Here are my Top 15 Healthy Eating Tips — based on traditional ways of eating. And yes, it involves eating more butter. (Hooray!)
Nutrition is so confusing these days. Everyone's telling you to eat low fat, eat soy, eat more fruits and vegetables, go vegan.
And yet these days we are sicker than ever. Just look at the rise in diabetes, heart disease, autism, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, dental decay, gluten intolerance — just to name a few.
If we look back at the way our ancestors ate — they were extremely healthy eating traditional diets. Using traditional fats like lard and butter, soaking their grains, never eating soy, and eating plenty of animal fats (in other words, not subsisting entirely on produce — there were no healthy vegan societies).
And if you read Dr. Weston Price's book (and I highly recommend that you do) Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, these people subsisting on traditional diets were vibrantly healthy. They had straight teeth, almost no cavities, and degenerative diseases were rare. They didn't need braces or eyeglasses; they didn't snore; they did not have asthma or allergies. Autism and cancer and heart disease were unheard of; diabetes was unknown.
You can also read Nutrition and Physical Degeneration for free online. Take a few moments, click on some chapters, and peruse the photographs. You will be amazed. Look at the before photos of the people eating a traditional diet, and then see the after photos of what happened to them after they started eating industrial foods.
This book completely changed my life. Read about how I reversed my arthritis, allergies, chronic fatigue, melasma and tooth decay. I have even eliminated PMS and menstrual cramps with traditional food.
So here's my list of my Top 15 Healthy Eating Tips. Do what you can — be it a little or a lot. And don't forget to have that extra pat of butter!
1. Make your own salad dressing and mayonnaise. This is one of the easiest things you can do to start on a path of healthy eating. Salad dressing is a snap. For salad dressing recipes, pick up a copy of Sally Fallon's cookbook, Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. I'll be posting my recipe for homemade mayonnaise within the next week.
Avoid commercial salad dressings and mayonnaise (as well as items that contain these things like storebought potato salad). They are all made with either canola oil or soybean oil. These are things you do not want to digest for a number of reasons (GMOs which cause all sorts of health problems, thyroid disorders, phytic acid which interferes with mineral absorption, just to name a few).
Use real olive oil purchased from a farm or producer that you trust. (I recommend Chaffin Family Orchards. Their oil is very mild and it makes great mayonnaise and dressing.)
2. Buy organic as much as you can — but particularly when it comes to meat, eggs and dairy products. A lot of people think about buying organic only when it comes to fruits and vegetables. But in reality, fruits and vegetables are the least of your concern.
The most important foods to buy organic are meats, eggs and dairy products. This is because animals in factory farms are fed a steady diet of soybeans and corn. Those soybeans and corn are not only heavily sprayed with pesticides, they are also genetically modified. Add to that a ton of hormones and antibiotics.
Not to mention the fact that cows and chickens were never meant to eat a high-grain diet. It makes them sick, and creates pathogens. For more on this, read Michael Pollan's book, The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals.
Buy organic meat and dairy products as much as you can. If possible, buy grass-fed or pastured meat and dairy products. When buying cured meats like bacon or sausage, make sure they do not contain nitrates; nitrates are carcinogenic.
3. Avoid packaged and processed foods. Not only are processed foods full of additives (like MSG) and GMOs, and high fructose corn syrup, they also often contain bad fats like soybean oil, vegetable oil and cottonseed oil.
Read labels! If it has suspicious things in it, or things you cannot pronounce, do not buy it! This includes even the seemingly innocent Girl Scout Cookies. Full of hydrogenated oils and GMOs, not to mention white sugar. Oh, and aspartame. Avoid that like the plague. It's carcinogenic — which means it causes cancer.
4. Avoid refined white flour and sugar. You probably already know about sugar, but guess what, white flour is bad for you too. And we're eating more of it now than ever. White flour and sugar contribute to tooth decay, crooked teeth, auto-immune disorders, autism, diabetes, etc. etc.
Not only are they empty calories but they actually block mineral absorption in the body.
There are plenty of healthy sweeteners to use in place of refined sugar. Raw honey, molasses, sucanat, coconut or palm sugar, maple syrup — just to name a few. When I make ice cream with maple syrup or cake with palm sugar, my family cannot tell the difference. — where to buy honey;where to buy sucanat;where to buy coconut sugar;where to buy maple syrup
For flour, try sprouted flour (I recommend To Your Health Sprouted Bread & Flour). You can also soak your flour to minimize phytic acid (that's what blocks the mineral absorption) and ease digestion. See Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats for recipes that involve soaking grains.
5. Eat more fat. Healthy traditional fats, that is. Eat more butter, cream, lard, beef tallow, olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, bacon grease, duck, goose and chicken fat. Avoid vegetable oil, canola oil, soybean oil, and cottonseed oil. Avoid all margarines and shortenings. — where to buy coconut oil
Also, avoid cheap olive oil (get the good stuff) since most olive oil is cut with cheap oils.
If possible, procure butter and cream and lard from a farm or producer that raises animals on pasture. Grass fed butter and cream is a lot more nutritious than butter and cream from animals in factory farms.
Remember, you get what you pay for. One pastured egg has 5 times more vitamin D than a factory farm egg. And who wants to eat 5 times the eggs to get the same nutrition?
6. Try to eat more fermented foods. Sauerkraut, fermented salsa and relish (I love Zukay brand — you can order relish and salsa online), kombucha, keir, yogurt, creme fraiche or real sour cream, kim chee. — where to buy yogurt;where to buy sour cream;
These foods help improve digestion and absorption of nutrients. They also help to populate your digestive tract with good bacteria (or probitiocs), which is essential to good health. There are amazing things right now about kids recovering from autism and other autism spectrum disorder with the help of changes in diet and probiotics.
A good book is Sandor Katz's Wild Fermentation. Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats also has lots of recipes for fermented foods and drinks.
7. Buy wild fish, not farmed. Farmed salmon are fed GMO corn and pumped full of hormones. You only want to buy wild salmon. If it doesn't say “wild” or “Alaskan”, do not buy it. For detailed information on how to buy fish (and why you should eat more of it), read Nina Planck's book, Real Food: What to Eat and Why.
8. Try to eat at least half of your food raw. Enzymes are the building blocks of nutrition and if we eat everything cooked, we don't get any enzymes from our food.
I'm not talking so much about raw fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are best served as a vehicle for butter or cream (remember, it's the fat that contains the fat soluble vitamins) — or fermented in the form of sauerkraut or salsa.
I'm talking about raw milk, raw milk cheese, raw cream, raw butter, and the occasional ceviche or raw oysters or ice cream or smoothies or Hollandaise sauce made with raw egg yolks.
9. Soak or sprout all your grains — not just your flour. Traditionally, all grains were soaked, sprouted, and or naturally leavened or fermented (i.e., sourdough starter). Not only is the phytic acid detrimental to health, but grains are very hard to digest and damaging to the digestive tract.
Oatmeal should be soaked overnight, just like dried beans. Corn should also be fermented — ideally for at least a few days. See Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats for more information on soaking, sprouting and fermenting grains..
10. Try to eat liver or other organ meats — or shellfish — at least once a week. This was something our grandparents did — it was common to eat liver once a week. Liver and other organ meats — and shellfish — are the most nutrient dense foods on the planet.
One great way to eat liver is liverwurst or Braunschweiger. (You can find this at US Wellness Meats.) If you can't stand the idea of liver, shellfish (particularly mollusks — oysters, mussels, clams — but also shrimp, lobster and crab) is also highly nutritious.
11. Take fermented >cod liver oil. This is another thing our grandparents did. Cod liver oil is extremely nutrient dense, full of fat soluble vitamins, and great for immunity building. I think everyone should take cod liver oil — most particularly children, who need the nutrients to grow strong bones and teeth.
However, not all cod liver oils are the same. Carlson's has the wrong ratio of vitamins A & D. I recommend high vitamin cod liver oil, and particularly fermented cod liver oil. See the Weston A. Price Foundation pages on cod liver oil for more information. The Natural Health Advocates site sells fermented cod liver oil and they offer free shipping on orders over $50.
12. Make homemade chicken, beef or fish stock. Incorporate it into your diet as much as possible. Soups are one thing, but you can also use chicken stock to cook your beans and rice, to make delicious reduction sauces and gravies.
Not only does it boost the mineral content of your meals, but homemade bone broth is extremely healing for the digestive tract and helps the body digest and absorb more of the nutrients you are eating. If you have any kind of digestive disorders or immunity issues, bone broth should be number one on your list of best foods to eat (grains and sugar should be last — and soy should be verboten).
13. Avoid soy. Never before in history have soybeans been eaten unfermented and in large quantities. Soy milk, TVP, tofu, even edamame — all should be avoided. Some soy can be consumed (for example, naturally and traditionally fermented soy sauce) but only if high quantities of iodine are also being consumed (for example, homemade miso soup made from real bonito stock — not the fake MSG kind).
14. If you eat dairy, consume raw dairy, not pasteurized. Raw milk is much more nutritious. Pasteurization deactivates many of the vitamins and all of the enzymes, including lactase, which helps us digest milk (which is why so many people who are lactose-intolerant find that they can drink raw milk).
Raw dairy is also almost always from grass-fed cows (or goats). Dairy from grass-fed animals is not only safer, but much more nutritious.
15. Be easy about all of this. Don't get crazy with it. Just do the best you can. Let yourself have that chocolate chip cookie every once in a while. You don't have to be perfect — you just have to do the best you can.
Remember, every small little improvement you make is part of many little things you do that will help you become healthier. It's the little things that add up over time.
But don't beat yourself up when you screw up. Just do the best you can and take it day by day.
And enjoy that butter!
Photo credit: Pearlzenith on Flickr
This post is part of two blog carnivals: Works for Me Wednesday and Real Food Wednesday. For more kitchen and nutrition tips, visit Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop and for more general tips, see Works for Me Wednesday at We ARE That Family.
(Sorry, Kelly, I guess I'm sleep-deprived and didn't read your instructions very well… these aren't exactly “time-saving” tips — just general nutrition tips. I hope it's OK! It better be… because it took me a long time to write that… :-P)