I’ve been hinting at my new approach to eating for weeks now, but as with all serious posts it has taken me awhile to get there because I only have so much time in a week to sit down and type out these high-quality posts.* I wanted to introduce you to my midwife, and my insecurities about my weight, and a host of other things first, but I’ve dragged this out long enough and it’s time to stop teasing those who are curious and tell you all about my new lifestyle.
I was introduced to Nina Planck and her very unique views concerning nutrition (by todays American standards) through an article publish by FitPregnancy magazine (thanks to Kelli Nicole for that treat in my mailbox each month!). The magazine cover announced the header with the usual gimmicky headlines “EAT REAL FOOD: The very best prenatal diet”, but the article title that stated “Simple, fresh, unprocessed foods are your best choices during prenancy. A new book explains it all” made it sound a little bit less like a fad, and a lot more like something I would be interested in.
Although I think raw and vegan diets can certainly be a great choice for some, they’ve never appealed to me as I’m a lover of dairy and the calcium it provides. Milk and meat are my favorite parts of my diet and I have no interest in cutting them out anytime soon, especially during pregnancy, a time when iron and calcium are vital for a developing baby. I grew up in a family of dieters, and the one thing I’ve held firm to is that saturated fat is bad, bad, bad. Meat and milk were always present in our house, but our choices were always the leanest meats and dairy products. I drank whole milk (unpasteurized, delicious!) and ate butter on my toast at my grandma’s dairy as an indulgence, but generally my dairy intake consisted of fat free milk/yogurt/sour cream, throwing away the yolks and only keeping the whites, limiting my cheese intake to the least amount possible, and other typical American practices when it comes to dairy. My dietary focuses were low -fat, high amounts of lean protein, and as many whole grains as possible, although I spent most of my energy focusing on fats and protein so carbohydrates and vegetables often took a backseat. Nina took all of that and turned it right on its head, and I love the changes I’ve made and the new way I’m approaching my diet.
Nina defines real food as old and traditional. Meat, fish, poultry, milk, cheese, yogurt, nuts, berries, potatoes, leaves, lentils, chickpeas, honey, sea salt and all other old foods should be emphasized in one’s diet. Dishes and recipes made with real food like mayonnaise, sausage, dark chocolate, whole grain bread, coffee, tea, wine and beer.
The antithesis of real food is industrialized food, ingredients and recipes introduced into our diet within the last few hundred years. Nina cites white sugar (1600′s), margarine made from vegetable oil (1900s), and corn syrup (1970s). She believes that real food is whole and fresh, while industrial food gives us spray-dried skim milk, powder and pasteurized egg whites, and cattle fed on grain instead of grass. Soybean juice flavored with brown rice syrup and vanilla, vegetable oil mixed with orange dye and other additives and labeled as cheese, corn oil pumped full of hydrogen atoms to keep it solid and sold as the replacement for butter. High-protein bars, low-carb bread, low-fat diary products like cheese, those are all industrial.
The easiest way to know if an ingredient is real or industrialized? Use the great-grandparents test. Did your great-grandparents have access to this ingredient? Did their parents? And their parents before them? If you can answer yes each time, then you’ve found a real food. Marshmallows, jello, yellow oils, hydrogenated oils. Those are new, and thus, industrial.
Sounds pretty easy to accept, right? Not so much. In a society where saturated fat is the ultimate devil, it can be hard to embrace the idea that modern science may not be keeping us alive any longer with the crusade against traditional fats. That Husband is still having a tough time with this, but I think the research that the Weston A. Price Foundation in defense of traditional foods is thought provoking. Read more about their viewpoint on fat here.
From Real Food For Mother and Baby:
Some real foods, such as red meat and butter, have been blamed for modern diseases, especially heart disease. More precisely, experts said that too much fat, and saturated fat in particular, was killing us. On close inspection, this theory, known as the lipid hypothesis, has some notable weaknesses. One problem is timing. We’ve been eating pork and butter for milennia, but heart disease is a modern problem. The first heart attack was diagnosed in 1912. Epidemiological evidence also contradicts the assertion that traditional foods cause chronic metabolic condition. People who (still) eat traditional diets, diets rich in real food–saturated coconut oil, whole milk, and red meat–don’t get fat. They don’t get diabetes and heart disease, either–that is, not until they switch to industrial foods, like white flour and corn oil.
We’ve got sat fat equals bad pretty deeply ingrained in our psyche, so it’s a pretty huge change to make in regards to one’s approach to nutrition. My next few posts will be on foods I’m working on eliminating, introducing (or reintroducing), and the different ingredients/nutrients I’m focusing on.
Anyone else heard of the diet the Real Food Diet? Following it like I am?
*I use the term high-quality loosely, as it seem a bit presumptuous to assume my own writing is high quality.