Hodge Podge: Eating (Or Not)

I promised I wasn’t going to read more books about health and fitness. So I only read five more. In last weekend’s newsletter, I wrote about needing to give up some genres for a while so that I can focus my reading more productively. This is another genre that is going to the back of the line for the time being. For real, this time. So, if you’re in need of some diet/nutrition reading, consider this 2017’s last gasp on that topic!

Bright Line Eating – I had heard Susan Peirce Thompson’s video series and was familiar with her premise: as a scientist, she is interested in how people’s brains respond to food. Her hypothesis is that many people are susceptible to food addition and most of us are negatively impacted by the addictive nature of sugar and flour whether we tend towards extremes or not. Her plan draws on the legal concept of bright lines—hard and fast rules you must not cross under any circumstances—and will resonate particularly well with abstainers.

I have some disagreements with SPT on nutritional grounds. She’s about breaking the addiction and her research is not primarily concerned with trendy food topics like low-carb/paleo/keto/whatever. This means that her diet is strictly no sugar, no flour, but otherwise low-fat and low-calorie—but she does allow for differences in opinion or preference as long as you define your rules up front. I do like the idea of bright lines because I’m the sort of person who needs things like that, and yet I find adhering to SPT’s plan as written leaves me hangry (hungry + angry). A nursing mama of five who is working and homeschooling does not have time for that. So I’m experimenting with an amended version of the diet that allows more vegetables (the diet already calls for about two pounds of produce a day), cuts the grain and fruit, and adds a little more fat. I do value what I learned from the book, and have put several of the suggestions in place in my life, apart from the diet.

Perfect Health Diet – While this book had some good information about circadian rhythms and how to get your minerals and whatnot into balance, I have to admit it sort of threw me that the authors allow starch when eating high fat. Pretty much, for me anyway, when I’m eating high fat I can’t eat starch without dire consequences. But I really like sweet potatoes… And I love rice. Love, love, love it. So I took their advice and added rice back into my diet and promptly regained the 10 pounds I had lost this year plus five extra. Egads. As with most nutrition information, you sort of have to take what works for you and be prepared to personalize if it doesn’t. Read at your own risk.

Bulletproof Diet – This book is by the guy who invented Bulletproof Coffee. And he is selling something. Always. I do think the intermittent fasting idea is interesting, so I tried Bulletproof coffee for a couple of months and used the ideas in the book to skew my diet more ketogenic. After the first week, when I spent a lot of time having blood sugar crashes and nearly passing out (not kidding), I managed to get through the morning with only the coffee. Except I was always starving. The entire time. Even while eating lots of fat. I did not ever get past it. Then I read that sometimes women can’t hack intermittent fasting. At that point, the whole thing was overwhelming me and the intense salesiness of the Bulletproof Media Machine also got to me, so I stopped. But I do like the switch to only grass-fed Kerrygold butter, so we stuck with that.

Head Strong – I read Head Strong because if you pre-ordered it on Kindle you got $25 in free Bulletproof credit, which I used to buy the MCT oil they sell, and that wound up being a good deal. Plus their customer service department was OUTSTANDING when I had an ordering issue. So I don’t regret the purchase, although the book has a major bro science feel. I decided that I really can’t stand Asprey’s writing style, plus I was reading the book on my phone. So…maybe it was me. Anyway, the book is all about mitochondria. Lots of people are into mitochondria these days, and it’s all been said on many podcasts and in lots of blog posts. If you follow many health and fitness people, you probably already know this stuff. Or could get it from other sources.

Fat For Fuel – Not one to be left out of the party, Dr. Mercola wrote a book on the whole ketogenic thing, too. And he also included everything there is to know about…wait for it…MITOCHONDRIA. So you won’t be surprised to hear that I skimmed the first part of the book. However, the second part would be helpful if you want to go all-in with the ketogenic diet. Mercola recommends WICKED low carbs and also low protein. Like, as low as five grams per day, but possibly up to 45 grams of protein IF you are breast-feeding. Honestly, after 12 years of being pregnant and/or nursing, I am not used to eating that little protein. It’s actually really hard to keep protein that low if you’re eating a whole food diet and don’t eat legumes. But it was interesting to consider.

After all this, I really keep coming back to Jonathan Baylor’s simplicity about eating lots of vegetables, moderate protein, and whole food fats. And I think the key for me might be bright lines (although a lower-carb, slightly higher fat version). Because, as Susan points out, when I spend my life thinking about food and diet and when/if I’m going to taste/eat/try/read about some food/diet/hack or not, I’m living enslaved to food. And it’s better to be free.

 

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5 thoughts on “Hodge Podge: Eating (Or Not)

  1. I haven’t read any of these books, but I’ve been reading a lot about gut health and diets that help with that. What I’ve landed on, that seems to be working for me, sounds similar to what you’re doing…no grains, no dairy, no legumes, no refined sugar. I eat meat, eggs, lots of veggies, and 2-3 servings of fruit a day. Plus generous amounts of coconut oil and olive oil. I try to eat something raw and fermented, like sauerkraut or pickles, at least once a day. I’m also getting into kombucha.

    I started eating like this to improve gut health and reduce chronic inflammation (and lose weight) and I’ve had good results in all of those areas.

    This is the longest I’ve been able to stick with any particular “diet.” I think controlling my blood sugar by eating fairly low-carb has helped to reduce my cravings for unhealthy food. I didn’t want to admit it for a loooooong time, but I am pretty sure that I am an abstainer, rather than a moderator. I WANTED to be able to eat everything in moderation, but that just doesn’t work for me, physically or psychologically. It’s so much easier when I can tell myself, “I don’t eat that food any more.”

    1. I eat very similar to you, Melissa (some people are offput by the name Paleo, but it’s what I’ve been calling it for 3 years). I did two years of hard reading about it while we started eating this way as a family and I’m pretty happy with the functional medical community that supports it in one way or other. My husband was much more practical and really got on board when he lost 30 pounds and we all started feeling better. It does make me the resident food weirdo at my church, but not feeling the blood sugar crashes and host of other issues that I experienced all during my 20s it’s totally worth it!

    2. I know what you mean about wanting to be a moderator! So many people say, “but isn’t it healthier/easier/better to just eat everything in moderation?” And I sort of feel like, maybe, but it’s SUPER stressful for me to try to moderate and I just don’t have time for that. Really, if I did have extra time, I wouldn’t want to spend it wondering if I should eat something or not! For me, it’s easier to be an abstainer. That said, when I fall off the wagon, I fall OFF the wagon (and tumble down the cliff!) so that’s a challenge.

  2. I’ve really benefitted from Jonathan Baylor’s book, too. It’s doable–and that seems to be a big part of the daily battle. Also, not being hungry and tired is motivating.

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