Being pregnant at the moment, I often think (well three times a day to be precise!) what I’m eating is physically making my baby. At 21 weeks, his urinary tract is up and running and his hearing is about to switch on. So today’s poached eggs made the beginnings of his new ears? Amazing stuff. The Weston Price Foundation have a wonderful article on the necessary dirt for nursing and pregnant mums.
But pregnant or no, what we eat is making the new you all the time! So eating first what you need then what you want makes a lot of sense to me. It’s one of the things I fully endorse about a Paleo diet – the inclusion of foods to build nutrient density first. The alternative are fillers, like breads, grains and pastas and how often are these the majority of our meal! They’re mostly sugars when digested in the body, which processed or not, cost our body. They require nutrients to carry insulin to help the insulin get all that extra glucose into your cells for use (or more than likely, storage).
The simplest way to start to eat in a more nutrient dense way is to avoid all processed foods, opting instead for whole foods, foods without ingredients, foods you can make from scratch from the best quality ingredients. Processed foods contain a lot of numbers, but also a lot of sugars and weird fats, that make us want for more food and actually cost our bodies more than they give. They actually leave you hungry and nutrient deficient.
Next is to focus on your macronutrient quantities. I think Michael Pollan says this brilliantly with ‘Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much’. Every meal should start with what veggies your gonna have. Then the healthy fats you can include. Ok, so if you think fats make you fat then you need to go and do some more reading. Healthy fats provide the medium for the aptly named fat soluble vitamins in your veggies, so that they’re in fact useful. They’re also what makes all your body’s inflammatory and anti inflammatory responses (yes, that’s not aspirin’s job!). In fact, as you look down at your arms in front of you, all the skin you can actually see, even your eyeball you’re seeing it with, is made of membranes composed of a lipid (fancy word for fat) bilayer!
The last macronutrient you need to get on your plate is pastured (preferably organic) grass-fed meat as a side. For vegetarians you too can’t ignore this order, also starting with your vegetables then fats and the proteins. Maybe you’re not too keen on a slab of steak but there are alternatives in the form of fish or chicken if you can, eggs at least, and bone broths are a magic potion of amino acids (the simplest breakdown of proteins) and minerals. If you can’t bare to see and touch bones, get some grass fed gelatin and add it to veggie stocks and sauces. At every meal!
A lot of Paleo arguers focus on what’s been deleted from our diets: grains and dairy. But I think I like most this prioritization it gives to getting this what we need first and ways we can enhance our health through food. That starts with four main ingredients:
- green leafy vegetables as the first thing we think about on our plates
- fermented foods like sauerkraut to add back enzymes so missing from our highly processed foods and highly cooked foods too, organ meats like liver to add back minerals so missing from our bodies with the diseases we see
- next, especially after the last thirty years where we’ve all seemingly been on a healthy low fat diet and the epidemic of diseases that have followed as a result and that’s fat digestive beets. Here’s why beets are magic fat digestive aids.
- and the much forgotten nutrient re-mineralizing bone broths and stocks we can add sauces if the weather’s not perfect for soup.
- Organ meats. Pate from pastured, preferably young (calf, chicken, ducks) liver (the older the animal the more toxins build up in our organs, even animals) is a great way to get organ meats into your diet. They’re great for minerals and vitamins missing from our diets but also from our foods which we can choose organic, but even those are dependent on the nutrients in the soils they’re grown in.
Here’s their recipes. Get them into every meal, or at least every week, and start using your food as medicine, making the new you as the best version of you, full first of the things it needs, nutrient dense.