Eating Like My Ancestors – My Op-Ed submission to our department’s newsletter

This is the article I just submitted to my Nutrition department’s newsletter. I really hope I effectively described the bare-bones basics of the Paleo diet. It was hard to sum up in so short an article. Enjoy!

 

Eating Like My Ancestors

 

Paleo. Primal. “The Caveman Diet”. There are many different words to describe the way I choose to eat, but not a great deal of understanding about why I choose this lifestyle. For me, eating like my ancestors has greatly improved my energy, digestive health, and skin clarity. It supports my high level of physical activity, and has also helped me maintain a healthy weight without obsessively counting calories or grams of fat. Not to mention, the food I eat on a regular basis is delicious!

So, what is a “paleolithic” diet exactly? For me, eating paleo means the strict avoidance of all grains, especially gluten-containing grains, legumes, soy, low-fat/processed dairy, and polyunsaturated vegetable oils. The primary reason for avoiding these foods stem from the goal of eliminating food toxins such as phytates, lectins, excess omega-6 fatty acids, gluten, phytoestrogens, as well as limiting sugar, food additives, and artificial ingredients. These toxins have become ubiquitous in our industrial food supply over the past few decades, and continue to cause serious health problems for those Americans who consume them in large quantities.

You may be wondering what I actually do eat, since there are so many common foods that I no longer include as part of my daily diet. Every meal I eat consists of some kind of animal protein (eggs, meat, fish, etc.), a copious amount of non-starchy vegetables, occasionally starchy vegetables (depending on my activity level), and some type of toxin-free fat such as coconut oil, olive oil, or ghee from pastured cows. Snacks may be fruit or some nuts, and I try to eat a serving of pastured liver at least once a week, due to its high levels of fat soluble vitamins A, D, and K2.

The majority of my food comes from the Carrboro Farmer’s Market, and I am always sure to check that my animal products are from grass-fed, humanely raised animals that were free to roam their farm. By choosing these types of animal products, not only am I enhancing the nutritional quality of my food, but I am making an environmentally conscious choice, as well as supporting my local economy.

To learn more about the fundamentals of our ancestral diet, I recommend reading the work of Chris Kresser, Robb Wolf, and Chris Masterjohn. There is an abundance of information and research to support the fundamentals of the “paleo” diet; too much to contain in this short article! I hope your curiosity about an ancestral diet has been sparked, and I would love to discuss my dietary choices with anyone who would like to know more.

Selected Resources:

Chris Kresser’s “The Healthy Skeptic” http://chriskresser.com

Robb Wolf’s Paleo Solution http://robbwolf.com/

Chris Masterjohn’s “The Daily Lipid” http://blog.cholesterol-and-health.com/

  • Hannah

    Laura, Thank you for writing this article! It is a wonderful way to share with others why we eat the paleo diet. I really enjoyed reading it.

  • http://twitter.com/bkaellner Brad

    I’d like to echo Hannah’s comment. I’m curious to know how your department responds… keep us posted!

  • http://www.facebook.com/vanderpoolrosario Rachel A. Vanderpool Rosario

    Laura- I’m curious if any particular events sparked the desire/need to write a letter to your department. Any fears of retaliation? Just curious.

    I’ve been Paleo for nearly 4 years and couldn’t imagine living any other way. I’ve also experienced amazing healing as a result of eating clean, which motivates me to become a nutritionist to help others. I’ve completed a Whole Health Educator’s Certificate from the National Institute of Whole Health, but I find that I could use much more education (I have a Bachelors in Sociology… not very sciency). After weighing my options, I decided to go for a traditional RD. I know that I’ll be banging my head against a brick wall for the duration of the program, but unfortunately RD license is required to practice nutrition in many states, including my home state of Pennsylvania. What allays my fears is knowing that I can run my practice how I damn well please and that there is a growing body of Paleo RD’s, so I would be in excellent company. I’ve thought about blogging my experience as I go through school, but I’m a little paranoid about administration reacting negatively about it if they find otu. Any thoughts as someone in higher ed?

    • http://ancestralizeme.com Laura

      Actually, the newsletter editor asked me to contribute something, I guess maybe they were low on submissions? Which is cool, because I definitely wouldn’t just put that kind of letter out for no reason.

      I would say getting the RD is totally worth the hassle and mental conflict. As long as you’re practicing evidence based nutrition, no one can really say anything to you. I don’t think I’m quite worried about how my administration would react. I mean, not only are they really open to alternative ideas, but I just don’t know what they could possibly say about my blog. If I’m doing the work that’s required and passing the tests, I don’t know if having a Paleo blog would be grounds for any disciplinary action.

      You never know though, so its better safe than sorry. Of course thats exactly opposite of what I’m doing, but I feel that I’m not saying anything that doesn’t have a large body of evidence to back it up. That’s just my opinion. :)

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