Finding Better Health Through a Traditional Diet
My family and friends know that I love food and I love creating delicious, flavorful, healthy meals and treats. With all good intentions, they constantly refer to me as Betty Crocker. Recently, I have begun to loathe that reference. It’s not that being called Betty Crocker is a bad thing. It does, after all, suggest that I am a great cook. However, what most people fail to realize is what Betty Crocker really symbolizes: pre-packaged, quick, crap-laden convenience foods. That used to be me (to a degree), but after embarking upon a journey into preparing and consuming only whole, nourishing , traditional foods, I can say with 100% certainty that I will never go back to my previous relationships with and preparation of food.
Nine months ago I picked up a copy of Nourishing Traditions, The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. This book became my bible, and I delved into all of its glorious pages with gusto. I never really understood food and how it works with and in the body. The book’s author, Sally Fallon, presented information in a way that really stuck with me (and scared me), but her words encouraged me to begin a journey into eating wholesome, real foods, prepared with methods that make all nutrients more available.
What exactly do I mean when I say “traditional foods?” Traditional foods are those foods which nourished our ancestors throughout history and prehistory prior to the advent of the industrialization of food. The industrialization of food largely began in the 19th century and entrenched itself in standard diets of the 20th and 21st centuries. Deeply nourishing, traditional foods as our ancestors knew them were unprocessed, naturally raised, largely raw and decidedly unrefined. These foods represent the natural diet of humankind and, as such, nourished the natural growth and evolution of the human species for thousands of years prior to the industrialization of food.
So what are the components of a “traditional, real food diet?” Here is an abbreviated list1:
- Eat whole, unprocessed, unrefined foods. Whole foods are foods that do not contain added ingredients such as salt or sugar.
- Eat red meat, poultry, organ meats, and eggs from pasture fed (grass-fed) animals.
- Eat wild (not farm-raised) fish and shellfish from unpolluted waters.
- Use animal fats liberally. Use butter and never any butter substitutes.
- Tropical oils are your friend. Use coconut oil and palm oil. In addition, use olive oils and sesame oil.
- Eat FULL FAT (yes, you read that right) milk products. This means whole milk (not low fat or non-fat), whole yogurt, whole cheeses, cultured butter, kefir, and sour cream. If possible, consume raw milk (which is milk that has not been pasteurized or homogenized.)
- Avoid soy products like the plague. They cause a whole host of issues including low sperm count in men.
- Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably organic.
- Consume whole grains, legumes, and nuts that have been prepared by soaking or sprouting.
- Prepare and use homemade stocks.
- Include lots of lacto-fermented foods and beverages in your diet.
- Use only natural sweeteners (raw honey, maple syrup, rapadura, etc.) and do so in moderation.
- Use filtered water for cooking and drinking.
- Use unrefined salt.
- Make your own salad dressings using raw vinegar and natural, traditional oils.
- Take a high quality, high vitamin cod liver oil or butter oil/cod liver oil blend daily.
- Cook only in stainless-steel, cast-iron, glass or good quality enamel.
- Do not use a microwave.
The idea of consuming full fat foods and beverages was a tough one for me. But there is extensive research that proves whole, healthy fats will not cause weight gain. In fact for many people, they will help you lose weight or maintain your body’s ideal weight.
Low-fat foods, which we have been led to believe will help us lose weight, tend to be higher in simple carbohydrates, which trigger the release of insulin, causing your body to store fat. Eating healthy fats also stabilizes blood sugar, which increases energy, boosts immunity to illness, and optimizes digestion.
Healthy fats include those found in coconut and palm oil, olive oil, cod liver oil, butter, eggs, dairy and meats including organ meats. Corn oil, safflower oil, canola oil, and other polyunsaturated vegetable oils should be completely avoided as should all butter substitutes and egg substitutes. Research has also proven that it is the advent of modern processed vegetable oil that is associated with the epidemic of modern degenerative disease, not the consumption of saturated fats.2
The journey of transforming my dietary misconceptions, relationship with food and eating habits, as well as food preparation techniques is still a work in progress. However, I am pleased with my progress thus far and am eager to continue on my journey of preparing and consuming traditional foods. Although converting your lifestyle and food/beverage intake choices and following a traditional diet might seem daunting, the struggle with the unfamiliar and the learning curve involved are all worth it for longevity and healthfulness. Do yourself a favor and check out Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. Take the time necessary to digest all of the information presented and then give yourself permission to make gradual changes.
You will thank the “old” you for it in as a little as a year.3
Statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products and/or information are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease. Readers are advised to do their own research and make decisions in partnership with their healthcare provider. If you are pregnant, are nursing, have a medical condition, or are taking any medication, please consult your physician. Nothing you read here should be relied upon to determine dietary changes, a medical diagnosis, or courses of treatment.
- For more information, please visit My Eyes Are Wide Open; A Series About My Journey To Better Health Through A Nourishing, Traditional, Real Food Diet (Part 1 – Background Information and The Basics). ↩
- The story of fats, myths associated with fats and their benefits is a long one and something that I will slowly be tackling on my personal blog. Read Part 2 – Let’s Talk About Fats Baby! for more, and be sure to stay tuned for additional posts. ↩
- For more information about my personal journey converting to a traditional diet, please see Part 3 – Don’t Call Me Betty Crocker . ↩
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