Paleo for Women
Evolutionary Health, Revolutionary WomanhoodNavigation
As of writing this post, there are exactly twenty days left until Sexy by Nature is released! I also got about $2000 worth of books shipped to my house last week – and then took them all back to the post office for delivery to media outlets and bloggers all over...Read More
The modern notion of womanhood, in which women eat little, exercise a lot, have eating disorders and body image issues, and are expected to look like rails, fails women time and time again. The solution to that failure–to all of the pain, to all of the confusion, and...Read More
Our genes are the blueprint with which we were born, generated by millions of years of evolution. In this way, genetics provides the spectrum of health in which we get to live out our lives. Genes provide the text of each of our own Choose Your Own Adventure stories; we, in...Read More
Much like the wider society in which we live, the health world is biased. In the past, this was an overt bias, but today, it’s much more insidious. It’s hidden, and it’s sneaky. But it’s there. Researchers are mostly men. Doctors are mostly...Read More
As a blogger of modest (modest) fame, I receive several books in the mail every month asking that I please review them for my blog. Many of them I am more than happy to because I have been looking forward to the release for a long time, as was the case with the recent reviews I wrote of Sarah Ballantyne’s The Paleo Approach and Liz Wolfe’s Eat the Yolks. Others I put on the list but sometimes do not manage to get to because there really are only 24 hours to a day, despite all the manipulations of E=mc2 I’ve tried in my brief 25 years.
Last week I recieved The South Asian Health Solution in the mail. It looks like a standard diet book. It reads like one. It is full of explanations of what happens in the body when good foods and bad foods are eaten, and its stocked heartily with delectable recipes. It’s an awesome book, and that’s good. I expect paleo health books to be awesome books. Especially when they are published by Mark Sisson. (This one is.)
But the thing is – this is not a standard diet book. This book is written specifically with the genetics and the cultural background of South Asian people – so primarily Indians – in mind.
This makes this a diet book that does something almost no other diet books do –
It reaches people beyond the white middle class. (While still being inclusive to all, and particularly good for those who have resistance to dietary change based on food preferences.)
To which I can say nothing but “Amen.”
My own book – much as I do my best to write as inclusively as possible to all genders and identifications and ethnicities and sexual orientations and socioeconomic statuses — falls into the general category of paleo health books. Educated people read them. Mostly - though not all – white people read them. Middle and upper middle class people read them. It is written for people who sort of already fit within a certain cultural milieu. This is not a bad thing. It is just a thing.
The South Asian Health Solution has specific recommendations in it for how to “modify cultural traditions that lead to weight gain and disease.”
It provides tips for physicians who work with diverse populations to help them modify their diets — in every chapter.
This applies to south Asians but to other cultural groups as well.
It does so with both “advanced” and “beginner” explanations.
It has chapters devoted to women’s health (!!!).
It has chapters devoted to children’s health and raising families.
Because all of these things are crucial to convincing as many people as possible that this is easy and worth a go, and they are also quite helpful for reaching people who might not have ever encountered paleo and other trendy diets before. I cannot say for certain if this book will appeal to south Asians more strongly than others, or if other minority groups will be interested in this book. I am not a south Asian. I am not a minority. But I trust that Dr. Sinha knows a bit more about what he’s doing here than I could ever hope to.
So I am excited about this book for so many reasons. It’s a great diet book. It’s got women’s stuff and children’s stuff. It’s smart. It contains:
Yet more than anything, I am excited about it doing real work that the paleo health world needs. After AHS 2012, I wrote a blog post about the lessons I learned and things I experienced there. I blogged that I became even more aware of how homogenous the paleo scene is. (Go to paleo fx in Austin this April… you’ll see what I mean.) There was even a talk there about traditional diets and helping people who eat them modify them to embrace more natural foods. I took it down because such a rabid debate sprang up on my site in its wake, and I was not interested in being party to anger any longer. (This was, also, and perhaps moreso, tied to my justified claims of sexism in the sphere.)
This is a big part of my dream. I want health for the whole world. Everybody deserves it. It’s hard when you don’t speak the language or know the culture, and it’s hard when you are an outsider. It’s not easy to breach those walls. No one wants to be a preacher, and everyone wants to be understood and understanding. But slowly this change is coming, and we have Dr. Sinha in large part for being a leader in this battle. It is made all the more incredible because he speaks to patients and to health professionals at the same time.
And sometimes, if you want to make change, you have to make it from the top down and the bottom up.
My hat’s off, and my enormously large gratitude and hugs are, to him and his team. Thank you.
Ladies what up!
Today I bring to you nothing other than fun and love:
I want to give you the best tablet of all time – the Kindle Fire HDX – because… well.
I can. !!
And because Sexy by Nature is coming out in less than two weeks. (Party!)
And because the book is currently on sale at Amazon for $19.86, while the cover price is actually a full $27. (Party!!)
And because the Kindle Fire really is the best tablet of all time – I am an avowed user – despite all Mac hating and superiority complexes to the contrary.
(Please don’t hate me, Mac users. I still love you.)
SO. Go read about the Kindle if you want @ here.
It’s 32 GB. (really I can’t afford the 64 and who needs that many gigs anyway? Unless you’ve downloaded seasons 1-9 of Scrubs… but in that case just let me know, and I’ll email the episodes over to you one at a time.)
It’s wi-fi connected (obvi).
It’ll come with a fancy leather case, because who doesn’t want a fancy leather case?
It’ll also come with a brand new Bluetooth keyboard.
Entrance is easy peasy —
- just pick any (one, or two, or three, or all) of the options in the widget below. The raffle works by a point system, so the more you do, the better. But if you just want to do one, all the more power to you! There’s even a freebie for this audience since just about all of you like the paleo for women page on Facebook already.
If you’ve already pre-ordered the book, you can still pick the pre-order option! Just forward your pre-order receipt to me at email@example.com. And don’t forget the extra bonus: the special pre-order price of $19.86 on Amazon right now — that’s 23 percent off!
As I described in this post, I have recently decided to turn myself into someone who takes food more seriously. Sure, I have always eaten whole foods. But I have never really cared about how they are prepared. In fact, for my few first years of paleo eating I mostly ate raw or microwaved vegetables (unless someone else made them), canned fish, and avocadoes. Making tasty food just wasn’t worth the effort. What was important to me was the fact that I was eating.
This is one theme that I’ve found scattered among the lives of many disordered eaters I know. The fastest way to eat food is the best way, so some of us eschew the preparation process and go right for the goods. It’s almost as if the willpower to stay away from food falls out from under me and there is almost nothing left to keep me from eating once my feet have started moving toward the refrigerator.
So I confessed in the Nom Nom post that I want to impress some non-paleo dieters in my life with my mean cooking skills (hah!). That’s a real motivation. But it actually goes much deeper. As I move further and further away from restriction and my disordered past, I wonder: can I develop love for prepared meals? Can I have food in my life as a pleasure, rather than as a drug?
I do believe that I can.
Let me instead phrase it like this: What not about Danielle?
Danielle wrote and photographed everything in her whole NYT best-selling book, Against All Grain: Delectable Paleo Recipes to Eat Well & Feel Great. She has a toddler for whom she cares and of whom, of course, there are beautiful photos in the book. She is a brilliant writer and I enjoy her prose simply for its own sake. There is something delightfully simple and peaceful and loving and homey about her cooking, all the while with Danielle being a fiery spirit with a serious knack for beautiful food and beautiful photos.
(The credit for all photos in this post save the Finding Nemo and those taken on my phone, which you will definitely be able to distinguish, goes to Danielle at her site, againstallgrain.com)
I want to quote the dust jacket to demonstrate to you just how pleasurable her writing is and to give you a preview of what’s inside:
“A self-trained chef, Danielle is the new face of grain-free cooking, tempting foodies of all stripes with her accessible recipes for vibrant Paleo food. Paying homage to the dishes she loved in her pre-Paleo life, she has ingeniously recreated all her favorites without grains or dairy in her first cookbook.
Complementing her innovating recipes with elegant photography, Danielle takes you on a culinary Paleo journey that includes everything from quick breakfasts to sinful desserts, with a long list of hearty entrees in between. And because Danielle knows she’s not the only one with a finicky toddler at home, she has included a special section filled with healthy recipes that kids will be eager to eat and moms will be eager to serve.”
In her introduction, she writes:
“As I began my culinary experimentations, I noticed a lack of recipes as well as personal accounts of setbacks and progress, and wanted to document my journey to help others. I decided to combine the power of my acquired culinary skills, my love for food, and my equal love for journalism and an all-out crusade, and started my blog, Against All Grain. I aimed to not only end my own suffering, but also to become a source of hope for others suffering from all types of diseases or allergies.”
So we have in Danielle’s book:
-a completely grain, soy, and dairy free cookbook. This is important. I need my food to be dairy free.
-innovative recipes that think outside the box
-new inventions as well as new methods for traditional dishes
-and a wide -perhaps the widest- array of types of meals to learn how to cook.
This final point is perhaps my favorite of them all.
There is a big debate in the paleo health scene about whether it’s okay to have “replacement” foods such as paleo cookies and pancakes. These foods are not ideal. No one who is being honest with themselves thinks so. These foods often include nut flours and have sugar in them and do not have super high nutrient density. They also may be addictive and highly caloric and therefore stymie weight maintenance efforts. But… well. So what? I say. YOLO.
(Internet speak for “you only live once.”)
Of course I am still going to eat mostly liver and vegetables and fruits and such – the real, hearty, nourishing paleo stuff. But I also know the world needs lightness and fun and love, so what’s the harm in knowing how to make the delectable sweet stuff?
Danielle delivers both kinds of food, and in spades.
Since in this book are:
-The “basics” (much as it was the case with Michelle’s book, and a big reason I love both of these books). Vinaigrettes, chutneys, barbecue sauce, ketchup, preserves, marinara sauce, pico de gallo, and chicken broth are all included.
-”the grain free kitchen and pantry” in which we learn all about almond flour and coconut products and the like.
-”to start off your morning” or, as I like to call, BREAKFAST, which includes (but there are twice as many in the book) smoked salmon eggs benedict, maple sage sausage with cinnamon apples, Spanish frittata with chorizo, pear-berry crisp, banana porridge, two kinds of granola, and coconut milk yogurt (I can’t wait to make this! I’m so tired of the Trader Joes and Whole Foods versions with 20 grams of sugar in them.)
-”small bites” which includes chicken satay, trail mix, rosemary-raisin crackers, sweet potatoes fries with wasabi aioli, and sweet potato chips. Mmmm.
-”soups, salads, and sides” which includes paleo clam chower (yes! definitely making that for my brother’s wedding), roasted butternut squash soup with sausage, warm spinach salad with bacon and mushrooms, coconut-lime rice, grilled artichokes with remoulade, and about fifteen others.
-28 main dishes (!), including thai pad see ew, fettuccini alfredo with blackened chicken, seafood, chorizo, and chicken paella, curried short ribs, carne asada burrito bowls, and honey-lime salmon toastadas.
-a section for kids foods like fruit roll ups, granola bars, honey graham crackers, and chicken tenders,
-a bread imitation section called “muffins, loaves, and morning cakes” that I literally cannot stop looking at. These “these can’t be paleo they look so good!” breads include both banana and zucchini bread, currant scones and rosemary scones, hamburger buns, peach streusel coffee cake, and “world-famous sandwich bread.” Um, yes, thank you. And when made out of coconut? Gotta love more variety in all my various coconut consumption habits.
-26 “sweets and treats,” OMG, with dishes like chocoalte layer cake, lemon meringue pie (I swear on my life last night I was wondering if any paleo people make lemon meringue pies… now I guess I will be one of them), black bottom banana cream pie, chocolate fudge sauce, seven-layer bars, and just about everything. Everything. I want Danielle to open a bakery.
-drinks in the section “sip on this” like mulled apple cider, berry-basil spritzer, and thai iced tea. Mm.
So there’s the whole range of paleo options, from the simple to the hearty to the fluffy and addictive, and I like that fact very, very much.
OH. No, wait, sorry, this is the best part: Danielle has a handy labelling system for every recipe in her book:
One yellow EF graphic for “egg free,”
a blue one with SCD for “specific carbohydrate diet,”
a red NF for “nut free,” (yayy! since I’m not a huge fan of nuts),
and a green V for “vegan.”
Awesome. Even if you’re not a vegan yourself – as I am not myself – you may some day find yourself asked to participate in a vegan mac n cheese off, and while you might scoff, now perhaps you can blow them away, and with natural foods, too.
No, sorry, the best stuff’s still gotta be the recipes. Photos of some of which are included below. I took photos of my own with my phone to show you what they are like with the recipes in the book, and then I nabbed a few off of Danielle’s site so you can get a better idea of the real stellar quality of her stuff.
Phone photos (if you can’t tell I’m kind of a glutton for the baked goods):
Against All Grain Blog photos:
So there you have it.
Danielle gives me everything I need for both a healthy grain and dairy free and nutrient dense kitchen, as well as the delight of her baking and her sweets and her photography…. with promises for joy and enjoyment I might be able to, over time, learn how to keep myself.
And, as always, in celebration of learning how to enjoy food, I’ve purchased another copy of Against All Grain to give away. Huzzah!
Entrance is easy peasy – just one click – choose one or more of the options below. Contest ends next Wednesday March 12 at midnight!
And, as always, be sure to check out the blog post where I am giving away five free, pre-release copies of the women’s health manifesto Sexy by Nature: The Whole Foods Solution to Radiant Health, Lifelong Sex Appeal, and Soaring Confidence.
And, Thursday March 6-Sunday March 16,I am giving away a brand new, fully-stocked 32 GB Kindle Fire HDX with a pristine Otter Box case (!). Here.
Last week I had the enormous pleasure to sit and chat with Abel James of The Fat Burning Man fame. (He is, after all, the #1 Health Podcast in six different countries, including the US.) But Abel and I go much further back than that. We went to the same college, though a few years apart, and share many friends in common. We met and became fast friends at AHS 2012. We both really, really, really love to inspire people, and really, really, really love to question norms… two facts that can make for a hell of a discussion.
In the introduction to the podcast, Abel even calls me a “take-no-prisoners powerhouse” …. which I can’t help but feel enormously flattered by.
So in this podcast we talk about Sexy by Nature – of course - but we focus on the parts Abel found the most uniquely thought provoking:
What do I think it means it be sexy? How do I feel sexy, and how do I get other people to acknowledge it?
Why am I, and why are you, sexy?
What do you learn after being paid to dance on a stage in a bar every weekend for months and years? (A la the tiny photo of me below?)
In Abel’s words, in the podcast you learn:
-”A surprising concept from go-go dancing you can use to boost your sex appeal
-Why putting on weight can make you sexier
-A mental trick you can do right now to instantly become more attractive
-And much, much more”
Check out the audio (AND VIDEO!) versions of the chat at Abel’s site –
Or grab the 2/27/14 episode of The Fat Burning Man from iTunes.
I also just wrote a guest post over at Abel’s blog that exposes the secrets of how models really slim down - 10 Ways To Look Like A Model (That You Should NEVER Try)…. more about which I’ll be posting next week.
Don’t forget tomorrow’s the last day to enter for a free, pre-release, signed copy of Sexy by Nature by finishing this powerful sentence in the comments at http://paleoforwomen.com/sbn:
And if you want to read excerpts of Sexy by Nature before it comes out and get exclusive tips on how to be sexy, be sure to join our brand new community on the facebook page!Read More
Last week Sarah and Stacy had me as a guest on their podcast The Paleo View. They said that it was a moral imperative for them to have me on — other people were starting to come on the show more often, and they needed to keep me as their most frequent guest. This made our fourth episode together, I think.
And what an episode, too!
Let it stand by way of an introduction that I love and admire these two women beyond words. Sarah’s The Paleo Approach, the ultimate guide to autoimmune disease that was released last month and which has made gigantic waves in the paleo and holistic health scenes, and Stacy’s Beyond Bacon and Eat Like a Dinosaur are just some of the many reasons these women inspire me daily.
They also happen to be sassy, and strong, and smart, and mmmmmm yay!
So in this podcast we focus on hormone balance.
What are the primary kinds of hormone imbalance, and what are the signs and symptoms?
What role do hormones play in other health conditions like autoimmune disease? Is there a connection? (Answer: you bet!)
What’s up with birth control and how can it negatively affect hormone balance both in the short and long term?
And boatloads more.
And don’t forget the opportunity to win a free, pre-release, signed copy of Sexy by Nature, by submitting your completion of the sentence “I love my body because…” in the comments at the blog post http://paleoforwomen.com/sbn.
And check back in a few days as I gear up to give away big.
Today, I stared at myself in the bathroom mirror of Barnes and Noble for an embarrassingly long amount of time. Three minutes. Five. Ten. Why? Yesterday I finally “caved” – I went to the thrift store and bought a whole new set of pants, having barely managed to squeeze myself into my last pair of “fat” pants no longer.
I needed to up my size. I learned in the dressing room the need was even more drastic than I thought.
This was a bit of a shock – to go from a zero to a six – (holy I’ve been squeezing Batman) and so I found myself poking and prodding for days afterward.
How different do I now look?
Honestly I have no idea.
And am I any more or less attractive than I was before?
Well. That’s subjective, but I am feeling damn adamant that it’s about the same.
To assert in the title of this post that you lack objectivity is, I know, offensive. I apologize. Nonetheless I am certain the statement is true – it is literally impossible for me to see myself (and for you to see yourself) outside of my own current situation and time. As human beings, just as it is impossible to see ourselves without judging ourselves relative to other people, it is impossible to see ourselves without judging ourselves relative to a way we have been in the past or how we anticipate we might be in the future.
We have no objective standards. It is beyond important for us to realize this fact.
To help demonstrate to you just how powerful this phenomenon can be, I have compiled a wide variety of comparisons of different photos of myself taken at various points in time. Below are two photos posted with comments on them: one set from the context in which the photo was taken — the then – (so if the photo was taken in 2011, I share my thoughts from 2011), and then one set from today, the now.
Today I look back on photos in which I had thought I was egregiously overweight, bloated, jiggly, or poorly shaped and I think either ‘healthy wow’ or ”skinny wow” – two sets of thoughts that were completely beyond my my current, unobjective, fearful mind.
Will I do the same thing in the future with my current self? Will I, over time, come to view the body I am in in this moment in 2014 as even more worthy of admiration and love and beauty than I do now? Will I look back and think all of my “bad” days were so unbelievably uncalled for?
I am not objective.
I do not pretend to be.
First up are photos from my pre-weight loss days.
Fall of 2009, right before I shed thirty pounds in three months, so I weighed approximately 135-7 pounds. Here, I am participating in a (unorthodox) wilderness evacuation group, having the time of my life, and in extraordinarily good health and fitness, as I lifted heavy things and climbed mountains all day every day:
Spring of 2008:
Fall of 2007: Hiking the Great Wall – after a whole summer of living and doing trailwork in the Colorado wilderness.
In retrospect, I looked good, and happy, and healthy.
Then come the post-weight loss double-zero, lean years, in which I maintain my attitude of being hyper critical and fearful:
This photo is from the Spring of 2011, from my go-go dancing days:
The fall of 2010:
This photo is from the winter of 2011, in which I thought I was having a “fat month” intermission during the lean years:
Spring of 2011 on a beach in Taiwan:
Okay, the fact that I was worried about being “fat” in these photos is scary.
Also the spring of 2011 on a beach in Taiwan:
This photo is from the summer of 2013, right before my recent complete fertility and regular menstruation-gaining weight gain:
Then are the photos I have taken of myself since the weight gain. Since they are so recent I do not have “then” and “now” selections, but I do have “bad brain” and “good brain.”
From the thrift store when I was trying on new pants – checking in on how far apart my feet now need to be for the gap:
This photo is from last weekend, taken at 4am in the hallway of a Latin dance conference in Chicago, at which, of course, I was so happy:
So there you have it. What are some takeaways?
-You probably saw a woman much healthier and lovelier than I ever did/do – then, now, good brain, bad brain. Though I think I’m getting the hang of it now.
-Thighs are a big deal for me. We all have that one “big deal” flaw or what-have-you that is the most important to us.
In fact, this point is worth delving into a bit, since a study I participated in in college demonstrated that we seek in and judge other people the things that we are so attentive to as flaws in our own selves. So I immediately look at people’s skin and their thighs when I “judge” them – or at least these are the characteristics that stand out – because I focus so intently on my own.
-When I was 137 pounds I nitpicked specific body parts – mostly my thighs, though I guess that’s not apparent in these photos – and every time I looked at these photos on facebook I winced, thinking other people would find me unattractive.
-When I was 105 pounds I nitpicked specific body parts – mostly my thighs – and every time I looked at these photos I felt bad about myself, like I wasn’t winning the skinny game.
-When I returned to 130+ pounds in 2013 I still had bad days, but the good days significantly outnumber them. “Bad brain” tries to pick apart my body and put it into these tiny, scrutinizable, dissectable pieces, but “good brain” says “hell no, woman, you are healthy and whole, inclusive of every piece of you.”
-Fear robs us of love and objectivity. In my current body, I am so afraid of being judged and rejected as substandard. But in hindsight – having already lived the time – I look back on it knowing that everything was perfectly fine and healthy.
-Even in a case in which I/we look back and find myself in less good health, I can still see how my fear made me feel unacceptable, but I needn’t have felt that way, since everything was just plain okay. And I am on a continuously evolving, surprising journey.
-Life is not neat. It is messy. This fact can be scary, but it can also be quite lovely and liberating. Looking at photos of like this demonstrates how much our bodies change even while our reactions to and fear about our bodies stays the same. I have the same fears and anxiety at 130 pounds as I did at 105, and at 137. Of course there are differences, but my anxiety about it all has always been present. Knowing this fact teaches me a bit more each day to let go of control and embrace each day as it is.
Okay! Whoopah. What do you think?