In June of 2001, when I graduated from high school at the age of 18, I weighed around 220 pounds, a size 16/18. In the six months following graduation I lost 60 pounds adhering to the “low carb” method of weightloss. I was first introduced to this way of eating by Suzanne Somers in her book “Get Skinny On Fabulous Food” I then went on to read her earlier books and her books that came out later on, my favorite being “Eat, Cheat, And Melt The Fat Away” published in 2003 (I found all of these books at the library btw). Her books contain well written, easy to understand explanations as to why sugar is bad for you, fats and protein are good and why the key to good health lies in keeping your blood sugar under control.
This is KEY because when your blood sugar is very high from eating simple carbs like white flour and white sugar products (and even complex carbs like whole grains, or “healthy cereals”..more about that later..) your body secretes insulin, which is a hormone, that brings your sugar levels back down to a normal level by turning excess sugar into fat…but if all you eat is carbs then your insulin levels become chronically high which throws all your other hormones outta whack making it almost impossible to lose weight. Besides which, fat and cholesterol are NECESSARY for hormone production. But I digress…it was this way of eating combined with daily 1 hour walks and weekly 7 mile hikes at the state park (usually on Saturday mornings) that helped me to lose 60 pounds in 6 months.
Fast forward into the future, 12 years and 5 children later, and I have still managed to keep 40 of that 60 pounds off because what I did wasn’t “just a diet” it was a complete changing of the way that I eat. Even now I eat roughly 150 carbs a day on average, primarily from vegetables and fruit, while the average American consumes close to 500 carbs a day, mostly in the form of high fructose corn syrup derived from GMO corn.
But my interest in nutrition and health didn’t just stop with weightloss, I became deeply intrigued by “high protein, high fat” diets. I went on to read a couple of books by Dr. Diana Schwarzbein (whom Suzanne Somers recommended in her books) along with several of Dr. Atkins books and another book called “Life Without Bread” which I also found at the library and that book eventually led me to finding the cookbook/nutrition textbook “Nourishing Traditions” in 2004 and the rest, as they say, is history 😀
Two other books that I read a few years ago that I also recommend are Homo Optimus about Dr. Jan Kwasniewski’s Optimal Diet for humans which you can get for FREE online, just click the link! And the book “Good Calories, Bad Calories” By: Gary Taubes (which I also got from the library..shoot, I rarely ever buy books lol..)..
So, based upon my knowledge of health and nutrition, here are the 3 food items I never buy and why:
1. Dry Boxed Cereal – Far too expensive, full of sugar, and not AT ALL healthy in any way, shape or form. It’s basically a bowl of sugar topped with milk flavored water (skim milk) or, heaven forbid, SOY MILK, and all in the name of “healthy eating” 😆 I have not eaten dry boxed cereal in over 5 years, my three year old and two year old toddlers have NEVER eaten it. Going back further than five years I still only bought it very occasionally, usually organic cereal like Cascadian Farms brand that I would buy on clearance for 75-99 cents a box from my local closeout stores, Big Lots and Ollie’s. I still find these deals from time to time, but I no longer waste my money on them, it’s just not worth it.
In order to create all those little puffy crunchy shapes the grains used, whether it be wheat, oats, corn or rice, go through a high heat and high pressure extrusion process where the grain is ground into a slurrie (like a batter) and then have hot air blown into them to “puff” them out. Plus, the grains themselves, before ever going trough their high heat high pressure extrusion process are questionably healthy at best.
A little known fact about grains: wheat, rice, oats, beans they are a SEED. This is SO important!!
Another little known fact, SEEDS are the baby form of a plant. The whole goal and purpose in life for a seed is to find it’s ideal growing conditions…warm temperatures, lots of water along a beach with a pina colada in hand….no wait, that’s MY ideal growing conditions! 😉
But seriously, a seed’s sole purpose is to sprout and grow into a plant and in order to do this the seed has certain protective mechanisms, namely certain enzymes whose function is to protect the seed…the main one is called “phytic acid”. In the wild, the seed would have matured on the stalk and then be eaten, plant and all, by some type of herbivorous creature with some chewing involved, but usually swallowed whole, especially in the case of birds. And the phytic acid, which is the seed’s protective barrier, would neutralize the digestive enzymes so that the seed couldn’t be digested in hopes that when it came out the “tail end” later on it would be resting in a good place to sprout, with it’s own special “compost” encasing it. Each and every creature, especially birds, spreads around seeds in this way.
In the case of most herbivorous creatures, those who live solely on plant matter, this isn’t a problem because they usually have at least 3 or 4 stomachs with one stomach, called the “rumen”, acting as a large fermentation vessel. This process of fermentation neutralizes the “protective mechanism” of the seed, thereby making all the nutrients in the seed fully available for absorption by the body.
BUT if you’re a human and you aren’t fortunate enough to have your own built in “fermentation vessel” the phytic acid itself can cause problems in the body, weakening the power of the digestive juices and enzymes which leads to a WHOLE host of other problems which occurs when our food isn’t digested properly, most of the diseases of “modern man” find their root here. Without neutralizing the phytic acid through fermentation the nutrients remain bound up in the seed for the purpose of feeding the young plant once the seed sprouts…therefore the germination process, soaking the seed in water until it sprouts, also neutralizes the phytic acid.
Instead of cereal we eat EGGS from our own hens, and sausage and bacon, oftentimes during the growing season they are combined with homegrown veggies like fried taters OR tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, zucchini, or yellow summer squash. My favorite breakfast has been and always will be scrambled eggs topped with homemade garden fresh salsa and homemade homegrown goat cheese! We also eat oats in it’s various fermented ways, check out my blog post “Oats: 3 Ways”
2. Commercial bottled salad dressing – We’ve all done it, set up a mound of nice greens, my favorite being homegrown baby spinach…add toppings like onion, bell peppers, thinly sliced carrots, raw broccoli, some chopped hard boiled egg a bit of shredded cheese and then we DROWN IT ALL in GOBS of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing or Kraft Roka Bleu Cheese dressing and we call that healthy eating! 😆 And, while it may be low carb in nature, that dressing is anything but healthy! Practically ALL commercial bottled salad dressings (with a few exceptions here and there, usually found in the natural/organic food aisle) contain soybean oil, a polyunsaturated oil, which is a MAN MADE fat. You take somethings like genetically modified corn or soybeans or rapeseeds and put it through an intensive multi-step industrial process to extract the oils. These oils are NOT naturally occurring God given fats and they are THE WORST thing you can put into your body!
Instead of relying on over priced unhealthy bottled salad dressing I prefer instead to dress the majority of my salads with moist grey sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, a few dashes of first cold pressed extra virgin olive oil and raw apple cider vinegar. Occasionally I will make a creamy “ranch style” dressing usually involving a mixture of homemade mayo and sour cream with an extra egg yolk and some garlic and onion powders, salt and pepper, fresh cut herbs from the garden (summer savory and cilantro are my fav!) thinned out with a bit of milk if necessary. I don’t usually have the time or inclination but if you do a search on the internet you can find all kinds of really wonderful salad dressing recipes, no need to waste money on the nasty bottled stuff *GAG*. To learn more check out my blog post: “Let’s Chew The Fat”
3. Store bought bread or other flour products – I admit, I eat seasonally…meaning I eat veggies, mostly from our garden or the farmer’s market, as they are in season. But in winter there is very little in season and the grocery store offerings usually leave much to be desired and so I do bake bread. I don’t BUY bread, I make it myself, pretty much only in the winter, especially this last winter when we were getting lows down to -10F …you just want some bread with a nice thick stew, something to really stick to the ribs and keep you warm, ya know what I mean? However I do NOT buy bread, have not bought bread in YEARS (unless you count the occasional few times when I have bought hot dog or hamburger buns for cookouts with family or friend visitors in attendance and what-not, but that’s only been a few times..). I LOVE to bake, and if I am going to eat a flour product like bread or cakes or cookies, I make myself work for it. I NEVER buy these items already made. Albeit we don’t eat these things very often….a cake at birthday times, bread once a week in winter, sometimes I will make a special dessert like, for example, in about a month I’ll be making a sponge cake with fresh strawberries from the garden once they are ripe …things like that. My favorite bread recipes to make are classic french bread, rich delicious eggy challah, and ciabatta bread. I do eat whole foods, low carb, primal, paleo whatever “name” ya wanna give it, but I see no issue with indulging in special dishes even if they may have white flour or white sugar because I do these things only very occasionally and then I get right back to my regular way of eating and usually with a renewed sense of gratefulness for the normal way that I do eat ’cause those sugar crashes are a BITCH! 😆