If I included all the things which have been swirling through my head over the last 4 weeks, this post would be 2000 words long and borderline incomprehensible.
I will try to condense it all.
Last month, I had been living the paleo way for half a year. I had experienced many excellent changes and many positive new habits had become embedded. I am healthier now than I have ever been . However, something about the endless winter (and the lack of exercise), had really taken the spring out of my step and my routine started to unravel slightly. I felt like I needed to talk to a real life person about all this – but who best to approach?
Not only are we ladies encouraged to be on the eat-as-little-as-possible diet (in order to be as little as possible), we’re assumed to enjoy it too. Of course, the ingredients are a complete shitshow. Of the 30 listed, the only 3 I am happy to eat are salt, cane sugar (one of 5 sweeteners, a ploy to stop ‘sugar’ being the first ingredient) and paprika (used as colouring for the filling).
This is what Big Food would like women to eat: hormone high-jacking, nutrient-depleting bullshit.
When I switched to a paleo diet last year, I had a delightful uptick in flexibility and general liveliness (funny how stable blood sugar, more sleep and reduced inflammation will do that to you), and what have I done with this improved physical baseline?
I’ve probably done less exercise in the last six months than at any time over the last few years (I don’t think dancing like a fool for several hours on New Year’s Eve counts). The odd twenty minutes of stretching or body weight exercises has been squeezed in here or there and I walk a couple of miles a day in bursts, getting to and from work, shops or friends’ houses. But for various reasons (OK, excuses), I haven’t set any goals for performance for months, or even exercised at what I would have previously considered a maintenance level. It’s a testament to the power of a good diet that I have actually lost a fair amount of fat during this time. (Take that, calories in-calories out!) Continue reading →
At a market, I recently bought the following vegetables grown on a biodynamic farm:
1 small cauliflower, 1 small red pepper, 3 new potatoes, 3 onions, 2 immense leeks. Cost? £5.10
At my local, independent, conventional green grocer, they would be less than half that. Could I afford to spend this much on vegetables? Yes, until I retired, whereupon I would starve to death, because I would have spent the money I should have saved on food.
I recently saw a tweet from a London foodbank asking for donations of biscuits, bread and fruit juice. My heart contracted.
Meanwhile on the MDA forum, a father shops for his family of 5 for £100 per week, by sticking to supermarkets deals, conventional meat and plenty of seasonal safe starches.
One of the things I did in the year prior to going paleo was ban inflammatory, nutrient-free, factory fats from my cooking – this post by The Healthy Home Economist was my inspiration. So by the time I started eating paleo/primal diet, I never cooked meals with these items but I was still eating certain processed foods – specifically crisps and bread, which contained them. (Obviously paleo eating requires ditching gluten and reading ‘Not on the label’ on the high levels of acrylamide in commercially made crisps was enough to freak me out of never eating them again. It’s not a ‘treat’ if it’s carcinogenic.)
As a person who is interested food, I’ve always enjoyed eating out, although that started to ebb slightly in my late twenties as I became a better home cook. Now I’ve cleared the padding out of my diet, almost all restaurant meals have some element which I find unpalatable, literally. This was brought home to me when eating bubble-and-squeak as part of a breakfast at a very well-reviewed place in town – I could taste the ‘vegetable’ oil in which it had been cooked. I won’t name it, because they aren’t doing anything which isn’t industry standard and the food was sufficiently good that I would still recommend the meal I ate.
Learning about the work of Weston A Price has been an important part of my journey towards a better diet – helping me get over the fear of saturated fat and my head round the idea of animal vs. plant nutrient density. I started reading several ‘traditional foods’ blogs and some are barely distinguishable from paleo recipe blogs in their use of alternative flours, sweeteners and healthy fats.
However, the first way my improved understanding of nutrition manifested itself in my own kitchen (a year before I started eating paleo) was the liberal consumption of… coconut oil.
As I don’t think I’ve mentioned it, my background is 50% eastern European Jew, 50% northern France-via-Scotland. No coconuts.
I was reminded of all this recently when a meetup attendee (who prefers not to use either ‘P’ word about their diet) commented that their northern European ancestry was the starting point for their food choices.
Then of course, there’s the thick, rich layer of meaning, expressed wonderfully by Lin Yutang
“What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate as a child?”