Podcast Episode #90: Paleo Pitfalls – part 2
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1. Sugar, treats, and keeping your goals in mind – plus a quick note on vegan “meats” vs paleo treats
2. Overdosing on nuts! Nut flours, dried fruit.
3. Bacon, all the time. MOAR BACON.
4. Paleo Perfectionism
5. Living a DIET not a lifestyle – and what the lifestyle is, is a conscientious path of learning and moving towards health in a way that accounts for other aspects of health – stress relief, and DIGESTION
If you missed part 1, be sure to check it out here.
Click here to download this episode as an MP3.
The episodes are currently available in iTunes, Stitcher & Blog Talk Radio.
Liz Wolfe: Holy smokes, it’s Episode 90! This is Liz. That’s Diane. Diane, how did we get here?
Diane Sanfilippo: What?! How have I been talking to you for at least 90 hours?!
Liz Wolfe: Oh, my goodness. This is just blowing my mind.
Diane Sanfilippo: It’s crazy. It feels like 100 is a huge milestone, but I think that 104… that’s the 2-year marker, so whoa.
Liz Wolfe: Whoa. You’re not going to know what I’m talking about, but this reminds me of the scene in The Jerk where Navin R. Johnson and Marie are lying in bed, and Navin’s like: The first day felt like five days. And on the second day, you went to visit your mother, so that felt just like a day. I’m going to have to make you watch that because you’ll totally get it.
Diane Sanfilippo: OK.
Liz Wolfe: I just want you to know that my time with you is very special.
Diane Sanfilippo: And it feels like 10 years? Is that what you’re saying? I’m just kidding.
Liz Wolfe: And it feels like a lot longer than it’s actually been.
Diane Sanfilippo: I kind of pride myself on not knowing anything about the cultural references that you make whether they’re new, like vampire fiction, or old or whatever they are.
Liz Wolfe: It’s so sad.
Diane Sanfilippo: I’ve committed myself to not watching Downton Abbey so that I continue to not know what anybody’s talking about.
Liz Wolfe: So when I shuffle down the street in my bathrobe with my pants around my ankles, you don’t get it?
Diane Sanfilippo: Well, that would be funny regardless!
Liz Wolfe: But it wouldn’t mean anything to you.
Diane Sanfilippo: I don’t think I need a TV show to make that funny.
Liz Wolfe: Somebody out there understands me, I know it. I know it.
Diane Sanfilippo: I think quite a few people.
Liz Wolfe: Yeah. My friend Megan understands me. She comes over and watches Robin Hood: Men in Tights and such.
Diane Sanfilippo: Well, that I’ve seen.
Liz Wolfe: OK. All right. Well, I guess that’s common ground.
Diane Sanfilippo: So we’re good.
Liz Wolfe: We’re good.
Diane Sanfilippo: Then we can move on to other updates, right? How many ticks are you picking off of yourself this week?
Liz Wolfe: Well, I picked one off of the door this morning, the door into my house, so I’m going to have to come up with some kind of ingenious way to deal with that. We did spray the beneficial nematodes over the last couple of weeks, but it’s been just torrential rain and just insane… wet basement… you know, just craziness at this new-old house that we bought. And for the last four or five days I’ve been out of the country. I’ve been in Mexico, which was amazing. I got to go with my family, go to a family wedding. It was really great except for the 24 hours I spent with miserable food poisoning, which I didn’t even tell you about that. It was terrible. Terrible!
Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, it sounds pretty nasty.
Liz Wolfe: It wasn’t cute, but at least I was at the beach with food poisoning. And what was funny is that I was actually tweaking the vitamin D section of my book, Modern Cave Girl, available for preorder on Amazon. I was tweaking the vitamin D section of my book from inside a dark hotel room in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. I was like: This is just ironic.
Diane Sanfilippo: Oh, the irony.
Liz Wolfe: Ha, ha, ha. Terrible. But other than that, now we’re back and the goats are coming tomorrow. We are completely unprepared, but we have to go get them. Somebody come over to my Facebook page, Cave Girl Eats, and tell me what to do with these two alpine goats. We have some good, sturdy fencing that we are hopeful about, but we’re just hoping to kind of learn as we go.
Diane Sanfilippo: Will these be pet/milk goats? Or will these be steaks one day?
Liz Wolfe: Ha, goat steaks. One day they will probably be food, but for the foreseeable future, my husband has very high hopes that they’re going to clear all the weeds and grass from our property.
Diane Sanfilippo: OK. They’ll be lawnmower goats.
Liz Wolfe: They’ll be lawnmowers, but they’re alpine goats, so technically they’re milking goats if we want to have them impregnated and do that whole thing so they can start producing milk.
Diane Sanfilippo: OK.
Liz Wolfe: Because apparently that’s required. If you want dairy, something has to get pregnant.
Diane Sanfilippo: Imagine that!
Liz Wolfe: Yeah. Anywho. So what’s going on with you?
Diane Sanfilippo: OK, so I was laughing before because as I was getting set up for this podcast I was like: I have a secret! I’m not telling you about how I’m recording this! And Liz somehow thought that that involved nudity, which it definitely does not!
Liz Wolfe: Come on, I’m not the only one who went there.
Diane Sanfilippo: I’m currently walking on my treadmill desk.
Liz Wolfe: Ahhh.
Diane Sanfilippo: Well, I’m not walking on the desk. I’m walking on the treadmill part.
Liz Wolfe: Not the treadmill desks!
Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. So we’re going to be recording for a couple of hours today, and I am walking, darn it! I will not be sedentary every hour of my day while working!
Liz Wolfe: I hope your brain turns to mush because it cannot process the fact that you’re moving but looking at the computer.
Diane Sanfilippo: Thank you for the well wishes. I appreciate that.
Liz Wolfe: I’m going to be at my rower desk. I’m going to be rowing a 2K.
Diane Sanfilippo: I saw that post. That is too funny. Actually it’s really not that hard to focus. I’m not walking that quickly. And this is totally credit to Chris Kresser because I’m always nerding out and trying to figure out how to sit better or how to not feel so tired every day, and the unfortunate side of being a health blogger/writer/whatever the heck I am is that I’m sitting so much of the day. And days where I’m working on recipe development and cooking and taking pictures I’m definitely a lot more energized just because I’m moving. So even though it’s taking more energy from me, it’s a lot more energizing to actually move cortisol around my body just by being active during the day. And I’m finding that even just getting an hour where I’m walking, even if I’m just doing some sort of Facebook, answering questions, or tweeting or whatever it is for that small amount of time, it’s been great. I definitely won’t be able to do this for 6 to 8 hours a day because I need to plug into a bigger monitor and do some design work and kind of looking at more than just this little laptop screen, but I’m pretty excited to just not be sedentary all day. And I know people are going to be like: Well, why don’t you just go outside for a walk? Because I have deadlines, OK?! So you know what? Come ask me that question when you have deadlines for two books. When I take a break, I really do take a break and I turn everything off and that’s cool, but I’d rather have some way of at least moving around on the days where I’m not in the kitchen and just trying to get some work done. So I’m doing that right now, walking at a maybe one-mile-an-hour pace. But hey, it’s better than sitting.
Liz Wolfe: Very interesting. I think you know that I’m not 100% sold on treadmill desks yet, so you’ll have to let me know how it goes. I’m obsessed with walking.
Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.
Liz Wolfe: I think people know that. I mean, we both are pretty obsessed with walking. And I get that that doesn’t always happen. And you know what I realized, too, in moving out to the country? I have no place to walk unless I want to do laps around my tick-infested property, which I can certainly do, but I used to just leave the house with the dog on a leash and walk 5 miles at a time. I can’t do that anymore.
Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. And this isn’t to take the place of outside walking or getting in touch with nature. It’s really just to take the place of sitting and working. That’s really all it is. For me, I think that’s a fair trade. Luckily I’ve been able to do some walking-the-dog exercise.
Liz Wolfe: Walking the Harper.
Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, lately, so that’s been great because it really does get me outside and a little more in touch with nature in my FiveFingers shoes and all that good stuff. But yeah, this is really just to replace literally sitting and working, not to replace outside activity or other exercise of lifting heavy things. So that’s it.
Liz Wolfe: That was the biggest secret ever that you had to keep from me.
Diane Sanfilippo: Such a secret! Well, it was just a secret because I didn’t want your testing of the podcast sound to be tainted by the fact that I’m walking on a treadmill. I know you heard something in the background and it was just my air conditioning, but I didn’t want you to say: Oh, yeah. I can definitely hear it. You have to stop walking.
Liz Wolfe: I want to do an elliptical… I want to do a swimming, yeah, a water aerobics podcast. Do you think we could work that out?
Diane Sanfilippo: You’re not funny.
Liz Wolfe: I’m not funny at all. I’m definitely not funny today of all days, not funny.
Diane Sanfilippo: OK, so because you were gone the past couple of episodes, I think… was it two?
Liz Wolfe: Yep, two.
Diane Sanfilippo: Why don’t you update people on why you were gone the past couple episodes, and then we’ll just right into the second part of the whole paleo pitfalls podcast.
Liz Wolfe: Oh, yeah, I’ve been gone because I prioritized drinking and partying over… just kidding. I’m totally kidding. I’ve been really, really… no really, wrapping up my book. And it is so close to done. I was intending on submitting it before we went to Mexico, but I’m just putting the finishing touches on the bajillion words this afternoon, sending it off, and then the ball is really going to be rolling. Diane gave me a little bit of a reprieve on the podcasting stuff. It’s funny because it doesn’t take all that long to actually record a podcast, but the work that goes into it beforehand is pretty time consuming.
Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.
Liz Wolfe: You do have to block out time for that.
Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, and the scheduling of it. You anticipate it coming up and you can’t start working on something and then have to break your work right in the middle of the day, so yeah.
Liz Wolfe: That’s a funny thing about writing. Friends have been like: Oh, you just sit down and write 500 words a day. No. That’s not how it works. It basically has to be like a drug binge. I have to be in a dirty basement with all the lights off, just my computer, and write for 14 hours straight without stopping. Completely unhealthy, but that’s how I roll.
Diane Sanfilippo: It’s really hard, and everyone has a different process. And I know how hard that is, so I’m glad to have given you a little bit of a break. But yeah, we’re back, and hopefully with next week’s episode we will be caught up to the point where transcripts will go live when the original podcast is up in iTunes, and when the post goes up on the blogs, we’ll actually have the transcript at the same time. Hopefully that will happen starting with Episode 91. OK, let’s get into topics.
Liz Wolfe: OK, so we’re doing Paleo Pitfalls Part Deux today. Part 1 is very popular, and this all just speaks to the fact that this is not a diet. This is a lifestyle. And that’s what I love about the whole paleo thing, but it’s also what makes it a unique challenge as far as taking care of yourself goes because we’re so trained to think about food and how we eat as some kind of manifestation of a diet or some kind of manifestation of whatever, calories-in, calories-out, or how I’m eating to lose weight. That type of thing. But this whole thing, it’s about health, it’s about healing, it’s about nutritious foods, it’s about establishing a model, some kind of framework that we can use as a touchstone to help us make decisions, but it’s not necessarily going to be this cut-and-dry, diet-book, are-you-on-the-plan, are-you-off-the-plan type of thing. There’s a flow to things that we want to talk about, and we want to really get people comfortable with using their natural inherent wisdom to make decisions, just based on some guiding principles. Do you have any other ideas or introduction to this whole topic that you came away with after Part 1?
Diane Sanfilippo: I don’t think so. I’ll kind of go over what we covered in Part 1 quickly. I’ll just read down the topic list, so if you’re listening this week and you didn’t listen to Part 1, just so you know what we did cover before. We talked a little bit about bringing the wrong mindset, the whole diet-versus-lifestyle, which Liz was just touching on, we talked about that. We talked about how people tend to go low carb sort of by accident because they’re doing the whole meat-and-veggie thing and don’t really pay attention. We talked about carb loading for your desk job, so again a little more on the carbohydrate topic. Hidden gluten and even hidden vegetable oil exposures that people are getting. We talked about calcium sources, dairy and decisions you’ll make around that, as well as alcohol consumption. So definitely check out Part 1 if you didn’t yet. Yeah, I think that’s it. Maybe we can roll right in.
Liz Wolfe: Yeah, funny that I went straight from paleo pitfalls to Montezuma’s revenge in Mexico, given that last alcohol topic. Whatever.
1. Sugar, treats, and keeping your goals in mind – plus a quick note on vegan “meats” versus paleo treats. [14:09]
All right, so let’s start out with Paleo Pitfall #1 for Part 2: sugar, treats, and keeping your goals in mind. And this is really a question of doing “paleo treats” all the time as much as it is just overdosing in general on sugar, whether that’s maple syrup, honey, too much fruit at the exclusion of other nutritious foods, that type of thing. But this idea that I used to struggle with, I think, at the beginning, a couple years back, these paleo treats, these paleo baked goods. I was doing a lot of paleo banana bread and paleo muffins and paleo pancakes, and sure, there’s a time and place for those things, I think they’re not inherently bad, but I think what people do is rather than expanding their repertoire and really getting into these nutrient-dense foods, they’ll try and find replacements, gluten-free replacements made of almond flour, coconut flour, or what have you, and I think that can really stymie people’s progress. So let’s talk a little bit about that. Diane, as a foodie, what are your thoughts on this type of thing?
Diane Sanfilippo: I think the first thing that really happens is that there are kind of a couple of different camps here… well, maybe a few different camps. One, we have the people who have just transitioned to this paleo, grain-free approach, and they’re freaking out that you’ve taken away their bagel and their bread and their pasta and all that stuff. And it’s great that we have things like vegetable peelers that can make zucchini noodles, but for a lot of people, just choosing something different is hard enough. So like what you were saying in the beginning how you tended to do a lot of the paleo breads and things like that, I definitely did the same thing, and again sort of as a foodie and sort of just trying to keep my way of eating and jamming paleo into that template and making paleo-friendly foods fit into that template. I was doing a lot of the coconut flour breads and things like that. I think that what really happens, honestly, with the vast majority of people who do that is that it wears off over time.
Liz Wolfe: Agreed.
Diane Sanfilippo: We’ll talk in a second about people who have specific goals, especially for fat loss and for breaking sugar and carb cravings, but I think that for people who are listening who are worried that their friend who just heard about paleo is so focused on the treats, I just wouldn’t worry about it because in time it wears off. And sometimes I think more so it wears off for the adults. I think a lot of times for the adults who have kids, it doesn’t wear off as much because they’re really trying to keep their kids from seeming like a freak at school so they’re baking more treats and things like that, but remember kids can handle a little bit more sugar in this type of form. It’s not coming from Ho Hos and Twinkies. It’s coming from honey and maple syrup, and hopefully they’re pretty active. It’s just not the same as what those of us who are sedentary and trying to lose body fat are dealing with.
Kind of back to the point of somebody who’s new to a paleo lifestyle who’s making the “treats” or paleo-fying their breads and whatnot with grain-free flours, I say let them do it. Don’t worry about it until the time comes when the person says: You know what? I’ve been doing this paleo thing for three months, six months, whatever, and I’m just not seeing the results that I want to see. At that point, I say send them to one of us to let them know what’s kind of going wrong. I don’t even know that you telling them: Well, all of those paleo treats that you’ve been making are probably not helping, because they’re going to say: Well, you’re the one who told me about this whole paleo thing in the first place, and I was just trying to make it work! You don’t want them to feel badly for doing it. You want to make sure that they understand that that’s totally normal and that it’s OK, but we still do need to recognize that we’ve put three cups of almond flour and a half a cup of coconut oil and all these other things into that recipe, and we forget that that’s really dense food. And it’s not a bad thing. It’s so much more nutrient dense than what you’re getting in, say, a chocolate chip cookie from the grocery store. At least you’re getting it made from fantastic ingredients. But at the end of the day, the density of calories versus perhaps the nutrient density isn’t going to be the same as a grass-fed burger and some avocado and some vegetables would be. That’s what I would really keep in mind there.
I think that when it comes to what people’s goals are, hopefully by now most people listening know that we feel like treats are exactly as it sounds; they’re a treat. And if you’re looking to reach certain goals, especially for fat loss, it’s the kind of thing where you’re on a road trip and as many stops as you want to take along the way will just make that road trip take more time. So I always tell people if you want to get your destination faster, don’t make as many stops, and that means not as many treats, not as many things that are sort of “off-plan” for what we know tends to work the best for people. And that doesn’t mean you can never have a treat. If you’ve been going for three weeks and something comes up and there’s a birthday party, maybe it’s your birthday, and you really do feel like that will enhance the quality of your life, you’ll be happier having that grain-free cookie than not having it, so you have it and don’t beat yourself up for it. You move on. You don’t let it spiral into something that goes kind of out of control. I think that having some rational thought around it and not just letting it become a real food source like you had said, Liz, kind of the to the exclusion of better, more nutrient-dense foods, I think that tends to happen. Because if you bake grain-free cookies – and I can attest to this – they’re going to be your first choice of what to eat, because if they’re sitting there staring you in the face and they’re so delicious, you’re going to pick that over your eggs and bacon. You’re going to pick your grain-free cookies for breakfast. Yeah, I might know about that!
That’s kind of my take on it for those two camps. For the people who are new and it’s just kind of in their little transition time, it’s fine. Let it go. Just let it wear off because it will. And I bet most people listening can identify with that. And then for the people who have the goals – and we’ll get into this a little bit more on the next question, too, I’m sure – but if they have specific goals, if you’re listening and you’re wondering why you’re not reaching your goals, is this you? Are you making these kinds of treats more often than you should? And is it to the exclusion of better, more nutrient-dense foods that would give you a more wide variety of nutrients, not just what you’re getting from almonds and coconut oil and whatnot? More thoughts on that one?
Liz Wolfe: I just love that you didn’t say – not that you ever would – but I love that you didn’t say: It’s not paleo, and that’s why we don’t eat them, because that’s so stupid and annoying, and it’s one of my biggest pet peeves. You’re right. This type of stuff just wears off. It’s part of the transition period. It’s not a big deal, and it’s not the end of the world. It’s not going to kill you. If something hurts your stomach, stop eating it or figure out what’s going on with your digestion if you feel like it is something you should be able to digest and you’re not – and we’ll talk about that a little bit later. A couple years back after I kind of transitioned away from doing a lot of the grain-free paleo treat baked goods, that type of thing, I remember then getting really, really annoyed that people were doing that and labeling them as paleo. And I was really offended for absolutely no reason at all. I was very indignant about it, and I remember writing a blog post that I’ve since taken down that was like: Just don’t even call it paleo. It’s not paleo. Potatoes aren’t paleo, and pancakes aren’t paleo. Like, everybody shut up. Live and let live. This is definitely part of the process. I’ve been there. Most people have been there. I’m going to tell you right now that I’m visiting my parents today and I had one of my dad’s grain-free chocolate chip cookies for breakfast even though I could have had eggs because you’re going to choose that, just like you said. But it’s just one of those things. Don’t fall into that trap of labeling something as not paleo or paleo as the reason why you eat or do not eat it. It’s just about thinking a little bit more deeply when it comes to these things, why we’re using them and where they fall into the grand scheme of things.
Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. I think when a paleo blogger or food blogger labels something that way, honestly you have to realize that it’s for the purposes of search engine optimization.
Liz Wolfe: I don’t even know what that is. Please teach me.
Diane Sanfilippo: The only reason that you might say this is paleo sandwich bread, for example, is for when somebody searches in Google for “paleo sandwich bread.” That’s what they are looking for. It doesn’t mean that that person believes that their bread that they’ve made is “paleo.” It means they want you to find it when you search for that. And I did the same thing. I used to say: Look, it’s not paleo. And you’ll find on my blog I don’t label things as paleo when they’re a baked treat because I don’t feel like that’s the right thing to call it even if it’s right for what people want to find it by searching. But I will say grain-free, because in my mind it is. It’s grain-free. I don’t really think of it that way, but it doesn’t mean that I’m going to hold somebody in this negative light because they labeled something that way because the way I see it, it’s just to help those of you out there searching for your paleo lasagna recipe. What you mean by that is paleo-friendly. What you mean by that is a recipe made with paleo-friendly ingredients that are not grains, not refined sugars and all of that. So that’s kind of where I stand on the whole calling it paleo or not. It’s not that big of a deal, but I definitely had that mindset before, too. I love that I totally called your cookie-for-breakfast thing without knowing it! And also I don’t think I ate cookies for breakfast this weekend, but it’s likely that I had one with breakfast somewhere or as a midmorning snack. Yeah.
Liz Wolfe: Right on.
Diane Sanfilippo: Oh, the one other thing I wanted to say about this, and this is along the lines of the paleo treats thing and how some people get really bent out of shape around people making their breads out of grain-free flour. They’re like: Well, you went paleo. Didn’t you give up bread by going paleo? Wasn’t that the point of going paleo? To give up bread? First of all, nobody wants to give up bread. Get over that mindset! Nobody says: I really want to give up bread. Really nobody.
Liz Wolfe: I really feel like giving up this crack in my cabinet.
Diane Sanfilippo: I really feel like giving up this tasty, delicious thing.
Liz Wolfe: Yes.
Diane Sanfilippo: I’m pretty sure if I were to ask Robb Wolf right now: Do you want to give up bread? I’m pretty sure he would say: No, but this is what I know is healthy for me, makes me feel great, and makes others feel great. So anyway, I know that some people kind of equate that to what perhaps a vegetarian or vegan might be doing by making “meat” products out of soy.
Liz Wolfe: Ugh.
Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, I’ve seen that comparison drawn a few times, like: Well, isn’t that like vegans making chorizo, soyrizo out of soy? And it’s like, well, maybe. I don’t know. But the reality is we’re looking at quality, nutrient-dense ingredients that don’t disrupt our blood sugar or our digestion. That’s really what it’s about. And we’re not – at least I’m not – overly concerned with the fact that somebody wants to replace something. Now, I think it’s very different when you’re replacing meats that carry certain nutrients and certain health values to our body, replacing that with soy, which does not carry the health benefits and also carries some negative effects. It’s a totally different situation in my mind. Maybe it’s not different to other people. Chime in on the comments to this podcast post if you really feel differently about it, but I think it’s a really different thing because we’re basically replacing something that wasn’t that nutrient dense in the first place, that was just sort of acting as this vehicle and delicious sort of texture, we’re replacing it with something fairly equal and, in my mind, better versus replacing grass-fed meat with a soy product. I think that’s a pretty important comparison to draw there.
Liz Wolfe: My mind is just blown with that whole idea.
Diane Sanfilippo: Right?! Sometimes I have good ones, right, Liz?
Liz Wolfe: Every once in a while, man. Boom.
Diane Sanfilippo: Boom. It’s because I’m walking. My brain is firing, yeah!
Liz Wolfe: Oh, my goodness.
Diane Sanfilippo: I just made gun gestures in the air at people walking by on the sidewalk who can’t really see me.
Liz Wolfe: Oh, my goodness.
Diane Sanfilippo: Yep.
2. Overdosing on nuts! Nut flours, dried fruit. [27:30]
Liz Wolfe: So let’s, then, move to this next thing that’s kind of part and parcel to what we just talked about: overdosing on certain foods that may be problematic. And most commonly we’re talking about nuts, almond flour. If you think about it, a handful of almonds is probably about one-eighth of what you end up with almond-wise in any almond flour cookie. That’s a crap ton of nuts once you pulverize them and turn them into flour, so I think it is something to be aware of. Irrespective of the conversation that we just had about paleo treats, there is a very real consideration, something to think about, with regards to how many nuts you’re actually taking in when you’re eating these paleo treats, when you are eating even something like dried fruit, which is really a concentrated source a little bit outside of its natural state. These types of things can be problematic for people. So I guess first of all we should talk about why, and second of all, why could be potentially be problematic just for the sake of information, not for the sake of judgment, but just so folks know what’s up and what they need to know about these types of things. Do you agree?
Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. Why don’t you get started on a couple of topics?
Liz Wolfe: OK, so when it comes to nuts and overdosing on nuts, I think one of the things that some folks don’t realize is that nuts are and can be hard on the digestion mechanically. We forget about that. Sometimes we talk about how nuts are a source of antinutrients, a lower concentration than we would find in grains and things like that, but they can be sources of antinutrients, which is why a lot of folks will soak their nuts and you can… I’m sorry but every time I say the word “nuts” multiple times in a sentence, I want to giggle. I can’t help it.
Diane Sanfilippo: I’m giggling. I’m just muted.
Liz Wolfe: We’ll just say almonds as a proxy for all other (ahem) nuts. For example, you can Google something like “soaking nuts and why” and things like that. We don’t have to get into it too much on this podcast. But nuts can also be mechanically hard on the digestion. For example, people with Crohn’s or IBS or any kind of digestive issue can actually find that nuts will just irritate physically the digestive lining, and that partially has to do with not chewing them well. I think there’s a little bit less of a problem when you’re doing, for example, almond flour that’s really, really well pulverized, but it can still be a little bit of a problem. When you’re actually just eating handfuls of almonds or what have you, for the most part, we’re not going to chew those as well as they need to be chewed to be passed through unnoticed, so I think a lot of people will notice changes in their digestion, changes in their poop. Diane, you’re the poop lady, and you can kind of speak to that as well. But just in general, I think nuts can be hard on the digestion, and dried fruit can as well. When I run a train on some dried mango, I am really confusing my gut bacteria. They feed on fiber, and I can get a little gassy when I eat a little too much dried fruit, a little too much sugar. What are your thoughts on that type of stuff and how it can change digestion and what to look for?
Diane Sanfilippo: I’m going to guess this is something you have covered in the Skintervention Guide, but when you see effects on your skin, you know that something’s going on in your gut, with digestion obviously. This is something that Paul Chek teaches a lot about, too, that once you give up sugar and dairy and gluten and other grains, it’s kind of next in line as far as things that can be irritating to our gut and to our skin, nuts and seeds, and I think that’s partially because of what they do to digestion with the type of fiber that we’re getting from them. I think it could partially be due to antinutrients, again, irritating digestion. I think it also could be partially due to the polyunsaturated fats that we’re getting from nuts and seeds, and again, in doses that maybe are a little more concentrated than we’d normally take in.
Another issue with overdosing on nuts and seeds and also dried fruit is really just that people are not prepared with other types of snacks for the day or they’re just building meals that are too small for them and so they end up being hungry a little too quickly throughout the day. And then what’s easy to grab? Nuts and dried fruit. Now, that’s not to say that if you are in an airport or you’re traveling or you just have kind of a different type of day going on where it’s not your typical home, office, or whatever setup you have where you can be a little more prepared, grabbing a pack of almonds at Starbucks or some trail mix that’s clean and not loaded with sugar somewhere else, that’s totally fine. But it really is more a matter of planning those things into every single day and in pretty large quantities that can be problematic. The flipside of that is also that some people tolerate nuts and dried fruit perfectly fine. And some people are looking to get a lot more calories into their day, you know, athletes. I have some men who are clients who are looking to gain some weight, and then there are also, again, some athletes, and they’re the kind of people that really need that dense calorie hit. They need that extra sugar, obviously natural sugar from the dried fruit. But for those people, it can be really helpful.
That’s kind of all I really have on that. I think the other issue that people ask about a lot with overdosing on things like nuts is the omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids and the content in different types of nuts and then also baking with nut flour. That’s something that I wrote about in a post I have on almonds called “For the Love of Almonds” or something like that. And I think at one point in time I was pretty against baking with nut flours because I was concerned that we were getting them a little bit too hot and possibly damaging the delicate fats, the polyunsaturated fats, in them. And I think that to some degree that might be true. I think that to some degree it’s a good reason to not constantly be baking nut flour treats. That’s one of the reasons why I think I focused on coconut flour in the very beginning because I felt really unsure about the whole thing. I remember I asked Mat Lalonde maybe via email… I don’t know where I was. Maybe it was in person somewhere. I asked him about heating nuts, so something roasting a whole almond versus almond flour baking, and his take was that when it’s intact as the whole almond it’s actually less susceptible to damage from the heat just because of the structure of the exterior and the whole thing being intact versus when you grind it up and then there’s a lot more surface area per one almond, for example, that can be exposed to the heat. That was kind of my original take that for making nut flour it’s probably not the best to bake with it all the time because we’re probably exposing it to too much heat, getting damaged fats, and we don’t want to do that. And someone else kind of presented to me the fact that the internal temperature of baked good doesn’t actually get that hot. It might not even get to 300 degrees. It might still be somewhere in the 150 to 200 range. I’m not even really sure. For anybody who knows me more than, like, a week, you know that I’m terrible at baking. I do my best, but I’m not that great at it, so it’s not something I have a lot of information off the top of my head, like what the internal temperature of an almond flour cookie might get to or a loaf of almond flour bread. But I think that that was the other issue, is that it’s possibly not getting as hot as we thought, so maybe it’s not damaging them as much. Again, this is where we say we don’t eat the stuff every day. It’s still probably better for you than a grain-flour bread, but it is something to consider.
Liz Wolfe: To your point about the omega-3… and this is just information. This not to make people go crazy and not know what to eat and oh, my God, what to do?! What ratio do I need to worry about, my omega-3 to omega-6? Plant omega-3 is not the same as the omega-3 that we get from our favorite sardines, from fish. So when we’re talking about omega-3 from plants, we’re actually talking about the precursor to DHA, which is that end usable form, like fish oil, and it’s alpha-linolenic acid. And what’s interesting about this – and I talk about this a little bit in the book, just kind of myth-busting a little bit – but we want that end usable form. ALA can be converted under ideal circumstances in your body, but it’s an extremely unreliable conversion that we really should not rely on because that conversion from those plant-based omega-3’s to the actual DHA that we need can outcompete other processes in your body that you need to be working optimally to be really healthy. So the whole point of that is don’t rely on plants for your omega-3. And also I think it is worth trying to moderate that a little bit or seek other sources of nourishment, especially throw in some sardines for every couple of grain-free, almond flour cookies that you eat, because I think it is important to keep an eye on that. If you think you’re getting your omega-3 from plants, you’re actually not getting what you think you’re getting, and you may be kind of outcompeting for what you actually need in your body. And I know that kind of throws a wrench in what we’re talking about, not wanting people to worry about this stuff too much, but there is a reality that for optimum health and for most of us to meet our goals, these are things that we want to be aware of. I write about this a ton more in my book in a much more articulate manner because I can actually go back and edit myself, but I think that’s definitely worth thinking about as well.
Diane Sanfilippo: Yes.
Liz Wolfe: The difference between plant omegas and the ones that we actually get from animals – yet another reason animal foods beat plant foods, as far as nutrient density goes, every day of the week.
Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. That’s what I talked about a lot on my superfoods that the media tells you are unhealthy. It’s this idea that these nutrients that we’re getting from plants are going to be the most beneficial to our bodies, things like omega-3 and vitamin A. Those are probably two of the biggest ones that people think they can get from plants and they really can’t.
Liz Wolfe: Vitamin D as well. I think what a lot of people don’t realize is the difference between plant-based vitamin D and actual vitamin D that our bodies can use, and part 3, actual vitamin D that our bodies make themselves, and I talk about that in the book, too. I think it’s a pretty important distinction.
3. Bacon, all the time. MOAR BACON. [39:20]
So let’s talk about something else that people can potentially overdo that maybe we want to watch that and not allow this particular food to take the place in the diet of other sources of nourishment, and that is bacon. All the bacon, all the time. Moar bacon! That can be a little bit of a problem. We were talking about focusing on certain foods to the exclusion of others. Bacon is wonderful. It’s delicious. It’s fun to talk about. It gets people going. A lot of times folks will post about bacon on their Facebook pages, and generally that’s for the sake of interaction because it really gets people talking. There’s nothing like bacon to get people running their mouths. And I think that it’s really important to remember that, number one, especially with pork products, I think pork is one of the most poorly treated, most unfortunate meats that we can get from conventional sources. I really try to make sure that when I eat bacon that it’s really good quality bacon from a farmer that raises their animals right. I just try and use it as a little bit more of a treat. That’s my take on bacon. What do you think about it?
Diane Sanfilippo: I definitely don’t think of it as a treat, but I think of it, for sure, just as I do most other meats that I bring into my house, I really am all about the best quality possible that’s coming into my house because I think that traveling a lot and being away from home as much as I am these days and also in the last couple of years, most people know that I’ll eat bacon and eggs somewhere at a diner, wherever we are on the road, and I know 9 times out of 10 that that’s not bacon from a pig that’s been pasture raised, and there are some great restaurants we can find, and we seek them out, but I think this is where the case for food quality just comes in first, which you did already touch on, so I don’t need to beat a dead horse there, but this is why I made the Guide to Food Quality in my book and it’s on the website for free because, yeah, with bacon it’s not just a free-for-all in terms of you go to whatever restaurant and bacon’s on the menu and everybody eats a pound of bacon at a time. But I have no issue with people eating a pound of bacon at home if it’s high quality food. I don’t think there’s any reason to just say: Oh, we shouldn’t eat lots of bacon just because it’s bacon. I think it just matters what the quality is of the food. That’s really the big issue here because when you have quality ingredients, when you have the right type of meat… The same way I wouldn’t say go out and eat grain-fed burgers to your heart’s desire, I wouldn’t say go out and eat feedlot pork or any other bacon product to your heart’s desire. I would say eat that to satiety because you might need to and you don’t want to be getting in bread and whatever other foods you know are going to irritate your digestion, but again, when you’re eating it at home and it’s well-raised product and it’s not loaded with garbage, I think it’s just like anything else. I don’t think there’s a reason to say don’t eat a lot of it just because it’s bacon, because I think that’s a little bit of a misguided recommendation, in my opinion.
I have a whole post on bacon on the blog, and I think there’s a little bit of fear around things like nitrates and nitrites, and people are confused about what that’s all about. And of course, avoiding synthetic ingredients is something I always recommend, but understanding that when you get bacon from a farmer, most of the time they’re using something called celery salt as an ingredient in the curing, and that’s really because celery salt is a source of natural nitrate. We’re getting more nitrates from a bowl of salad than we are from most bacon, but I do think that there might be something to the natural form versus a synthetic form. And I’m betting a chemist or somebody of that regard might actually say the chemistry, if you look at what these things are made of, it’s actually the same, but I think just with my instinct towards what’s more natural being better for us, I’d say if it’s cured with celery salt, to me I don’t have any issue with that. I don’t have any reason to say don’t it that to whatever degree you need to, to satisfy your appetite if that’s what you have at home. I also don’t have issues with sugar being in the cure of bacon because as you and I have talked about several times on the podcast, between curing pork or curing other types of meat, like salmon, there are some curing methods for salmon even or other types of fish that might include sugar, it doesn’t actually put sugar into the food. It just works to help cure or cook without heat. That’s what curing really is. It’s cooking without heat.
Liz Wolfe: Well, it tenderizes the meat as well. Beef jerky without a little bit of some kind of sugar in the cure – and I know everything there is to know about beef jerky because of my work with Steve’s PaleoGoods, but curing is a really ancestral… it’s an art, and it’s a really traditional method of preparing food. And what sugar does is just tenderizes the meat. By the time you’re done, it’s not in there anymore. There’s no sugar to be worried about. Yeah, I think that your point is good. We definitely misunderstand bacon, what it’s all about, cured meats, what it takes to do that. Beet powder, celery powder, those are natural sources of nitrates that are often in cured meats that are labeled as nitrate-free, and that’s totally legal.
Diane Sanfilippo: Or they’ll say no added nitrates or things like that. It’s just not something that people, in my opinion, really need to be overly concerned with, same thing with the sugars. Just look at the ingredient list, though. Is it something like organic cane sugar or organic maple syrup or something that you could have in your cupboard? Or are they using high-fructose corn syrup and they’re actually trying to flavor it? It’s a different situation, and I think when you focus on the food quality first and you’re getting it from a local farmer, they tend to use better ingredients. That’s where I would kind of turn my focus.
Liz Wolfe: You can cure your own pork belly, too, if you’re adventurous.
Diane Sanfilippo: Indeed.
Liz Wolfe: Indeed.
Diane Sanfilippo: I have not yet.
4. Paleo Perfectionism [46:13]
Liz Wolfe: OK, so I think that was a good little discussion, a little tangent we had on food quality and whatnot. It’s very important. I think this all leads us into… you talk about this a lot: paleo perfectionism. All of these things, all of these ifs, ands and buts, and caveats and exceptions, and stuff that we’re talking about don’t always jive with what we call paleo perfectionism, which would be living a diet, a yes-food, this is OK, that’s not OK, says some guru, person, somebody I’ve never met type of situation. Living a diet rather than a lifestyle and really making this healthy way of living your own. To me, this whole deal is a conscientious, as thoughtful as possible type path of learning and moving towards health and a meaningful relationship with food in a way that also accounts for – and we’ll get into this – other aspects of health: stress relief, digestion, all those other things that we talk about. But let’s just touch on this paleo perfectionism idea. How would you define that?
Diane Sanfilippo: Way to put me on the spot.
Liz Wolfe: I know. Well, I can hear you’re half out of breath because I think you’ve been walking for too long!
Diane Sanfilippo: I was on mute. You couldn’t hear anything.
Liz Wolfe: I can hear you now. I could hear you heaving while you were on mute. You overwhelmed the mute capacity of your Skype.
Diane Sanfilippo: OK. Paleo perfectionism. I think, again, it’s really about a mindset and about this whole idea that if you’re not doing it just so, just by some rules that somebody made because none of us are living in paleo times, so whoever’s rules they are, whether they’re Loren Cordain’s or Robb Wolf’s or mine or Chris Kresser’s or whoever, it doesn’t really matter that you have this list that you’re following perfectly because it’s just not going to be the end-all, be-all. It never will. And I think part of where my motivation for writing the blog post I did about paleo perfectionism was somebody I met, someone who was working at a Lululemon’s store, and she said: Yeah, I tried the paleo thing but it was just too hard for me because… And then the reasons she went on to give me were part of what I would consider a paleo perfectionist focus. One was that she couldn’t buy all organic produce and she couldn’t buy all grass-fed, wild-caught meats and seafood. And to me, I was like: Wow, she’s going to give up on this whole paleo thing because somebody told her that if she’s not eating 100% organic, grass-fed, wild-caught, that she’s not doing it right and somehow that that means it’s not worth doing. And I think it’s really important – and this might be partially for people who are listening who are just feeling really overwhelmed with every little detail – understanding that it takes time. It takes weeks, months, years maybe to figure out which are the levers that you can pull and buttons you can push between what needs to be always in place and what you can maybe give on. For example, I’m always gluten-free, but I may eat some grain-fed meat when I’m out somewhere. But somebody else might not be able to eat grain-fed meat because for them it makes them feel really sick or bloated.
That’s one of these perfectionism tenets where you tell someone that they can never eat grain-fed meat, but what if they eat it and they feel OK? It doesn’t mean that you’re telling them it’s OK to do all the time. I think at the core we need to give people a little bit more of the benefit of the doubt. By telling them it doesn’t need to be all organic, all grass-fed, rather than assuming that that means they’re just going to abandon the idea of organic and grass-fed, you’re allowing them to kind of lean into it. You’ve said that before, where you’re leaning into this diet and you’re leaning into this lifestyle, really, and you’re figuring out what works for you and what works for you in your daily life and what you can afford and how to do that. It’s really not anybody’s place to tell somebody else the right way to approach paleo for them.
I think a lot of people from the outside might not like the “paleo” name or calling it paleo, just naming a lifestyle in general because they feel like it automatically means a lot of rules and a lot of limitations. And I’d rather have people see this name as something that at least just gives somebody else an idea of generally what you’re talking about. There is no end-all, be-all list of if you do these 10 things or whatever it is that you’re eating a perfect paleo diet. I can tell you that it’s a lie if somebody tells you that, because not only is it pretty much impossible to eat a perfect paleo diet in a modern world, but what’s “perfect” for you might not be perfect for the person next to you. Maybe you’re allowed to eat almonds and someone says: Almonds are paleo. Well, what if the person next to you has diverticulitis and has really bad digestive upset and I’m trying to tell them in my book not to eat a lot of almonds? You’re just creating a lot of contradictory information by setting up this framework of something that might be a perfect way of doing it or an arbitrary sort of set of rules. And again, we’re not talking about this in terms of a challenge. When there’s a challenge and it’s 30 days or 21 days or whatever it is, we need to set some rules because people want something to provide structure and say: OK, this is what I’m doing for this amount of time. But when you’re presenting it as this idea that you won’t be able to say I eat paleo if you now and then eat some grass-fed yogurt because dairy isn’t paleo. That’s just throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
5. Living a DIET, not a lifestyle – and what the lifestyle is, is a conscientious path of learning and moving towards health in a way that accounts for other aspects of health – stress relief and DIGESTION. [52:25]
Liz Wolfe: What’s paleo? Uh, cockroaches, maybe? What has survived since paleo times? Cockroaches and… that’s about all I got. It’s so true. I think our paleo, Diane, the way we look at this and this whole dynamic search for health is that it really doesn’t lend itself that well to sound bites. You would think it would, you know, the caveman diet, all that sounds really good, but what we’re all looking for is health.
Diane Sanfilippo: Right.
Liz Wolfe: And that’s a whole dang book. What am I at, 90,000 words at this point?
Diane Sanfilippo: Many books.
Liz Wolfe: Exactly.
Diane Sanfilippo: Right.
Liz Wolfe: And I always thought many years ago when I was leaning toward veganism and vegetarianism, that is a really easy sound bite that people can attach themselves to, and as long as they’re not eating animal products, they’re doing it right, technically. Right? That’s the way I always looked at it. I’m sure vegans and vegetarians would disagree with me on that, but I always felt like the sound bite culture just did not lend itself to paleo very well, and that’s actually a good thing. I really like it that way. I would prefer to hand somebody my book and say: If you really are curious about this and if this really is resonating with your deepest instincts about food and getting back to basics, read this book and start thinking about these things. Because like you said, this is a long process of leaning into things, leaning that way, learning as much as you can, and not trying to jam this concept into a sound bite of what is paleo and what’s not paleo.
Diane Sanfilippo: Right. I think there was a recent book release called Paleofantasy, if I’m correct, and I think the author maybe also has a TED Talk, and she’s trying to make arguments against paleo for reasons that everyone in the community also makes arguments sort of against this idea of paleo that’s kind of floating around out there. So to your point about the sound bites, it’s like, well, if we say we don’t eat grains but people who are out there sort of perpetuating why and their “why” is because cavemen didn’t eat grains, then that’s where, again, those sound bites can be really problematic because there’s so much more to the story than one little snippet. And I know it’s hard because a lot of time you want a quick answer, right? When somebody asks you: What is paleo? You want to have a quick answer. And there is a way of saying it, I think, that makes the most sense that you can kind of wrap it up in some kind of neat package that is very… in some ways nebulous. It’s not a very specific outline of we eat this, we don’t eat that, but to some degree that’s why I have an FAQ post, “What is Paleo?” because I think I want to be able to explain it to people. And it’s not a list of a hundred foods that are considered paleo and we don’t eat anything else. It’s a lot more kind of guidelines and this soft nudging people in one direction away from some things and towards other things.
Liz Wolfe: Here’s what I say in my book…
Diane Sanfilippo: Oh! Sneak peek!
Liz Wolfe: Sneak peek! And this is super serious, and I promise you, it’s surrounded by hilarity, but this is a little bit serious. I say that this is about learning from our ancestors and adopting the modern manifestations of the behaviors that kept them healthy. So we’re learning from the past and we’re using that to kind of define how we live in the present and how we’re going to look in the future. To me, it’s just so easy, and that definitely inspires questions, but I don’t think that it can inspire the same objections that something like “we eat like the cavemen ate” inspires. And PS: You and I, Diane, we’re not trying to foster dependency here, and that’s the biggest problem with a movement that’s commercially viable. People hop into the movement, and people object to the movement that either are having a problem because they don’t see that conventional diet book dependency or they’re seeking that for themselves, somebody to bounce every single bite that they ever want to eat off of.
Diane Sanfilippo: Right.
Liz Wolfe: Is this paleo? Is that paleo? Can I eat this? Can I not eat that? The fact is we just want people to do what makes them happy and to be independent thinkers. That’s what I’m trying to do. Sometimes I fail miserably and sometimes I text you about whether or not you would eat XYZ at midnight or whatever. We have our little discussions about almond flour cookies, and that’s all well and good, but we’re not trying to keep people dependent on us and what we’ve branded as OK and not OK. And I think that throws a wrench because that’s not what we’re conditioned for.
Diane Sanfilippo: What’s actually funny about that, too, is that in the work I do with Balanced Bites and Practical Paleo, some people are really up in arms about the fact that I’ll be slightly contradictory in my content in the book, for example, because I’m telling people mostly not to eat dairy, but then I’m recommending certain sources of dairy later on, and it’s because there is not this clear cut-and-dry approach because some people do fine with it, and if it’s the right quality, it’s not the same food as the thing that I’m telling you not to eat. It’s a completely different food. It isn’t so black and white.
And what’s also funny is that I do have a program that is sort of this list of yes/no foods, and it seems arbitrary to some people, with the 21-Day Sugar Detox. And what’s funny about that is that as I’m writing the meal plans for it, and I can’t ignore whom it is that’s currently completing the program even though I know that the people who will get the book as it releases in print will be a pretty different landscape of an audience, but I can’t even make that program literally cut and dry to yes/no foods. It’s not that simple. It’s not one list of you eat this, you don’t eat that, because I have different levels for different reasons. We have different types of people coming into the program, so there are three different levels. And then I had to go and complicate things further by addressing the fact that we have different sort of tracks even within those levels, because what if you have somebody who is mostly vegetarian? They’re not eating just a vegan, solely plant-based diet, but maybe there are certain proteins that they avoid. And I address asking the questions about why they’re doing that, but at the same time, I want to give them something that supports them and lets them kind of come through this program. But then I also know I have athletes who are completing the program, and what works for someone who’s very sedentary all the time versus an athlete is very different. It’s not strict yes/no. And then there are people with autoimmune conditions. So it’s like all of a sudden, you know, I thought I had this very easy-to-package program with three levels and that was as complicated as I was going to get, and then it ended up being where now I have three levels and at least three different tracks that I have people going down. That’s really just a testimony to the fact that we can’t just say: Here is a list of yes/no foods for everybody to follow, and if you do it right, if you follow all the yes and avoid all the no, then everything will be hunky-dory. It just doesn’t work that way. We can try, right? We can have certain things that we hope to push people towards and push people away from, but it just doesn’t really work that way to present this whole, OK, here’s a way of doing things that are perfect, because you know what? It doesn’t really exist.
Liz Wolfe: Nope. And we can give people rules of thumb about what percentage of calories to get from carbs, what percentage of calories to get from fat, those types of things, but again, that’s yet another thing. Even if you’re eating from a perfect list of yes-foods, they’re still going to appear in the diet in different proportions depending on who you are and what you’re comfortable with. It’s just one of those things where you absolutely have to try to trust your own instinct, be willing to make the mistakes, be willing to move forward and not give up.
Diane Sanfilippo: Correct.
Liz Wolfe: Correct. Well, you know what? We’re actually at about an hour.
Diane Sanfilippo: OK!
Liz Wolfe: Can you believe that?
Diane Sanfilippo: I can believe it because I’m getting hungry from all this walking.
Liz Wolfe: Do you want an almond flour cookie and a glass of milk?
Diane Sanfilippo: I’m kind of interested… let me check how far I’ve walked. Do you want to know?
Liz Wolfe: Sure.
Diane Sanfilippo: I’ve walked 1.13 miles.
Liz Wolfe: Oh, my goodness.
Diane Sanfilippo: And how far have you walked? Woot, woot! Sorry. I’m doing a little dance now on the treadmill.
Liz Wolfe: I did actually go to the bathroom while we were on mute, so that was about 15 feet.
Diane Sanfilippo: I’m raising the roof. If anybody were to walk by right now, it would be pretty funny. Anyway. OK, let’s wrap up and we’ll come back and do this again. Yeah!
Liz Wolfe: We may have to continue to do these. OK, so that’s everything. We’ll be back next week with more questions. Yes! I will be here next week once again with Diane. Both of us, same time, same bat channel. Until then, you can find Diane at BalancedBites.com, and you can find me, Liz, at CaveGirlEats.com. Be sure to check out my website because it has a new look and it’s really cute. All right, that’s it. Thanks for listening, everybody. We’ll be back.
Diane & Liz
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