Project Weight Loss
First, Deep Nutrition has changed the direction Project Weight Loss because it has inspired me to start looking beyond calories. I still believe there is value in counting calories if you are looking to lose weight and you’re struggling with slow or no progress. After nearly 10 weeks of calorie counting here, I know what portions sizes are supposed to look like and have been reminded about how quickly calories can add up and sabotage weight loss efforts, even when you’re eating well.
But now, I’m ready to just eat again. Even though my initial weight loss goal was to get back into the low 130’s – I’m feeling a bit more patient with myself and am content to hang out in the upper 130’s while I play around some of the ideas and concepts presented in Deep Nutrition. These concepts aren’t anything new under the sun – healthy fats, quality protein, minimum carbs. This is not a weight loss book, weight loss is just an added bonus to eating the way Dr. Catherine Shanahan describes.
Much of my interest in this was sparked by the positive outcomes I had (and have continued to have!) with my experiments with coconut oil. I wanted to know more about the ways that saturated fat is actually GOOD for us. This book talks about the importance of healthy fats and protein in our diet while keeping unhealthy fats, grains and sugar to a minimum. Eating fewer carbs has always proved to keeps sugar and carb cravings away, so I find it’s worth the initial effort because eventually it becomes nearly effortless to avoid grains and sugar the majority of the time. Then, in theory, weight loss should become effortless too.
Except maybe not “effortless” because you do have to eat fewer carbs, and if you’re coming straight off The Standard American Diet, it’s not exactly easy to make such a huge change and have it be sustainable. But in my experience, both now and in the past – you do stop missing grains and sugar when you stop eating them regularly. I have no intention of giving up oatmeal, bread, bagels and cake slathered with frosting forever! Christmas cookie season is nearly upon us! But for now, I’ve definitely cut way back on my consumption of high carb foods over these past couple of weeks here and I do like the way eating this way leaves me I feeling. (Satisfied and good!) Having a reason why (i.e., grains and sugar are bad for our health) makes it that much easier too.
I especially like the thought that eating this way could allow me reach my ideal weight without having to think too much about food or count anything. Easy weight loss and maintenance? It feels like an added bonus after reading about the importance of eating fewer refined carbs in Deep Nutrition.
More on Deep Nutrition
The premise for Deep Nutrition begins with the field of science called Epigenetics. Dr. Shanahan explains early in the book that our diet influences the way our genes express themselves. Basically, our genetic destiny is not set in DNA stone, certain traits in our genes can be flipped on or off based on the foods that we eat and the lifestyle choices we make.
For example, perhaps you have a family history of certain illnesses like heart disease or cancer. According to the research and data presented in Deep Nutrition, it’s possible that these genes will never be “turned on” if you eat the right foods (more below), get enough sleep, stay active, etc.
Dr. Shanahan also explains how the foods our parents and grandparents ate have affected our genes and our health today, and how the foods we eat have a big impact on our offspring as well – bigger than you may have ever imagined! (If you are a young woman who hopes to have a family someday, I highly recommend reading this book before you get pregnant.)
This book is full of fascinating information that I find very motivating when it comes to making change – but in other ways, it’s also downright depressing.
I thought I was doing this healthy eating thing right. I’ve come to see though that there is still room for improvement around here – especially where the kids are concerned. I’ve been far too lenient with processed foods, more specifically, anything containing vegetable oils; WHICH JUST ABOUT ANY PROCESSED FOOD ITEM OUT THERE! Even the “healthier” choices I thought were safe. Oils that I believed were healthy or at the very least “OK” to eat are anything BUT OK. Soybean, cottonseed, sunflower, corn, safflower, CANOLA! Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, BAD! These oils are in just about all of the processed foods that I felt comfortable buying – from the occasional bag of tortilla chips to cereal, granola bars, ALL of the salad dressings I either make at home or buy.
My head just hit the desk so hard it bounced. Knowledge is power? Ignorance is bliss? Please pass the cookies.
To sum this up, Deep Nutrition gives plenty of compelling evidence as to why it is so incredibly important to eat the right foods, get rid of the processed foods (most importantly, foods with added sugar and vegetable oil) and getting back to eating the way our ancestors did.
The Four Pillars
So what are we supposed to eat? Dr. Shanahan writes about “the four pillars of world cuisine”. You can find these four pillars in some of the reviews on Amazon, so I’d like to believe that I can list them for you without the cops blaring their sirens on the way to my house for violating copyright law.
- Meat on the Bone (time to start making my own broth)
- Organ Meat (Liver? Really?!)
- Fermented and Sprouted Foods (think yogurt, Kombucha, sauerkraut)
- Fresh, Raw Foods (at least I’ve been doing something right)
Each pillar is explained well, with all the how’s and why’s and lots of explanations and ideas. In my opinion, it’s all quite convincing – which leads me to my most substantial dietary change of all –
Omnivorous Once Again
I went strictly vegetarian in 2007 because at that time, I believed that a vegetarian diet was the healthiest way to eat. My understanding about nutrition has come a long way since then, and in 2010 I went back to eating fish. Over the past few years as my nutritional philosophies have continued to evolve and change, I’ve come to see that there is a place for animal products in (what I consider to be) a healthy diet. I’ve felt this way for a while now, but I’ve continued to stick with a vegetarian diet because there are reasons beyond personal health to be vegetarian (animal ethics, sustainability, environmental impact) and frankly, it just felt easier to stay a vegetarian.
But now after reading Deep Nutrition, I’ve come to believe that meat plays a crucial role in our health and I do not want to ignore this dietary advice. Other key players in this change of opinion would be Mark Sisson, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Food Renegade, the story of Dr. Terry Wahls (the woman who cured herself of MS with dietary change), not to mention a collection of friends in real life who have mindfully made the switch from vegetarianism/veganism to eating meat again now that’s it’s easier to buy ethically raised beef, chicken and pork.
I’m pretty much done with labels when it comes to the way I eat – I’m not vegetarian or paleo or primal or low-carb. I do aim to be a “mindful omnivore”, buying and consuming meat (and eggs and milk too when I can) directly from local farmers who pasture their animals and treat them with respect. Thanks to the key players listed above, I now understand that when it comes to animal products like dairy, eggs and milk, “organic” is not the same thing as “grass fed” and “pastured”.
I’m going to stop now before this gets any more wordy – but I wanted to put together a post to explain some of the changes that are happening around here, changes that will effect the direction of the blog to some degree. There will still be plenty of vegetable lovin’ to go around, my beloved plant foods aren’t going anywhere! I expect some meat will be thrown into the mix as I get more comfortable with this dietary change, so my apologies in advance to those of you who choose not to eat meat. And I’ll be back with postpartum weight loss updates too when I’ve got something to report!