Why am I against the grain?
My journey into Primal eating and to the reduction and elimination of grains actually was birthed from my research to heal my cats digestive issues. Isis was plagued with horrible digestive problems, to the point she was bleeding…It took us years to find the solution. We tried the vet diets and recommendations, no improvement, fiber, absolutely not, laxatives, poor thing didn’t tolerate those well. Finally I descended upon the Internet and found some very interesting advice. Why on earth are we feeding our cats a diet of primarily corn?! They are carnivores for goodness sake. This research took me some time, but I eventually made the switch to grain free kibble. A huge improvement was seen. Then finally recently this year I made the switch to wet food. Isis’ problems have pretty well completely disappeared!
This interesting discovery—which is basic evolutionary knowledge of a cats normal diet—led me to begin my research into human nutrition. Humans vary in many different shapes, sizes, diets and situations so diets differ dramatically. But what we do know, is in North America, there is major problems with weight gain and digestive problems. I know that I have struggled with my weight most of my life and have had to closely watch everything that I put it my mouth from the age of 12. But we were always taught in school to make sure to ALWAYS have 6-12 servings of grain a day! My weight loss struggles starting at this age and continued throughout my life.
I started dieting at 12, trying to be skinnier and small although when I look back at pictures I really didn’t have a weight problem until after I was dieting all the time. I would try these diets, be hungry all the time on high carb, low fat diets and revert to eating things that weren’t so great. My mother always ensured that we had excellent whole foods on the table when she cooked. But I had developed interesting eating habits in high school that happened in secret during time away from home. A cycle of eating very restricted meals and then binging oneverything I could find that was the worst for me—this including processed junk like Kraft Dinner.
Eventually this lead to a brush with Bulimia, and for many months I would eat until I could no longer think of food and then end up with my head in the toilet. Luckily I had such an amazing and caring family who discovered this fairly soon and together we sought help for my issues.
Fast forward a few years into my college years where my body stabilized and I was happy for the most part with my figure. I had a good 10-20lbs always extra, but I chalked that up to the cliché “everyone has to lose 10-20lbs”
Fast forward to my pregnancy. In my college and early marriage/working years I never ate too much grain. I was diagnosed in college with IBS among other digestive problems—which mind you, have completely disappeared with my new lifestyle choice. I was actually diagnosed as lactose intolerant while eating grain and I now enjoy (while being free of grain most of the time) full fat diary with no digestive problems what so ever. So I was told “You must eat 6-11 servings of grains a day, preferably whole grains, for a healthy baby.” So me, wanting to do the best for little William, scarfed down 6-11 servings of ‘healthy’ whole grains along with a healthy diet with very little indulgences in my cravings proceeded to pack on 60lbs! YES 60LBS! This was with being active almost every day with little to no processed junk and very little overeating since I was sick almost half of my pregnancy. By the way, I was tested for celiacs and have come back with ‘no problems’.
So here I was, post baby, with still a good 40lbs to lose to reach my pre-pregnancy weight which was anywhere was 10-20lbs over anyway. I didn’t lose a single pound while breast feeding. After months of futile attempts with following weight watchers perfectly and cutting my fat it just wasn’t happening. So I gave up for awhile. It is good to add that I was always very active in the last 10 years being a dancer (and now performing and instructing) so it wasn’t a problem with inactivity.
In my constant research on cat nutrition I was led to some very interesting human nutritional sites. I was always aware that that high carb diets did cause problems but I always had trouble on super low carb diets with excessive diet soda and other low carb alternatives (not real food). I always gained the weight back within weeks when I resumed a healthy diet. This research led me to Mark’s Daily Apple. Which started my borderline obsessive tendencies with the effects of grain, sugar and refined products on the human digestive system. I won’t go into all the effects, but Mark Sission has a great post on the negative effects of grain on insulin, all the anti-nutrients and inflammation that grains cause to our digestive system. This way of living (it’s not a diet) looks to our evolutionary traits and the nutrition that best suits them.
To put it bluntly, when I started cutting the grain out of my diet (especially wheat) and upping my intake of healthy fats. I noticed dramatic fat loss and digestive improvement. What I also learned was how important fat is and that there are actually no conclusive studies that prove that saturated fat or cholesterol is bad for heart health providing the fats come from natural sources (no artificially created vegetable, canola, corn or hydrogenated oils that plague most of our processed foods)!
Fat is not bad. Butter is not bad. Animal fat is not bad. Hydrogenated and man made vegetable oils are bad—I mean really, someone tell me how you get oil naturally out of corn…Our ancestors lived on these things without any problems. Heart disease and diabetes have become prevalent with a diet riddled in highly processed sugar, oils and carbohydrates in the last couple of decades including our obsession with cutting fat, which is one of the only things that doesn’t provoke an insulin response and provides many vital nutrients.
Anyway, back to my story. So after William finished breastfeeding I started following the ever so simple primal guidelines. Lots of natural fats, good proteins and lots of veggies and some fruit, minus the grains and sugar. I lost close to 30lbs of fat and noticed a HUGE improvement in muscle tone. I ate when I was hungry and never had to worry about counting calories. Sugar, especially the refined stuff, is very bad as well.
My diet is 60-70% fats. It is composed of good fats like butter, animal fat and olive oil (which you can see if you squeeze an olive mind you, no high tech man made, heat riddled techniques there). Then lots of high quality proteins from animals, grass fed when I can afford it. After those are taken care of, I make sure to eats lots of veggies and some fruit (certain fruits cause a huge response in my body, and yes I’ve been tested for diabetes and yes, negative).
Here is my progress since May 2009. Pictures May 2009, Nov 2009, Feb 2010, and March 2010.
This is my current progress picture with about a 30-35lb loss. I haven’t lost a lot of weight in the last two months but I feel so incredible and fabulous and my muscle tone is increasing amazingly fast. I am the most comfortable with my body as I have been in a long time even with the extra weight I still carry.
Now I did divert from the primal way of lifestyle for about a month when I read Weston Price’s material on soaking grains and preparing them properly to neutralize the anti-nutrients and other problems with them. My sore gums came back, I started breaking out again and feeling lethargic even with these ‘healthy’ whole grains. I never knew how good I could feel until after I was grain free and then eating grains again! So again I ventured into grain free living and saw huge improvements in my health again! I was never hungry and was able to eat things that feel so absolutely satisfying to me.
I can eat this way for life. I have lots of energy, my skin has cleared completely (acne was a problem since I was 10 years old), my gums don’t hurt anymore, my mood is vastly improved and HEY! Weight loss and muscle gain! My husband has also gotten on board (without my hounding actually) and has lost two notches in his belt and he has been eating like a horse. All these improvements by just reducing grains and processed sugars and junk (I’m a bit jealous of his lightening quick progress though).
I think that is all I will post for now. But that is my story and I’m sticking to it! There is an abundance of information on the Internet, specifically my favorite site Mark’s Daily Apple, on this way of living. Look forward to more posts on my nutritional journeys from here on in!