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1. Question: Getting Started and Eczema?
Hi! Thanks for your blog. I LOVE it! I have 3 month old twins and I read your archives quite often in the middle of the night while nursing. I found you when I was looking up info on homemade baby formula, which I supplement with. I have 3 questions that are somewhat related:
1. What are the top things you would tell a breastfeeding mom to eat, not eat, or be sure to supplement?
2. What are the first things you would advise someone wanting to begin to eat the way you do. For my family it is a big lifestyle change. We have started in the last year. We buy raw milk, belong to a CSA, avoid foods with corn syrup, buy only wild-caught fish, buy pastured eggs, only buy 100% whole wheat bread… etc. I just started making whey for the baby formula.
I read about soaking beans/grains, fermenting foods, totally avoiding soy, and so many other things on your blog, in the Nourishing Traditions cookbook and other places and I want to do everything, but it seems so hard to make that leap, to make all of these things new habits. So what do you recommend starting with? What is the most important or maybe what things are the easiest to do?
3. Eczema and other skin itchiness — in the last 2 weeks I have broken out with multiple skin issues. Also, I have new born twins and one of the two has really bad oozing eczema all over his head, face and neck. I am breastfeeding and giving them the raw milk formula. Is there anything that you suggest I add or remove from my diet that might help my itchy situation? Might this also help my son? I have not done the elimination diet yet because I was not ready to move to the meat broth formula.
Thank you! I know you are backed up with questions, but Monday is my birthday so I would love it if you could answer one or all of them for me tomorrow, if not thats ok 🙂
I'm sorry I wasn't able to get these answers to you before your birthday. I only check the questions email address once a week to do the post so I didn't see that request at the end of your email.
Congratulations to you on getting your family on the right track! I found this diet when my daughter was just a baby and I am grateful every day.
1. It's not easy to narrow a healthy diet down to just 3 important ingredients. It really depends on what you have access to, what's affordable for you, what your what your family enjoys eating.
When Dr. Weston A. Price traveled around the world in the early part of last century, he found optimally healthy people who were eating very different diets. From Swiss villagers to African tribespeople to Eskimos in Alaska, there was not one food that they all had in common.
But they all ate foods that had one thing in common: fat-soluble activators, vitamins A, D, and K2 (which Dr. Price called “activator X”).
Here are some of the sacred foods prized by the people Dr. Weston Price encountered:
Liver (ideally organic, from animals on pasture)
Egg yolks (ideally from chickens outdoors, eating insects)
Butter and cream (from cows eating green grass)
Fish eggs (the most affordable and easily accessible is wild salmon roe)
Cod liver oil (ideally naturally fermented)
Shellfish, particularly mollusks (clams, oysters, mussels, squid)
Healthy fats (Grass-fed butter, cream, beef tallow, lard or pig fat, from pigs allowed to live outdoors, palm oil, and coconut oil)
I would focus on getting all or some of these foods into your diet on a daily basis. If your family won't eat liver, give them lots of grass-fed butter and cream. If they can't do dairy, feed them shellfish such as clams and oysters as often as possible.
I also really recommend reading Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Dr. Weston Price.
2. When I started eating this way, I focused on improving the things we ate regularly. Since we ate bread and pasta a lot, I switched to sprouted whole grain bread and brown rice pasta. Instead of the organic whole milk and cream we were drinking, we switched to raw milk. We stopped eating cereal altogehter with the exception of soaked oatmeal or homemade granola made from soaked oatmeal, and we started eating eggs and bacon om most mornings.
If I had to drill it down to 3 principles, I would say:
1) Eat sacred foods (listed above) including plenty of healthy fats as often as possible.
2) Avoid/minimize intake of phytic acid and other anti-nutrients in unsoaked/unfermented grains, nuts, seeds and legumes.
3) Eat fermented foods on a daily basis — from fermetned sauerkraut to salsa to sourdough to kombucha, etc.
3. Eczema is primarily caused by a damaged gut. I would definitely do the elimination diet and the GAPS diet. I would switch to the meat broth formula.
2. Question: FDA Food Pyramid and Insurance Companies?
Hi Ann Marie,
Okay, I get why the government's “healthy eating” guidelines are so out of whack — they're being funded heavily by producers of the “foods” they're recommending. But I don't understand why the health insurance companies would also be recommending these same guidelines to the people they insure.
In my mind, they either have to be stupidly clueless, or have an ulterior motive (is there a third option?). I'm pretty sure that the truth about what causes heart disease, diabetes and obesity has been OUT THERE for too long for the claim of stupidly clueless to be possible. That leaves an ulterior motive. But the whole point of a health insurance company is to NOT have to pay out claims, isn't it? If they ENCOURAGE people to eat in a way that makes them sick, aren't they losing money?
I feel like there's something I'm missing here, but I can't figure out what it could possibly be. Just wondering if you had any input that might help
me understand why my health insurance company keeps sending me mail telling
me to eat a diet that is heavy in whole grains/carbohydrates and keep my
saturated fat intake to a minimum, when my experience and years of research
have proven that doing the opposite is what keeps me healthy.
The simplest way to put this is that most humans on this planet are brainwashed. Most people believe what they are told. We don't learn how to question or think critically in school. We learn to regurgitate facts and figures, but we don't learn how to think outside the box or question authority.
So we grow up and we go work for an insurance company or a doctor's office or the FDA. And we go along with the program. We never question what we're told. This is compounded by advertising and the news and other media — we are bombarded by messages from people who want us to believe what they make money from.
This is the main reason I have decided to homeschool my daughter. I value critical thinking, creativity, and an independent mind above everything else.
3. Question: Dextrose in Stevia?
I recently picked up some Stevia at the store and when I brought it home, my husband looked at it and said he wouldn't eat it, because it listed as the ingredients: stevia and dextrose. I hadn't noticed that in the store. Wouldn't something healthy and “natural” not have dextrose added? Did I buy a brand that wasn't actually Stevia on accident? I'm confused.
I looked it up and some stevia brands do use dextrose which is made from corn. Most likely it is GMO corn, so I would avoid any brands of stevia that contain dextrose.
4. Question: How Much Butter Oil/Fermented Cod Liver Oil?
I recently started taking the butter oil/fermented cod liver oil blend from Green Pastures (see sources).
How much should I be taking per day? The bottle says a serving size is 1/2 a teaspoon, but it seems like I've read to take more than that. I am hoping to get pregnant in the near future; does that make a difference in the amount?
On another note, will consistently taking CLO prevent sunburns given the Vitamin D content?
According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, adults should take a maintenance dose of cod liver oil that provides about 10,000 IU vitamin A daily, obtained from 2 teaspoons of regular cod liver oil or 1 teaspoon of high-vitamin cod liver oil.
Children (3 months to 12 years) need about half that (5,000 IU of vitamin A).
Pregnant and nursing women should double it (20,000 IU of vitamin A).
Please read this article for more information.
As far as taking cod liver oil to prevent sunburn is concerned, I really think it is the omega 3 fatty acids in cod liver oil (and other foods, including seafood and grass-fed meats and dairy) that help to prevent sunburn. I wrote about it in this post (see the comments too).
5. Question: Flat Sourdough Bread?
Hi, I've made your sourdough bread recipe about 4 times now, but it just won't get above about 2 inches when I cook it so it looks more like a ciabatta (but denser). I've attached a picture. Any ideas on getting it to rise more? 🙂
How's your starter? It should be very bubbly. I mean really bubbly. Like a sourdough version of Champagne.
If it is not that active when you back with it, your bread is not going to rise adequately.
If you think your starter is active enough, it could also be that you are not adding enough flour and your dough is too wet. Try adding more flour to your next loaf.
Let me know if that works — feel free to comment below and we can continue to go back and forth until you get it right.
6. Question: Separated Kefir?
I tried to make kefir and I don't know if I have done it right.
It has separated – some white stuff at the top – clearish whey in the middle — and white stuff on the bottom.
But it smells super yeasty – like a very yeasty loaf of bread.
When I have bought kefir at the store, I don't remember it smelling like this.
Did I make a mistake?
You did not make a mistake. That just means it has fermented long enough (or maybe a bit too long). When the kefir separates like that, it's the kefir's way of saying, “I'm done!”
Just don't ferment it as long next time, or remove some of the kefir grains so it won't ferment as fast.
7. Question: Help with Meat, Time, Money & Family?
I need some help and thought this might be a great place to seek that help. There are a couple things I would love to get your input on. I am trying to regain my health and lose this tire that has settled itself around my midsection. I don't seem to gain weight anywhere but my middle, and I know that's dangerous. I know what to do to eat in a nourishing way, but I keep coming across hurdles and may just need some sense knocked into me.
1. Meat – I have read Nourishing Traditions and many other books in that same field, so I know how very important meat, eggs, bone broth, etc. are to my health. However, I have a very difficult time eating meat. I have been what I will call a semi-vegetarian for most of my life. I do eat meat, but I eat very little. I primarily only eat chicken or turkey and usually only when it is in unrecognizable form (ground turkey in spaghetti sauce, for example). I have real trouble eating beef or pork without gagging. I drive by a slaughterhouse on my way to work every day and think about the animals and how scared they must be and then that just starts a horrible chain of thought… I know it seems silly, but it is a big hurdle for me.
2. Time – I work a full-time job, a part-time job, and go to school full-time. I know I will feel better once I get my eating in shape, but right now I am so exhausted that I usually don't even eat dinner. Monday-Thursday I usually don't even have a full meal because I just don't have time or energy to cook. I usually work from 6am-10pm and then do homework from 10pm to 1am. I do have some breaks in there, but not long enough to really cook anything. I have a crockpot, but my family usually won't eat what I prepare in it. They say it is overcooked (my hubby likes his meat still talking) or lacks flavor. On the weekends, I try to play catch up on both my work and my eating. By the time Friday rolls around, I feel famished (because I haven't eaten much other than fruit or other starches all week…) and I then eat everything I can get my hands on. I know this is awful and I am having a really hard time figuring out solutions.
3. Money – Our grocery budget is extremely limited. We usually have less than $60 to feed three people for two weeks, so we don't buy anything organic or good quality, unfortunately. I feel like I am focusing more on quantity over quality, and it is making us all sick. Just to give you a little more information, I live in a very small townhome with no storage space. Our “pantry” is a coat closet that I converted to have shelves. I could probably store maybe 8-10 jars of food I've canned, but that's about all there is room for. I have a window garden for herbs, but we can't plant anything outdoors because of our neighborhood regulations. I need tips on making that little budget stretch! I did buy into a farm share this year with another family, so we will be getting locally grown, organic produce and 1/2 dozen eggs (from chickens who peck at the dirt in the sunshine!) each week until November.
4. Family – My mother is a nurse and she constantly tells me that since I am overweight, I need to eat fat-free everything (no egg yolks, fat-free milk, fake butter, fat-free cheese, etc.) and I cringe. The fat=free foods give me terrible headaches. I was over at her house yesterday and she bought us take out. I ordered a baked potato with veggie chili (none of that fake meat – they replace the meat with beans) and started to put real butter on it. She stopped me and told me that I shouldn't eat that because I was fat and needed to get the “fake butter” out of the fridge. She won't listen to me when it comes to food because she's losing weight on the fat free diet and I am not. She seems to simply equate health with weight.
I have been reading, researching, and trying to implement these things because I know they're what are best for my family and me, but I keep coming to roadblocks. I would love to hear from your readers and fans ways to help overcome them. I don't like sounding so whiny, but I am really just out of ideas.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. It is truly appreciated.
Melissa Gilbert from sunny South Carolina
First let me apologize that it took me so long to answer your questions. Your email somehow got lost in my inbox. I'm so sorry!
1. You don't have to eat meat if you don't like it. There are plenty of healthy people who do not eat meat. That said, I believe you do need to eat animal products. So if you don't want to eat meat, eat lots of grass-fed dairy and eggs, plus healthy fats like butter, cream and coconut oil.
Even if you eat grocery store butter and eggs, that is still a lot more nutritious than the fruits and starches you are eating. (And by the way, fruits and starches are what make you gain weight.)
2. I don't know how you have the time to do ANYTHING if you work full-time plus part-time AND go to school full-time. That sounds crazy! Is there any way you can cut down on your hours?
If not, I would enlist the other family members to help you cook and prepare meals.
I would also find ways to make quick, easy meals that are nutritious. As I said above, even butter and cheese and eggs from the grocery store are better than eating cheap junk processed foods. It's easy to fry eggs in butter in the morning. You can buy huge boxes of oatmeal cheap and soak it overnight, then serve with lots of butter or cream.
If your family complains about your meat in the crockpot, you may need to work on your cooking skills. (Usually browning the meat first helps tremendously, then I like to slow cook it in broth.) Intead of watching TV or doing other activities, make it a family night to learn to cook together. My daughter loves cooking with me.
3. There are a lot of ways to cut down your grocery bill but most require cooking. You can't buy processed, boxed and packaged foods and save money. Buying whole grains, dried beans, and other foods in bulk is a great way to save. I also highly recommend cooking with bone broth — it's very economical if you make it yourself, and it actually extends the protein in food.
If your townhome is too small to store things, you may have to get rid of other things in order to make more room for food storage. You can also get creative with how your order food — maybe go in on a bulk buy with a few friends. Or be creative about how you store the food — find nooks and crannies that have hidden storage – like a shallow box that can be stored under a bed, for example.
You might consider joining with a couple neighbors or friends and sharing a chest freezer. Maybe you know someone who has a garage who can keep a chest freezer. You and a couple other friends could share it and pay a small amount to store your food there. Then you could pick up what you need once a week.
4. This one is an easy one in my book. Stop listening to what other people say. Don't ask for their advice, and if they have unsolicited advice for you, ask them kindly to keep it to themselves. It really is none of their business what you eat!
Maybe our readers will have other ideas for you. Please comment below!
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I don't claim to have all the answers. And I love hearing from you guys! If you have feedback on any of the above questions and answers, please share your thoughts n the comments below.
Got a Question?
Please submit your questions to questions AT cheeseslave DOT com. I'll answer your questions every Sunday in the order I receive them.
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