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There was a time in my life when I spent every waking moment thinking about food. What I was going to eat, when I was going to eat it, and how much protein I could get in per meal. To put it simply, I was obsessed. And honestly, I’d tell anyone who’d listen what plan I was on and how freaking amazing I felt doing it (spoiler alert, I didn’t actually feel amazing).
Here’s the thing though. When you make the program or plan that you’re following a big deal, it becomes THE THING you’re doing. Also, by the nature of it being a “thing” it inherently has a beginning and an end. If any of the following phrases sound familiar, read on.
“I’m eating low carb so I can lose weight.”
“We’re planning on doing keto this summer.”
“I do intermittent fasting, but I’m taking a break to enjoy vacation.”
As a health coach, I can empathize with those of you really do believe it’s a big deal. After all, you’re changing how you eat, you’re sharing your newfound wisdom with friends and family, you’re marching down the road to a better you. It’s exciting, I get it. Especially when you think you’ve found the secret weapon that will get you to your goal weight or goal-pair-of-pants.
Everyone understands the intuitive power of eating the way our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate for hundreds of thousands of years. Sure, there’s a lot of variation throughout the eons. Changing climates and human migration patterns determined the culinary landscapes available to our ancestors, and the proportion of animals to plants in the diet varied across latitudes. There was no One Diet to Rule Them All, but there were patterns and trends that we can surmise and approximate. And we know what they didn’t have access to: the industrial foods of the modern era.
This way of eating works pretty well for most people who try it. It’s why the Primal Blueprint works, why the paleo diet works, and why, in general, the alternative (and even conventional) health world has increasingly looked to previous eras for guidance and to generate hypotheses on best health practices.
Okay, but what about the diets of your more recent ancestors?
One of the upsides of indoor venues being closed this past year is that a lot of people have (re)discovered a love of the great outdoors. More people than ever seem to be venturing out on the trails, camping with their families, and generally taking advantage of nature. Although avid hikers and campers might lament the busyness of their once-isolated outdoor spaces, I think we can all agree that this is a good thing for society as a whole.
The food situation can be a barrier to entry, though. Traditional camping and hiking foods tend to be high-carb and grain-based, so Primal and keto outdoors enthusiasts may find themselves at a loss for what to eat. Portable, shelf-stable items like oatmeal, granola bars, sandwiches, pasta, and s’mores probably aren’t on your Primal menu. (You can make better-for-you s’mores that are pretty darn amazing!) Never fear. Plenty of Primal- and keto-friendly foods work just as well in these scenarios.
Conventional backpacking wisdom also suggests that hikers need to keep carb intake high to maintain energy and stamina. Not so! Primal and keto diets are ideal for camping and especially for hiking and backpacking. These sustained submaximal efforts rely largely on fat-burning for energy, at least for the metabolically flexible among us. A growing contingent of Primal, paleo, and keto backpackers are demonstrating in real time that it’s not only possible to fuel your outdoor adventures on a low-carb diet, it may actually be ideal.
Research of the Week
Top men and women are hard at work trying to convince you to go on a plant-based diet.
Ivermectin combined with doxycycline looks to be an effective, inexpensive COVID treatment.
Neanderthals ate some starchy foods.
At least across the Southwestern United States, ancient human gut biomes were far more diverse than they are today.
Mental “handwriting” to text.
Ancient enhancement of Amazonian soil quality made by pre-Columbian forest dwellers still persists today.
Hey folks! This week, PHCI’s curriculum director, Erin Power is answering your questions about cheat days, how to handle hunger during intermittent fasting, and the best thing to do when you get the chills. Keep asking your questions over in the Mark’s Daily Apple Facebook group or post them in the comments below. John asked: “I’ve been doing intermittent fasting for a few months and it’s working well, but I get hungry after 14 hours or so. Wondering if it’s best to try to muscle through the hunger when I feel it kick in or should I just eat?” There are several different ways to practice intermittent fasting and they all have proven disease-fighting and anti-agent benefits. There’s the popular 12:12, 16:8, 18:6, and 20:4 methods, alternate day fasting, multi-day fasting, and really any way you can slice a period of time. The best way to figure out which method is right for you though, is to experiment. A longer fast may have worked for you in the past, but the human body is a miraculous and adaptable organism. What felt great at one point might not be in your best interest now. And if you’re feeling tempted to push yourself to resist eating for a few extra hours, thinking more is better, let me remind you that there’s no award given to the person who can fast the longest. You’re also not going to have your IF card pulled if you decide to eat outside your original window. Everything about our culture seems to discourage us from listening to what our bodies are telling us. We somehow believe that other people know us better than we do. Listen, if something isn’t working, my body will tell me, and I trust that. I try to teach my clients the same thing: to trust the signals they get from within; rather than relying on what a scientific paper, influencer, or so-called-expert tells them is going to prolong their life or bestow them with optimal health. So, instead of pushing through the pain (or hunger in your case), what if you took that hunger as a sign? What if you honored your body by listening to your grumbling stomach and sluggish energy levels and gave it the fuel it was asking for? I know meditation is good for me, but I don’t know how to start. I’ve tried to meditate before, but my mind is too busy. It sounds easy, but it feels hard. Not sure what the hype is all about? Find out why millions of people have been meditating for thousands of years. Meditate with us for 21 days, complete with video meditations, a tracker, and community support! How Do You Recognize Your Body’s Signals? Stop a few times a day and take inventory of your body. Identify any sensations going on – what’s happening in your stomach, your jaw, your shoulders, your focus, and your mind. Record the negative and positive feelings you observe, then connect the dots. Is … Continue reading “Ask a Health Coach: What’s Your Body Trying to Tell You?”
June looms. Summer is almost upon us. The sun’s out, people are starting to gather and mingle, the big box stores are stocking charcoal again, and those chicken drumsticks, that tri tip, that lamb leg, and that salmon filet behind the butcher counter are looking good. You feel the pull of the grill. It calls to you. You need to respond—but how to do it?
Not everyone is a grill master. With baking and traditional recipes, you can follow along just by reading. Oven temperatures and controlled gas ranges make cooking indoors fairly predictable. But outside, out on the grill, things get a little wild.
Grilling is more art than science. It’s about feeling the meat, sensing the heat, intuiting what’s happening beneath and above the grill. The wind, the coals, the flame, the air flow, the ambient temperature all affect and determine the quality of the finished product. It’s all too much to plug into a spreadsheet and figure out down to the millisecond. There are no guarantees. So while I’m going to give you the best methods I’ve learned over the years, don’t take this as settled science. You’re going to have to experiment for yourself.