I would be in the middle of my morning workout and then it would hit me. Uh-oh. I’d start to feel suddenly weak, slightly light-headed. My blood sugar was dipping. It was if the needle on my gas tank had abruptly moved from F to E. I would pause the music so I could take a couple of bites from my power bar. Even though I'd eaten breakfast, this scene played out time and time again during my morning exercise class. I just figured I was one of those people who had to eat frequently.
But then a friend of mine told me about a way of eating based on a book called “Nourishing Traditions”. She had had some serious health concerns and she had met the author, Sally Fallon, at some kind of health fair. Sally was literally "glowing," according to my friend. She was a testament to her diet. She radiated vibrant health.
At this point in my life, I hadn’t really given much thought into what I put into my body. I mean, I'd do the obvious: pick Kix over more sugary cereals for the kids, choose juice over sodas, etc. but I primarily regarded food as something to fill up the tank, nothing more.
Still, I checked out “Nourishing Traditions” and it intrigued me. Sally based this textbook/cookbook on the principles of a dentist, Weston A. Price. In the 1930s, Dr. Price took a trip around the world to find the people who had the best teeth---broad smiles, straight, uncrowded teeth and no cavities. What he discovered was that the people who had the best teeth were also the ones with the strongest constitutions. They were well, robust, healthy people. But they weren’t clumped together in one part of the world. He found people who were well all around the world---in northern climes, in Africa, on islands, etc.
What did these people groups eat? Even though their diets were varied (depending on if they lived by the water or inland, the climate, food sources, etc.) they had certain things in common:
- The healthiest people ate the foods of their ancestors---whole, real food. They did not have “westernized” diets--highly processed/packaged with food colorings, additives and partially hydrogenated oils, refined flours, sugars, etc.
- They all had fermented foods as part of their diet (like kimchi, sauerkraut, curtido, pickles, and so on)
- they all ate animal foods (fish, fowl, mammals, insects, and the like), and some portion of it raw
- they all used the bones of the animal and often used it for broth
- their diets were high in fat, and naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals
As a Christian, I value the religious traditions of those who have walked this earth before me. This book helped me to see that there were valuable lessons to be found in the diets of the past, as well. I realized that food was more than fuel to keep me going---it was designed to nourish and strengthen my body at the deepest levels, and to help it function optimally.
I started experimenting with my own diet, following some of the "Nourishing Tradition" principles. For breakfast, rather than having my usual cereal drizzled with a smidge of milk and a few berries, I began eating (and serving my family) eggs, bacon, and cheese. We would have tortillas with peanut butter, bananas, yogurt. To my surprise, no one was complaining or missing Cheerios or mini-wheats! And, lo and behold, I no longer had to interrupt my morning workout for a quick power bar snack. As a matter of fact, I was finding I could last much longer between meals without feeling the dreaded blood sugar dip. And I was feeling satiated in a way I hadn’t before. No wonder Sally was glowing!
I was sold. This little book (I call it "little" as a term of affection; it's actually quite a hefty tome!) revolutionized my relationship with food. It propelled me into the study of nutrition and the field of health coaching. For more information on "Nourishing Traditions" or the Weston Price Foundation, go to www.westonaprice.org.
And please let me know what books you've read that have impacted your food choices and health!