Note: You’ll notice I don’t use any citations for this post. For today, it’s not about what is or isn’t scientifically proven. It’s about what I’m doing and what works for me.
But if you’re looking for more resources, check out some of my favorite people in the world of nutrition and lifestyle management. Check out their websites, listen to their podcasts, and buy their books. You won’t be sorry: Robb Wolf, Diane Sanfillipo, Liz Wolfe, Sarah Fragoso, and Mark Sisson.
Life is crazy these days. Between the uber amount of traveling for work, coursework for my Heath Coaching certification, training at the gym, supporting a few non-profit causes, loving on my husband, trying to help with the house, yard, and spoiled pets, and some occasional sleep, my weeks move pretty fast.
I'm not telling you this to make you feel sorry for me or to start a contest about who is busier. I'm telling you this because this is Kelsey's Modern Life. I would be willing to bet your life has a similar outline. And we all know that crazy lives can cause some important decisions to get put on the back burner.
In Part 1 of this series, I shared with you the catalyst that ignited my health and wellness journey. When I was diagnosed with MS, I reacted the way most of us do- "What medicine do you have to fix this?" I took that medicine for a hot minute, but I never really felt good. I’m not even sure that I felt better. I still had numbness and tingling, no balance, suffered from brain fog, etc, etc, etc. We all know the difference between feeling better and feeling good.
Good didn't come for me until October of 2011. Good didn’t come until I figured out a way to holistically solve my issues. Good came when I was introduced to the Paleo/Primal lifestyle. Specifically the nutrition side of things. It's pretty simple. Are you ready?
Eat your fill of whole sources of meat, fish, nuts, seeds, eggs, veggies, and fruits. Avoid eating grains, legumes, and most dairy.
We can spend hours, days, and years talking about the ideal ratio of macronutrients, the role of fermented foods and organ meats, and if Paleo cookies, granola bars, and beer are ok. But honestly- it doesn't matter. (Well, it does, depending on your goals and life circumstances, but for what we're talking about today: It. Doesn't. Matter.)
Here is how I eat on a typical* day:
Breakfast: Pastured sausage and roasted sweet potatoes with kale and onions.
Lunch: Soup (I love love love love love soup (love it)), a salad or lettuce wrap, and a side of avocado.
Dinner: Some sort of pot-roast with grassfed butter and sweet potatoes, burgers with sweet potato buns, or dark meat chicken curry with riced cauliflower.
*Typical means when I’m not traveling. I’ll spend time covering what I eat when I travel in another post.
Of course this gets modified based on seasons, activities, and other things that pop up. But here is my thought on food relating to health:
It seems to me that whenever we’re trying to cure an ailment with a holistic approach, the first thing we do is try to add something to our diet to make it go away. For example, adding cinnamon to your diet is supposed to lower your blood sugar, chicken soup will help cure the common cold, and supposedly the acai berry helps fight off everything from cancer to the bubonic plague. And I’m not saying that any of these are bad (I love soup, remember?). But from my perspective, we don’t often take a moment to do some root cause analysis of what is causing us to get sick.
From stress to environmental toxins to a couple of harmless germs, contributors to illness are everywhere. From my experience, highly inflammatory foods are one of the biggest influencers of health. The most common inflammatory foods are grains (especially gluten containing grains such as wheat, barley, and rye), dairy, soy, legumes, and any other highly refined foods.
I’ve found when I eat foods that are highly inflammatory my digestive, hormonal, and immune systems go seriously out of whack. My most common symptoms are acne, brain fog, weight gain, disrupted sleep, and, worst of all, MS symptoms.
I cut out industrial foods that were making me sick. The kind of sick that wreaks havoc on my immune system and breaks my body down cell by cell. The kind of sick that causes inflammation in my gut and decreases my body's ability to digest and utilize key nutrients. The kind of sick that slowly chips away at my life span. And I'm not trying to be dramatic here (it just comes naturally).
And over the past year, something odd started to happen. I went from feeling Good to feeling GREAT. Of course there are more factors that influence this such as stress, sleep, and movement, but nutrition was the cornerstone of this change.
This lifestyle (it is a lifestyle, not a diet) is not always easy. To make this work for me, I spend hours prepping meals and cooking every Sunday. Remember what I told you…. I don’t have a ton of hours in my week as it is. But for me, this is super critical. Eating right goes well beyond looking good in a bikini or getting my deadlift up over 300 lbs. My goal is to be healthy, vibrant, and mobile for a very long time.
We all have goals. We also all have free will. And every time we exercise that free will to go off plan, it has an impact on our goals. Sometimes it’s worth it (frozen custard on a summer night- yes pleaseeeeee) and other times it’s just not (gluten, dairy, soy-filled fast food every day because something else in my life took priority- no, just no).
So I would implore you to consider what your goals are, start thinking about what you need to do to reach them, and own the decision rights to your life. I really think you’ll be glad you did. I am.