Friday, January 20, 2012

The Power of Paleo: Products for Your Pantry

In keeping with our continuing theme on better self care, welcome to the next installment on the Paleo diet. Today we are going to take a closer look at the foods to keep in your kitchen.

There is a lot of info for you to chew on in 2012 as I embark on my new healthy life. I hope you will come along.

The Wicked White: From Cocaine to Sugar

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We are almost powerless when it comes to food, says Robb Wolf, author of The Paleo Solution. “Some do better than others, but the reality is our ancestors never faced the types of foods we pack into our pantries. The sugar, the refined carbs. They are completely new and they are addictive,” he stated.

“We worked with a woman who was, no joke, addicted to crack at one time,” he said. “She overcame that addiction only to succumb to a massive sugar addiction. She started working on her food, and in her own words, she found kicking sugar and refined grains to be much harder than quitting crack.”

He continued, “This may sound preposterous, but the same receptor sites in our brains that respond to heroin and opium–the opiate receptors–are triggered by wheat. This combo is made more powerful when there is sugar present. Junk food is really addictive. You need to plan if you want to succeed.”

Let’s Go Shopping

Anyone who knows me knows that I love shopping, and grocery shopping is no exception. So with Robb’s advice, let’s get started.

The first step toward Paleo living is to stock your kitchen with lots of produce and high-quality protein, as well as some healthy oils, spices, and a few indulgences, that will make the Paleo diet a delicious way of life.

Vegetables and Fruit

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When buying produce, Robb recommends focusing mostly on vegetables, with a judicious amount of fruit, especially if your goal is that of fat loss.

Buy organic if possible. “Do not use a lack of organics or a prohibitive price on organics to forgo fruits and vegetables in favor of brown rice or Little Debby Snack Cakes,” he said.

Brown rice, long thought to be a ‘healthy’ grain, is not a health food.

Said Mark Sisson, author of The Primal Blueprint, “If your average unhealthy person were to ask for the top three things to avoid in order to get healthy, I would tell them to stop smoking, to stop drinking their calories–as in soda or juice, and to stop eating grains. Period. Full stop. They really are that bad.”

In order to obtain the fiber you need in your diet, turn to vegetables and fruit.

When buying your produce, Robb advises buying seasonal. “Watermelons are not in season in North America in January,” he emphasized. Seasonal produce is the most nutritious and natural option for you.

Do the best you can. If you have a local farmer’s market, that’s even better. You are guaranteed fresh seasonal offerings at your farmer’s market. You really can’t go wrong with vegetables and fruit. Buy what you love, but avoid starchy foods like potatoes, and eliminate the grains, like corn. Contrary to popular thought, corn is not even a vegetable. It is a grain.

Seafood

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Robb recommends sardines, mackerel, pacific salmon; shellfish such as shrimp, mussels and clams, and the delicate white fish that I adore, petrale sole.

When buying seafood, Robb cautioned, “There are mercury bioaccumulation issues with larger species such as tuna and swordfish. Look for smaller, shorter-lived fish because they tend to accumulate far fewer toxins.”

‘Wild’ fish is definitely superior to farm-raised fish. Look for ‘wild’ when you are buying fish. Farm-raised fish is fed a diet of refined grain products, which alters their omega fat ratios.

As with your produce, if you cannot find or afford wild-caught fish, it should not be a deal breaker. This is one of the common arguments that Robb hears when consulting clients.

“Oftentimes people strive to be perfect just so they can ‘fail’ and give up. Don’t do it–don’t complicate this stuff. Tackle the refinements in steps so you do not get overwhelmed,” he said.

Meat & Poultry

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Seek leaner cuts of conventional meats, such as London broil, pork loin, lean ground beef, and whole or parts of chicken and turkey, like breast and thighs.

Grass fed meats are a great choice. “This typically refers to beef, bison, and similar grazing animals,” Robb explained. “It should mean that all the critter has eaten is grass and similar nongrain feed. Why does this matter? Because grains make critters fat and sick, just like us,” he continued. “The animals get so sick from eating grains, it’s a race to get them fat enough for slaughter before they die from digestive complications.”

Eggs

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Add to your cart some omega-3 enriched eggs. The yolk of the egg, which contains all the fat, is very healthy and provides much-needed vitamin D.

Oils

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Olive oil is “a great source of monounsaturated fats and disease-fighting phenolics and antioxidants,” Robb stated. Robb smartly recommends buying two types of olive oil–an inexpensive one for cooking and a second, pricey version for dressing salads. Pacific Sun olive oil is the brand he recommends for your high-end.

Coconut oil. This short-chain saturated fat is perfect for high-temperature cooking. Look in your health food store, or you can order it from tropicaltraditions.com.

Coconut milk can be found in the Asian foods section of your grocery store. Delicious in curries and stews, coconut milk “has potent antimicrobial action and helps to heal irritation in the digestive tract,” Robb stated. I love eating it with fruit.

Herbs & Spices

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Be sure to stock up on things that add flavor to all the great healthy foods you’ll be eating. Ginger, basil, cilantro, onions, shallots, garlic, peppers, mint and rosemary are a few things to consider while you’re in the produce section.

In addition, load up on dry spices so you’ll really love the way your food tastes.

Little Indulgences

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Because we’re all only human, Robb advises grabbing a few bars of 85 percent dark chocolate, and if you would enjoy a little red wine or a good bottle of Tequila, please do so, in moderation. But don’t forget the limes.

What Belongs In The Trash

Throw away your low-fat granola and your boxes of cereal and cereal bars, energy bars, ‘meal-replacement’ bars.

Even so-called healthy cereals, like oatmeal, or those with wheat or oat or bran, are considered toxic by experts as we learn more about what constitutes a healthy diet for the human animal.

Anything that’s filled with sugar, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, additives, preservatives, chemicals, and things you can’t pronounce should also go in the trash.

Get rid of your pasta, your rice, and your processed foods, and meet me back here next Friday for ideas on how to use your healthy new foods deliciously, as part of the Paleo way of life. I can’t wait for us to get started.

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