Food as Fuel

Originally written in 2015

I believe that our health is directly related to the food we eat. I don’t think it is the ONLY factor, but a very large and important factor. Think about it, if you put crappy fuel in your car it runs crappy, right?? Our food is our fuel and affects every part of our body. I’m certainly not perfect in what I put into mine but I do try to be at least conscious of my choices.

I am a believer in real food. I loosely follow a Paleo / SCD / GAPS style diet. I didn’t start any of this out of a trend. My sister has been very conscientious about food for a long time. Her husband is a type 1 diabetic, diagnosed at 18 years old, and her youngest daughter has had many health and diet challenges. She started researching many different types of food lifestyles and told me about the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, or SCD. It basically eliminates all grain, most dairy, and all processed food and sugar. I’ve had a lot of pain and inflammation throughout my body for many years and she thought that something like this would help. At about this same time my husband wanted to lose weight and was having some health issues of his own. I told him about it and asked him to read one or two of the books that I had, Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall and Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Natasha Campbell-McBride. He tried reading them but lost interest quickly. Shortly after, he came across a “new” diet that he wanted to try – the caveman diet, also called Paleo. I was skeptical but when I looked into it I saw that it was very close to SCD. Since he said that it “spoke to him” more and he was motivated, we decided to try it for 30 days.

At first, it was challenging. We had to give up bread, pasta, rice, and my morning donut, muffin, or pastry that I had become very dependent on. We were also very strict about no added sugar. I had to cook almost everything from scratch. Fortunately, we had been cutting back on the bread, pasta, and rice for a little bit already. My husband went dairy-free, including his beloved cheese, as well. After a while, the sweet and carb cravings subsided and it was much easier. After one month he lost 20 pounds and I lost 10. I can’t say I was ever hungry. We didn’t count calories or limit food intake, just changed what we ate. We continued on and in six months he had lost 40 pounds and I lost 20. I wasn’t even trying to lose weight but it was nice to not have that large muffin-top roll and be able to feel good about the slimmer-fitting clothes that I could wear again! As far as health, I gained more energy, lost my mid-morning lethargy, could go longer without eating if I wanted or needed to without having “low sugar shakes”, and decreased inflammation.

That was about three years ago. Today we stick to it mostly but do have a few more “slips” than what we would like. As I said, to begin with, not perfect but at least conscious of my choices, and my body notices when I make poor ones. I’m still dealing with some of the inflammation and pain, but I’m working on other possibilities for that, such as eliminating nightshade plants (eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers). I’m glad that we changed and don’t ever want to go back to eating the way we did before. I’m a huge evangelist of the real food lifestyle and will share information and resources here. I know that not everyone will agree with all of it and that’s okay. As they say, “Take what you like and leave the rest.”

To find out more on your own, here are just some of the books and websites out there:

Specific Carbohydrate Diet

Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall The website is no longer available

Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Natasha Campbell-McBride

Paleo Diet

The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf. This one is more technical.

Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo. This one is more user friendly, easy to understand, and has great recipes.  

Well Fed and Well Fed 2 by Melissa Joulwan. She has a great website with recipes, too;

Nom Nom Paleo by Michelle Tam. Great recipes and humor. She also has an app that is very highly rated, although I haven’t personally tried it.

Other websites: Dr. Loren Cordain’s site, founder of the Paleo movement

and many, many others now!