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7.31.2012

Baby Steps: Listen to your Gut

My gut is exactly what brought me to traditional foods (in more than one way...).  You've heard my story (a few times now, unless you're new, then you can check it out here and here).  Some people think I'm impressionable because, you know, I'm open minded and don't write something off as crazy the second I hear or experience it.  I'll consider or try anything as long as it's not obviously harmful.  But I assure you, I'm not impressionable.  I have very strong ideas and convictions.  Indeed, if I were impressionable I would be easily swayed by ads for butter like substances that are "heart healthy" and low fat food promising to help whittle your waistline.


When I was researching food allergies my reading lead me directly to one book- Nourishing Traditions.  So many different sources strongly recommended this book, so I bought it.  And read it cover to cover.

And as I was reading it, I frequently had the urge to fist pump and yell "yes!"  It confirmed ideas and thoughts I had had my entire life- kids need fat and cholesterol to thrive!  Fat doesn't make you gain weight!  We need to eat whole foods!  Meat is healthy!

Don't get me wrong, there were also many elements of NT that rocked my world, and there are some tenets of the book that I simply choose not to adapt (because it's not a religion, it's just a book... we traditional foodies forget that sometimes, so forgive us!).  For example, the book cites no convincing reasons to avoid caffeine, occasional alcohol, or chocolate, and ignore the fact that many of the traditional societies Dr. Price studied consumed one or more of these substances- in fact, they were used ceremonially, much in the way the very best foods were.  It was Nourishing Traditions that finally made me stop looking the other way on organic vs conventional foods, and how I learned about soaking and souring grains.

Research is great, but one stumbling block many come upon is that research seems to contradict itself daily- one day a study comes out saying bacon is bad, the next day a study comes out saying people who eat bacon live longer.  The reasons for this constant contradiction are reasonable (at least, far more reasonable than the results themselves)- some are due to corporate greed, some are due to narrow minded researchers, and some are due to improperly conducted studies or improperly translated results.  But what we also have to remember is that all studies, when it comes to food, have serious limitations.

Take a study on meat consumption, for example.  How do you study the affect of meat consumption on health?  You have one group eat meat, and another not- sounds simple.  Only it's not.  Are both groups consuming the same number of calories?  What are the non-meat eaters eating to replace the meat?  What else are they eating?  What kind of meat?  Are there other health affecting factors (pre-existing conditions, smoking, etc)?

So what does one do when one can't trust all the studies (because that would leave us nothing to eat!)?  One looks at what healthy populations ate before there were studies.  One makes informed choices.  And one follows.... one's gut.  Yeah, I'll cut out the "one" nonsense now.

There is no one right way to eat.  Yep, I just said that.  You have to do your own legwork and follow your own gut.  I'm not talking about the gut that wants to rely on convenience foods, or the gut that hates to do dishes... I'm talking about the gut that wants your children to be healthy, to grow and thrive.  And you have to avoid dogmatic, ethical, or other definitive statements that affect your diet, at least if you have kids.  Because sacrificing your health for the sake of ethics is one thing, but sacrificing your kids' is a whole other story.  Be open to change- you might feel one way of eating is right for your family now, but you may need to alter it in a few months or a year.  Listen- really listen- to how you feel.  Are you fatigued?  Do you drag in the afternoons?  Get headaches?  Have digestive issue?  Because feeling anything other than your very best at least most of the time means that something needs to change.  And how do your kids feel- are they whiny, cranky, lethargic, or do they get sick frequently or have skin issues (acne, eczema, etc)?  Kid shouldn't whine all day, and they shouldn't get sick more than a few times a year- don't let yourself dismiss these things as "normal."

I'm basically saying don't listen to me... unless your gut says to:)  While I love information and feel I have a good filter for it as well as a healthy skepticism, I feel that this sudden (in the past generation, I mean sudden in the scope of all of human history) influx of information has freaked a lot of people out- we have too much access to too much stuff, all the time.  Because we are barraged with "professional" advice all day every day I think we have started to doubt our own guts and our own generational family wisdom.  It's time to resurrect that.

This post has been shared at Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday.

1 comment:

Mägi said...

Off to go see if we can get this at our library. If not, guess Amazon might help me out...

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