EatWhole30-InstagramUntil a few days ago, I had never heard of this term: FODMAPs. It came up in a discussion with my doctor, who discussed the fact that gluten (that is, “Wheat belly”, could not necessarily be my problem. Tests have come back and I seem to be producing a reaction to all sorts of things, at a consistently higher level than is normal – gluten, lactose, some nuts, fruits, etc. Fruits? Now that’s weird.

So, the subject of FODMAPs came up. Food maps? No, Fodmaps! FODMAP is an acronym that stands for Fermentable (rapidly digested by bacteria in the intestines), Oligosaccharides (fructans and galacto-oligosaccharides), Disaccarides (lactose), Monosaccharides (fructose), And Polyols (sugar alchohols such as sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol and maltitol). This is not a FAD diet! Studies have been done by Stanford, Virginia Medical School, and others on IBS and these certain irritants in the human digestive system. When I heard the term IBS, I rejected it. Summarily. I did not have the latest syndrome or problem. Nope. Never mind that the symptoms feel remarkably familiar. Never mind that getting rid of “gluten” seems to help but not completely. Never mind that I still have the gurgle-y stomach, a painful large intestine, and trouble actually fully digesting food (don’t gross out on me now…) Let’s be honest – I feel like I’ve been on this search for a long time – 4 years – I keep inching closer to the truth for me, and my body, whatever that is.fodmap1

So, what does this mean? Apparently the recommended course of action is very “Whole30”-like. Give up these foods for four to six weeks, then do reintroduction, taking detailed notes of how the specifics affect you. Again, very Whole 30. So, it’s off to another Whole30 – this time with the FODMAP variation. What does this mean? Oh, some pain, some grumpiness – but perhaps I can finally be free of a painful gut, painful joints, sleepiness during the day, headaches, trouble sleeping, and just a struggle to wake in the morning – for mental and physical reasons. Maybe.

I’m going to look for the support but know I probably won’t have it easily. I have to find it in myself. Going to track all of this in the journal, maybe here – keep track of myself. Wish me well, in this journey.


Oils – no, they DO not!

I was recently reading an article by a famous (“Oprah” famous, if you must know) doctor who was extolling the virtues of Red Palm Oil. I’ve recently discovered this myself and had to say that I was impressed with what I found. I’ve bought a jar but haven’t used it yet. However, in the middle of this really great article that talked about the science of why this, and coconut oil, are better for you, he added “…the thick, saturated oils act like molasses in the arteries, and cause plaque to occur.” ARGH! JUST ARGH!

Here is a guy that millions of people listen to and they are hearing about how good this oil is and then boom! He says this, they tune out, done. Saturated fat causes arterial plaque. NO! So many new studies have proven the original study, whence this sugar vs fat debate comes from, false. Chris Kessler, Dr. Mercola, several UK doctors, have all contributed. Yes, food is controversial but we should at least have an open mind that our knowledge progresses and we should adapt along with what we know. Some doctors in America are getting it and saying what needs to be said – reduce the inflammation-causing foods from our diet and we reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Another article by the British Medical Journal can be found here.


Okay – even if you can’t go there, at least admit there are some changes on the horizon borne out of real science and work, and not just fad dieting. Ignore Atkins, ignore Paleo and Primal – ignore all that. Think only about what is better for you? What helps you achieve better health WITHOUT drugs? Use your own body as a test to see what works and what doesn’t? How should you feel as a human and how optimal should our bodies work? Check it out for yourself – please. And remember, it took a long time for your body to get used to something – it’s going to take a while for it to change, too.

So, people always refer to me as being on the “air” diet – because I eat healthy fats, veg, fruits, meat, and nuts/seeds. My fats come from avocado, coconut, ghee, beef tallow (from grass-fed beef!), etc. I use olive oil and avocado oil for mayonnaise. I also use both for salads. But the first words out of people’s mouths is usually “coconut oil” is really saturated! Yes! Good! So, what do you say to people who are still misinformed but seem to still have an opinion on your food choices? I think it’s possible to let them know good from bad, quickly. Maybe this will help…

  • Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is nature’s richest source of lauric acid. It’s been used by cultures for thousands of years, particularly island cultures, where animal fats are sparse. It has been shown that lauric acid increases the good HDL cholesterol in the blood to help improve cholesterol ratio levels. Coconut oil lowers cholesterol by promoting its conversion to pregnenolone, a molecule that is a precursor to many of the hormones our bodies need. Coconut can help restore normal thyroid function. When the thyroid does not function optimally, it can contribute to higher levels of bad cholesterol. It has a long shelf life and low melting point; it’s excellent for cooking as it does not turn rancid quickly at high temperatures. This rancidity can lead to oxidative damage, not good for our bodies.
  • Red Palm Oil: The health benefits are achieved due to the red color of the palm fruit oil that is attributed to its high content of carotenes, which include beta-carotene and lycopene. These powerhouse antioxidant nutrients are the same ones that give tomatoes and carrots and other fruits and vegetables their rich red and orange colors. Red palm fruit oil contains more that tomatoes or carrots. Red palm fruit oil is also densely packed with numerous tocotrienols – a powerful form of vitamin E. You can use Red Palm oil like you would coconut oil but it does give off a yellow color to food. It’s best to use it in darker foods or ones that are already yellow to begin with.
  • Ghee, Beef Tallow, and Lard: Good saturated fats, without inflammatory ingredients are yes, good for you. Ghee, butter without milk solids, has a long shelf life, creamy texture, and is really good for vegetable flying or sautes. Using all of these fats (primarily from organic and/or grass-fed sources) has a better chance of missing nutrients from your diet. As with the saturated fats noted above, these are far better for use at high cooking temperatures than vegetable and seed oils. Cooking with vegetable oils at high temperatures creates peroxides and other free radicals. Ghee has a very high smoke point and doesn’t burn easily during cooking. Ghee has stable saturated bonds and so is lot less likely to form the dangerous free radicals when cooking. Ghee’s short chain of fatty acids are also metabolized very readily by the body.These same claims are also true of tallow and lard.
  • Seed Oils (Grapeseed, sunflower, peanut): What’s true with seed oils is primarily true of vegetable oils – safflower, canola, etc. These oils didn’t exist until the 20th century, just after WWII. You can see a video of their production here. Draw your own conclusions. The main complain about vegetable oils is that they are too high in Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Your body needs a specific ration of Omega-3 to Omega6 polyunsaturated oils in order to not generate an inflammatory state. The SAD (Standard American Diet) is too high in Omega-6 oils and not high enough of Omega-3s. As noted above, these oils don’t do well at a high cook temperature.
  • Fruit Oils: Fruit oils are generally very good in the Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio and have generally been pressed to achieve their oils. That is no harsh chemicals or solvents have been used to extract their oils. For obvious reasons, this is good. However, they do break down extremely quickly when subjected to cooking temperatures or even sunlight (hence, the dark or solid bottling.) Generally, they make good light cooking oils and are good for salads. You have to be extremely careful not to get them too hot; once they begin to smoke, you’ve got rancid oil on your hands.
  • Nut Oils (Walnut, macadamia) – these are, generally a good “occasional oil” as they may be high in Omega-6 PUFAs and are not good at high temperatures. I’ve used walnut oil for dressings and macadamia nut oil for may.

There’s actually a very good list of the type of oils, their uses, and what’s “good” about them listed here:
You know what? The best way to get your Omegas is in your food. Go enjoy a variety of healthy foods that have saturated fat in them (from grass-fed sources, like beef- yum!). Use oils for cooking, as you need to but for goodness sake, stop being afraid of the good fats. Your body will love you (and prosper!) from it.

Food Rules

“Eating in our time has gotten complicated needlessly so, in my opinion.” So goes the opening of Michael Pollan’s book, “Food Rules.” It seems odd to have a book about the rules of eating food but perhaps rather than more rules, we need less. Less complication, less opinion, less of a lot of things. Simplicity is the order of the day.

I was browsing through the bookstore last night when I found a used copy of Pollan’s book and thought to myself, what do people think about eating in our day and age? Another book I picked up, Revolution At The Table, speaks to the changes in food and eating in America since the founding of the country. I was looking toward the past for a glimpse of the future, and the future or present was here in this other book. I bought them both.

I decided to take a wandering path through Pollan’s Food Rules and share them with you, fellow intrepid eaters of the 21st century. Maybe you agree or maybe you do not. Either way, let’s explore the present, and maybe the future, together.

The book takes Pollan’s ideas from his Omnivore’s Dilemma and creates a simple sentence on how we should eat: Eat Food. Mostly Plants. Not too much. He breaks these individual parts into the rules that go with them. The first section, Part 1 – Eat Food.

The first rule is, of course, eat food. Pollan’s take on this is that it is easier said than done. What constitutes food? Food is defined as:


fud/ Spelled [food]


1. any nourishing substance that is eaten, drunk, or otherwise taken into the body to sustain life, provide energy, promote growth, etc.
2. more or less solid nourishment, as distinguished from liquids.
3. a particular kind of solid nourishment: a breakfast food; dog food.
4. whatever supplies nourishment to organisms: plant food.
5. anything serving for consumption or use: food for thought.

The key to this take on food is nourishment. Does the whole nourish us and help us grow? That would be a matter of science applied to food. So much of the packaged food that we get has been processed to the point of needing to have anything resembling nourishment forced back in..e.g. white bread. Yet, even the forcing of nutrients into food is considered not necessarily nourishing. Do you know where the vitamins come from that are included in these foods? Do not assume that they come from foods themselves. In the cost saving feature of our time, they most likely come from petroleum products, chemical constituents, and wood pulp. Even so, the individual chemicals we call vitamins do not make up those nourishing micronutrients our bodies need to function well.

The statement of “Eat food.” is broad and confusing in and of itself. As Pollan says, “…most of these items do not deserve to be called food – I call them edible food like substances. They’re highly processed concoctions designed by food scientists, consisting mostly of ingredients derived from corn and soy that no normal person keeps in the pantry, and they contain chemical additives with which the human body has not been long acquainted.”

Bottom line, choose ‘real’ food and avoid processing. Your carrot should look like a dirty, leafy-topped, tendril-dotted orange tuber. Not sure of what the looks like? Check this out… and marvel.

Next entry will be the second rule, and so on. We’ll discuss them in turn, when I get to them. If you have comments, I’d love to hear them.

Happy Eating!


Wheat Belly

My chiropractor, purveyor of all things interesting to read in addition to being a great chiropractor, put me in the know with a book called “Wheat Belly,” by Dr. William Davis. You (like I was) are thinking, yet another diet book. What food is NOW off the table? We’ve all heard of low-carb, gluten-free diets, low fat, low sugar, what-ever! It’s hard to keep it all straight. I’m just looking for what makes my own body better. For those who know me, Paleo and Primal are all that – I get the science and I get the logic. I may not always practice it but I get it.

I’d say this book is different and I think I’d be right. First off, it’s written by a cardiologist. He doesn’t mince words. He gives you science and fact along side his anecdotes, and he doesn’t shy away from saying “hey, this isn’t a double-blind study but it does fit what I see.” I’m only through Chapter 3 and I have to say, I’m impressed and it makes sense to me.

Some basic tenets:

1. The wheat flour of today is not like the wheat our ancestors ate. To say “we’ve always eaten wheat so it can’t be bad” is a gross misunderstanding of modern wheat lineage and hybridization.

2. In the mid part of the 20th century, hybridization, not genetic mutation, was much of the cause of the changes in wheat, of which there are now thousands of permutations. No testing was ever done on the hybridization. It wasn’t until genetically modified food (GMF) forced companies to begin testing effects of genetic mutations that the changes of hybridization were brought to light.

3. Wheat, and other gluten high ‘flours’ cause problems for us because of the high amount of Amylopectin A (Amylopectin is in many foods, but onlywheat has high amounts of Amylopectin A), which increases the insulin response and inflammation in our bodies. Most especially, our gut.

4. Barley, rye, bulgur, kamut, and triticale are all high gluten flours in addition to wheat.

5. It’s not just wheat or grains – it’s about the inflamation that’s caused to the body by myriad things.

6. The process of body degredation can be slow, depending on genetics, environment, whatever – sugar, smoking, chemicals. And it all manifests in different ways in different people – what shows as a gluten intolerance in one person does not present the same way in another – even the classic symptoms.

Since beginning this entry, I have finished the book in its entirety. It’s not do far off what I thought and not so far away from many of the other books on primal or paleo eating out there. The one difference is that it is quite scientific. Dr. Davis does not hold back and by the end of many chapters, you feel as if you’ve been sunk into a huge bowl of alphabet soup. For me, this is a good thing. I have studied anatomy and physiology for a long time and I understand the metabolic process, perhaps not as well as a medical professional but more so than the average person. I want the science and the tech as it helps to really drive it home for me. People without this background may shy away. But dr. Davis does something incredibly helpful: he rephrases those sections which are medically heavy into digestible bites. For me, this reinforces what I think I got from the tech and solidifies my view.

Having been in the “low carb” thought process since the days of Atkins, I’d have to say that I think the science and the delivery are both becoming better. Atkins was right in a good many ways but misled and commercial – one never gets healthy eating processed chemical food suppliments. Studies later, paleo and primal are shown to have substantial foundation for the way we should eat. This book, without the inference of capitalism or commercialism, solidifies it for me. The bibliography and endnotes alone are worth the price of admission.

The biggest problem that I see with this book, and the many others out there on eating for our genetic support is “conventional wisdom.” How does a single doctor or biologist or trainer combat the establishment of big business, big government, or the lax mentality of those who won’t think differently?

I fight these same misconceptions with people I talk with about food. I have heard everything from the government wouldn’t hurt us to its written in a study therefore it must be true. Until science and business find common ground in the finance and popularity of eating properly for our body types, we are subjected to what they feed us – in print and on our plates. It’s difficult to overcome things we’ve heard our entire life – food pyramids and mom’s habits. It’s difficult to listen to the subtle reaction within our bodies to food, drink, and environment. It’s difficult to believe that something we eat over years can suddenly affect us in such negative ways. Just because it’s difficult does not make it a lie. This is our body, and the only piece of hardware we will ever get. Why not listen to it rather than big business or chemical companies?

I do not believe at food companies, chemical companies, or politicians are in a conspiracy to harm us. What we, the public, need to understand is the they do have a mission and it is not the perfect care and feeding of your body – it is the care and feeding of THEIR body. Caveat emptor is not a new concept….  it is Latin after all…

I think if we do nothing else, we should begin to do something we know to be good for us regardless of whatever people say about it, I think we should pull out a pan, break out some spinach, sauté it with some garlic and olive oil, sit down at the table, and eat it together. If we do nothing more than eat a veggie, cooked with love on our own stove, and eat it at a table with our family, tasting the earthiness of green sunlight and human connection, how can this be bad for our bodies? Be inquisitive. Be open. Be self serving when it comes to how you feed yourself.


Some Shocking Information

The media misrepresents nutritional information. Yes, stop it, it’s true, shocking as that may be. People who receive most of their nutritional information from the media are misinformed. I’m surprised.

Yes, that’s sarcasm, hopefully well placed.

The truth is that food is one of the most volatile subjects we discuss. It ranks up there with politics and religion because, unlike these icons of conversation, we all actually must eat. Therefore, we all have a vested interest in what goes into our mouths. Yet, much of the information we follow is produced by soundbites and pod casts of various people with little or no knowledge of the entire scientific basis. We hear parts and pieces of stories, or information and data taken out of context and believe it to be the truth. Even our notions of “balanced diets” and “all four food groups” are made up from specious claims of lobbyists and media-doctors who hype their own brand of “truth.”

Why? I don’t know. I suspect that it’s all about furthering agendas and making the next big “fad” or “breakthrough.” When it comes down to it, I just want to put into my mouth those things that are necessary for me to live and live well. What my body needs is probably different from what your body needs and hence, I am eating differently. Arguing about it is fruitless and listening to the media is pointless.

Let’s take, for example, this group: Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine. Sounds good, doesn’t? Sounds like a bunch of doctors sitting around and pronouncing judgment on food and medicine specifically aimed at our (the common public) well-being. Hmm. Not many people dig deeper. Their website looks good as does their ABOUT section. Then, I read what the AMA has to say about them: “Our AMA registers strong objections to the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine for …misrepresenting the critical role animals play in research and teaching…”

Okay, so more to think about. Then there is the Center for Consumer Freedom. This site is dedicated to consumer knowledge and letting the consumer make the choice. They don’t like PCRM either. Do I believe them, because they are a non-profit without an obvious agenda? Heck, I don’t know. There’s another group to get information from, the American Council on Science and Health. Yet another non-profit group. I am sure they have their own agenda, too. Who to believe? No wonder it’s so easy to just believe whatever newspapers and TVs tell us – the truth is rarely easy to uncover.

It’s easy to get into discussions and arguments with friends and family alike about food. I’ve been slammed by many people for my “odd” ways of eating and thinking about food. And since I’m obviously not the picture of the perfect human body, I haven’t gotten it right. It seems we use people’s external appearance as the measuring stick of how much they know about food and eat properly. I’m sure that’s a whole other blog post. For now, let’s just leave it at the fact that none of us knows and that sometimes, it’s not even worth discussing amongst ourselves.

So, what is a 21st Century eater to do? Do I go to governmental agencies who provide me the synopsis of food research papers which are funded by special interest groups and lobbyists, food companies and big agra? Do I go straight to the reports themselves which may in and of themselves be tainted by unclear or specious assumptions about food? Do I read historical evidence about food, empirical studies, or Wikipedia?  Can we ever break out of the idea that our ideas about food may be set in stone, without real foundation, and that we need to rethink the paradigm? Maybe we can take Omnivore’s Dilemma (and its huge sales) as hope that questioning should be our first priority.

I think the bottom line is that we should question. We should look at the data and ask what is behind it? What was the foundation for the assumptions? Then, we should take that data and apply it to ourselves. we should keep reading, and read with an open mind. What we might have assumed to be true really isn’t. For example, read this book (Good Calories, Bad Calories) and see if you find something that makes sense… to you. Because…

We are, in the end, what matters. How does that food make our body feel? How does it help our body perform, or not perform? Does it keep me healthy and strong? Does it promote the health of those around me and the health of the planet? It’s probably pretty good, then. Chomp down and chomp away. Live to your best, eat well, and enjoy.

Twinkie, Deconstructed

Twinkie Deconstructed CoverNot that I have thought much about it, but have you ever wondered what actually went into a Twinkie? Steve Ettinger did. Or rather, his kids did. When Steve began reading the label of ingredients, he was astonished to find that he could not answer any of his children’s questions about where the pieces and parts of a Twinkie came from. What was polysorbate-60 and how did it get into what someone might call “food.”

Steve went on a journey and at the end, he created “Twinkie, Deconstructed.” This frightening little book will tell you not only what is in the ubiquitous Twinkie but also its point of origin and processing journey to your mouth.

Frightening. Really.

As Ettinger points out, most of a Twinkie comes from corn. Really? Yes, Michael Pollan was right – corn IS our first food group. If you eat any processed food, you know it’s true. Ettinger takes on his trip of investigation of every ingredient in a Twinkie, including the “enrichments” given to flour to
make it “better,” and gives us a truer picture of where this “food” comes from.

This astonishing “did you knows” from this book are…

…Did you know that Twinkies have different ingredients depending on where you are in the country, based on the price of the specific ingredients?

…Did you know that your Twinkie could contain beet sugar if you’re in the North and cane sugar if you’re in the South? The West and East seem a toss up depending on food prices.

…Did you know the difference between “enrichment” and “fortification?” I didn’t. Enrichment is when a company puts back into a food stuff something that was taken out – like bran to processed flour. Fortification is when things are put into a food stuff that weren’t normally there – like Vitamin C into corn flakes.

…Did you know that most vitamins in enriched flour come from either petroleum, coal-tar, or corn and are manufactured in China?

This isn’t about Twinkies – it’s about processed food as a whole. If you shop in a supermarket, and buy anything even remotely processed, I would recommend you read this book. It’s not to put you off eating. But we should all be aware of where our food comes from, and what it means to us to eat something “fortified” or “enriched.”

And yes, Ho-Ho’s are included in the lineup.