Welcome to the final virtual meeting of our book club and our discussion of Primal Body, Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas! (If you don't know...Read More
Primal Body, Primal Mind: Q&A #1
Welcome to the first virtual meeting of our book club and our discussion of Primal Body, Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas! (If you don’t know what’s going on around here, read this post.)
If we were all sitting together in my living room, I’d ask you some questions to get the ball rolling, so I want to give you a chance to share your thoughts before I chime in. One thing I will throw into the discussion, however, is that I la-la-love the list on pages 60-61 under “Yikes! What Do I Do?” The first tip is especially wonderful: “Take time out and focus on being relaxed and calmly present at meal time.” I love that the book includes practical, easy-to-implement advice, in addition to all of the research.
I have lots more to say, but first: YOU! Take a look at the questions below and share your thoughts in comments. Don’t feel pressure to answer all five questions… you can just respond to the ones that inspire you. Or blast us with your thoughts, if you’re really feelin’ it.
- How do you feel about what you’ve read so far? Is it challenging your beliefs? Confirming them? Did you find anything surprising?
- There are a lot of passages that make me feel angry at the current state of our farming industry+government+medical establishment triangle. How about you – did anything you read make your blood boil?
- What are the top three take-aways for you from the first nine chapters?
- Have you decided to make any changes to your habits? What are one or two things you’re thinking about trying?
- Is there anything that you need a little more explanation to understand or anything that left you feeling confused? Maybe, as a group, we can figure it out!
Chapters 1-9 – Monday, August 29 – DONE!
Chapters 10-23 – Monday, September 19
Chapters 24-31 – Friday, September 30
If you’re new here, you’re welcome to join us! Just get a copy of Primal Body, Primal Mind and chime in on the discussion anytime!
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I don’t like to nit-pick, but some things bothered me, so I’m going to get them out of the way right now and then make a separate comment to answer questions!
I know no book is going to be complete, and the inaccuracies are relatively small — but they’re still inaccuracies.
I’m sure there are more than what I found, but the ones I found that made me go look up factual info are:
1. Page 9 — no citation for the “chimps have mostly omega-6 in their brains while humans have omega-3.” I think that would be a compelling argument re: ice age nutrition and our evolution, but there’s no citation at all. Where can I find more info about this? I haven’t checked the appendix yet, but some pubmed searches didn’t reveal much to do with this.
2. There’s no citation for the statement that “the percentage of the Western diet composed of carbohydrates, from all sources, is of a proportion equally unprecedented in all of human history” on page 15. I checked around online and couldn’t find anything that would make that statement — not that I necessarily doubt it, but I don’t know about all of human history, and googling around led me to an edition of the USDA Factbook that shows that in 1909 Americans were eating 300 lbs of wheat flour per capita, as compared to the 200 lbs we eat per capita now. I don’t hear much talk about this. http://www.usda.gov/news/pubs/fbook98/ch1a.htm
Sugar has definitely skyrocketed to insane amounts, though. What a mess!
I also found this publication that talks about how grain consumption is measured and has lots of other good info about grain consumption trends in the US: http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/ip/ip58b/ip58b.pdf
3. Page 67 talks about the enteric nervous system. It states that the gut has more neurons than the brain — this is untrue. The brain has about a hundred billion neurons. A factual statement would be to say that the gut (the enteric nervous system) has more neurons than the spinal column, but it only has a fraction of the number of neurons that we have in our brains. Here’s a fun video on the gut’s neurons: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXx4WTVU34Y
4. This isn’t really a nitpick with the book’s info, but I looked up the paper quoted on page 71.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9217594 “Divergent trends in obesity and fat intake patterns: the American paradox.” While the quote from it is great, the authors unfortunately don’t go far into the nutritional aspects of fat and sugar, but summarize the paradox by saying “These diverging trends suggest there has been a dramatic increase in total physical activity.” Equating the obesity epidemic with simple “you need to move more” logic is definitely not what this book is about. I was hoping for more from the article cited.
5. This really bothered me — the pull quote on page 73 looks like it attributes the quote “Whatever causes coronary heart disease, it is not primarily a high intake of saturated fatty acids” to Michael Gurr in his textbook Lipid Biochemistry. That got me all excited — if this statement is in a textbook, why are we even having this conversation? But it’s not in the textbook. I have the textbook. In the chapters on coronary heart disease, he doesn’t blame saturated fat, but he doesn’t clear it, either.
The textbook is listed in the references — maybe it’s quoted somewhere else, but this quotation comes from the magazine article written by Sally Fallon (reproduced here:
http://coconut-info.com/diet_and_disease.htm). The quote from that article is “Michael Gurr, Ph.D., renowned expert on lipids and author of the authoritative textbook on lipid biochemistry, recently stated that ‘whatever causes coronary heart disease, it is not primarily a high intake of saturated fat.’ He criticized ‘. . . the degree of self delusion in research workers wedded to a particular hypothesis despite the contrary evidence!'” — but Fallon doesn’t cite where this quote came from either in this article or in the original Consumers’ Research Magazine article. Does anyone know when or where Gurr originally said this?
I really appreciate your bringing up these points. I don’t have any experience in critical reading, and tend to be on the gullible side. Then my husband questions everything I say. I’d like to be better able to see inconsistencies. Although, the day I read the first couple of chapters, in which she makes the statement that hunter-gatherers typically spend 2-3 hours a day “working”, I read somewhere else that that is a typical underestimation that is misleading. The point? I don’t really know!
I totally love your comments. There are several places where I would like a citation, and I think your post highlights some of the “careful reading” that’s required with this book. I don’t find these “nit-picky” at all. I’ve read a boatload of “diet ideas” and remember a lot of “science” that turned out to be not so carefully sourced. I think being careful is warrented. That said, I’m really enjoying this book, and think she’s right on with primal body=primal mind thesis.
I LOVE this attention to detail and critical thinking, Shelly. It reminds me of Matt LeLonde’s presentation at AHS — he cautioned all of the paleo peeps to make sure their science is solid if they want to be taken seriously by the scientific community. I think it’s essential that the smart researchers that fuel this movement go beyond the anecdotal to something concrete so we can convince the establishment that we’re right. (YAY!)
Having said that, I think Nora does include a lot of sources for her information — and I like that you’re pointing out areas you think she could be more stringent. Nice brain, Shelly!
1. How I feel about what I read: I like it so far! The only surprising things to me turned out to be the things listed above in my nit-picky post. I’m really inspired to learn more about how humans coped with ice ages and about ice ages in general — I don’t actually know a lot about the history of our planet. And if we’re due in for one — well, living on seal blubber and wild elk sounds pretty great, at least! I hope it’s not soon, though — you’ll need time to write your “Crap, we’re in an ice age!” cookbook, or I won’t survive it. 😀
2. I think I’m so used to being angry about our food practices these days that I didn’t get too especially riled up. Everyday life gets me riled up. Seeing my coworker limp in with her leg in a cast because they “don’t know what’s wrong with it” but they’re giving her cortisol shots — that makes me angry. So many people help their arthritis with simple diet changes. Why not try? It riles me up when I see kids with behavioral problems. We know so much about how autism and ADD are symptoms of gluten intolerance. Why not try it? It’s just frustrating about how this kind of knowledge isn’t more prevalent in our society. I can’t believe people think bagels and whole wheat cereal are health food. At this rate I’m just glad and amazed that anybody finds their way to a foodway that makes sense for them and makes them healthy.
3. I think I’m going to have a lot of take aways from the book. One thing — she says that vegetable oils are to be avoided “at all costs” but it seems to me that other paleo-nutrition people seem to think that while you shouldn’t have them regularly and you should keep your omega balance in check, ocassional vegetable oil indulgences (they fry my nachos in canola oil, okay!?) aren’t a big deal. I might pay more attention to this. Another thing is the whole digestion bit — you already mentioned sitting down and eating slowly, not eating until you have time to actually sit and eat, etc. I’m really interested in applying some of that to my life. Also the sections about good HCl levels in your stomach. I didn’t realize it could impair nutrient absorption to such an extent! I’m definitely not going to be drinking liquids with my meals anymore.
4. Changes to my habits — in addition to the eating slowly, making sure my stomach acid is doing its job, etc. I need to figure out this whole vitamin D thing. I think we all need to figure it out. Since going primal I’ve been MUCH friendlier with the sun this summer and I haven’t burned at all. I haven’t worn sunscreen and I haven’t had any issues. I’m trying to figure out how vitamin D supplementation, if necessary, would fit into my life. What am I going to do this winter? Why doesn’t this chapter examine how ice-age humans got sufficient vitamin D? Or did they not? Lots of questions. Another habit I’m trying to change — shampoo. The whole “There is gluten in your shampoo and who knows what else!” section of the book frightened me. I tried using Dr. Bronner’s for my hair, but it was a mess. I also tried baking soda and vinegar, which worked for about a day, and then the buildup was too much. I think my water is unfriendly toward this experiment, so I don’t know what I’m going to do.
5. I don’t at all understand anything mentioning TH-1 and TH-2 imbalances. I’ve never had thyroid or autoimmune issues (though I’m largely paleo because my mother had so many autoimmune issues I’d like to avoid), so my eyes glaze over when this stuff comes into play. Maybe it’s not something I need to worry about yet anyway? Is anyone who doesn’t currently have autoimmune/thyroid problems focusing on TH levels in a preventative measure?
I’ve been really curious about the oils thing, too. I only eat the good stuff at home, but I have to admit I’ve been a little paranoid, wondering if my once-a-week eggs at Habanero Cafe and once-a-month or so tortilla chips are doing more damage than I thought.
I swear you can pry my non-GMO-blue-corn-tortilla-nachos from my cold, dead hands. My husband would have a heart attack if I told him we had to stop eating those, and we only do it every couple of months!
I have not finished my reading yet, there has been so much going on so I’m only halfway through chapter three, but a couple things I read stuck out to me.
First, the fact that chronic carbohydrate consumption is the cause of most modern ills, and depletes serotonin stores and B vitamins.
After 26.5 years of thinking grains were good for me, it’s still so shocking to find out that they are not.
The other thing that stood out to me was that it’s not our genes that predispose us to disease, but what we eat that acts upon our genes.
Wow. I will comment more once I have done some more reading, thanks again for doing this book group!
I know what you mean about grains! Now that I’ve been on teh no-grain train for 3 years, it doesn’t sound shocking to me anymore. But telling “regular” people I don’t eat grains is like saying I eat babies for breakfast… and then it’s so hard to break the news about why.
hahaha “eating babies for breakfast!” hahaha! I told someone I don’t eat grains at a work bbq and got the nastiest look, then they said to me “so what do you eat?” I was so surprised they thought there was no other food in this world! haha
I’m with ya Lisa – with Irene moving through this weekend and massive power outages (and the book being on my iPad…), I didn’t get through all 9 chapters yet – hopefully in the next day or 2.
I will say that I’m loving the book so far. I think the thing that has stuck out to me the most is this little factoid:
“An article in the journal of neurology states that gluten sensitivity can be primarily and at times exclusively a neurological disease, affecting not only the brain and nervous system directly, but also cognitive and psychiatric illness. So everybody thinks of it as a gut issue, but by the way 7 or 8 out of 10 celiac sufferers actually have no gastrointestinal symptoms.”
I suffer from depression, which, I knew was triggered mostly by food… but this point drove home so powerfully that it’s probably mostly triggered by grains.
As for changing my habits – NO MORE “Cheating” None. It’s just not ok… I really do believe grains mess with my neurology – and I am very much not cool with that.
I also love that we’re all reading this together… so nice to have other like-minded folks to share and talk with. Thanks Melissa for hosting this book club!
The more I learn about what food does to our bodies and minds, the less fun “cheating” becomes. Which, honestly, makes me a little sad. I’m having to reframe my entire idea of what’s “fun” because rewarding myself with a bottle of champagne and pizza really isn’t much of a reward. I feel like I’m kind of mourning the foods that I used to love and needing to find new ways to celebrate. All good, but hard, too.
Wow, I’m already wishing we were only taking it one chapter at a time! There’s going to be soooo much! I’m really interested in the whole climate cycle section. It kind of goes against our pet Global Warming theories, at least in part. Or did I read it wrong?
The gut health stuff is dizzying. I have a hard time reading super technical writing, so I wish it were a little easier to follow, but it is making me want to dramatically back off of irritating foods, just to see what changes.
I’m not sure it goes against the current global warming theories. I found this article from the NYTimes in 2003:
“The next ice age almost certainly will reach its peak in about 80,000 years, but debate persists about how soon it will begin, with the latest theory being that the human influence on the atmosphere may substantially delay the transition.”
#1 How do you feel about what you’ve read so far?
It confirms all of my beliefs since I’ve been a convert for a few years and much of this was inspired by the first version of the book. But I love the new additions to the book – I’m finding this edition to provide more insight on why certain foods are healthy vs not healthy and particularly the chapter on grains/gluten.
#2: There are a lot of passages that make me feel angry at the current state of our farming industry+government+medical establishment triangle. How about you – did anything you read make your blood boil?
As a student of Nutrition, I always get riled up when I am reading things that are totally contradictory to what I’m taught in school – it makes me angry at my school and the state of education for nutrition professionals. We are taught so many things that are completely outdated and scientifically unproven. Specifically, I always get riled up when I’m reading about saturated fat. We are taught that Saturated Fat is the devil’s breakfast which is so out-of-date and wrong…To quote Nora, “your body needs SFA’s and cholesterol and designed to make use of them.” Whenever I read about how cholesterol is not tied to heart disease and that SFA’s are indeed some of the best fats for consumption, it fires me up and makes me want to smack my teachers with a copy of this book. It is ridiculous that we are still being taught things that could potentially be harmful to our patients.
Secondly, the portion on cholesterol and statins makes me really angry because my mom was put on statins by her doctor and when I ask my mom certain questions…ie: did you get your lipoprotein(a) checked? And did they measure the particle size? She says no. The medical industry is so behind in their nutrition education training and they rely on the pharmaceutical industry to give them knowledge which is obviously completely corrupt. Even speaking to my own doctor, she had never heard of tests that look at particle size for cholesterol. Even my school teaches that cholesterol does not cause heart disease!!!
Lastly, the connection between mental health and nutrition is something that drew me into this book in the first place. It fires me up to read about all of these connections when I know from experience (having suffered from depression for years growing up) that the medical establishment is uninformed in this area. Similarly, it’s the pharmaceutical industry that owns this department and they would never want people to know that Depression and ADHD can be alleviated by dietary changes. There is so much that can be done nutritionally to help with mental disorders which is never included in a treatment plan. I thank people like Nora and Emily Deans for bringing this into the limelight!
Now I’m all riled up again!
#3 What are the top three take-aways for you from the first nine chapters?
1. Even a little bit of gluten is BAD. You are either gluten-free or not. It’s like being pregnant….you can’t be kind of pregnant.
2. From p.35 – “It can take many months for a brain-based inflammatory response to an antigen such as gluten to subside.” Scary stuff!
3. Saturated Fat is awesome. Pass the coconut.
#4 Have you decided to make any changes to your habits?
I need to stick to being 100% gluten-free even in ‘cheating’ situations! The odd time some gluten slips into my diet in the form of breadcrumbs from a suspect burger patty, cake or brownies and I need to stop doing this. I am vowing to stop being ‘kind of pregnant.’
It must be REALLY hard to be a student and be studying stuff you know is false. More power to you!
I’m glad you got riled up! WOOT!
And I’m with you: I tend to keep my treats gluten free because the G-word is so scary.
Yes, it’s astonishing how the anthropogenic climate change belief drags on. And yet. We are certainly learning that governments make very poor nutritionists, bankers, parents, and investment counselors … and that government-wedded-to-industry-sponsored science devastatingly can mislead us.
I, too, am angered by the misinformation that has caused so many, who trusted “science,” to suffer and die needlessly, despite their extreme care in following the official whole-grain, vegetable-oil, no-cholestoral line. Wives in my mother’s generation, virtuously cooking with with margarine and vegetable oils, must be appalled to learn they were actually making their late husbands’ heart conditions worse.
I still struggle with the claim that humans require no dietary carbohydrates per se, as Nora says, only protein and fat. This conflicts with the Jaminet’s Perfect Health Diet, which I consider to be as optimal as I’ve yet found. Specifically, I refer to their recent post about Carbohydrates and the Thyroid. I have Hashimoto’s, and feel better with some carbs. Neck swelling actually goes down when I have some rice and starches. In the 8 months I’ve been free of gluten, my thyroid medication has been reduced to 1/3 of the original dose.
I wonder what the “products” are that Nora refers to on Page 43 that can “counteract the inflammatory effects of trace gluten.”
Changes I’ll make … Get over the angst at the dietary crap in our culture, and actively do what I feel is right for me, keeping an eye on results … perhaps get tested for casein sensitivity … make the leap to give up my cup of coffee a day.
Top three takeaways: Gut flora important. Vitamin D issue complex! A thoughtful approach to nutrition is vital!
I too am a Hashimoto’s person.
I’m guessing the product that she is referring to on page 43 is a product by Apex Energetics called GlutenFlam.
” GlutenFlam is formulated to help reduce the effects of gluten sensitivities by helping in a more complete digestion of gluten and casein too. There is no substitute for a gluten or casein free diet in those with these sensitivities but many food contain hidden gluten or casein and GlutenFlam can help in this times. Recommended dosage is 2 capsules with meals or as directed by your health care professional.”
I do not leave home without it and I never eat a meal outside my home without taking a few of them. Although I never knowingly eat gluten, we do not know what restaurants put in foods, even after we tell them we are gluten intolerant.
I learned about it from my ND who is taught by Dr. Kharrazian, Nora Gedgaudas follows his lead on thyroid health as well.
The book is a great read, and I’m getting lots of ideas and strategies. However one item I am struggling with is the difference between hypotheses and facts. Everything seems ti be presented as fact, while many statements are likely hypotheses. And without being able to know the difference, it is hard to know what will be the most successful points to follow. Nevertheless, I find the information fastinating, and I have found lots of success following most of what she presents. I’ll answer the questions and comments in a better fashion once I get power back from Irene!
I wonder about hypothesis vs. fact in all scientific stuff — and I think the answer is that it’s all hypothesis because we’re always learning more. That’s why I really like the practical stuff Nora’s included in the book — and why I’m so grateful to people like Melissa & Dallas of Whole9Life for synthesizing all the current research and making practical recommendations that map to real life.
My main takeaway from the book thus far is how much more there is to learn (for me, about fats) than just meat, veggies, nuts, seeds, fruits. I need to really take notes on the more technical parts to get a good understanding.
I know! Who would have thought fats could be so complicated?! I think the Whole30 Success Guide does a good job of outlining the practical basics, but tweaking requires lots of thinking.
First – Melissa, thank you so much for starting this online book club. I have been looking into reading this book for quite some time now and this helped jump-start me to actually order it (right after your first post!) and read it. I am also very grateful to have lots of like-minded people to discuss with!
And Shelly – I like your nit-picky comments. Reading this book means that we are all already skeptics about what we have been told and taught our whole lives but it is also important to continue to be skeptical and not accept everything as fact (like you posted LisaR). I hope that I can be as good as you and cross-reference some of Nora’s sources!
Now for my comments:
#2: There are a lot of passages that make me feel angry at the current state of our farming industry+government+medical establishment triangle. How about you – did anything you read make your blood boil?
I am absolutely frustrated with the government and medical/pharmaceutical industries. I can’t count how many times I have gone to a doctor and basically self-prescribed myself medication without them so much as examining me. In school I was taught that, “an M.D. is trained to think he knows everything while a Ph.D. is trained to think he knows nothing.” I think I would like to be the latter – especially since all these doctors and the media at large are only telling people myths that are actually making them less healthy!
#4: Have you decided to make any changes to your habits? What are one or two things you’re thinking about trying?
I am coming into the paleo diet/primal lifestyle having eaten little to no meat for the past 4 years. I love love love tofu and I basically lived off of soy lattes from Starbucks. But Chapter 4 “So What About Soy?” has completely reformed me. I went from cheating with soy to seriously eliminating it completely from my diet. Knowing quite a few vegans, I also thought, “Soy is so good for you so it’s not really cheating” but it is! I also feel a little like I am suffering a little from medical student syndrome because so many of the symptoms from soy consumption listed in Ch. 4 I convinced myself I have. Oh well.
Like a lot of you, I also am completely eliminating gluten. I don’t want to be “a little bit pregnant.” I went out and I bought gluten-free toothpaste. Having a little trouble finding other definitely GF self-care products so if anyone finds a good brand, please share! I also downloaded an iPhone app that helps you search GF products by type or brand. I have spent so long not feeling as good as I know I can – both physically and mentally – and I am really excited about what this change will do for me.
And I am also paying close attention to pgs. 60-61. Need to be more relaxed while I eat. And CHEW. I have a super sweet tooth and reducing fruits is already in my goals but thinking about what I am doing to my digestion will hopefully help me kick that habit (at mealtimes at least). And lower liquid intake at meals. Practical solutions that I hope will make me feel so much better.
#5: Is there anything that you need a little more explanation to understand or anything that left you feeling confused? Maybe, as a group, we can figure it out!
I have already decided to supplement with Probiotics and Omega-3’s. I asked a friend who went paleo about a year ago for some help with this but I’m still confused. There are so many brands and (of course) each one advertises that it’s better than the others. Has anyone had more success with certain brands/varieties?
Also, with regards to the Vitamin D issue – what do you guys think about that? Are we all supposed to go tanning in the winter?
And also, just to throw my two cents out there – I work with children with Autism and I have a lot of experience with a gluten-free, casein-free diet, the research out there for children with Autism on GFCF diets, as well as experience with evaluating individuals students of my own while on/off the GFCF diet. I keep a very “different strokes for different folks” approach to this as well as all interventions and in my experience (and in the research overall), it is not shown to be effective in changing the behaviors of children with Autism and definitely not to “cure” Autism. I do, however, have my own opinions about leaky gut syndrome and Autism possibly being caused by gluten- and/or casein-toxicity during pregnancy or during early postnatal development. I have BIG sticky notes every time Nora mentions “Autism.” I sit in so many meeting and have so many parents who decide to try out a GFCF diet, I don’t know what they would all do if they knew I was GFCF too!
The soy thing is hard, no?! Everyone is so convinced it’s good for us — and I had just really started liking tofu when I got the bad news that tofu is, itself, bad news. Now that my thyroid is kerphlooey, I really need to stay away from soy. Thank goodness for coconut aminos!
I’m loving this one! It’s confirming quite a few thoughts that I’ve had on the whole eating paleo / primal thing all along. And I like the fact that she continues to state that if you’re not casein sensitive, it’s fine to have dairy.
It is a bit ironic though, all this talk about eating more meat, when many of the people I’m around are extolling the virtues of “meatless mondays” and eating vegan until dinner. I’m studying to be a chiropractor, and in our nutrition class a few trimesters ago, our prof was ALL ABOUT cutting meat and fats from your diet. It makes me laugh, since I’m eating more meats and fats now and I’m healthier than ever. I love how the author explains some of the more scientific stuff in a more down to earth manner – ie how fats are carried through the body and cholesterols are too!
My top three takeaways thus far have been: 1. eat mindfully and take more time to focus on just eating, not multitasking, 2. keep up the probiotics for better gut flora, and 3. to not be afraid of fats! Can’s wait to get even more into this one!
Jamie, I also eat way more meat(s) now than I ever did growing up. My Crossfitting boyfriend-now-husband converted me. But one thing that really bothers me about eating so much meat is thinking about where it comes from, and the innumberable problems in our farming and processing practices. When I see people promoting a dialing-back of meat consumption in the US, I’ve often heard it attributed to those concerns, and the ecological impact of those practices.
I think that’s why it’s so important to eat organic, grass-fed, free-range meat as much as we can financially afford to do it. It’s better for the animals, the environment, and us. But yeah, I hear you. It’s all inter-related and tough to think about.
Meatless Mondays make me want to smash my face into my desk. And Mark Bitten — fantastic writer for NYTimes — is a big proponent of eating less meat. He has a very loud megaphone, so it makes me sad that someone with as much influence as he has is pointing people in the wrong direction.
I, too, really love the idea of eating mindfully. I like to think about the good things the food is doing for me and have a little life-affirming celebration with a fork.
I haven’t read this book (yet), so I’m not officially participating in the book group, but these comments have convinced me to order a copy and start reading and I want to blurt out a few thoughts I have after reading these comments!
I have been dealing with a lot of internal conflict regarding the Meatless Monday and vegetarian beliefs. I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian for seven years (starting in eighth grade) and then added fish to my diet after I studied abroad in France my junior year and lived with a French family who ate a lot of fish.
My head has been spinning for the last year or so as I’ve discovered the Paleo way of eating – mostly following Whole9 and also reading this lovely blog, as well as Paleo Solution. I was already “avoiding” gluten and dairy off and on and have focused on eating a protein source at every meal (I used to often make meals out of plant sources exclusively). I have added poultry to my diet, but haven’t gotten behind adding red meat, and I don’t know if I will for various reasons.
Anyway, all of this to say that I have been battling conflicts about eating the way all this research says is best for my health vs. deep-rooted vegetarian ideas about what is “compassionate” and environmentally friendly. I definitely still feel confused a lot of times. I wish my body would show me a really clear sign that it’s happier with the Paleo way of eating, but it’s been a really long transition from eating mostly plants to eating animal protein at every meal and my stomach is often pretty bloated/yucky feeling.
Sometimes I feel a lot of pressure, too, because I *want* to be this glowing example of the Paleo diet, but I’m not (yet) and I can’t really try to change anyone else’s diet before I have things working for me.
My dad discovered cancer in his kidney last year and had it removed and, of course, his doctor was preaching a “less meat” prescription. He still eats meat, but not as much, and often attributes that to his healing… disregarding the fact that he also DRASTICALLY cut down on his sugar/carb/junk food at the same time as he was “cutting back” on meat consumption. Argh.
This may be the most discombobulated stream of words, but reading all your well-thought-out and intelligent comments struck a chord in me! Sometimes it’s just nice to throw my thoughts out there into this supportive community and get encouragement, instead of getting the crazed looks from my SAD-following friends and family.
I read the book a few weeks ago while on a road trip. Having read at least four other books this year on nutrition (paleo and otherwise), I wasn’t shocked by much presented in the book.
In the last eight years, I have watched my father’s health deteriorate significantly while under the “watchful” eye of a world-renowned cardiologist. Everything his doctor prescribes is completely contradictory to what is presented in this book as well as other similar books. It infuriates me to no end to watch the process. In addition to his physical health, his mental health has also deteriorated. It seems clear to me that the approach most doctor’s prescribe do not work.
I was, like Shelley (earlier commenter), a bit disappointed by the lack of citations in some areas and the over abundance of citations in others.
The in-depth discussion on how digestion occurs was a piece I had missed in other books. That helped me put some parts of the puzzle together better.
I read Paleo Solution and Primal Blueprint recently, so I wasn’t surprised by much either — but I do like comparing all the perspectives. They’re mostly in agreement, but each author gives me some additional mental trick or idea that further solidifies my belief that this is the right way to eat.
I’m in the process of moving to Austin and am more interested in reading this book and commenting than packing. But, alas, things are busy, and even though I’m burning through the book, I think I’m going to have to read it again. Here are two quick questions I had about her material thus far:
1- she mentions rancid fats but I didn’t find an at length discussion about it. I’ve heard about it in other places, too. Is there a good resource (from her or someone else) that talks about rancid fats, which ones are bad no matter what, and which ones can become bad through cooking and storage?
2- Where did this no fluid during meal time business come about? I know she mentioned it as something to do and digestion and stomach acid, but why?
The only other thing is that the Omega 3 supplementation and Vitamin D sections were a bit heavy or confusing so I need to reread them. I see a few others mentioned that, so I’m anxious to see what everyone says. Otherwise I love her scientific approach and am interested in looking up some of her references.
Re 1. I don’t know anything about that. Anyone else?
Re 2. I’ve read that advice before — that we should drink water between meals, but not drink too much during meals because it dilutes the acids in the stomach. I don’t know the original research or source to support it, however.
Thank you for this book club!
I’m enjoying this very well written book. As of yet, there isn’t anything that is overtly shocking, or new to me. However, it is always nice to “hear” and know that the word is getting out there.
What angers me the most isn’t really anger but rather frustration. We should be able to get grass-fed, free range properly fed meat without having to search for it and “pay through the nose”. It is also upsetting to watch family & friends even after you’ve told them to the detrimental effects their diet is having on them continue on. While reading the book I want to call certain people and read excerpts from the book to them. 🙂
Top 3 take aways – eat more fat, eat more fat, eat more fat!
Definitely going to pay more attention to food combinations when eating. For example no fruit (on account of less carbs) with main meals and with fat.
So far so good.
You wrote: “It is also upsetting to watch family & friends even after you’ve told them to the detrimental effects their diet is having on them continue on. While reading the book I want to call certain people and read excerpts from the book to them”
Amen to that! I highlighted a bunch of stuff I’d like to force-read to a bunch of people. Then clean out their fridge and cabinets and make them eat clean.
I want to buy several copies of the book and send them to a few friends and family members.
#1 I feel a little bit overwhelmed by what I’ve read. I’ve been on a strict Paleo diet since the first of the year (minus a bobble in July) but I feel like I’ve not been doing enough after reading all the ways gluten in creeping into my life. I’m now trying to decide what my cutoff point is going to be.
#2 I’m most frustrated with the medical community and why they do not consider diet a major factor for health. It seems like it’s an after thought. The emphasis is on covering up a symptom through medication and not finding the problem or curing it through diet. I was most shocked at the information of children being prescribed statins as a preventative.
#3 The effects of gluten on neuro-health struck me the most.
#4 I was happy with just being Paleo. I’m not sure I’m going to change anything. I’m curious about supplements, worried about gluten containing products but not sure about changing either. Sometimes I can’t help but feel that this level of commitment is radical and only a fringe group follow these ideas.
#5 I suppose I’m curious about supplements. What are people taking, do they think it’s making a difference?
Robin, I take some of the supplements mentioned in the book and others that are not. I take fish oil, CLA, ALA, Acetyl-L-Cartenine, Glutamine, GABA, SAMe, BCAAs, 5-HTP, melatonin and CoQ-10.
Taking glutamine and other BCAAs have helped me build muscle. I take 5-HTP, melatonin and GABA before I go to sleep and it helps me fall asleep quickly and stay asleep. At my job, we rotate shifts every 6 months and I spend half a year working nights. I use natural sleep aids rather than getting a prescription for a narcotic or anti-psychotic medication.
SAMe definitely helps my moods. I take it periodically. When I find myself feeling depressed and easily irritable, I’ll take it for a few months and then discontinue when I feel like I’ve been stable for a while.
I agree: it’s important to determine the level of “squishiness” we can live with and just live our lives. I can’t make myself nutso worrying an excessive amount about fatty acid ratios and never eating out in restaurants. Finding that balance is the trick, I think — and it’s different for everyone.
As for supplements: I take Natural Calm at night to help me sleep, Vitamin D, and Vitamin C. I have no idea if the D and C are doing anything. And have no idea how I would judge if they are.
Forgot to mention on #3 that I am curious to learn more about fat intake. I had already decided to do more cooking with animal fats but now I feel good about that decision. I would like to know the ways people are getting more fat in there diet.
If you get grass-fed marbled meat, you’ll be getting plenty of high-quality animal fat. I also saw that Williams-Sonoma is selling rendered duck fat, and that sounds AWESOME! I’m going to experiment with that in November when I’m back from Prague.
1. How do you feel about what you’ve read so far? Is it challenging your beliefs? Confirming them? Did you find anything surprising?
It all makes so much sense! I’ve known that something has been going very, very wrong with the food industry and Big Pharma. Each word is like a puzzle dropping into place and the pleasant surprise is that my body is thriving with the switch to living Paleo.
2. There are a lot of passages that make me feel angry at the current state of our farming industry+government+medical establishment triangle. How about you – did anything you read make your blood boil?
Confirmation that what I’ve been questioning is true.
3. What are the top three take-aways for you from the first nine chapters?
Dump the agave nectar, vegetable oil and get Gymnema – I skipped around so not sure if in the 1st nine chapters.
4. Have you decided to make any changes to your habits? What are one or two things you’re thinking about trying?
I did adopt the Paleo lifestyle according to Nora’s writings and research. Since July 9, I’ve lost 22 pounds and my cholesterol dropped to 146 from 240. I cook with ghee and coconut oil; now eating grass-fed lamb and beef rather than just turkey; eating eggs and bacon. Almonds, walnuts, raw pumpkin seeds are now in my cabinets, So Delicious Coconut milk and dairy free ice cream are in my frig. I did buy a pressure cooker and am cooking more and having fun watching You Tube Paleo cooking videos that make me want to cook. The taste of the food is fantastic! Food bill went down.
5. Is there anything that you need a little more explanation to understand or anything that left you feeling confused?
Am I just super-sensitive to regular food to adjust so readily to this lifestyle? Where has Nora been all of my life?
Thanks for the opportunity to share my excitement in reading Nora’s book – I started reading her blog, bought the eBook and then had to have the actual book for reference! I’m all in!
Congratulations on all the successes with changing your diet. That is SO totally awesome. Love to read stuff like that!
1. I am really enjoying this book. I have been Paleo for nearly a year and obsessed with following Robb Wolf and Chris Kresser as well as many others, so none of this is really new to me. I do have to say, though, that while I knew soy was bad, I had never looked into just how bad so that chapter was sort of eye opening and makes me wonder what will happen to my nephew who is being fed soy formula. I guess I was also shocked at the complexity of the Vitamin D issue. I have often wondered how we know that it is safe to supplement. I think someone asked in their comment about whether we should go tanning in the winter, and while anecdotal, I have had friends that say they go in the winter sometimes and it does sort of give them a lift just to have that heat and light (I live in MN – we’ll take what we can get up here)!
2. Everything you mention in your question makes my blood boil. I just feel so powerless sometimes. When I start feeling that way I have to step back and remind myself that I can only take care of myself and do what is right for me, but damn it’s hard sometimes. I was sick for many years (gluten intolerant) and went to countless doctors (including a specialist that told me diet didn’t matter), and their treatment of me left me exasperated and irate. I am now in school for nutrition because I know there are other people out there that are sick who really need help and aren’t getting it from their doctors. Another reader mentioned that giving kids statins as a preventative measure angered her, and I completely agree. I had “high” cholesterol when I was 20 and they tried to put me on statins. I said no and I’m glad I was smart enough then to make that decision (this was way before I knew anything that I know now – but I’ve never agreed with the excess of meds that are prescribed).
3. While I am very careful about reading labels to avoid gluten, I bought something last week that didn’t say gluten-free (the label revealed nothing that would make me worry) and I got super sick. It was while I was in agony that I read the part where Nora said she doesn’t eat anything that doesn’t say “gluten-free.” I won’t be anymore either. That was actually the first time I’ve glutened myself since learning I was gluten intolerant. The other times it’s happened have all been at restaurants, which I will also be much more careful about. I have been avoiding “being a pain” at restaurants, but no more, my health is much too important. My other takeaways are that I need to look more into the Vitamin D issue, and I was kind of shocked that our gut flora weights 3-4 pounds! That’s crazy!
4. I am going to attempt to be more strict with my diet. I know that my gut is still a mess, and while I stay gluten-free as best I can, I am eating way too much dark chocolate and other “paleo” treats. It’s definitely become a regular thing rather than an occasional treat. I eat some raw sauerkraut, but I think I really need to work on fermented foods being a regular part of my diet.
5. I am really confused by the Vitamin D thing. It seems at first like she’s saying not to supplement, but then goes into how to supplement.
In response to some others questions: for gluten free shampoos and other personal care products I really like the Desert Essence brand, which you can get on Vitacost for cheap. I use the toothpaste, coconut shampoo/conditioner, hand soaps, and body wash. Vitacost also allows you to search for gluten free only products. I buy makeup from OrganicDivas.com. Again, you can search for gluten-free products (they aren’t the cheapest though). Vitacost also has some makeup. I really like Honeybee Gardens mascara.
You wrote: “When I start feeling that way I have to step back and remind myself that I can only take care of myself and do what is right for me, but damn it’s hard sometimes.”
I agree! I get so outraged at the misinformation that most people are following as good advice. It makes me really sad, actually, that an overweight person will be “good” by eating low fat, high carb, and exercising to exhaustion… or that a mom will feed her kids “healthy” low-fat, grain-based snacks… all while believing their doing the right thing. It’s unfair to them to be subject to the mainstream misinformation.
See?! I’m all worked up now.
Hi Renae! Thanks for the Desert Essence tip. I DID get some stuff cheap from Vitacost. The coconut shampoo/conditioner, toothpaste, deodorant, hand soap. I like them so much I might get body wash and face wash even though I feel like I don’t “need” them (Dr Bronners works fine), but it’d be nice to smell good! 🙂
First of all, thank you Melicious for giving me a reading assignment! Do you know how long it’s been since I cracked open a book? I find New Yorker articles too long!
I’m enjoying reading this book and me top 3 take-aways are:
1. I must deliberately masticate my food and savor every bite.
2. I’ve gotta invest in some “clean” skincare products. (I’m gonna spend a lot of coin at Vitacost!)
3. I woulda shoulda coulda stopped eating gluten, soy, and vegetable oils a long time ago.
YAY for reading!
Nice use of masticate! And yes, I need to pay attention to that, too. Sometimes I get so excited about my food, I wolf it like a, well… wolf. MUST CHEW.
I’ve been about 90% paleo for a year and a half, so no major surprises, although I always enjoy reading a good primal book and renewing my dedication, if you want to call it that.
I did question one comment in the book – on page 70 – about our ancestors not having heard disease, diabetes, cancer, etc. I recently saw an article/reference saying that ancient Egyptians have been found to have stomach cancer. I’m sure it’s not at the same rate as we have now, in fact it could have been only one Egyptian. But, the point was that cancer isn’t exactly brand new.
Also – page 39 – rice and potatoes can have gluten? I don’t have them often, but that was surprising!
The more I think about it, the more I think the farming industry, government, and medical establishments are in bed together, all counting their millions. It makes me sick… (figuratively and literally, I suppose!) With this knowledge and research about how relatively simply we could make so many people healthier, I wish they’d do something about it. It’s very frustrating, and I’m not sure how to help undo the mess.
There are so many take-aways, but I’ll stick to the major points: Avoid sugar and carbs in general. Eat fat. Don’t drink too much when you eat, and take your time and enjoy your food.
Changes I want to make, topics I want to research:
Figure out this HCl thing – I’m sure there’s room for improvement in that department.
Switch up my probiotics from time to time.
I can’t say I’m going to go 100% no gluten, because I just know I won’t. Just being honest. I’m more likely to treat myself with sugar than gluten anyway, just because I know how crappy (again literally and figuratively!) gluten can make me feel.
I’m curious about that testing she mentioned by Cyrex. I like dorky stuff like that!
Don’t worry about cholesterol levels.
I think it would be good to break down the Vitamin D (and A) chapter a bit more.
Someone had asked what supplements people take, here’s what I take. No, not exactly Paleo, but I don’t live on a farm where the sun shines all year long 🙂
Alive Multivitamin (switching to no iron formula soon)
Cal-Mag (the multi doesn’t have enough)
Folate (going to try for a family soon!)
Vitamin D (only in the winter or if I don’t have any time outside during the day)
Holy Basil and Red Raspberry herbs (help with stress and promoting calm. seriously good stuff, thinking of switching to tea soon)
Magnesium at night, to help keep the digestive system moving smoothly.
Thanks so much for putting this together, Melissa. I try talking to my husband about it, but there’s only so much he will take… He’s still on the conventional wisdom train. It’s nice to hear what other people on a similar wavelength are thinking!
Someone else had mentioned breaking this down by chapter, instead of chunk. That may be a good idea, there’s a ton to dig into!
Lauren, about the Ancient Egyptians and stomach cancer – The Ancient Egyptians were agriculturalists. Agriculture is the basis of Civilization. The staple grains along The Nile were farro, barley and wheat.
Thank YOU so much for participating and for your thoughtful comments.
Y’all are welcome to discuss each chapter individually on this post if you want to… I’m going to stick with our original schedule because I’m outta here to Prague for all of October and want to wrap up our official reading before I leave. But seriously — feel free to comment chapter by chapter.
This is not necessarily about the book, but someone had asked about facial/body products. My Mom had breast cancer last year (one of the things that lead me to Paleo) so she, my sister, and I did a clean sweep of chemically-laden products throughout the house and shower area.
For makeup, check out ewg.org – lists what products contain and how they’re rated.
For shampoo, I use baking soda (1 TB in 1 cup of water) throughout my scalp, give it a nice massage and rinse, every 4 or 5 days. For conditioner, I use vinegar (same ratio as baking soda) and rinse, on the days I shampoo. I also ‘wash’ my hair on off days with a wash cloth, and brush it with a boar bristle brush at night. I just started with the boar bristle brush recently and am amazed.
I wash my face and body with a wash cloth, except for my feet, pits, and privates, I use Whole Foods or Dr Bronners soap.
I clean my house with different amounts vinegar and water. And some baking soda if needed! Really, that’s it. I save so much money on cleaning products now!
Thanks for the suggestions. You’re cleanly clean 😉
As I said above, I’m really enjoying this book and this “club” to hear what people think. I find myself challenged by some of the things in her book, and am really interested in what other people’s experience is. I know that when I ate paleo (Whole 30) for 30 days I felt amazingly better, had many PRs for my lifting and amazingly better wod times. Would that I could put this together again!
I really struggle with eating, and have been/am an emotional eater. I’ve been much heavier than I am now, and I still have a tendancy to binge eat (which makes pale great because I don’t have to count points, serving, meals, etc.) but I still struggle. (Can you say tortilla chips? Fake-y cheese dip? Biscuits?) My main focus right now for eating clean is the primal body = primal mind connection. Wods, sunlight and eating clean are immensely good for my mental health. I have had many up and down emotions with poor eating…I think paleo may prove to be a greater bonus to my mind than my body!
I’ve struggled with emotional eating my whole life and sometimes still have those days where I’m rifling though the cabinet for something to eat that will satisfy the craving — but it’s not hunger, so food can’t fix that particular hollow feeling.
Eating paleo has helped immensely with the emotional eating — mentally and physically. On the practical side, there’s nothing damaging in the house to eat so when I go foraging in the cabinet, the worst I can do is too many almonds 🙂
But eating this way has also helped me separate true hunger from emotional appetite. SO valuable. Good luck to you!
The first nine chapters are a great overview and they are consistent with all of the podcast interviews Nora has given. I’ve had this book on order for months, I think they took the older version off the shelves and I had to wait until this version was released. I heard Nora give a few really great interviews with Jimmy Moore and then I subscribed to her podcast. I’m a big fan.
I’ll be honest and say that I only skimmed the chapter on cholesterol, it’s never really been a concern of mine.
I was really surprised to read about the effects of gluten in hair + beauty products. I’m not at the stage to ditch my products – but it has opened my eyes. I certainly won’t be able to say that I am truly gluten-free any time soon! I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to that point, to be honest. I’m a product junkie and have had less than awesome results from many “natural” products. I kinda feel lousy for saying that!
The biggest lessons, or reminders, that I got from the first few chapters have been the importance of dietary fat and the fact that our body does not require carbohydrates for fuel. It was also a very timely reminder that those little cheats actually have a waaay bigger impact on our health than slowing down our weightloss. That was a huge eye-opener. If I needed another reminder to stay on track (and let’s face it, I could always do with another reminder) then that was it.
I will be changing my eating habits after reading this, I know that I really, really, feel better on a higher fat, low carb diet. I have been tinkering with adding more carbs, but I think I need to dial that back in and focus on the fat. I think I’ll also be taking more care with my supplementation – really trying to heal all of that inflammation.
Great to see so many participants and sorry for lagging behind. The reading has been done for a while – I just need time to sit and think!
I have to admit that I, too, skimmed chapters that aren’t of particular interest to me right now. I also think I’ll probably go back and re-read bits of it to pull out the nuances I missed on the first time through… approach it more like a text I need to learn, rather than a book to read for amusement.
Sorry I’m late to this party. So far, I’m not really surprised.
I’ve heard the FDA is the most corrupt government agency so lies and manipulation of data are S.O.P. I’m sure everyone has heard of a pharmaceutical/agribusiness company called Monsanto. They’re responsible for rBGH, and most of the genetically modified corn and soy out ther and for many years were the producer of nutra-sweet. This might sound paranoid, but I feel like they are intentionally poisoning our food supply.
There is alot that angers me about the farming industry. I was a pescatarian for 4 years and a vegetarian for a year because I objected to the treatment of livestock. At the time, I couldn’t afford to eat organic, free range, grass-fed meat so I thought it was best to eliminate it completely. I was eating alot of soy, however, and believed all the lies about how it was good for you. The pharmaceutical industry really pisses me off. It upsets me that so many children are being medicated. It upsets me that so many people would rather take drugs with so many adverse side effects to treat the symptoms of a disease, rather than go after the causes. I have always believed in diet as preventive medicine.
The top 3 things I’m taking from this:
1. probiotics! A month ago I was given anti-biotics for a spider bite and it completely messed up my digestive system. Being lactose intolerant, yogurt is not an option and there is way too much sugar in many of the vegan probiotic products. I have found kefir made from coconut water at Wholefoods and I found a video on youtube on how to make it yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHMlGJSGWyc
2. Eat more fat! I still cut the fat off my meat after I cook it (and feed it to my paleo pup). My dog isn’t going to like this, but I’m going to eat more of that animal fat.
3. Don’t use sunscreen. I usually only use SPF 25 or 30, because I heard that anything above SPF 50 causes more harm than good. I live in Arizona and work outdoors, so getting enough sun is never a problem. Most sunscreen clogs my pores and I always thought that pimples were a trade off for not having wrinkles.
There are a couple of things I’m going to try. I’m thinking about going completely gluten free, but I’m not sure what to do about all the beer in my fridge. Throwing a party where I’m the only one not drinking doesn’t sound fun at all. I’m also going to give up the sunscreen. I might still use some around my eyes because I’m vein and afraid of wrinkles.
I’m really confused about how much fruit I should be eating. I eat 3-4 servings of fruit per day, but limit that to 40-50 calories at a time. Gedgaudas makes it sound like we should hardly eat fruit at all.
I have to admit, I’m scared by the idea of not using sunscreen. I’m the color of a fish’s belly, and I burn so fast. Plus, I had sun poisoning as a kid, which puts me at increased risk for skin cancer. I’m not sure I can give up the safety blanket of SPF 75. Does that make me a bad person?!
I have a question about her recommendation on Gymnema Sylvestre (sorry if I punished the spelling) – I believe she recommends 4,000 mg to crush carb cravings – will other sites recommend 400 mg – which seems like a significant difference – was that a typo by chance? Thanks
I don’t know the answer to that Terri. If no one else chimes in, maybe I’ll shoot Nora an email and ask her.
Thank you, EVERYONE, for your sharing your thoughts and questions. Hope you’re still reading and gearing up for the discussion on Monday, September 12, chapters 10-23.
Happy reading and eating ’til then!
I love the book. Thanks for the recommendation and the opportunity to discuss.
On page 13 the author states: ” potentially even excess omega-9 fats(oleic acids and olive oils) [can be detrimental]. As far as I understand butter has significant amounts of oleic acid as well despite being largely saturated. How can we eat healthy fats to satiation without eating significant amounts of butter and olive oil.
The link for the composition of butter is as follows: http://bit.ly/rjILxV
Hey, everyone! I’ve had to push our book club dates out a little bit because I’m behind on reading. Hope you don’t mind too much!
The new dates:
Chapters 10-23 – Monday, September 19
Chapters 24-31 – Friday, September 30
Mel (and anyone else interested in not using sunscreen),
Like you, I tend to burn easily, although it has gotten better since switching to paleo, but I can’t be out in the sun much longer than 15 or 20 minutes before I burn. I also have tattoos I want to protect. This summer I discovered a long-sleeved sun protection shirt made by Athleta called their Summer Shade Tee. It has an SPF of 50!
I wore it many times this summer, one day in particular was the hottest and most humid day of the year and I had to be outside for hours. I really didn’t feel any hotter than if I were wearing a sleeveless top – it was like the shirt reflected the sun and heat off me. This was the white color, I can’t say if the darker colors would do the same. (Of course I was still hot – it was miserable that day, but the long sleeves didn’t seem to make it worse.)
Anyway, I highly recommend this shirt. It’s super cute, and it’s on sale right now too. I picked up a second one.
Here’s the link: http://athleta.gap.com/browse/product.do?cid=49982&vid=1&pid=826057
I just started the book, loving it so far. The section on gluten (in the grains chapter) has been a real eye-opener and makes me want to be even more vigilant about hidden sources of gluten. No wonder I’ve felt so much better since giving up grains!
Love this discussion I am behind but catching up in the book. I love the fact that there are others out there who don’t eat grains and also get the “crazy”look. I am going to steal someone’s quote and say pass the coconut:D