leaves (against the grain, lest those evins end up stuck between ye teeth), salad burnett, lamb’s quarters, pepperweed…

  13. darcey
    Nov 21, 2008

    yes, i agree!
    breakfast used to be so hard for me, i never liked Breakfasty foods, but a pile of greens, some berries and a piece of fish, a minute steak, or a couple of eggs really sits well , fuels me for hours and keeps things nice and balanced, and tastes way better than slimey oats or pancakes ( to me anyway).

    I see a LOT of folks who are obsessed with “organic” and spend tons of money on processed organic junk foods. My belief is , in terms of health, for MOST people ( it depends on the condition and their needs) it is far better to compromise on the quality ( organic, grass fed etc) and eat the RIGHT things, lots of greens, quality protein, fruits, berries, nuts and whole grains( if they should eat them at all).

    I’ve been on the poor side all summer long, and have really been having a fight with myself about food and wht i could afford and couldn’t afford, but after my experience with not eating things because of the cost, i think i would have done MUCH better to eat non organic non grass fed things rather than too many beans and rice and not enough veggies. It’s been a learning experience to eat well on a tight budget, but it can be done. EVEN at WHOLE FOODS. I spent about 15 bucks on some food there that lasted my partner and I about a week. Eggs, canned fish, cheap greens and a few beans. It is possible. It is better to eat the right things than not at all due to the cost of organic etc.

  14. Kiva Rose
    Nov 21, 2008

    Kristen, it depends on what time period you’re looking at as to who consumed what…. in general though for paleo era people, the answer is mostly no about starchy roots. Probably they ate wild ancestors of these foods when they could find them, although it is likely (I’d have to do more research) that the ancestors of potatoes were fairly toxic (as the native ones here tend to be without a good deal of processing, and need to be eaten in moderation, and still, they definitely cause inflammation).

    I personally eat yams and squashes in some amount but I try to be aware that they’re a pretty concentrated form of starch/sugars. The “paleo diet” doesn’t allow starchy roots at all, if I recall correctly.

    Modern hunter gatherer tribes (what’s left of them) have started eating all kinds of modern foods that don’t have a place in their traditional diets. Modern Forager did a cool series on traditional foods that includes some contrasts between the traditional foods and the current diets. The reviews are fairly brief, but interesting. I especially like the one on Peru.

    And while it’s possible that our early ancestors did gather the ancestors of some grains, the plants were likely quite different and much harder to process. And some of the earliest peoples using wheat like the Egyptians, also show evidence of already having civilized diseases like diabetes and obesity…..

    I love Darcey’s (and jim’s) breakfast ideas, and while I unfortunately love pancakes, I feel a whole lot better eating fish and eggs or some variation therein, which are also super tasty and fun to cook. And if I really want some pancakes, I make a flax/almond version and use more butter than maple syrup. They’re super filling and definitely satisfying.

  15. Kiva Rose
    Nov 21, 2008

    Oh, and here’s a nice link talking about just how much meat our ancestors might have eaten and how much might be optimal. There’s nothing conclusive here but it’s a great discussion and food for thought. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/did-grok-really-eat-that-much-meat/

  16. Anita
    Nov 21, 2008

    About potatoes, I live in a commercial potato growing area and this is a crop that is pesticided weekly for one thing or the other. It is also irrigated and fertililized. About the only thing they need soil for is to hold the plant upright and harvest the potatoes out of it. Also in my area I wouldn’t eat wild meat because the animals feed on the pesticided crops of wheat, canola etc.
    We can get good quality bison and beef and chicken though.
    I fully agree with this way of eating, which I came to on my own after experiencing serious health problems and realizing that the grains had alot to do with them.

  17. Alchemille
    Nov 22, 2008

    Kiva, thank you for posting this (I’ll check the links) and thank you all for participating in this discussion.
    I
    always say that the perfect diet is the one that works the best for you and often requires some customization. My current diet is a blend of gluten free, scd and paleo with a touch of raw and macrobiotic.
    I’ve always been a veggie lover but I’ve been trying to introduce more meat in my diet (following my body’s cravings). I’m also trying to lower my grain intakes (can’t just do 100% without yet). I’m also eating more eggs and more nuts.
    It’s true that with a restricted diet, you gotta be more creative to avoid boredom. I’m currently into making breads that are a mix of nut meals, eggs and cooked GF grains (that works for me, and I posted some recipes under my blog).

    A few things I’d like to add:
    -Meat can be stretched: just got a thick steak (I’ve always been used to thin cuts in France) that I cut in 2 within the thickness and then pounded it so I ended with 2 decent size steaks ;).
    -Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease so it’s best to switch to GF or even better paleo
    -Avoid canned foods because they contain unhealthy chemicals: http://www.ewg.org/node/20934
    -Fish oils and other omega 3 oils go rancid very quickly (there have been cases of poisoning in France due to rancid flaxseed oil which isn’t sold there anymore; try camelina oil instead, similar but much more stable). If you buy some, buy them refrigerated and use within 3 months. A better choice would be to eat fresh fatty fish and grind your own flax/camelina seeds.

    Making the right choices surely require a lot of studying/research and being in tune with one’s body. Like many people, I also have to watch my finances but with right & nutritious foods choices, I don’t do too bad. I buy local and seasonal produces (even though I sometimes crave zucchinis or tomatoes) as much as I can and grow some greens and other stuff in containers on my porch. I also try to harvest wild goods when I can.

    About nightshades (potatoes and the like), there are some I clearly avoid because I don’t digest them well (like bell pepper) and I try not to eat some too often. Potatoes don’t taste the same depending on how they’re grown and the ones from the farmers market (that I usually steam) taste the best…I saved one (which is sprouting) to grow my own potatoes this year (I never tried and read that it’s fairly easy).

    Kiva, even though I have a small container garden, I have enough seeds for small farm! Especially seeds of greens (kales, collards, spinach, swiss chards…etc). I can send you some (trade or no trade, it doesn’t matter). Just let me know…

  18. Kiva Rose
    Nov 22, 2008

    Hi Alchemille, Wow, an abundance of great comments!

    Pounded steaks are yummy… we just had pounded venison stewed in a paprika sauce, it was heavenly.

    In general, I totally agree about the canned food. I make an exception for fish because it’s nearly impossible to get fresh wild salmon. Otherwise, I try to avoid it, although of course we home can a ton of meat and veggies since we don’t have many other ways of preserving them.

    If you buy high quality fish oil like Carlsons in bulk instead of capsules it actually tends to last a long time. We don’t have a fridge obviously, so we just keep the bottle in the pantry and it will last up to three or four months easily, although it doesn’t usually go unconsumed that long with four of us taking daily TB doses. Besides, it’s super easy to tell when either flax or fish oil go off, they usually have a pretty distinctive stink. And while it would be ideal to eat fresh fatty fish on a regular basis, that’s not necessarily affordible (or edible, depending on how the individual feels about fish) for a lot of people, and in some cases the oil is safer because it’s processed to remove any chemicals or mercury, as much as I dislike processing any food, I dislike mercury poisoning even more. I do agree about grinding your own flax though, it’s super easy and tastes great in food. When it comes to flax though, it’s so badly converted to omega 3s in the body (like pretty much all plant sources) that I don’t even bother with it for that use, I just like the taste and texture it gives for bread and pancakes.

    I would love to trade for some seeds in the hopes they might actually grow…. we have good soil here but very hungry bugs and other critters that tend to eat up anything that actually manages to grow. On the upside, they all seem to hate everything from the mustard family so arugula, mustard, creasy greens and watercress do really great. I would especially love to try the kale and swiss chard. Let me know what you might like in trade!

  19. Alchemille
    Nov 22, 2008

    Hi again Kiva,
    I suggest we email each other privately regarding the gardening seeds.
    My email is phenyjer@gmail.com.
    Let me know what you’re looking for and I’ll tell you what I have (that would make it easier to browse through all these seed packets…I just got 2 extra one today!).
    I do have wild and not so wild arugula, mache, mustards, creasy greens and some land cresses (no watercress though) + kales, collards, a french heirloom cabbage, beetberry aka strawberry spinach (chenopod family), beets (love the greens, they don’t get as big as swiss chards but I think they taste even better) & chards, spinach & warm weather spinach substitutes, leafy broccoli, purple broccoli (a hybrid between red kale and regular broccoli, absolutely beautiful and I love eating both leaves and florets)…Etc

  20. Alchemille
    Nov 26, 2008

    I also avoid store-bought sausages: they’re high in sodium (which raises the heart beat and blood pressure) and contains spices, which can mean just about anything, including MSG.
    I found this homemade “Turkey/Chicken Apple Sausages” recipe, I thought I’d share:
    http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/2008/11/turkey-or-chicken-apple-sausage.html

  21. Cory
    Dec 1, 2008

    One of our friend’s just started selling grass-fed beef jerky. Very exciting.

  22. kate
    Dec 4, 2008

    Interesting discussion. Thanks for the links kiva, I’ve subbed to those blogs :-)

    I got a couple of questions:

    If you eat low carb, do you eat meat at every meal? I just get really hungry if I don’t eat grains with my protein. I might be able to avoid that if I eat more meat more often but I’m not sure that is what I want to do, nor if the planet can afford us all to do that. Also, there seems to be a limit to how much meat I can eat in each meal, or in any day or week.

    Is there any research on whole grains in a wholefood diet? I’m guessing (but haven’t looked yet) that pretty much all ‘low-carb’ research is being done comparing low carb to carb diets that are based on refined carbs not whole ones. Most people eat white flour and sugar, so it makes sense if they stop eating that their health will improve.

    My ancestors ate whole oats, and before that barely for thousands of years. They adapted to that over a long period of time (unlike recently colonised indigenous cultures eg Maori, who eat refined carbs and haven’t had any time to adapt to grains, and have very high rates of diabetes etc). That’s a lot of time for genes to learn how to express in optimal ways. My ancestors also fermented their grains, and again I ask if there is any research on fermented, whole grains in the context of a wholefoods diet?

    I totally accept that many people do better and well on low or no carb diets. Doesn’t mean we all do though and I’m concerned the baby is getting thrown out with the bath water.

    I have these meals that I make sometimes that are apparently a low-carb/paleo nightmare ;-) Slow cooked brown rice; slow cooked root veges (usually parsnip and carrot) and/or pumpkin; some greens; tamari or salt; herbal vinegar; olive oil or butter. When I eat that particular combination I get the most amazing feeling of satiation, pleasure, and relaxation in my whole solar plexus/liver/gallbladder/stomach area, and great digestion. I don’t really get that with anything else, although rabbit stew brings a different kind of sensation. How can that be bad???

    I recently made the commitment to eat as much meat as I need, providing that it comes from local organic or feral sources. However I still tell people that I am vegetarian, because I want to have a high degree of choice in how I eat animals. I don’t want to be eating meat from sources that are overly cruel to the animal or the planet. Being vegetarian has pretty much always been an ethical and spiritual practice for me rather than one focussed on physical health. Again I am concerned that the baby is being thrown out with the bath water. Having some meals as ‘vegetarian’ has many benefits for individuals, communities, and the planet.

  23. Kiva Rose
    Dec 4, 2008

    Hi Kate :)

    No, I don’t eat meat at every meal, and I focus more on getting fat than protein generally, as that’s where a lot of the nutrition and satiation comes in.

    The planet definitely can’t deal with all of us eating paleo style. In truth, I don’t believe that we can eat any which way, even our ideal way, in a larger scale ethical way. Hell, I’m not even sure it’s ethical for us all to be breathing right now.

    There is a study that is a comparison of the Mediterranean diet (whole grains based) to Paleo and then to regula SAD diet I believe. I think they talk about it on Modern Forager, in which the Med diet is clearly more healthy than SAD but Paleo is significantly better (especially when it comes to diabetes) than Med. There might be more as well, if there are, they can likely be found on Modern Forager (Scott’s good that way). I’m not sure if the Med diet uses much in the way of fermented grains. If you’re going to eat grains that’s definitely the way to go.

    While a few thousand years is definitely a more significant time period in which to develop tolerance than many people like the Maori or Apache, it’s still not much in the larger evolutionary scale, especially compared to how long we’ve been eating meat and greens in any part of the world.

    I have plenty of meals that could be considered “vegetarian” in the sense they contain no meat, although considering how integral meat is to my diet, I would hesitate to even label my meals vegetarian ;)

    I’ll have to go find the book, but the Garden of Eating (subtitled a “A Produce Based Diet” that is basically paleo in nature with an emphasis on fresh produce) has a timeline of human history that talks about how the first significant dental caries and similar problems occurred in Scotland within a couple generations of the introduction of oats. That would have been whole oats, probably even fermented oats…

    And I think the key to filling diet without much in the way of grains is in the fat. Fat is extremely filling (rabbit is great, but seriously lacking in the fat department) and even people who can’t tolerate fat on a normal diet tend to do well with it once they cut grains and most carbs from there diets.

    I don’t subscribe to the idea that there’s one ideal diet (you should see the radically different meals that Loba, I, Rhiannon and Wolf each have, it’s kind of hilarious) but I do believe that our evolutionary diet is fairly clear, and that anyone creating an individualized diet for themselves would do well to keep it in mind, or even use it as a jumping off point.

    As to the ethical problems, there’s just too many of us and we’re reproducing at an alarming rate. I don’t imagine there’s any style of eating that will get around that, and even if we could (for a little while) it would only be an illusory bandaid on the bigger, and even more uncomfortable issue of overpopulation. And personally, I think agriculture in general is a pretty bad idea for many reason, especially the power dynamic it puts us in with the earth, but again, in order for us to return to anything similar to hunter gatherer, there’d have to be a lot less of us, which would mean we’d either have to have a serious die-off or quit reproducing at this incredible rate. Or both.

  24. Shawna
    Dec 6, 2008

    Kiva,

    I am loving your site! Your writing is delicious and inspiring!

    I have been doing a great deal of research on the best way to eat and would love to hear about your experiences with raw food. I’m poised to go down that path and wonder what you encountered personally if you don’t mind sharing.

    This site is a beautiful gift, I am still working my way through your posts….

  25. Kiva Rose
    Dec 6, 2008

    Hi Shawna, glad your enjoying it!

    The short answer to your question is that while I think nearly everyone can benefit from lots of yummy raw food, especially greens, in their diet, that the raw diet is also very cold in nature and likely to cause constitutional imbalances in the long run. Also, the raw diet is often vegan by nature and almost always incredibly carb dense. If you read my above post as well as my other posts on nutrition you’ll see my problem with this. Basically, as romantic as raw can look from the outside, it is VERY common to find nutritional deficiencies even with monumental supplementation. It is my opinion that a truly healthy diet does not require vast amounts of supplements (although with the demineralized soil so common to agriculture and other aspects of industrial farming, it is definitely necessary to keep a close eye on nutrition regardless of how well you eat).

    For me, I developed lots of symptoms of kidney yin and yang deficiency after a couple years of high raw (and that’s with still eating some cooked meat), including dizziness, nonstop headaches and worsened insulin troubles. It took me quite a while to get back in balance. I have several case studies of clients with very similar experiences.

    I’m not into diet dogma, but I can say with confidence that a raw vegan diet is not one that human have evolved to eat long term. If you do decide to do raw, make sure you eat a very low percentage of fruit (especially highly hybridized, imported tropical fruit) and do TONS of greens and veggies. Too many raw foodists try to get the majority of their calories from fruit, and that is recipe for disaster.

    For another perspective on long term vegan raw eating, check out beyondveg.com it’s very enlightening.

    On the other hand, I find that many of the recipes from the raw food world are near genius for those of us avoiding grains. When I do eat sweets (very very rarely) I often use raw inspired recipes to make almond macaroons or cashew brownies etc. Of course, I cook mine rather than dehydrate them ;)

  26. Alchemille
    Dec 9, 2008

    To continue on the “beyond veg’ thing, there’s a very interesting article:
    http://gremolata.com/Articles/386-Im-A-Natural-Born-Killer.aspx

  27. Kiva Rose
    Dec 10, 2008

    Yeah, I’d read that from the link on Modern Forager but hadn’t posted it for various reasons…. I also like the second part of her interview on the Modern Forager http://www.modernforager.com/blog/2008/12/10/an-interview-with-gremolatas-resident-spice-girl/ for her personal experience, it helps balance out the article, IMHO.

  28. Janet W
    Apr 9, 2009

    Hi, all, a little late to the discussion, but I just found this site.
    I, too, disagree with some of what Cordain says. I saw on one Primal site (not Vonderpanitz) that they call their way of eating Primal not Paleo because they also emphasize organic foods and plenty of good fats.
    Anyone interested in what kind of starches and how much, especially if they have blood sugar issues, please read The Schwarzbein Principle. Excellent book.
    If you don’t mind not local, US Wellness Meats sells 100% grass fed beef (as well as pastured chicken, humanely raised pork, grass fed bison, raw grass fed cheese). 75% lean ground beef, which is WONDERFUL is under $6/pound and they have bulk bundles that will save some money. Shipping is free, but there is a $7.50 per order handling fee. Orders over 40 pounds get a $25 discount.
    I haven’t tried it, but I see people on some of the other blogs I read using coconut flour to make pancakes and muffins and they love it (see Cheeseslave, for one).

  29. Juni
    Jun 20, 2009

    Kiva – I too must found this post and the food thing always fascinates me, having battled eating disorders for many many years. I am an O+ and have never cared for meat, have tried macrobiotics, all the pasta-no fat craze of the 1990s, and find that food combining principles seem to be a valid concept, regardless of what is eaten. My biggest worry about eating meat (I do eat canned fish, also have a weakness for cottage cheese and yogurt) is food poisoning, not knowing how to prepare any of it, and the slow transit time in the gut. After years of study, I feel that health is a matter of ‘clean pipes (our arteries) and plumbing (our colon)’ and isn’t it best to eat hydrating, quick exit foods that don’t tax the digestion? I guess since living in the humid SE for so many years, the juiciness of watermelon and mangos in season just satiate like nothing else – plus is affords a guilt free eating for those of us having suffered eating disorders of all types. I find a combo of raw foods and steamed cruciferous veggies (to avoid thyroid problems) along w/ nuts and seeds in various butters, also sprouted wheat tortillas somehow ease the psychological fear of gaining weight or feeling weighed down that food issues bring….I have nothing against good grass fed beef but am too terrified of poisoning myself by not cooking it properly! My biggest worry is my addiction to numerous vitamin supplements for this and that, not only the expense but i wonder if all along I’m having a pricey urine ;))))

    Perhaps living in a cooler, drier climate helps ease the craving for juicy, tropical fruits? They do become an addiction, I have to admit ~ but at least I’m not craving cookies or brownies (used to be able to eat entire pans in one sitting).

    Thanks so much for all the details and honest opinions, Kiva!

  30. kristina Bentley
    Oct 15, 2009

    Have you ever found anyone that was not successful with the paleo-diet? Not in the sense of, they just couldn’t get through the cravings of sweets/grains/processed foods, but in the sense of health and wellness??

  31. Kiva Rose
    Oct 16, 2009

    Juni, most food combining theories have been debunked and they mostly just feed into people’s food phobias in my opinion. I think clean pipes are not a worry at all when you’re eating a good high fat, moderate protein, low-ish carb diet..

    No actually, Kristina, I’ve yet to see someone who doesn’t thrive on it, even those initially completely sure they will perish without the oatmeal breakfast…. And that makes sense evolutionarily. Of course ever person needs to vary their take on it as per where they live an there body’s preferences (as in some people do great with raw dairy, but many people do not).

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