Let’s talk about food. Food that works. Food that nourishes and sustains and satisfies our modern human bodies.
Which are really just caveman bodies with less body hair and better clothes.
Keeping up with food “science?”
We haven’t evolved very far since those primal/paleo days. Which is why paleo is the thing it is now. Because our bodies haven’t kept up with food science, whatever the “F” that is. Dang, our bodies haven’t even kept up with agriculture. Our bodies have no idea what to do with cultivated grains, much less Ho-Ho’s and Crystal Lite.
Which is exactly why when people say things like “Once you hit 50, your body just starts to fall apart,” or “It’s all downhill after you hit 40,” they’re actually right.
It’s somewhere in those years that food science catches up with our bodies. We don’t exactly lose the resilience and reserve of youth. It just gets overpowered by bad choices.
I know. I’ve made lots of those bad choices.
Bad choices/good choices…you decide.
Like choosing to be vegetarian for 27 years and living on grains, beans, bread, pasta and plenty of sugar.
The good news is we can make better choices. Choices that allow our bodies’ natural resilience and joie de vivre to shine again.
I was on that downhill after 50 slide a year ago. Weight going up. Bone density going down. Hormones going all over the place and making me a madwoman who did not sleep. Doctor pushing me to join the ranks of the pharmaceutically dependent.
I had a choice.
For a while I chose resignation. As in, this is just how things go, I might as well accept it.
But it really pisses me off to be in the majority. I’m a rebel and falling into step doesn’t usually suit me. So just because everyone else accepts it as fact that we fall apart after 50, I realized I could choose something else.
Learning how not to fall apart
So I decided to make another choice. A conscious choice to learn how not to fall apart.
I knew it started with food. And I had a sense that I really had no idea how to feed myself. That I’d been relying on intense exercise to keep the baguettes at bay for years.
Bio-Hacking for Non-Hackers
So I got busy with the bio-hacking. Which, for me, just means exploring the newest research and then experimenting on myself. It meant “hacking” my biology with the intention of creating certain results, like losing the belly fat. Or clearing my mind for more creativity. Or returning to my sparkly, happy camper self.
So, I embarked on this bio-hacking journey to reverse that so-called inevitable downhill slide that comes in the second half of life.
I had no idea how to feed myself
Sleep hacks involved some dietary changes. So, I learned how to eat, but not what to eat.
Luckily I do this thing where I pay attention to intuitive “hits.” Those “hits” kept nudging me towards red meat. Someone I trust mentioned bone broth. Another got me thinking about protein deficiency. Paleo was in my face all the time. Or I got invited out to the local grass-fed meat farm store for lunch.
It just kept coming up again and again and, like that important book that jumps off the shelf when you walk through the bookstore. I took the bait and started experimenting with the grass-fed beef and the wild-caught salmon.
I studied. And found mentors and resources. I bought cook books and found a way I could eat salmon. Because salmon is gross, but healthy.
The Magic of Low Carb, Moderate Protein, High Fat
Both guided me to the high-fat (yes, ladies…butter is a health food), moderate protein, low carb lifestyle. And both are well-researched with lots of science behind them. (I went there, so you don’t have to. you’re welcome.)
Low carb means cutting out all my favorite things: grains, beans, sugar. Sigh. I promise you, though, before you click away. You will not miss these things!
Moderate protein means grass-fed beef and wild caught oily fish primarily, with occasional forays into grass fed pork and pastured fowl.
High fat means have at it (in spite of that little voice that tells you it’s wrong and bad). It isn’t. As long as the fat is healthy. Which means no trans fats or polyunsaturated (i.e. industrial) fats. More on this next week.
We’ll go into numbers in just a sec.
I’m never hungry anymore. (Cue angels singing.)
So, it was pretty radical for me, these dietary changes.
And those huge changes which have reaped huge rewards. Not the least of which is that I’m really never hungry anymore and I don’t spend every waking hour thinking about what I’m going to eat next. Which is really a miracle. Because I was basically hungry and obsessed with food for 27 years.
I finally feel nourished and satisfied and I believe that’s why it’s been fairly easy to mostly let go of some of those things I thought I could never, EVER, live without.
When I stick to the plan for 80-90% of the time, I don’t even think about what I’m missing. Because it doesn’t feel like I’m missing anything. Only gaining.
Gaining energy. And better-fitting clothes. And a chipper mood. And heavenly sleep. And well-lubricated, pain-free joints.
And bacon. I get to eat bacon. Woo Hoo! Bacon!!!!!
So, high fat, moderate protein, low carb. Just like our pre-agriculture ancestors used to eat.
A Beginner’s Guide to Hacking your Diet
Here are some nuts & bolts to get you started on the low carb, moderate protein, high fat path. It’s not that complicated and it doesn’t take long to see and feel results. You’re going to have such a happy body that might just reward you with a cartwheel or two.
1. Not everything you put in your mouth is food.
So, stop eating processed foods, even so-called healthy ones. They’re killing you slowly. Seriously. Quit.
Stick with fresh vegetables; grass-fed or wild caught meats; nuts & seeds, especially macadamias; healthy fats (olive oil, coconut oil, animal fats). Go easy on the fruit and try to choose low sugar fruit like berries. Invest in a cookbook, like The Bulletproof Cookbook, where the recipes are simple and tasty.
2. How much protein, carb, fat?
Protein: There are some convoluted formulas for determining how much protein to eat, and everyone has unique requirements with lots of things to factor in. Here’s a link to an article that will help you figure out your specific needs.
Carbs: To lose weight, eat 50-100 grams of carbs/day. (Just google “How many carbs in _______” and you’ll get an immediate answer. To maintain weight, keep it between 100-150 grams/day.
Fat: Don’t worry about it. Really. Go to town on healthy fats from whole sources. If you’ve cut out the processed foods, including industrial oils, then you’ll be fine.
3. About counting.
If this is all new to you, then I suggest you keep track for a couple of weeks, just until you fall into a rhythm of how and what you like to eat and what that’s offering you nutritionally. You won’t have to count forever. Just till you get the hang of it.
Which, incidentally, will be about the same time you realize you feel really good and what the hell took you so long to let go of Triscuits, anyway?
4. Daily Menus.
Keep it simple. This really doesn’t have to be hard.
Here’s what my day looked like in the beginning.
Breakfast: a cup of bone broth and half an avocado. Oh, yes, and Bulletproof coffee.
Lunch: a big ass salad with olives and avocados and nuts, maybe some leftover salmon or sliced beef and hard-boiled egg. I switch up the salad dressing to keep it interesting.
Dinner: Steak and buttered steamed vegetables. Dark chocolate if I need something to finish it off. Or blueberries and coconut cream.
If cooking isn’t your thing, then the simplicity of this will get you through.
Also, with respect to keeping it simple, two words: Trader Joe’s. They sell veggies in bags already cut up and washed. Brilliant!
5. Embrace your inner rebel.
The conventional wisdom about low-fat eating and the food pyramid that is built on grains is deeply ingrained in our collective psyche. Get ready to get triggered when you start venturing into the world of low carb/high fat eating.
You’re going to need some backup for when your old beliefs are challenged.
I haven’t presented much science here because I want to keep it simple and let the results speak for themselves. But I urge you to read The Primal Blueprint when you’re freaking out about putting butter in your coffee or having difficulty letting go of your morning oatmeal. Or when your friends and family think you’ve gone mad.
Sugars and grains spike insulin. And insulin triggers fat storage. This chain of events correlates to diabetes and the downhill slide that’s now happening to children.
It’s science. It will challenge you to let go of some old beliefs. And it will force you to make friends with your own inner rebel.
So, there you have it. Your beginner’s guide to hacking your diet for more energy, weight loss, better sleep, fewer hot flashes, no longer being a slave to cravings.
Start slowly and give yourself plenty of space to mess up.
Or jump into the deep end and make some massive changes right away.
Only you know what works for you.
At any rate, get support where you need it. Experiment. Do your own research. And prepare for life to be magical again.
If you need any support or have any questions, feel free to get in touch. I like to connect and I’d love to hear from you.
Until our paths cross again….be well.