A Letter to a Friend

I have been ueber busy as of late and feel really badly that I haven’t had a chance to write on the blog.  That guilt turns in to being overwhelmed which keeps me from writing even if I have time.  Ugh.  Anyway, my sister in law wrote the following to a friend of hers.  She sent it to me to have a looksy before she sent it and I was overtaken by how good it was.  I got her permission to share it with you and begged her to come here and write from time to time.  Her name is Jennifer Chase.  She has a wonderful knack for writing in such a way that you actually want to read it (unlike me).  I hope you enjoy!

Before you begin.

Be honest with yourself about your shortcomings, understand when you are making an excuse versus having reached a genuine hurdle, and know that this isn’t going to be easy, but it is going to be worth it.  Just like your Christian faith, there will be trials, especially just when you think you have it all figured out.

Paleo is not a verb type diet (eating and drinking sparingly to loose weight), it is a noun (habitual nourishment).  Food is not good or bad.  Food is not a reward.  Food is not comfort.  Food will not overcome boredom.  FOOD IS ONLY NOURISHMENT FOR THE BODY.

What does sustainable modern Paleo look like for me?

The basics are simple.  Eat meat, veggies, fruit, and healthy fats.  Avoid pretty much everything else.  There are gray areas.  Some people have issues with food from the nightshade family; others eat white potatoes and cheese and are fine… The best approach is get to a point when you can go 30 days strict then add foods back in gradually.  If it gives you an issue, then you know it doesn’t promote good health in your body and you should exclude it.

I love eating this way because for the first time, I have found something that does not couple math with biology.  We are God made, not man made – human, not machine, therefore the whole calorie input output diet is not contusive of good health.  You will eat whole natural God-made foods and move the way God made your body to move.  No calorie counting.  No weighing and measuring.  Eat when you are hungry and eat to satisfaction.

Put yourself in Eve’s shoes.  You’ve just been kicked out of the garden, now what?  This rational is applicable to most scenarios.  For example, nuts… how many nuts are acceptable to eat?  Well if you came across the nuts in the wild, how many would you consume if you were the one cracking them open?  A handful, maybe?  Definitely not a Costco size portion.

Take your time getting to the exercise part.  But, when you do begin to regularly incorporate it, how should you move?  Eve certainly never thought, ‘I haven’t had enough cardio today’.  She would have walked A LOT with the occasionally sprint (to chase food or run from it), she would squat and bend and stretch while foraging, and she would occasionally lift heavy things.  To sum it up, walk every chance you can and 2-3 days a week, do these exercises (http://www.benderfitness.com/2012/07/full-body-workout-for-beginners.html).

Special Note about kids and exercises.  First, kids need to move.  Second, kids already know how to move appropriately.  Third, learn from the way kids move, mimic if possible.  Kids play until they are tired, they rest, and then they play again.  You typically will not see a kid with adrenal fatigue because they put out too much effort in the gym.  When kids play, they run, jump, and climb, they play tag, hide and seek, and wrestle around.  We as adults may feel silly playing with them in such fashions, but if we do, we will promote good health for them and gain good health for ourselves.

Podcasts:

Everyday Paleo – I cannot speak enough praise for this podcast.  Please please please listen to episode 18.  It will change your thinking.  Oh and episode 24 is all about thyroid health.  Then, listen to the rest because they are all amazing!

http://everydaypaleo.com/paleo-lifestyle-and-fitness-podcast-episode-18/

http://everydaypaleo.com/paleo-lifestyle-and-fitness-podcast-episode-24/

The Paleo View – these two moms are full of practical knowledge and transitioning tips for families.  I love listening to them because I learn something new every time.  Because both of them have autoimmune issues, their idea of Paleo is 130% compared to my 90% but I still listen.

http://paleoparents.com/the-paleo-view-podcast/

Tips for Success:

  • If you want fast and easy, things will seem hard, BUT not impossible if you put forth the effort when you can.
  • DO NOT be discouraged by the success or failure of anyone around you.  The only person you should compare yourself to is the person you were yesterday.
  • DO NOT take on 100% of the burden yourself.  Enlist the help of your other members of the family in the kitchen.  (This will save time and build your family unit.)
  • In your child’s transition, ask her to list her 10 favorite foods, and then (of the listed foods that are acceptable) try to always incorporate some of those in the menu each week.  We do this with carrots for our daughter.
  • Use fruit to kick your refined sugar habit.  Just know that in order to achieve weight loss you will need to cut them back.
  • Snacking can help with the transition also, but it is the same as fruit, will need to be cut back to achieve your weight loss goals.
  • Keep something healthy with you at all times (like some jerky, coconut, sweet potato chips, or even Larabars!)

The three things that save me:

  1. Paleo Pancakes!  I have already sent you the recipe for these.  They may be just what you need to get that ‘bread’ fix as they do test just like banana bread to me.  When I cook them, I make them about 3 inches in diameter.  I eat just a couple (even though you could eat a whole batch, they are acceptable for good health), and save the rest for fast reheating the next few days.
  2. Coconut chips!  I buy my coconut through Tropical Traditions (http://www.tropicaltraditions.com/organic_dried_coconut.htm).  I end up eating about a bowlful throughout the day.  They are full of fiber and protein.  The more you kick you sweet tooth, the sweeter these will taste.  I love them!
  3. Chocolate Pudding!  This recipe may sound yucky but as you kick your sweet tooth, yuck will turn into OMGosh good!  Once again, you can eat it as one portion, but it is the equivalent of two pudding cups.  Recipe, 1 square unsweetened Bakers chocolate (I buy the box that comes with six squares, I have not tried this with unsweetened cocoa powder, if you do, tell me how it goes), 1 banana, 1-tablespoon nut butter (whatever I have in the house at the time, typically sun nut butter).  Instructions, using a microwaveable bowl, melt the square, add the nut butter and banana, and mix thoroughly!  That easy!

Speedy Tips:

  • Make double for leftovers or a different night when you have less time to cook.  (Example, it takes 45-60 minutes to cook squash, so don’t make just enough for that meal.)
  • If you cook meat in advance for the purpose of reheating later, cook it just shy of being done so when you reheat, it will not be dry and rubbery.
  • Prep ahead when food is bought.  (Example, if you want sweet potato hash in the mornings with eggs, grate them when you buy them and store it in a Tupperware container.)
  • Canned!  Just because fresh is ideal and all that blah blah blah, doesn’t mean canned is forbidden.  We do about half and half canned/fresh veggies throughout the week.  Also, canned meat.  Salmon patties are pretty fast, easy, and Paleo.

Fast recipes we love:

  • Broccoli!  My daughter even eats this one.  In a saucepan (skillet) I fill the bottom with chicken stock, set it to med-high heat.  Add 1 head of broccoli (cut to bite size).  Cover and cook for 5-10 minutes until done, stirring occasionally.  This works with cauliflower too!
  • Burgers!  We buy the patties already made and frozen.  Grill until done (or pan fry if y’all do that) serve it wrapped in lettuce.  This is a great way to get lots of veggies in, tomatoes, onions, pickles, and/or avocado.
  • Sweet Potatoes!  No doubt that oven baked is the best, but who has time for that?  We wrap them in plastic wrap and microwave them until done.  (About 5 minutes ish.)

The Sewer

When I was a kid, my dad used to tell me that “if you walk through the sewer, you’re bound to get some crap on you.”  Really and truly, that was just his version of Proverbs 13:20 “The one who associates with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”  I got the idea for this post a couple of weeks ago when a facebook friend posted something from the Secret.  Now I generally discount the Secret as a new age belief that treats the creation (the Universe) as the Creator, but in this case, it lines up with the Bible.  The point of her post was that you will become those with whom you hang out with.  The bible makes the point more clearly by showing that you can either become wise, and therefore improve yourself, or you will suffer harm.

I think the same holds true for people who are trying to live a healthier life, whether it be through a paleo diet or through something more neolithic like Weight Watchers.  No matter what program you are following, if you associate with people who constantly through their un-healthy food at you, you are bound to crack.

I am not saying that you should disassociate from all of your unhealthy friends or get a divorce because your spouse insists on bringing doughnuts and oreos in the house.  What I am saying is you have to control your environment the best that you can.  Let me give you an example.

I live in Texas.  So whenever anybody suggests you go out to eat, you can bet that there is at least a 50% chance you will be at a Mexican restaurant.  Of course the biggest temptation of all is waiting for you at your local restaurante, and that devil is called tortilla chips.  Shoot, they bring them out for FREE.  How can you resist?  For many people, chips are like the Borg…resistance is futile.  They really don’t sing a siren song for me, but for people like my wife, they are worse than the serpent in the garden.  So if your friends want to go Mexican, you have to get them to agree to skip the chips with you by agreeing to tell the waiter not to bring the chips to the table at all.  Here is where the companion of fools part comes in.  If your friends are unwilling to make that one small sacrifice for you, you simply don’t go.  And then you start to examine if they are truly your friends at all.  If you have explained to them that you are really trying to make changes that will improve your health and they can’t respect that, then you have to wonder how much they really care for you.

So maybe you have determined that your friends don’t give a hoot about you or your health.  That is where the first part of the Proverb comes in.  “The one who associates with the wise grows wise.”  You could change that to read, the one who associates with the healthy becomes healthy.  In todays connected world, you could start a meetup in your town by posting one on meetup.com.  Another option would be to start to get to know people at your gym.  It is kind of hard to do at your standard globo-gym, so maybe start doing crossfit. There is a real tight knit community of healthy people at every crossfit box that is very welcoming and friendly.  Even if you think you can’t crossfit, I promise you they will scale whatever workout they are doing to your fitness level. Any decent box will require you to go through an onramp class not only to teach you the movements but also to assess your fitness level so they can scale the workouts.  I also like to associate myself virtually with wise people by listening to podcasts.  I regularly listen to Jimmy Moores Livin La Vida Low Carb Show, Robb Wolf’s The Paleo Solution and Sean Croxton’s Underground Wellness Show.  These are all free on iTunes or if you are a Samsung person like me, on kiescast. Not only am I learning tons of information about health, exercise and nutrition, but I am filling my wisdom cup by listening to and being influenced by healthy people who have a lot of wisdom to share.

Spouses are a different thing altogether. There is not much you can do about them because at the end of the day, you have to go home to them.  Again, if they are not on board with living a healthy lifestyle, I bet if you sat down and had a real heart-to-heart with them about what you are trying to do and how certain triggers make that harder, you could convince them not to bring those things in the house.  Stress to them that you are not asking them to give up Reese’s Peanutbutter Cups. You are only asking them not to eat them at home.  Be sincere and non-judgmental.  Don’t come off like they are something less than you because they continue to eat those things.  Just let them know that you are trying to improve your health by not eating them because they are a problem for you.  Sure, they are really a problem for them, but we don’t want to make it about them.  We want to enlist them in helping us.

What are your ideas on how we can better guard our environment to make sure we don’t walk through the sewer and get fat on us?

Responsibility

I got the idea for this post two weeks ago in my weekly men’s breakfast with some dudes from church.  We were talking about what it means to take responsibility as a man and we turned to the story of Adam and Eve.  I am not going to get in to what that story had to do with our topic, because it doesn’t really apply here, but the story itself does.

Think about how you remember that story from Sunday school as a kid.  Eve is hanging out in the garden when the serpent comes up and talks her in to eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  Then she takes a piece to Adam, who eats it and the fall has happened.  But that is not how the story goes at all.  I actually had that realization a few years ago when reading Genesis 3.  How I missed how the real story goes for 30 years is beyond me.  She didn’t take a piece of the fruit to Adam.  She didn’t have to.  He was right there!

“When the woman saw that the tree produced fruit that was good for food, was attractive to the eye, and was desirable for making one wise, she took some of its fruit and ate it.  She also gave some of it to her husband who was with her, and he ate it.” (Gen 3:6)

Ok ok, what does all of this have to do with diet? Really this could apply to any way of eating you have chosen to adopt.  For me it is paleo.  Maybe you are doing Weight Watchers, Ornish or vegan.  Whatever the case, the lesson still applies to you because the real takeaway comes a few verses after.

“The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave me, she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it.’” (Gen 3:12)

Did you see that?!?  That is the first time in history that somebody blamed his or her dietary failing on somebody else.  The woman gave it to me?!?  Really Adam. Because you were standing right there with her.  Not only did you not do anything to stop her (Can’t say I blame him.  Ever try to give your wife dietary advice?), but you took and ate it too.  Dude, nobody held a gun to your head.  Nobody forced you to eat it.  You CHOSE to eat it.

That same thing goes on each and every day of our lives.  We get upset at something, so we use that as an excuse to eat poorly.  We don’t want to offend somebody who made us a batch of cookies, so we eat them.  It’s my wife’s fault because she brought that ice cream in to the house.

Of course none of that stuff we use as excuses is true.  In the end we have ultimate control and responsibility over what goes in to our mouths.  We are the ones who make the decision.  Unless you are a pledge in a fraternity, nobody is forcing you to eat anything.  Heck, even then you could always tell them no and just not join the fraternity.

No matter what way of eating we decide to follow, we need to remember that when we go off the rails, it is our decision to do so.  I think if we come to terms with that fact, it makes it easier not only to stay on plan, but it also helps relieve the guilt of going off plan when you choose to.  It empowers us instead of leaving us feel like a victim.  We are not victims of our choices.  We are the masters of our choices.

 

Communion and Paleo

This past Sunday we had Communion at my church. I remember when I first started out on a low carb diet and I encountered my first Communion. I was panicked. I mean cold sweats stuff. What will the grape juice and tiny cracker do to my weight loss?!? I am sure the same thought crosses the mind of some Christian paleo adherents. I mean you KNOW that you are going to get a gluten exposure when you eat that tiny cracker, right? But I have a different thought.

At the last supper, Jesus used something that would have been readily understood by his disciples to make a point. Bread. Bread, while damaging to your overall health because of the wheat contained therein, made civilization possible. There would be no Jerusalem were it not for grain to help support the society. Grain is still the “staff of life” for many poor cultures world wide. It is cheap to produce and can keep for a period of time. Does that mean you need to make a regular habit of eating the stuff? Absolutely not. I mean you may survive on wheat, but you can thrive without it. But we can’t let our obsession with achieving the best health possible get in the way of experiencing the fullness of our faith.

Jesus did not pass on too many rituals that we should follow. There is no Christmas and Easter in the Bible. In fact, those holidays, while a good opportunity to share about Christ, are remakes of pagan holidays to sell them on Christianity. But one of the sacraments He did give us was Communion. It is a chance to reflect on exactly what He did for us. Of course the bread represents His flesh which was broken by the cross and the wine (or grape juice) is symbolic of the blood he shed as the greatest sin offering ever offered. In fact, it was the final sin offering because He was perfect. To that end, we cannot let this Paleo thing get in the way of our recognition of that very act. Without that act, there would be no reason to be Christian. There would be no grace and there would be no forgiveness of Sin. So the next time the communion plate comes around, forget about your fear of gluten, justified as it may be. Celebrate in the remembrance of what he did for you and me. Unless you are a true celiac, there will be no permanent damage. In fact, if God promises to protect you from the venom of the snake and scorpion (Luke 10:19), I am sure he will protect you from the negative effects of gliadin and gluten.

What is Paleo?

Paleo Plate copy

Before I get in to the meat of this post, I wanted to share a story with you.  Yesterday I finally decided to act on what I have felt I was being led to do by starting this blog.  Then today in church, the preacher talked briefly about health and nutrition.  Of course his talke included some things I tell you not to eat, but I thought it was kind of a funny little coincidence.  I don’t believe in coincidences, though.  To me, it was just God confirming that I am doing what He has led me to do. I love it when He winks at you, don’t you?

Last night, I got a call from my mother in law asking what Paleo is.  She had seen my first post, and was wondering what I was talking about. It’s funny when you have been doing something for so long that you take it for granted that everybody knows about what you are talking about.  She was interested in it because she has seen what it has done for me and my health, but really never understood what it was.  That made me aware that I need to take a minute to explain what Paleo is.

First off, let’s start with what it is not.  It is not a “diet” in the sense that it shouldn’t be something that somebody uses to lose weight and then go back to eating and moving in a way that is harmful.  It is a diet in the truest sense of the word in that it is the way we are meant to eat.  It also describes the way we are meant to move, but I will save that for another post.  I am also not going to go too deeply in to the scientific reasonings for why certain foods are bad and certain foods are  good for you.  Many others before me have tackled that.  Plus, there is just too much to talk about in one blog post.  I will be hitting them as time goes on.  If you just can’t wait for me to get in to it, then I suggest you head out and get a couple of books.  Check these out:
It Starts with Food


The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy (Primal Blueprint Series)

The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet

You can click on the titles to check the book out at Amazon.  I am not a code monkey, so I can’t figure out how to make them blue to let you know you can do that.  Sorry.  These are all excellent resources if you really want to get in to the science of it right now.

Basically, the theory behind paleo is that our bodies have not evolved to eat the foods that our modern society tells us to eat.  Now that theory can be problematic if you don’t believe in the theory of evolution.  Right out of the gate, the whole theory of the paleo way of eating is dismissed.  But I encourage you to look at it the way I do.  Rather than saying our bodies have not evolved to eat such and such, think of it as God did not create us to eat such and such.  And while he gave us certain foods to sustain a society that he knew would develop after the fall from Eden, those foods are not necessarily the best thing to eat in order to thrive.  You see the difference?  He knew we would  need to be able to support a large group of people and that would be impossible without certain foods that could be mass produced easily, however, even though it sustains you, it doesn’t necessarily help you to thrive.

Wow. That was circuitous, no?  With all that being said, I prefer to start with the foods you will be eating.  Starting with what you eliminate is so negative.

What You Eat:

  • All meat (including beef, pork, fish, fowl and mollusk).  These meats will preferably come from natural sources and will eat a diet that is natural for that species.  In other words, cows don’t naturally eat grains, so you should eat grass-fed cows.  Chickens are not vegetarian, so you should eat free range chickens that were not fed a “vegetarian” diet.  You get the idea
  • Eggs.  Remember what I just said about chickens?  The same holds true for their eggs. Get them from a local farmer if you can.
  • Vegetables.  These include all the seed bearing plants and fruits mentioned Genesis 1:29.  This is where it gets a little sticky, though.  Just because a plant bears seed doesn’t mean it is good for you.  Poison ivy has seeds, but you don’t want to eat it.
  • Tubers.  By tubers, I mean sweet potatoes and yams.  I do not mean white potatoes.
  • Fruit.  If you are trying to lose weight, I suggest not eating too much fruit.  Maybe a piece of fruit a day.  The reason is insulin.  Fruit will cause your blood sugar to rise, which then stimulates insulin release, which will shuttle the energy into your fat cells if there is no room left in your muscles to absorb the energy.
  • Nuts.  Don’t try to eat a whole container of nuts in one sitting.  Remember that when God gave man nuts, they didn’t come in a nifty jar already cracked.  Adam and Eve had to crack the pecans if they wanted to eat them.  That would naturally slow them down.  Nuts can be high in calories.  Their over-consumption will lead to weight gain.  There are other problems with the omega 6 fatty acid loads that we will discuss later.
  • Leafy greens.  Go crazy on these.  They are full of vitamins and minerals that your body needs.  Since you can eat meat with them, there is nothing better than collards or spinach with some bacon.
  • Fat. Fat will keep you full.  Eating fat will also help your body to switch to a fat burning metabolism so you won’t need to eat as much and your body can have access to your own fat stores for energy (weight loss, yay!).  So when I say fat, I mean natural fats, like those occurring in animal sources (lard, tallow, etc) and those occurring naturally in certain plants (avocados, olives, etc).  I do not mean seed oils and vegetable oils.  Those are to be avoided at all cost.  They are highly inflammatory and will lead to health problems like heart disease. That means eat the butter, but not the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.
  • Wine.  Have moderate amounts of dry red wines and there are many benefits you can reap from it.  Avoid the sweet versions, and when you do drink wine, maybe keep it to one glass.

So you see there is a wide variety of things you can eat.  You really should never run out of ideas of what to eat.  You could go a whole month and not eat the same meal twice.

What Not to Eat:

  • Wheat and anything containing gluten.  There are many things wrong with wheat, and it is not just with modern wheat.  The ancient Egyptians ate lots of wheat and we see signs of heart disease in their mummies.  These guys got lots of exercise (there were no tv’s or video games to keep them sedentary) and they ate lots of healthy whole grains, like the USDA recommends, and yet they still had arteriosclerosis.  We will delve more in to why you shouldn’t eat wheat in later posts.
  • Added sugar.  All of that added sugar not only spikes blood sugar and promotes fat storage, half of its make up, fructose, goes to the liver and is spit out as triglycerides.  It also can lead to fatty liver disease which, incidentally is also a disease you get from drinking too much.
  • Man-made oils.  Have you ever seen oil come out of corn? Neither have I.  There is a lot of chemical trickery that goes into producing it and other “healthy” vegetable oils.  Don’t eat it.  So no peanut oils, soybean oils or vegetable oils.
  • Legumes.  Beans (including peanuts and peas) do not want to be eaten by animals.  As such, they have phytates and other anti-nutrients that can lead to a leaky gut which brings on a host of auto-immune problems.
  • Dairy.  This one is sticky.  I recommend avoiding dairy for a month just to see how you feel without it.  A minority of humans have the hormones necessary to properly digest dairy, so they can eat or drink it just fine.  I know I mentioned butter earlier, but that is mostly just fat.  The caseins and lactose are missing so you don’t tend to get the damage that dairy causes most people.

Some of the things that are on the no-go list are there because they will either make you fat or will keep you from losing weight. All of them are on the list because they can create health problems for you down the road.

As I mentioned earlier, this is not a “diet” for quick weight loss. If you need to lose weight, you certainly will eating this way.  But the primary goal of this lifestyle is to promote good health.  If you follow these directions, you will notice improved health in many areas.  I was able to come off high blood pressure medications as well as reverse pre-diabetes and high triglycerides eating this way.  To this day, my doctor still doesn’t believe that 60-70% of my daily calories comes from fat.  That just doesn’t go along with what he was taught in med school.  That is another topic for another day, however.

That is a lot of information for one post, but it just skims the surface of how to thrive with this way of eating.  I hope this information will provide you a good start for your new journey to health!

Hello World!

How’s that for an uninspired title for a first blog post?  

Let me introduce why I am starting this blog.  I already have another blog, lowcarbhoo.wordpress.com, but I really would like that one to stay as a repository for recipes from me and my friends.  I would like to use this blog as a springboard for discussion on current diet-related topics as well as explore how the paleo way of eating meshes with Christian beliefs.  Also, I would like this blog to be a welcome place for Christians to discuss topics related to healthy eating and living. 

I have been kicking around the idea of starting a Christian paleo blog for a while now, but recently, I had my thoughts confirmed by a post on one of my favorite blogs, Livin la Vida Low Carb.  I am a real Jimmy Moore fanboy, and I really respect his struggles with his journey, his honesty about those struggles,  as well as his belief as a Christian.  Anyway, he said the other day that the whole anti-Christian thing really needs to settle down in the paleo-sphere.  I have believed that same thing for a long time.  

To give you an example, I often hear one of my other favorite bloggers and authors, Robb Wolf, crack jokes at the Christian’s expense because some of us don’t believe in evolution.  I know that he does believe in evolution, and when he says the things he does, he is just being funny, but I think that sort of dialogue can be somewhat off-putting to a curious Christian who is beginning to research this way of eating.  

Many of us Christians already have a crisis of belief when we start to consider a way of eating that excludes one of the staples of the Bible: wheat.  It only makes it harder to approach if our beliefs are belittled by those who have so much knowledge to share but at the same time threaten our beliefs.  

This blog will be an attempt to discuss, in an open minded fashion, how it is we can reconcile our beliefs as Christians with what is ultimately the most healthy way of eating for a human.  I am excited about the possibility of open ended discussions with all walks of believers and non-believers.  There are so many different flavors of believers that I think that together, we can all grow in our faith while at the same time, grow in our understanding of how best to care for the temple that the Holy Spirit inhabits.  

I hope you will enjoy the conversations and topics that will come.  I will make it my goal to post at least once a week, if not more often.  In the mean time, peace out!