Diet is the core concept of health.
There are a lot of topics that I discuss with my patients but one of those topics I bring up most often. And I wouldn’t be surprised if I was driving them crazy with how much I discuss it. But it’s important, I keep bringing it up because it is for their benefit, their health. I feel it’s important they know. It would be on me if they don’t know, and I wouldn’t be doing my job if I weren’t telling them and reminding them. It is the core of their makeup and it determines how they feel and function on a daily basis. I am referring to none other than diet, the core concept of health. And when I say diet I don’t mean diet as in lose some weight diet, but rather diet as in the things you eat on a daily basis, your daily diet.
The Paleo diet and the media.
Recently I’m sure you have heard some things about the Paleo diet in the media. The thing that bothers me about that is that the Paleo Diet is being portrayed as a “diet” and being lumped together with Atkins, the sprinkles, Weight Watchers etc. Although those diets may or may not be effective, the Paleo Diet is not a diet. You don’t start eating Paleo to lose weight (although it is a nice side effect). The Paleo Diet is a diet as in a way of eating for the rest of your life. I often refer to the Paleo Diet as the Paleo Lifestyle, because that is what it is, it’s a lifestyle, it’s permanent. So while I do appreciate all of the attention the Paleo Diet is getting lately in the media, when seeing or hearing anything about it, keep in mind, it’s not a diet, it’s a way of eating and living.
The Paleo Diet
You may say to yourself, “this guy is on a crusade with this diet talk.” The truth is that I am really not. I am not the “banner carrier” for any particular movement or diet. I am a promoter of truth and like it or not, the Paleo Diet is truth. When I say that it is truth, what I am in fact saying is that the Paleo Diet is the closest dietary pattern that aligns with how our body functions. Routine consumption of the Paleo Diet is able to be maintained indefinitely without concern for any ill effects to health or difficulties in maintaining it. In fact, it does just the opposite. Those that transition to the Paleo diet see great improvements in their health as well as find it easy to maintain.
The Paleo diet and the media.
Recently I’m sure you have heard some things about the Paleo diet in the media. The thing that bothers me about that is that the Paleo Diet is being portrayed as a diet it is being lumped together with Atkins, the sprinkles, Weight Watchers etc. The Paleo Diet is not a diet, you don’t start eating Paleo to lose weight (although it is a nice side effect). The Paleo Diet is a diet as in a way of eating for the rest of your life. I often refer to the Paleo Diet as the Paleo Lifestyle, because that is what it is, it’s a lifestyle, it’s permanent. So while I do appreciate all of the attention the Paleo Diet is getting, when seeing or hearing anything about it, keep in mind, it’s not a diet, it’s a way of eating and living.
This is why the Paleo Diet is such a natural fit for functional medicine. The focus of functional medicine is restoring the normal function of the body with precursors that it needs. Nothing is more central to this idea than diet. Eat the wrong foods and your diet works against you damaging your health. However, if you eat the right foods, your body maintains its function and you stay youthful and vibrant.
The best foundation is getting the right nutrients
When working with my patients initially, I am placing significant emphasis on getting the right nutrients in them and modifying their diet to meet their needs. This is a core concept in functional medicine. After all, if my patients are not starting off with a good foundation, how can they expect to get better? That foundation centers on the Paleo Diet. It provides the basis from which everything else can improve. Once the foundation is established, healing can take place.
Traditional medicine overlooks diet.
Functional medicine is a far different mindset than traditional medicine. Traditional medicine has long neglected the concept of food being core to healthcare. You can see this in the way that it is practiced daily. In routine clinical care, food is not a part of the treatment model. At best, mention is given to changing the diet with little instruction as to what that actually is. I see patients coming into my clinic having realized that their diet is central to their health and needs to change, but not having an idea of where to start.
After years of medical evolution, here those of us that are on the cutting edge of healthcare find ourselves having come full circle using the best medical technology to reinforce the basics such as diet.
“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.”
“An old-fashioned vegetable soup, without any enhancement, is a more powerful anti carcinogen than any known medicine.”
– James Duke M.D.(U.S.D.A.)
The new wave of medicine
I’d be surprised if you haven’t heard of Functional Medicine. It’s quickly on the rise and becoming the preferred method for healthcare by more and more people. I have been practicing Functional Medicine for over 10 years now, and I am happy to say that all the attention it is finally getting is very well deserved. Finally people are starting to realize that treating the underlying problem, what is causing your symptoms, is better and more logical than just slapping a “band aid” on the problem. Functional medicine is the new wave of medicine, and it’s not just for internal issues but also for muscle and joint issues as well.
Time for change
Let me introduce you to the concept of functional medicine just in case you are not familiar with it. The concept is so simple it is hard to believe everyone does not think this way in healthcare. I bet if you ask a hundred people on the streets here in the Houston area, not one of them would know what you are talking about. How can that be? How is it that there is a changing paradigm in healthcare happening around you and you don’t know about it? It is not your fault, but rather ingrained models of healthcare that are ready for a change. You can imagine in a city with a medical center as well recognized as Houston, change might come slow.
What is Functional medicine?
Functional medicine is the idea of providing the body the constituents that it needs to allow it to function as God intended it to. When the necessary precursors are given to the body, the biological systems will work as they should. Such constituents might be as simple as antioxidants and minerals, but nonetheless they are what is required for normal physiologic function. The end result is that allowing the systems of the body to carry out their role provides a restoration of function. When function is restored, the symptoms that manifested are alleviated.
Medicine is usually just a band aid.
Functional medicine is a different mindset than traditional medicine. Patient symptoms and complaints drive the majority of healthcare. The burden on the healthcare system is not derived from acute injuries, but from chronic conditions. Chronic ailments are a manifestation of a change in function of the body. With this change come symptoms. Classic approaches to symptoms have revolved around masking the symptoms with medication or the use of surgery to remove the offending problem. These approaches to medicine, while necessary in some case, don’t often address the underlying issue.
Functional medicine gets to the root of the symptom. The underlying cause.
In contrast, functional medicine looks at the symptom in a much different manner. The symptom is the alarm. Something is wrong and action needs to be taken. When patients present with a symptom, as a practicing functional medicine doctor, I begin to ask why. Why does a person have joint pain? I may determine that it is due to dysfunctional muscles that need support. Why are the cholesterol levels going up? A possible explanation for my patient might be that their stress is on the rise causing an increased demand for cholesterol to support hormone production.
Functional medicine is the way healthcare should be.
Having decided to become a functional medicine doctor means that I have also decided to think out side of the box. It’s in my nature. I just have to know and determine why. Rather than being restricted and limited to the algorithms of traditional healthcare, I decided to brand myself as a doctor my patients can trust and rely on to get to the root of the problem, one that will take the time to look at the whole picture and listen carefully to what patients are telling me. I also spend a lot of time with each patient usually 45 minutes to an hour. It’s important to hear what patients are saying to me so that I can accurately test them, assess their needs them and design a comprehensive protocol that specifically fits their needs. One size does not fit all. So you see, the movement has already begun. Functional medicine, is being backed by more and more research, and will become increasingly established as part of the medical system, even in cities with medical traditions such as Houston.
Maybe you remember a few years ago when Houston was named fattest city in the nation? Thank goodness we aren’t wearing that crown anymore, but controlling weight is still a huge issue for most. And I even thought to myself ” How could I have ended up in a city so unhealthy when my main focus in life is health and wellness?” Ofcourse soon it dawned on me this is not a Houston problem, or even a Texas problem, this is going on all across the US and based on the latest news it’s becoming an epidemic all over the world. And no surprise there, it’s getting worse and worse and is trending right along with the increase in chronic disease.
Surely for a problem this big we have an answer. Unfortunately, we don’t. Weight loss in the United States has become an industry. Millions are made each year in promoting weight loss. There are weight loss locations in every town. If you walk into any grocery store you will see publications promoting weight loss. Even billboards on the highway are advertising it. And how could anyone forget the late night infomercials claiming the latest supplement to boost your metabolism and burn fat. No matter what the ad or the approach, the focus remains one thing; losing pounds.
Focus on what caused the weightloss
The idea of weight loss neglects your metabolic needs. It focuses on gimmicky approaches that make inflated claims. In the end you are left with a broken metabolism and in no better shape for long term weight management than when you started. Addressing any underlying causes of weight gain is ignored at the expense of dropping pounds. And you the consumer are the victim. You have been sold a bill of goods that in the long run does not support your needs completely. But what choice do you have. You are acting on the only option you know for losing weight. The one person that should be the guardian of your health, your doctor, has not offered you the support you need to lose weight.
Weight loss as is practiced in the United States commercially should be abandoned. There are far better options, the best of which centers around the application of functional medicine. Functional medicine is the restoration of normal physiological function, thereby allowing the body to heal on its own. Weight gain is a symptom of an underlying state that needs to be addressed. When your body begins to function abnormally or is dealing with stressors in a greater demand than it can handle, the accumulation of fat results.
There are many causes for weight gain beyond eating too much and lack of exercise. Moreover, even when gluttony and being sedentary are the cause, there are reasons. Excessive weight is your body’s cry for support. What the focus of weight gain should be is the altered biochemistry that is creating the weight gain and what can be done about it. This is where functional medicine fits in. As I practice functional medicine with my patients that need to lose weight, we are not focusing on weight, but rather the metabolic disturbance that is hindering my patient from having a roaring metabolism.
I like to think of functional medicine oriented weight loss as weight loss outside of the box. Clearly the trend of diet restriction and excessive exercise are not the answer. Commonsense tells you they are not sustainable. What good are these modifications if you cannot maintain them for long term weight management?
Weight loss through functional medicine
For weight loss to be effective and done right, the concepts of functional medicine must be integral to it. There has to be consideration given to the actions of neurotransmitters,hormones, the gastrointestinal tract, your exercise selection, any potential toxicities and sleep. What center focuses on all of these areas? None commercially and only a select few locations that incorporate in the practice of functional medicine such as my practice.
Despite all the misinformation we are bombarded with in the US about weight loss the key to losing the weight is really all about biochemical balance. When you achieve biochemical balance through the application of science driven functional medicine, losing weight is just an added benefit t being healthy. You wont have to be afraid of the scale, and losing weight will not be your focus anymore, but rather longevity.
It’s just a habit
“How can I eat a sandwich if I give up bread?” There is a very simple answer for that, you just don’t eat them. I hear this question a lot. No one ever said that we are not habitual creatures, and sandwiches are something we Americans have always had as long as we can remember. And the longer you have been used to doing something a certain way the harder it is to change the routine. Wanting to change does not come natural to us. Especially with food. We as people associate food with much more than just satisfying hunger. Therefore, when giving up certain foods we are also giving up rituals, and experiences associated with that food.
Giving up sandwiches is un-American!
In my Houston practice, I often see patients that are stifled by the thought of not being able to eat a sandwich any more. That might seem funny at first, but if you think about it, sandwiches are a part of American society. We have “hamburger joints” and hot dog stands. It is part of the American culture. When you go to the baseball game, the great American game, part of the ballpark experience is partaking of these foods. When you pick up the menu at most restaurants, there is a dedicated section to sandwiches.
But, sandwiches are so easy!
Part of the allure about sandwiches is their simplicity. Lay down 2 pieces of bread, add some condiments, toss on the meat and maybe a leaf of lettuce for your vegetable and you have a meal. How many lunch boxes or bags are packed with sandwiches every day for this very reason? Not to mention that they are quicker to make than preparing a true meal. And don’t forget how easy they are to eat at your desk while you continue to work through lunch. With these attributes, why would you every want to give up sandwiches?
Sandwiches require bread, which means that it is derived from grains, primarily wheat. Grains come with a fairly long list of concerns. The two most noteworthy are the negative effects on glucose and on the stimulation of the immune system. There are many different types of bread, but the one consistency among all of them is that they are higher in carbohydrates than fat or protein. This inherently makes them metabolically disturbing. Add to this that they are among the highest allergenic foods and seemingly becoming worse.
Alternatives to bread
But can you really give up bread and enjoy a quick meal that tastes good? Of course you can. Bread and sandwiches are only a mainstay in the Standard American Diet because we have been indoctrinated in this style of eating. You can just as easily enjoy your meat and side dishes without eating breads. If you are looking for something to hold your collection of ingredients together, many will use a lettuce wrap or even a cabbage leaf. These are both excellent options that keep you Paleo.
The real question is: is it worth it to change your habits? Take a look at this testimonial from one of my patients. When you see changes, making a change becomes much easier.
I have to be fair and let you know that there are other options for bread out there. The reason I am hesitant to mention them is because I don’t want you to focus on these breads. That’s not healthy for you, the idea behind the Paleo diet is to eat more vegetables, fruits, proteins, and healthy fats, not find a way around them. But! I trust that you are trying your best to change your health, make the right choices and not cheat the system. There are recipes out there that are made from almond and coconut flour. You can also purchase pre-made breads at health food stores and in some grocery stores in the gluten free section. Yes they are Paleo, but should only be used as part of your rotation diet and not be eaten every day.
We are following the wrong food pyramid
Thank goodness there has been more and more talk about changing the RDA / standard food guide pyramid. It is time we all start openly questioning it. And the reasons we should take a second look are ample. I the last 30 years Diabetes is so abundant it is actually becoming normal especially in the last 10. But that’s not all, how can we not bring up obesity? and being overweight? This has unfortunately also become normal… All three have become an epidemic. And according to the government and people that are supposed to be experts, the way to fix it is to follow the food guide pyramid. Let me be the one to ask the obvious question; If the food guide pyramid is the way we as humans should be eating, and states of health such as diabetes and obesity that are directly related in part to diet are on the rise, is this really the best option?
This very point was brought to light recently in an article where 2 researchers clearly stated that the consumption of wheat, and other grains, is linked to inflammation. Worse yet, they note that routine consumption of these foods can lead to autoimmune conditions and a chronic inflammatory state. Now understand, I have been on top of the wheat problem for a long time. So the information about the effects of grains, while very important, has been stated by other researchers. Where I think these researchers really made their mark is by stating the dichotomy between what the government sponsored diet / nutrition organizations state as ideal food choices and the true effects of these foods.
Follow the money trail
The question becomes then, if we can see parallels between disease states and consumption of certain foods, why then does the message from the government not change. As a wise man once told me, follow the money trail and you will generally get your answer. This case is no different. The hard truth is that the message from the government is not going to change so long as there remains a financial tie to the food industry. Money from large food industries makes sure the government continues to perpetuate the message of their food being healthy, thus keeping store shelves stocked and unknowing consumers purchasing. With this knowledge, what are you the consumer supposed to do?
Paleo Food Pyramid
First, find a new point of reference. Take a look at the Paleo food pyramid instead of the pyramid that recommends that you eat dairy and grains. Like the before mentioned researchers brought to our attention, gluten and wheat are not the only issues.. there are components of wheat and other grains that are also causing health problems. If you just follow the Paleo diet, you will be completely grain free, (that includes corn!) when you do not consume any of those foods you will feel better and be healthier. The grains need to be replaced with fruits and vegetables!
It is up to us as the consumer, to take a stand and make a change.We need to face the facts, the government is not going to admit that their food pyramid is incorrect by today’s standards. Even though, we have more chronic disease than ever, science has refuted it and people are speaking up. This is not in their interest, but it is in yours. Take a different course when you choose which foods to eat or cook for your family.
The Affordable Care Act
For a long time now we have known that we need a change in Healthcare. It seems more people are getting sicker, and that increases the demand on services and its getting harder to pay for these services. And now we have the the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare, which promises to insure a new paradigm in medicine. The one thing the new healthcare law has in common with the current administration of medicines, is that they are both designed to alleviate symptoms rather than treating the underlying problem.
Sick care or Wellness??
Our state of healthcare has many many problems, the the problem that stands out the most is that people are treated for being sick. “Sick care”. When we need to be focused on “Wellness”. This is just one of the reasons that the new healthcare system will do very little to fix you health problems. The idea of the new legislation is to make care available to everyone. In theory, this is a good idea, but follows the way of socialized medicine, which by all accounts is a system patients do not want to be seen in. Moreover, clinicians are limited in their ability to deliver care in such a system due to restrictive guidelines. The question must be asked, “What kind of care are we talking about delivering?” The emphasis of a doctor visit is to attend to your immediate needs, not guide your health down a path of wellness. How is this acceptable?
The focus of medicine has to change if we expect the burden of healthcare that each of us shares to go away. Medicine needs to take on a new image. That image is functional medicine. Functional medicine is based on the idea that if all aspects of the body are functioning as intended, health abounds and sickness is subdued. The body is an integral system with all areas dependent on each other. To understand how to support health, a doctor must have the time to listen to your concerns and procure a better understanding of your health limitations. This is not our current model. The current model, even with the new legislative oversight, limits the doctor-patient interaction to insure that everyone is seen. Everyone may be seen, but at what cost?? Both financially and as it relates to your health.
Your ailment is just the starting point to find out whats really wrong with you.
Finally people are starting to recognize Functional Medicine, people are starting to understand how functional medicine can keep you away from the Doctor. Wellness is the future. Taking care of yourself, getting tested eating correctly instead of “dieting” this is the future. To prevent sickness. It is the only way to limit or remove what we spend on sick care. If we use it less, it costs us less. If you keep thinking that you should only see a Doctor when you are sick, or ailing, the wellness message will continue to be lost. Functional medicine points out a different path. We need to focusing on wellness from before time of conception until passing.
If you could imagine having a Doctor focus on every aspect of your life, how you feel inside and out, what you eat, what is your outlook on life, are you satisfied, how much do you exercise. That is Functional Medicine, this is the future. Most people still view Functional Medicine as something new and unusual, but less so now. People are educating themselves more, they are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Literally. The reason it’s changing is because people want someone to care about the way they feel. Someone that will really listen to them and look a little deeper. One size does not fit all, antidepressants do not heal everyone. Not everyone that cannot sleep needs medicine. What are the reasons? Why does this person feel this way? These are the questions that need to be asked. You don’t have to be a prisoner to the constraints of limited, system oriented care. You don’t have to wait until Functional Medicine is popular, you can do something now. You can see a Functional Medicine Doctor, and find out why you feel the way you do, and how to fix it forever naturally.
Window into our bodies
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to just look in to how your body functions through a window? Or even better, if we could just visually see how our bodies are affected by what we do and eat? Then we could see how certain actions are healthy and will make our organs and tissues last longer, or maybe we will see how smoking and eating the wrong things weakens our bodies. At one time these questions were theoretical. But now in this modern day things are different, what we once could only imagine, we are now very capable of.
What age are you really?
How are you aging? That is the question. Are you aging fast or slow? To answer this question, you have to know your chronological age vs. your biological age. Chronological age is easily determined. It is your age. The missing variable has been determining biological age. There was no standardization to suggest how your body was functioning as a product of age. Traditional lab markers gave at best insinuations about your biological age, but nothing definitive. Yet, with the upsurge of research in the field of genomics, we began to learn about telomeres. If you are not familiar with Telomeres, you are going to want to know them.
What are Telomeres?
In short telomeres are the tips of your chromosomes, or genetic material. They are predictive of biological age. The longer they are the better your biological age. In contrast, shorter equals faster aging. You can now literally determine if your body is older than what the calendar says, or if you are younger.
Without question, everyone wants to be younger biologically than chronologically. If you are younger than your chronological age, you want to maintain. If you are older than your chronological age, you will want to make changes. But how do you know you are doing the right things to help you age slowly.
This is where functional medicine finds its role. At the center of anti-aging and rejuvenation is functional medicine. Functional medicine as the name implies centers on restoring function to the body. As it relates to telomeres, better function equals longer telomeres. Vice versa, longer telomeres equal better function. As an example, take blood sugar. When blood sugar rises routinely, secondary inflammation is created and telomeres are damaged. The prolonged shortening of telomeres also makes it more difficult to control blood sugar. It becomes a vicious circle. Cycles such as this are not broken by a single intervention aimed at symptoms, but rather a comprehensive approach targeting all possible areas of contribution.
Balance is the key
Many things are known to influence the length of the telomere. These include hormone balance, low levels of inflammation, proper exercise, sleep, a good diet, and a balanced nutritional state. The focus of functional medicine is to realign the health of the body. To illustrate this point, a good diet with proper exercise at some point will become limited in its ability to support long term health if you are not getting adequate sleep. The key to preserving your telomere length is balance. Yet to achieve balance, you must equally manage all aspects of your life and understand the interplay that they have. As a paradigm focused on creating synchrony between all aspects of health, functional medicine is well poised to help you protect your delicate telomeres.
Starting your Paleo Lifestyle
I have been working with quite a few patients for a while now. So from experience, I have learned what works and what doesn’t. Make no mistake, when changing your eating habits you are changing your entire lifestyle as well. This can be a daunting change, because switching your normal routine is never easy. But don’t let that scare you off, you may be surprised at how easy moving to Paleo can be. As long as you have the right tools and the right information. I can help you with this, I have information from hundreds of patients, which puts me in a great position to give you tips to transition easily and be successful and changing your life to a Paleo lifestyle.
1. Embrace the Paleo Diet – There are two types of people when it comes to the Paleo Diet. Those that are all in, or those that want nothing to do with it because it is some crazy fad. By the way, this is a 10,000 year old fad since it is in fact the way man has always eaten. Even in the research environment, Paleo has been studied for the last 30+ years. So if you are not in the camp rebuking Paleo, then you are on the winning team. Paleo is starting to become a household word. You may find yourself shocked at just how many people are eating the Paleo Diet. You are not alone.
2. Find a local Paleo source – Small Paleo cafes are popping up more and more. Seek them out as they will usually have Paleo in the name to attract their audience. However, you can also find non-Paleo restaurants that have Paleo options. This may mean picking apart the menu a little bit, but that’s okay if you stay Paleo.
3. Think ahead – As you are headed into your week, it goes without saying that time will start to evaporate and you will be scrambling to find those extra minutes for food preparation. Think about the meals that you want to have in the upcoming week and prepare what you can for them ahead of time. This may mean nothing more than cutting up some vegetables and having them already sliced.
4. Cook with leftovers in mind – Always prepare more food than you are going to need. This serves 2 purposes. Foremost, you will have food for lunch the next day. Thus, no excuses about not having a Paleo meal. Second, you will have food in the refrigerator to snack on if you get hungry.
5. Don’t tempt yourself – For whatever reason, it seems that the foods that have a way of creeping back into your eating pattern are grains and sweets. The best way to avoid them is to not even be around them. If you don’t bring them in the house, you are not going to eat them.
6. Keep Paleo Snacks Around – Be realistic, you are going to get a sweet tooth every now and then. It is just human nature. If you have some Paleo snacks around, you will have something to hold you over without the guilt of feeling like you wrecked your diet.
7. Flavor your food – Fats and spices are an asset to Paleo eaters. They help stimulate the senses and add another dimension to your food. Even the most bland meats and vegetables can be brought to life with the right combination of spices. Most of the Paleo cookbooks offer great suggestions.
8. Pocket snacks – It is always handy to have some nuts around. Nuts are easy to keep in almost any situation and they provide a good balance of fat, protein and carbohydrate.
9. Eat as many different colored vegetables as you can. Different colors mean different nutrients, try as many different ones as you can to make sure you take in adequate nutrients. In addition to nutrients you will also be taking in a lot of fiber, fiber makes you feel full and satisfied which help prevent you from making bad food choices.
10. Consistency is the key. You do not have to be prefect. That is not realistic. But you can easily be consistent. If you make a mistake, don’t beat your self up, just get right back on your routine. What we are really trying to accomplish here is that you are eating Paleo the majority of the time. Eating something non Paleo occasionally, is not going to ruin your diet.
If you follow these 10 steps you will most certainly succeed. Here is your map and guide to transform your life into the Paleo Lifestyle. Just like many others you will now also feel the benefits of eliminating foods that cause inflammation, and begin to feel good. Before you know it you will wonder why you haven’t always eaten this way. The other great thing about going Paleo is that once you follow it and live it you will never go back to eating gluten and dairy again. You eventually will not miss them, and you will not feel good if you do eat them.
Eating Paleo During The Holidays is Tough
I don’t think anyone would disagree with the statement that the holidays are the toughest time of the year to eat healthy. It’s as if everywhere we turn, work, home, school, TV, these days are inundated with candy, pies, cookies and snacks tempting us at every turn. So the big question is, is it possible to stay Paleo during the holidays? I’m not going to say it’s easy, but yes, you can do it.
The two biggest factors that we have to watch for are foods that contain grains and gluten and the ones that are high in refined carbohydrates that cause blood sugar fluctuations. If we can keep those two culprits in mind then navigating those holiday foods should be easy.
Substituting certain ingredients
Here are a few ideas;
Try a new recipe, something you have never made before. If you are preparing something that usually contains gluten and grains, try the grain free option, like almond, hazelnut, or coconut flour. Many times you will be surprised at just how good some of these foods taste.
Change the way you cook it
If you consider what a typical holiday meal is, many of the foods that we normally eat at these times already fit the Paleolithic model. For example, most of us eat turkey, vegetables and fruits with our holiday meal. These all fit the parameters of a Paleo Diet. We just need to consider how it is prepared. Instead of frying a turkey in inflammatory oils, simply bake it. Stuff it with a mixture of vegetables instead of stuffing, which also adds flavor to the turkey.
Add fat to a dish when possible. Fat cuts the hunger craving and satiate quickly. Examples might include using clarified butter (Ghee), coconut oil or adding some olive oil and cinnamon to mashed sweet potatoes or yams.
Reach for fruits as a desert instead of the typically high sugar cakes and pies.
When eating desert types of food, eat them after a meal. You are less likely to eat as much and if you have followed the other Paleo principles, the amount of sugar in desert will have less impact on your glucose levels. This same idea can be used if you are going to a party. Eating raw vegetables or nuts before you go or while you are there can insure that you do not over indulge.
Take your time
Eat slow. Take the time to enjoy the meal and give thanks. Often we are so in tune with wanting to devour the food in front of us that we miss the enjoyment of the meal. Sit your fork down between bites and savor the food. You probably won’t eat as much if you do this.
A Few Final Tips
Use as many spices and herbs to season with as possible. Many times these might offset some of the undesirable effects holiday food has on you. For example, cinnamon can help promote blood sugar regulation. If you make a pie, try doing it without the crust. This adds a lot of extra carbohydrates to the dish and most of us are after the pie filling anyway.
Lastly, if you steer off course for a meal or even a day, don’t worry about it. It is the sum of all your actions during this time that matters the most. I typically tell my patients during this time of year that I don’t even want to know what they had on Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years, but the days in between do count. Enjoy yourself, but don’t go overboard and don’t give up your non-dietary health habits like quality restful sleep and exercise.
You Should Question Dietary Recommendations about Fat
Dietary recommendations are among the most ironic pieces of advice that are probably given. You may wonder what I mean by this. Let’s use eggs as an example. We ate eggs for generations. Then we were told not to eat eggs because they contain cholesterol and as we all know, cholesterol is the root of all healthcare evils (said tongue-in-cheek of course). In contrast we are now seeing that eggs have no significant effect on blood cholesterol levels. The vast discrepancy in the information that we here can leave one wondering what to trust for dietary advice.
This same logic can be taken one step further when you consider fat in the diet. Again, for numerous years no one thought about fat in the diet. We just ate what was available to use and it seemed to work itself out. However, science came along and we started making correlations between saturated fats and heart disease. As the adage goes, if a little is good, more is better. This did not exactly hold true however. When many started taking the fat out of their diet for fear of increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, they did not realize that this would be replaced by excess carbohydrates. Ironically, this reduction in fat and increase of carbohydrates still increased cardiovascular risk, just in a different way.
The Forgotten Truth about Fats
The moral of the story is that our body needs fat and contrary to some outdated thoughts about fat it is not bad for us. Fat consumption needs to be in a balanced ratio as it is found in nature. But many of us are still fat phobic when in reality we should not be. Fat provides several components that are essential to our normal function. Interestingly, we have been indoctrinated to avoid cholesterol and to try to get our cholesterol levels lower and lower. This is detrimental in many ways however and impairs several functions. Sources of saturated animal fat provide cholesterol. And while many think that saturated fats are bad, the truth is that they are only problematic when consumed in excess as compared to unsaturated fats. To further this point, when we consume grass fed or free range sources of meat, we are actually consuming a balanced ratio of fats. You don’t have to figure out the nuances of the diet and wonder if you are eating the right ratio. You just have to eat the right food and the details will be taken care of for you.
Additional benefits to eating fats in your diet include adequate consumption of fat soluble vitamins, antioxidants and essential fatty acids. Dietary fat is an excellent source of the fat soluble nutrients vitamin A, D, E, and K. While all of these are of vital importance, vitamin D has gotten the spot light more recently. This simple nutrient alone supports adequate immune function, increases uptake of calcium, aids in glucose control, acts as a hormone and improves cardiovascular and bone health. Additionally from ideal sources of dietary fat, we derive essential fatty acids. Often times these are identified as omega 3’s. Omega 3’s are vital to overall health and most Americans are extremely deficient. Among the numerous benefits that omega 3’s offer, they promote adequate brain function, reduction of inflammation and subsequently advanced aging, improved skin integrity, reduction of cardiovascular disease and cancer and lowering of triglycerides.
How Modern Food Preparation is Putting you at Risk
What we should be concerned about are consuming damaged and harmful fats. Fats that are overcooked have become rancid and actually promote inflammation in our body rather than preventing it. This is best illustrated by smoking rising from your oils and signals that you have crossed the smoke point of your oil. Additionally, you should avoid fats that are manipulated. These will be labeled as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated. The good news is that if most of the food that you consume does not come with a label, you are not likely to be eating these damaged fats.
The Solution to Keeping Your Fats Balanced
The solution to keeping your fats balanced is eating a Paleo Diet. The Paleo Diet is the foolproof solution to getting the right fats in the right amounts in your diet. When you consume sufficient quantities of plants, fats and proteins in the diet, you will find that you are not likely to over-consume the potentially health robbing fats in the diet, but rather you will be ingesting those fats that promote health and wellness. Nuts, seeds, and avocados as are found in the Paleo Diet are among a few of the foods that provide not only fat, but fat that helps improve your overall metabolic function and reduces inflammation.