My Nutritional Principles

My nutrition paradigm.

The most important diet is the one you will eat and enjoy! The way I eat is based on several different diet plans that I have tried for various amounts of time, either for weight loss, to reduce fatigue, or simply research a dietary principle (list below; see GoodReads for resources). Each recipe will be classified according to which diet it is compatible with.

The way I eat:

Little or no refined sugar or starch or alcohol.

Abundant fresh vegetables and fruits, biodynamically or organically grown whenever possible, to the extent that we can afford them. We focus on avoiding the Dirty Dozen and buying locally raised foods.

Healthy oils and fats, including butter from grass-fed dairy; coconut oil; olive, sesame, sunflower oils, and excluding canola oil, margarine and shortening.

Meats, raw dairy and eggs from pastured, humanely-raised animals

Fermented (probiotic-rich) foods daily, such as sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, preferably home-made.

Sparing use of common allergens in the diet (wheat, soy, nightshades, peanuts, mushrooms, and unless raw or grass-fed and organic, dairy and eggs).

Background interest in mainstream and alternative nutrition:

When my 27-year-old son was 7 years old, we consulted a naturopathic doctor for help in alleviating his allergies, which were not severe enough for him to be treated by his allergist but kept him up at night and gave him “allergic shiners”: dark shadows under his eyes. Dr. Jack Burke suggested we stop eating wheat and dairy. As he said these words all I could think of was what we had eaten the day before: bagels with cream cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches and cheese pizza. Even then I could not imagine going without those foods for long, but we did try.

I remember baking millet cookies … if you have tried them, you can imagine my dismay at the crumbly, floury product. I learned that bakery products usually call for wheat (and its gluten) for a reason: the gluten protein does a fabulous job of binding the other ingredients! Even then, though, I had pitifully few tools for changing what we ate. I kept thinking we had to make some copy of the breads and pizzas we were so used to. It wasn’t until much later that we began to focus on cuisines that ate little bread, like Thai, and explored the wonderful things that can be done with grains that are now becoming popular, like quinoa.

As far as the dairy, we decided that if we were going to eat it, it should be of the highest quality: grass-fed and whole, to optimize the omega-3 fatty acid content, organically raised. We would look for cuisines that did not include dairy (Thai was a top pick again, and Japanese offers a great variety of wheat- and dairy-free options) but enjoy a tasty piece of cheese in the best application of the 80:20 rule. We ate goat cheese from time to time, again because it is delicious, in addition to giving a break from cow’s milk.

Ten years later, I was helping a recovering anorexic to gain weight. In addition to working with a registered nutritionist, we also consulted practitioners of naturopathic medicine, Chinese medicine and a chiropractor, all of whom were fabulously helpful. We learned that the high-carbohydrate, low-animal-protein diet that we were following, with the best intentions of helping the planet, were  slowing healing and causing edema. We learned that most of the neurotransmitters we need to stay in mental balance and make us want to eat, are in the gut, and they require protein to function properly. For the anorexic, it is very difficult to obtain enough protein from a vegetarian diet. We valued the nutrition obtained by cooking animal bones as well as eating the meat itself. We found that the book Nourishing Traditions was a great source of simple yet delicious recipes that used a great variety of foods and contained a vast array of quotes from multiple sources of information.

Speaking of healthy weight gain: we found three types of health organizations to be helpful among the great quantities offering suggestions for weight loss. The best advice in our situation was from organizations concerning cancer patients, cystic fibrosis and AIDS.

Diet, diets and having been there: It is safe to say I am a carbohydrate addict. I tend toward hypoglycemia and need to eat regularly. I could sit down with a loaf of roasted garlic bread and eat it with a stick of (grass-fed) butter and be in bliss. I know, however, this will also make me feel bloated and cranky, and so I reserve such an event for extreme celebration. I have tried these diets and plans, among others, and have gleaned important ideas from each: The Comprehensive Elimination Diet; the Fat Flush Plan; The GAPS Introductory Diet; The Schwarzbein Principle; the pH Miracle; The Atkins diet ; the Master Cleanse.

From each one, though, I have learned from the philosophy behind each plan. I appreciate all efforts to explain the plan to educate us even if I don’t follow any of them strictly. I have never found a more confusing area of study. I wish you luck in finding a way to eat that you enjoy, that you can afford and that results in good health.


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