In July of 2013, Ted had a heart attack at the age of just 52.  It was a shock to us and a huge wake up call. When his pain first started and we were trying to figure out what could be causing it, he asked me, "What if I'm having a heart attack?"  I quickly replied, "There is absolutely nothing wrong with your heart.  It's not a heart attack."  Boy was I wrong.  That's how much in denial we were about our health.  We had NO IDEA that he could have advanced atherosclerosis!  

Once he was home from the hospital, I began to research nutrition.  We had always eaten healthy food, lots of vegetables and other good, fresh food, but along with it, we ate a lot of junk.  What I learned is that eating some good food is not at all good enough.  You must keep unhealthy food out of your body at the same time.  Heart disease, stroke and diabetes are almost entirely preventable through healthy eating. 

Since then, we have made the commitment to eat for health and the nourishment of our bodies rather than for a temporary, sensory pleasure.  To be sure, we enjoy our new way of eating greatly, but we are eating for a purpose, not just to satisfy our taste buds.  Along with that commitment grows a delight in nature's bounty and we have learned to love our new way of eating! 

On this page, I will record the dietary changes we have made and some of the whys for each change.  I will also link to websites that give good, scientific explanations with links to actual studies.  I'll list the recommendations in what I consider to be the order of importance.  If you are hoping to improve your health, start with number 1, then proceed down the list.  Some of these changes are difficult at first.  You may even read them and think they are impossible.  But I am here to tell you that it is not at all impossible and in the end, very doable and enjoyable. I have been a lifelong sugarholic and junk food junkie.  At the time of this writing, I have just turned 50 years old.  I have been eating junk food at every opportunity during those entire 50 years.  I have been desperately addicted to sugar and carbohydrates and a daily binge eater.  If I can do it, every single other person on this planet can do it.  No excuses. 

I encourage you to make this choice before it's too late.  For my Ted, it is somewhat too late.  He had two artificial stents put into his heart that will be in there for the rest of his life.  Because of those stents, he will be on medication for the rest of his life.  Sure, we can improve his health with diet to a large degree, but we will never be able to get him back to a heart without stents in it.  At some point, there is a point of no return for everybody.  Don't be in denial so long, that you reach yours.  Eat for life.  Eat to nourish your body.  Give it the nutrients to do its job well.  Keep away from it the toxins that prevent it from doing so, and that even cause it harm.   Eat to live!

The Main Idea:

Eat whole, natural, real foods. In general, if you can grow it, or raise it, and if you could, in theory, make it in your kitchen, you may eat it.  For example, canned beans (without additions) are fine because if you wanted to, you could theoretically grow beans, cook them and then can them yourself.  Maple syrup is fine (in limited amounts) because if you had your own maple trees and the right simple equipment, you could make your own.  Many people do! Even olive oil could theoretically be made in your own kitchen if you pressed your own olive pits. In contrast, canola oil can only be made in a factory, with extreme heat and chemical extractions.  (Watch this video to see the disgusting process.)  It didn't even exist before 75 years ago.  Canola oil is NOT a real food.  So think natural, real, whole foods from the earth or animals that eat natural, real, whole foods from the earth.  If you must have a factory that uses high heat, toxic chemicals and additives and preservatives you can't pronounce to manufacture a food product, that's not food.

Most of my diet recommendations go against Conventional "Wisdom."  We eat saturated fat like butter and lard.  We believe canola oil is bad for you.  We believe a low fat diet contributes to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.  We believe even whole grains need to be limited for most people.  It is hard to really grasp the fact that what you've always believed and been taught about nutrition is devastatingly wrong. Even what your doctor may tell you today, is devastatingly wrong. What I never realized before is that all the purveyors of Conventional Wisdom,  the government, the food industry, the medical community, the drug companies, and the media, have motives other than our optimal health that drive them.  Studies are paid for by drug companies or major food industries and chemical companies.  Doctors are sometimes even educated by these big businesses and often influenced by government recommendations which are influenced by these industries while at the same time, often have almost no legitimate education in the field of nutrition and metabolism. The government is incredibly, deeply entwined with and lobbied by these industries.  The fact is that there is little wisdom in conventional wisdom, just mostly ulterior motives. We have made the choice to go directly against Ted's cardiologist's diet recommendations.  It was difficult and scary at first, but after educating ourselves, we are confident in our decision.  It turns out that you are the only person who has a totally pure motive when it comes to making decisions about your own health and the health of your family.  It's a big responsibility.  

This one fact helped to put me over the edge.  Conventional wisdom says that butter and animal fat is unhealthy and leads to clogged arteries and heart disease and that vegetable oils are heart healthy.  However, it is a fact that 100 years ago, heart disease was almost unheard of in our country.  Yet our diets were saturated with saturated fat.  Polyunsaturated vegetable oils did not even exist until 75 years ago, and as they, and margarine replaced the saturated fat in the typical american diet, heart disease has gone up and now, as we are eating less fat than ever before (It is a fact that the typical modern american eats less total fat than their pre-industrial revolution counterpart), is at epidemic rates.  Conventional wisdom tells us that the natural food from the earth that humans have been eating for the entirety of their existence are bad for our bodies, but oils that can only be made in a factory with extreme heat and chemicals are good for our bodies.  That doesn't even make sense to me.  How about you? Remember, we were all told to eliminate butter and eat margarine.  And as we complied, the rate of heart disease sky rocketed.  Are you going to follow what ever they come up with next? 

Below is my list of recommendations.  It is not the Bible, the law or necessarily 100% correct.  It is just a list of my opinions and decisions on nutrition so far after doing the research for myself. I still have a lot to learn and I'm sure this page will change and/ or be added to over time.  Take what you want from it.  I hope it helps you.

 Eliminate processed sugars. 
  • Read labels.  Learn the many different names of processed sugars.  Don’t eat any processed food that contains processed sugars. Avoid white and brown sugar, cane and corn sugars and syrups, high fructose corn syrup.
  • If you are going to eat sugars, eat very limited amounts of natural, whole sugars that have been minimally processed: raw honey, pure maple syrup, coconut or palm sugar, unsulfered blackstrap molasses, rapadura.
  • Avoid Agave.  It is low in nutrition, highly processed and high in fructose. 
  • Do not eat artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin, sucralose and the like.   
  • Make a personal decision about sugar alcohols such as zylitol, erythritol, sorbitol, and maltitol.  They are low calorie, low glycemic sweeteners that are actually found in nature but are manufactured chemically for commercial production.  You couldn't easily make them in your kitchen.  Many people have gastrointestinal reactions to them (we do).  We eat them rarely.  I don't cook with them since I've made a commitment to keep a whole foods, natural kitchen.  
  • Consider stevia.  It is a natural plant extract.  Many people keep stevia plants and make their own sweetener from the leaves.  It is natural, but has a taste you have to get used to.  Be careful if you buy it since it is often packaged with sugar alcohols.  We use it very, very rarely. I have learned that it is best not to have very sweet things too often.                  A Primal Primer: Stevia at Mark's Daily Apply Blog
  • The Eating Academy: Sugar 101
  • The Definitive Guide to Sugars at Mark's Daily Apple Blog
  • Authority Nutrition Blog, Why Sugar is Bad for You
Eliminate Refined Wheat Flour
  • Read labels, eliminate specifically white wheat flour. 
  • Make a personal decision about wheat in general.  Read Wheat Belly and Grain Brain and other resources and decide for yourself if eliminating wheat is something you want to do.  There is a growing body of evidence that wheat has several negative effects on the body. We do not eat it.  (If you have ANY inflammatory issues, arthritis, auto immune issues, or digestive issues of ANY kind, eliminating grains and especially gluten and wheat would be well worth the experiment.  Give it a try for three months and see if your issues aren't improved or even resolved.  What could it hurt?) 
  • If you are eliminating wheat, eat these whole grains: oats, barley, quinoa, rye, buckwheat (not related to wheat), brown and wild rice.  
  • There is some evidence that white rice does not cause the health problems that other refined grains do.  If you are not eliminating all grain, white rice may be a choice for you. We eat it as a treat on rare occasions.
  • For gluten free, do not eat wheat, spelt, barley or rye and buy gluten free oats. 
  • If you are not eliminating wheat, then true sourdough bread or sprouted grain breads such as Ezekiel bread products are best.  Most store bought bread products are not healthy. 
  • We are gluten free and don’t eat any traditional bread products at all anymore. 
     Eliminate Vegetable Oils
  •  Read labels.  Do not eat any processed foods with vegetable oils in them.  Especially avoid canola oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil and corn oil. 
  •   Cook with coconut oil, ghee, butter, lard or tallow. 
  •  Use olive oil for cold preparations such as salad dressings or for very low heat cooking. 
  •  Other cold processed oils can be used in smaller quantities for dressings and mayos such as avacado, walnut or flax seed oil.
  •  Learn how each oil is manufactured and what its make up is.  Saturated fats are good.  Mon-unsaturated fats are okay.  Poly unsaturated fats must be limited.  Choose oils with a good omega 6 to omega 3 ratio. 
  •  Authority Nutrition: Six Reasons Why Vegetable Oils Are Toxic

  Reduce And Control Carbohydrate Consumption
  • Learn about the effects of carbohydrate consumption on metabolism and it's relation to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and strokes and Alzheimer's! 
  •  Limit the frequency and quantity of all carbohydrate rich foods: whole grains, legumes (beans, split peas, and lentils), sweet potatoes, white potatoes, starchy vegetables, corn and fruit. 
  • Carbs should take up the smallest space on your plate, if and when you eat them. (This is true for weight loss OR weight maintenance. 
  • Eat 0 - 5 small servings of carbs per day, depending on your needs.  Every body is different.  Some people can metabolize healthy carbs easily.  Others can not and must restrict them severely.  
  • We stick to 1/2 cup or so, per serving.  We usually eat only 1 to 3 carb servings per day. Sometimes we don't have any.  We are eating for weight loss. 
  • For weight loss, eat fewer carb servings or non at all. 
  • For weight maintenance, test your metabolism and find out how many servings of carbs are right for you.  You may be able to add several servings of healthy, whole food carbs.  You may need to continue to restrict them to prevent weight gain. 
  • Always eat protein if you are eating carbohydrates, (fruit AND nuts, rice AND chicken). 
  • If you are going to eat white potatoes, eat the skin.  We buy the baby potatoes which increases the skin to flesh ratio.  The fiber in the skin, slows down the digestion of the starch and therefore the release of glucose into the blood. For weight loss, eat white potatoes rarely if at all. For maintenance, eat them in small quantities WITH a protein, if you can tolerate them. 
  • Limit fruit. 
    • Never eat a fruit without a protein. 
    • Eat smaller portions of high sugar fruits such as bananas, grapes, melons and pineapples. 
    • Berries can be eaten more often and in larger amounts. 
    • Do not drink fruit juice. There is way too much fructose in it and no fiber.  It spikes your blood sugar like a soda. 
    • We limit fruit to two small servings per day, always with a protein.  (These two servings are included in our total daily carb servings and are sometimes the only carbs we eat in a given day.  (We are eating for weight loss.))
    • Authority Nutrition: Is Fruit Bad for Your Health? 
     Eat Healthy Proteins at Every Meal and Snack
  • Eat beef, lamb, goat, pork, chicken, rabbit, venison, elk, bison, turkey, duck, goose
    • Preferably organic, preferably grass fed and/ or pastured
  • Eat seafood, especially salmon. 
    • Learn about metal toxicity, wild caught vs. farmed, and which fish is best purchased from which country.  
  • Eat raw nuts and seeds
    • Almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, macadamia, pine, sunflower seeds, etc.  
    • Don't over do it.  Nuts should be a snack along with fruit, or a garnish.  
    • We eat them but limit them to 1 ounce daily. 
    • Buy natural, sugar free nut butters that contain only nuts and salt, or make your own. 
    • DO NOT buy nuts or seeds that have been roasted in vegetable oils.  
      • If you want them roasted, buy raw and roast them at home.  It's easy.  However, there is some evidence that roasted nuts are less healthy than raw. 
  • Eat eggs! 
     Eat Large Quantities of and a Large Variety Of Vegetables Every Day! 
  • Eat lots of fresh greens and raw vegetables as well as cooked. 
  • Eat a large variety of different vegetables.  Try new ones! 
  • Fresh and/ frozen are best.  Avoid canned vegetables. 
  • Try to buy organic.  In some cases, the cost difference is minimal.  
    • Learn about The Dirty Dozen and The Clean Fifteen: the most and least pesticide contaminated produce.  
     Avoid "low fat" foods.  Eat full fat dairy. 
     Exercise in Some Way at Least Five Days a Week.
  • Exercise is a free prescription for healing, better than any pill or supplement. 
  • Strength or resistance training is the most important exercise you can do. 
    • Strength training supports weight loss. 
    • Strength training prevents bone loss. 
  • Limited aerobic exercise is excellent for over all health. 
    • Do "cardio" for up to 45 minutes 5 - 7 days a week. 
    • Cardio for more than 1 hour on a regular basis can be counterproductive to long term health. (Link coming.)
    • Too much regular cardio can stall weight loss by slowing metabolism.  (Link coming.)
    • Limited amounts of cardio with intense intervals does support weight loss. 
      There is an incredible amount of contradictory information in the field of nutrition.  There are doctors and experts that disagree with each other on just about every aspect of what is and what is not healthy food. There are studies that contradict other studies and interpretations that reject other interpretations. Deciphering what is and is not true is nearly impossible.  I do not agree with any one "expert" 100%.  I have come to some conclusions based on my own interpretation of the findings along with gut feelings and just plain what makes sense to me. These blogs, books and websites, listed below, are some of my favorites.   I like a lot of what I have learned from them, but again, I am not advocating that anyone follow what any one particular "expert" says blindly.  Read lots of opinions.  Try to read the actual studies on a subject.  Listen to lectures.  Study the data. Decide for yourself and then continue to be open to changing your mind as you learn.  

     This blog post by Peter Attia will give you a good place to start in your research into what the actual scientific evidence on nutrition shows.  Read it and listen to his lecture.  It is long, but worth every second of your time. 

      Paleo and Primal diets refer to the idea that our bodies are best at digesting and metabolizing the foods that our paleolithic ancestors ate.  You can find all the details by searching the internet.  While we are not pure paleo or primal because we do eat some dairy and legumes (limited) at his point in our nutrition journey, we find a lot of good information and recipes from paleo and primal sources, some of which are linked below along with other resources.  Also look for the phrases "low carb," "HFLC," (high fat, low carb), "whole foods," or "clean eating." 




 Nutrition Blogs and Websites
These sites may have recipes, but are mostly scientific info about nutrition.

Gary Taubes
The Eating Academy (Dr. Peter Attia)
Mark's Daily Apple
The Diet Doctor
The Weston A Price Foundation
Dr. Briffa
 Dr. Richard David Feinman
Dr. William Lagakos
Dr. Malcolm Kendrick
Mary Dan Eades, M.D.
Michael R. Eades, M.D.
Tim Noakes, Phd, M.D., DSc
Raw Food SOS by Denise Minger
The Daily Lipid by Dr. Chris Masterjohn
Mother Nature Obeyed by Dr. Chris Masterjohn
Recovery From Modern Diets by Dr. Kaalya T. Daniel
The Naughty Nutritionist by Dr. Kaalya T Daniel
Chris Kresser
Dr Axe

Recipe Blogs
These blogs may have some very useful info about nutrition, but I use them mainly recipes. Among the recipes on these sites will be some that include ingredients I don't use.  I'm not recommending every recipe on every site. Know what foods you are willing to eat and don't compromise. On the other hand, some of these recipes will be missing ingredients that you might be willing to use.  If I come across a baked recipe that is "egg free" I usually add an egg since I like eating them.

Purely Primal Dine In
HealthNut Nation
The Paleo Cupboard
The Healthy Home Economist
The Clothes Make the Girl
Wellness Mama
Nom Nom Paleo
Kelly the Kitchen Kop
Just Eat Real Food
Dr Axe's Recipes

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Lisa, you have put a lot of time and effort into learning/teaching about health and nutrition. Thank you. Audrey


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