Maneuvering the Dietary Maze

When it comes to healthy eating, I think I have some good basics down, yet there are times I feel like a mouse in a maze. There’s so much conflicting information out there, it’s hard to know which is correct or which is best for me. What’s a girl to do?!

I’ve studied and learned SO much about dietary health this past year or so. And, as I stated in my first blog post, what I’ve learned has brought about the healing of various health problems. That my health would improve by implementing better dietary guidelines, I was fairly certain. That I would actually be healed of some things, well, that was nothing short of miraculous to me. But the one thing that continues to be problematic, is that of losing weight. I know there are some ways I could shortcut to a lower weight, but what I am looking for is a livable, nourishing diet that will continue to bring improved health as I make my way to normal weight.

In this journey I’ve learned some amazing things. I’ve learned about the enormous amount of problems associated with the SAD (Standard American Diet). SO much wrong, it boggles the mind. Problems with ingredients, additives, preservatives, bad fats, GMOs, production, storage, mold, mycotoxins. Problems with CAFOs (confined animal feed operations), with cows, chickens, pigs, with grain and garbage fed animal diets, hormones, antibiotics, farm raised fish (fed soy and corn). Problems with candida, leaky gut, chronic diseases – including cancer, and the body’s inability to absorb the nutrients it needs due to all the above. And much, much more. As I said, it boggles the mind!!

But with all I’ve learned, I still find myself confused about certain dietary measures. There are many things that are easy to understand and implement: avoiding processed foods, eating grass-fed meats, farm fresh (raw) milk and eggs, organic veggies (at their freshest), fermented foods and drinks. But after researching so many things, it’s hard not to get confused at some point. How do we maneuver the dietary maze? I keep running into dead ends and “double-backs.” I keep running into signs that say “This Way,” but are pointing in opposite directions. Much of it sounds very convincing, so how do I know which way to go?

I’m at a fork in the road. One the one side, the Nourishing Traditions path. On the other, the Paleo/Primal/Low Carb path. I know low carbing works. I’ve lost and gained a couple hundred pounds doing it. I do want to add, low carbing doesn’t necessarily mean Atkins or any other popular weight loss plan. It just means minimal carbs. I’ve felt increased energy, elimination of carb cravings, natural appetite suppression, rapid weight loss, stable blood sugar and numerous other benefits. On the down side, I’ve seen problems associated with poor nutrition (hair, nails, etc). However, that may or may not have been due to improper diet in general. In the end, the low carb diet is one that I find very hard to stick with long term, because it is so limiting. (And the biggest downside, rapid weight gain once you stop eating low carb)

In the Nourishing Traditions (WAPF) camp, I am drawn toward the old fashioned way of preparing food (prior to the Industrial Revolution). Back when people knew how to cook and knew how to prepare foods that would nourish the body; knew what foods were GOOD for the body. I have to admit also, I like the broader range of food it provides. Mainly, the addition of certain grains (some flours, rice, corn, etc) and legumes (peas, beans, etc), all properly prepared, as well as fruit in season. I like making sourdough. I like eating sourdough. I enjoy having some brown rice with stir fry or simply beans and rice. I like being able to make delicious desserts out of beans! I like oatmeal sometimes (steel cut, soaked overnight). It fills me up and lasts all through the morning. I enjoy eating a fresh, juicy peach, straight from the local orchard, or sliced into homemade yogurt. I like having those options. I like the variety it gives to our menus.

I find myself waffling back and forth between NT and Paleo. And in the midst of it all, my weight stays the same. No gains, no losses. The scales are stuck. (It’s my secret hope that when my body is healed further, the weight will come within a normal range)

One of the problems I am having with the whole Paleo-thing, is that of (don’t laugh) evolution. I am a Christian. It influences every single aspect of my life. We all have preconceived ideas with which we approach life. So when I look at the area of diet (eating in general), I approach it from a Christian perspective. As a Christian, I believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God, written by men whose words were directly influenced by God. And all throughout the Bible are references to eating bread, lentils, beans, etc. What do I take away from all this? That the foods God provided for man are good. What do I know from personal experience? That some foods should be eaten in moderation. That mankind has altered the foods God gave us (GMOs, hybrids, processed foods) and those foods are not fit for human consumption.

As a Christian, I find anything that has evolution at its core as having a faulty base. I don’t want to build something as important as my nutritional health on something with a shaky foundation. I found this really good explanation of a Paleo diet on YouTube. (Thanks to PaleoGarden for posting it) The thing is, I agree with almost everything it supports and even recommend watching it. Except when I get to this part, which is repeated twice in the video, “We’ve been evolving for 2,000,000 years, yet we’ve only been farming for 10,000 years.” (Well, that and the pictures above it ;)) Here’s my argument, from a Christian perspective. In Genesis 4:2, it says Abel was a shepherd and Cain was a farmer. Unless you can convince me that Adam and Eve lived for 1,990,000 years before they ever had children, I beg to differ with that statement about farming.

In the meantime, it is my hope that through the Nourishing Traditions form of cooking foods I can achieve (and maintain) optimum health. It’s just a matter of figuring out how much of which foods allow me the variety I’d like with the results I desire. It may mean cutting out bread, beans, rice, starchy veggies, and most fruits for a while, then slowly adding them back in. Sometimes, desperate times call for desperate measures. Is excess weight a “desperate time?” If it affects my long term health overall, then yeah, I’d say so. Maybe I’ll find a happy medium between NT and Paleo.

But I will also continue to study the effects of the following on weight loss (or the lack thereof):

candida and leaky gut
improper fats (good fats vs bad fats)
impaired insulin response

I’d be very interested in hearing any thoughts you might have on the NT vs Paleo debate! Pros? Cons? As always, thanks for reading!

7 Responses to Maneuvering the Dietary Maze

  1. damaged justice says:

    I’d go paleo simply because:

    – there isn’t much difference except the elimination of grains

    – grains have lots of toxins, not just gluten

    – why bother trying to make poison less poisonous?

    As far as the Bible, Ray Audette, author of Neanderthin, translates Genesis 2:17 from the original Hebrew as: “Do not eat the fruit of the technology which makes edible the inedible.” Meat is nice cooked, but we can eat it raw just fine. Grains, not so much — even after sprouting, soaking and/or fermenting, they’re still toxic, and don’t have ANY nutrients that you couldn’t get more of, in a more bioavailable form, from a less toxic source.

    • Thanks so much for the input. I definitely appreciate it! Eliminating grains really wouldn’t be that difficult. (I’ve done it many times!:))I guess my bigger problem is all the years of doing Atkins off and on. Doing it with frankenfoods and poor nutrition resulted in carb-counting burnout. Maybe the bottom line here is what I want vs what I know my body needs (or better, doesn’t need). I found your quote by Audette interesting. In a correct translation it was an actual tree. The point of the tree, its fruit, and the command to abstain dealt with the obedience of a creature to his Creator. His failure to do so resulted in spiritual death, rather than physical, just as God had forewarned. I cannot see how that equates to the diet of man. Again, I appreciate your comment, as it helped me to think a little deeper about what my real issues may be.

      • damaged justice says:

        Ray explained it as: “edible” = synonymous with “good”, hence “inedible” is “evil” — and “technology” from “knowledge”. I also deliberately didn’t cite Cain and Abel as you can interpret that as G-d disapproving of the giver rather than the gift, but I still find it significant that plants were rejected and fatty meat approved. Regardless of the theological issues, I think paleo as a concept is far simpler for most people — at its essence, just avoid grains/legumes, sugars and vegetable/seed oils, and most of the time the rest will take care of itself.

        BTW I believe in science as a method but am not a scientist, and prefer to distinguish between scientry, scientage and scientody:

        I’ve started and erased about fifty paragraphs here regarding evolution and faith, but will simply say: Good health and the blessings of liberty to you and yours, and to all peaceful peoples.

  2. Thank you for the link. I’ve enjoyed reading some of the posts. I’ve bookmarked the site. 🙂

  3. Diane says:

    I work with your husband who shared your blog. It’s wonderful! You obviously know a LOT more about food than I do and I’m going to enjoy reading!

    I was inspired to comment on this post not because I know anything about NT vs Paleo but rather because I made an interesting discovery recently as regards the health of my hair and fingernails. Almonds seem to be the key for me. If I have a few almonds every day my nails are stronger (historically they’ve always been thin and peel away in layers) I’m also strongly suspecting a link between hair and nails with Vitamin E. Almonds and E. Whenever they are plentiful in my life my hair and nails are healthier. Eliminate them for a time and I can certainly tell.

    (I’m also very fond of olive-oil treatments for my very long hair. Heat olive oil, sometimes adding E oil or Almond Oil, sometimes heated with a sprig of fresh rosemary, and apply to wet hair. Wrap well for about a half-hour then shampoo (recommend in the sink, as the shower floor gets far too slippery!) Is wonderful for the hair!)

    Thanks for a great blog!

    • Thanks so much for taking time to read my post and comment! I really appreciate your information about almonds and vitamin E. Very helpful! Almonds are especially easy to incorporate into our diet, because (aside from being a great snack) almond flour makes a great substitution for other flours (as does coconut flour). In fact, I’ll be posting some almond flour recipes soon, as we are currently leaning more in that direction. If you are interested in that type of cooking, Elana’s Pantry has a lot of recipes you might find helpful. (I follow her on facebook, but we do not avoid dairy and certainly aren’t vegan) Again, thanks for reading my blog and I always appreciate comments!

  4. Mary says:

    I like the idea of incorporating more almonds and almond flour into my diet, but raw almonds would be the only way to go these days in order to get the nutrition, as the government has imposed pasteurization on almonds which I think destroys vitamin E… I’ve ordered raw almonds from California, but it’s almost prohibitively expensive. If you live in a part of the country where you can grow almond trees, you’ve got it made!

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