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Posts Tagged ‘steps to a primal lifestyle’

Walking into any grocery store check out line you are immediately bombarded with new fad diets and how some celebrity lost 20 pounds by “just eating ____”. Well, as we all know, somehow it worked for them, but it never works for us. The reason is because anyone can lose weight by just eating some miracle food, but for how long and at what cost? These fad diets may help you lose weight, but you end up with no energy and food becomes boring. Who wants to eat just lettuce or beans or whatever? Wouldn’t you rather lose weight, feel great, AND enjoy your food at the same time? Keep reading…

What is the primal lifestyle?

In short: eat meat and plants. That’s it. Eating a primal diet is simple. However, in our modern age, we are so reliant on processed and convenience foods (including items like cereal grains, packaged breads, bagels, etc.: see below) that it does take a bit of a paradigm shift to actually do this.

Short history of wheat

It wasn’t until roughly 10,000 years ago that humans started eating grains. These grains were very different from the grains we consume today. As a result of human intervention and the need to produce more wheat per acre, we have “invented” over 25,000 types of wheat.

The way we eat today has changed more in the last 50 years than in the previous 10,000.  – Food, Inc.

The type of wheat we have been consuming over the past 50 years is the result of geneticist Dr. Norman Borlaug. This “dwarf” wheat is short, stocky, and fast growing. The problem is that this wheat was created as a result of genetic engineering and gene splicing ,which can’t even survive in nature without the use of modern fertilizers and pesticides.

Why you don’t want to eat wheat

Dr. Davis [Wheat Belly] recounts an experiment he conducted on himself to compare the different impacts of ancient wheat and modern wheat on his blood sugar. He managed to find some einkorn wheat [that most likely was eaten during biblical times] and made bread from it. Two slices of that bread raised his blood sugar from 86 mg/dl to 110. Not bad. Then he made bread from modern whole wheat – you know, the stuff the USDA says is the key to great health. Two slices raised his blood sugar from 84 mg/dl to 167. That’s diabetes territory. – Tom Naughton, Fat Head

That alone should raise a few eyebrows and cause you to turn away from wheat. If it doesn’t, here are more reasons. Wheat contains three anti-nutrients: lectins, gluten, and phytates.

Gluten is a protein found in grains that break down the lining of your small intestine. This break down eventually leeches food into your blood stream causing allergies, digestive issues, and autoimmune problems. Although some people noticeably suffer from this more than others (ie. Celiac disease), almost everyone has some sort of reaction to gluten. Lectins are mild toxins which inhibit the repair of your gastrointestinal tract. And phytates strip your body of nutrients. Wow, makes you want to grab that bowl of cereal right?

Today, as I said before we have convenience at our finger tips and greed has its hand in everything including the food industry. Just because the FDA puts their seal of approval on something does not make it gold. In fact, I might even question it more since they are funded by many of the food companies, so they often have a biased opinion.

Apart from maintaining social conventions in certain situations and obtaining cheap sugar calories, there is absolutely no reason to eat grains. – Mark’s Daily Apple

You are probably thinking: don’t I need the fiber? What about carbohydrates? How do you get your “whole grain”?

Fiber: You don’t need all the fiber you think you do. Ever wonder why that Fiber one cereal or extra fiber bread gives you stomach issues the rest of the day? It’s because the fiber you eat is actually banging up against the “cells lining the gastrointestinal tract and rupturing their outer covering” (study). Doesn’t sound too pleasant to me. You do need some fiber, but you get plenty from vegetables and fruits.

Carbohydrates: I’m sure you know this, but just in case: vegetables do have enough carbohydrates for your daily needs. It’s not just bread, pasta, cereal, and rice as the food pyramid tries to convince us.

Whole wheat: Many well intentioned people make the switch to whole wheat bread or whole wheat pasta thinking they have made a significant stride in their health when in actuality, it’s really a moot point; both contain lots of sugar.

“Two slices of whole grain bread increase blood sugar higher than table sugar, higher than many candy bars… This leads to higher and more frequent rises in insulin, which, in turn, creates insulin resistance, the condition that leads to diabetes… Wheat products elevate blood sugar levels more than virtually any other carbohydrate, from beans to candy bars.”                                 – William Davis, M.D. author of Wheat Belly

So, if you are feeling depressed after reading this, don’t. Once you eliminate grains from your diet, your tastes will change and you will no longer crave them the way you did before. It’s true! My taste for sugar has drastically decreased. I now drink unsweet tea (and being from the south that’s a big deal!) and even love the taste of plain greek yogurt! Trust me, as a recovering cereal-0-holic, several months into eliminating grains I had the urge to eat a bowl of cereal, cheerios and wheat chex, doesn’t sound too bad right? Not only did the taste not live up to what I remember, but within 30 minutes after eating it, I had a headache. Not worth it in my opinion!

So find some encouragement and take baby steps. I would suggest eliminating grains and wheat for 30 days and see how you feel. If you don’t notice a difference then you can go back to the way you were eating (I doubt that will happen), no loss there. I promise you won’t even feel like you are giving anything up after a while!

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Are you tired of counting calories, gutting it out on the treadmill for hours, and constantly feeling guilty for craving foods that you think are “bad” without seeing any results in your energy level or the mirror? I was the same way and followed conventional wisdom that told me to eat a diet low in fat and exercise until I dropped, but no more!

I exercise less, eat fattier richer food, and look and feel better than I ever have before – even after having a baby! Interested?

Below I will lay out a step by step guide to eliminating bread and wheat from your diet (or at least what I did). Some people can just go cold turkey, throw everything out and never look back, but that wasn’t my experience.

First, Learn all you can about the harmful effects of wheat. Unless you have a solid foundation of why the primal lifestyle is so beneficial, you will go back to your old ways of eating at the first sign of temptation. See my post on why wheat is the enemy here or see the resources page for some other smart people’s opinions as well.

Decide why you want to change your lifestyle. Again, knowing your personal motivation will help you stay on track when it gets hard. Are you trying to lose weight? Do you want to have more energy? Are you trying to get rid of some medical condition? Regularly reminding yourself of the reasons you are eating this way will help you stay on the course long term. You have to think of the long term goals instead of the short term.

Now that you have a good knowledge of the primal lifestyle and know why you personally want to make the change, it’s time to get practical.

First, go through your refrigerator and pantry and get rid of all the processed food. If it’s there, it’s going to be tempting. If you’re like me you are hard wired to never waste food so throwing it away will simply be torture. Give the food to a local food bank if it’s unopened. Or, if you want some creative household uses for these items, here is a great source from Wellness Mama to help you eliminate the bad, but put them to good use. A personal favorite is the sugar scrub, which I gave as a gift last christmas and was a big hit with my mom!

If you aren’t one of those people mentioned above who can just give it all up cold turkey, then maybe a gradual approach is best for you. Remember, we aren’t trying to win an award to see who can eat the most primal. If it’s truly for your health, then even a small step in the right direction is huge!

Identify your weaknesses. For me, it was cereal. I was an avid cereal eater. I would have a bowl (or two) in the mornings and usually one before I went to bed. There’s just something about the crunchiness that is so addicting! I knew if I was going to eliminate wheat, this had to be the first thing to go. So, I stopped eating the bowl of cereal at night and if I needed a snack would eat something like berries and yogurt or cottage cheese, a piece of fruit, or just a spoonful of almond butter. Most of the time I wasn’t even hungry, I had just formed a habit. Gradually I began to eliminate the bowl of cereal in the morning and switched to scrambled eggs with onions/peppers/greens. This did take a bit more effort, but I started to actually crave the eggs in the morning!

Buy good, real food. Don’t let yourself buy bread, pasta, cereal, chips, etc. Even if it’s on sale and you have a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon and they are actually going to  give you money for buying it – don’t give in! Shop the periphery. You’ve probably heard of this or read it somewhere, but it’s so key when you are shopping. Very few things are good in the middle isles. I rarely even venture there (unless it’s to get coffee!).

Find a friend who is on board. Everything is easier (and more fun) when you have a companion and someone to encourage and help you. I’m very lucky to have a husband who is totally on board and even motivates me many days. Find a family member, a friend, a roommate, even an online friend through a forum here or at another primal website to help you continue and give you new ideas and recipes.

Find recipes or alter to make them primal. One of my current favorite recipes is stuffed roasted red pepper. The recipe called for rice and black beans. I simply omitted the black beans and added quinoa instead of rice.

Finally, continue to remind yourself of the long term benefits. The goal is a happy, healthy, energetic you. And don’t forget to give yourself a little grace, no one is perfect. If you cave into that delicious chocolate cake, remind yourself of the reason you don’t eat it all the time and continue to eat real, whole foods. This is not a diet, it is a lifestyle.

What are some ways that have helped you stay on track?

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