Archive for the ‘Food’Category

Carbohydrates for fertility

Lots of talk going on in the web recently about carbs and fertility!  Women’s health ftw!

Paul Jaminet: Higher Carb Dieting Pros and Cons

Chris Kresser and Chris Masterjohn: Cholesterol, mostly, also: Telltale signs you need more carbs

Cheeseslave: Why I ditched low carb

Paleo Diet News: Sort of rehashing Paul’s argument

Julianne: Okay, People, Carb’s Don’t Kill

Melissa McEwen (always a badass on women and fertility): What the bleep do we know about carbs

While you’re at it, go read Melissa’s post on Why Women Need Fat.  Now.


Hey.  I haven’t emphasized this enough on this blog.   Hypothyroidism can be induced via a number of mechanisms.  One is a low carbohydrate diet.  If hypothyroid, or even subclinical thyroid, is at all a part of your PCOS pathology, consider eating a high carb (at least 100 g/day, IMHO).   Really.   Do it.  Reading the links above will give you helpful insight into the mechanisms.


My quick anecdote:

Since adding carbohydrates to my diet– call me crazy– I’ve been less sickly.  The acne scars on my face heal much more quickly than they used to.   My acne itself is way better, though my meds, in part, can account for that.   I sleep much much much much more peacefully.  Most importantly, my breasts and hips have gotten larger, and my thighs a bit I guess, but my stomach has stayed flat flat flat.  How nice is that?   (But I would still be healthy if I had some tummy fat!)   Clearly my estrogen profile has changed.

(Note: I am also on a diuretic, so this makes it easier to have muscle definition, especially in the abdominals, but– well, I’ll take what I can get.  I’m not giving up carbs again.)


02 2012

Paleo and PCOS

It’s possible (probable) that I have my statistics all wrong, but I think there’s a bit of a link between Paleo and PCOS.   Some women, such as Peggy the Primal Parent, come to paleo eating because they are trying to mitigate PCOS, and this is awesome.  A lot of overweight PCOS patients fall into this category. I think the paleo diet helps them achieve greater weight loss, insulin sensitivity, and reproductive function.  Time and time again we hear about how insanely fertile women become on the paleo diet..  This has a lot to do with reducing inflammation and meeting nutritional requirements, as well as with balancing hormones.   I cannot ignore that.  Paleo is apparently bomb diggity for making babies.

But I also know of a fair number of people who only began showing symptoms of PCOS once they went paleo.  Or that their symptoms worsened.  I would argue that these women have had some sort of underlying problem for a long time, perhaps via exposure to phytoestrogens or endocrine disruptors, but the fact remains that paleo exacerbates their PCOS problems.  What gives?

First, I think this is because of weight loss.  As a mentioned in my post on PCOS etiology, shifting fat mass levels can alter the amount of estrogen in a woman’s system.  If she is overweight, or at least at a higher BMI at the time when she begins her period, she may have trouble ovulating later in life at a lower BMI.   This is royally unfair and doesn’t even really make sense with the literature.  This is because it is usually only endurance athletes and anorexic women who make headlines in this way.  But perhaps this one effect of the paleo diet, the weight loss, is just one part of many that disrupt the hormone balance in women.

Secondly, I have read many assertions that weight lifting shifts the body towards great androgen production.  Greater muscle mass = more testosterone?  According to weight lifting gurus at least, yes.    Additionally, overtraining decreases testosterone levels.  A lot of paleo dieters are careful not to overtrain.  I know this is silly– I’m not telling you to train yourself into the ground– but it’s interesting.  The typical paleo kinds of exercise are testosterone friendly.  Lift heavy things occasionally and spend the rest of your time recovering.

Third, stress decreases testosterone levels.  Related to the point above with overtraining, paleo people often do their best to mitigate stress.  AND YOU SHOULD.   TESTOSTERONE IS NOT BAD.  But an array of different influences can converge on your body in negative ways.   When thinking about stress, consider this: if you have been stressed for a lot of your life, you might have just handicapped all of your hormone production.  If you work hard to reduce stress now, that balance is going to shift.  I am sure it shifts for the better, but still, if you have problematic ovaries, etc, it can be a rocky transition.

Relatedly, drinking and poor sleep both inhibit testosterone production.  If you are abstaining from alcohol and sleeping well, you will see more of this hormonal shift.

Fourth, paleo tends to decrease leptin levels just because the people on it thin out, maybe eat less frequently, and maybe eat fewer carbohydrates.  With less leptin in your system, you can disrupt hypothalamic signalling to your pituitary gland, which I do not recommend.

Fifth, different kinds of paleo diets can influences your hormonal profile in different ways.  For example, a diet heavy in nuts will give you both excess phytoestrogens as well as a lot of omega 6.  This can actually increase your systemic inflammation rather than decrease it.   More strikingly, dairy is phenomenally testosterogenic.  I know personally that I stopped menstruation in November after losing weight on a crash diet, went paleo in March and saw no improvement, and in June, when I started eating a lot of cheese, finally starting breaking out a lot.  Later I put back on some weight, stopped eating dairy and all phytoestrogenic foods, and still did not have any success inducing ovulation.  Clearly I had a number of issues going on.  But the dairy was an exacerbator, no questions about it.  BUTTER was problematic, too.  Many people on paleo eat butter but not other forms of dairy because butter doesn’t contain casein or lactose.  It doesn’t matter; it still has hormonal effects.  If you’re going to eat a paleo diet, especially as a woman, be wary of the way different foods can influence your body chemistry.

Sixth, paleo foods, specifically the animal-source foods and high-fat foods, in and of themselves can exacerbate problems in women with PCOS.  There are several reasons.

Here’s one:  fats are used to synthesize DHEA-S.  DHEA-S is technically an androgen, but it is also generally regarded as the precursor sex hormone.    All hormones derive from DHEA-S, including estrogen.   Women with PCOS often have elevated DHEA-S levels and lower estrogen levels.  This seems to imply that there is a problem with conversion between DHEA-S and estrogen.  If there is in fact an issue with conversion, then when the woman in question eats DHEA-S-stimulated foods, she will continually elevate her DHEA-S while not having success converting it to estrogen.  The result is a worsening of PCOS symptoms.

However, there are many different hormone profiles for PCOS.  If a PCOS patient has low hormone levels across the board, she should try to increase her DHEA-S.

Here’s another: sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG) binds with androgens in the blood.  If you have high SHBG levels, your androgen level is likely low, and vice versa.  (Know also that if you have high androgen levels, it is probable that you have low SHBG.  There is a direct correlation.)  High levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 decrease SHBG (thereby increasing testosterone levels).   The jury is definitively still out on this, but many researchers have published papers such as this one arguing that a high protein diet increases levels of IGF-1 in the blood.  If you are eating a super high diet like I have for much of the last couple of years, and you are worried about your SHBG levels, consider lowering the protein content of your diet.

*Sidenote: you can increase SHBG by increasing thyroid hormone levels.  (!) (!)

Personally, I think a low-ish protein diet is important not just for adrenal but also for general health.  Lower protein diets are associated with increased life span.   I have argued in many places that protein is necessary both for your health and your satiety, and god damnit of course it is, but don’t go wild.  .5 g/lb of lean body weight for someone who doesn’t exercise excessively is, imho, ideal.  Relatedly, anecdotally, I have also noticed that the satiating effects of protein–again, while crucial–really hit a ceiling.  I can have ten bites and feel full-ish, or I can eat a hundred bites and feel the same way.

Finally, low carbohydrate diets decrease the conversion of T4 to T3 in the liver.  If you eat a low carb paleo diet, you may become hypothyroid over time, depending on the rest of your hormonal profile.  Really, really bad news.


All this said, paleo is of course awesome for health in general and works wonders for a lot of people.  It’s also a great way to treat PCOS, as Peggy has shown.  BUT for those of us who have different issues, who perhaps over-eat certain foods like dairy or nuts, or who are looking for new ways to play with food and our hormones since what we have already done with a paleo diet has not worked, these are some ideas at least worth throwing around.


Compare Health Insurance (!)


01 2012

Pepper’s advanced paleo archives: >200 kick ass posts for growing your perspective

Click here for the Introductory Archives.

What follows is a natural extension of the work I’ve done on the last two archives.  My primary aim in starting those archives was to provide to my readers with an overview of the vast wealth of research and work out there showing why an evolutionary perspective is important.  If that list of blog posts doesn’t convince you to give paleo eating a shot, I don’t know what will.

But I also struggled, when compiling that list, with thoughts like: “yes, but…”  For example: I wanted to present a clear picture of weight loss.  But there isn’t a clear picture of weight loss!   Even more controversial is CarbsGood versus CarbsBad, or InsulinOkay versus InsulinBad.  There exist, also, different opinions on ketosis, dairy, macronutrients, hormone regulation, how bad wheat is for non-celiacs, whether or not it’s good to eat fruit, hell, even the metabolic advantage… The point is:  there exists one consensus:  Paying attention to evolution is a good idea.  But what are the particulars?   What are the nuances?  Where is today’s cutting edge and insight? I’m really interested in these dialogues, and I know thousands of you are, too.

Here, I have compiled different positions on ‘controversial’ topics.  Instead of trying to convince you to go paleo, here, I am hoping to open your mind and show you the vast intellectual debate, exploration, and integrity going on out there.  It’s pretty amazing, and it is ridiculously difficult to keep up with, but I do my best.  The advanced archive is, thus, as follows:

Table of Contents:

Evolutionary History

Contemporary Non-SAD


Weight management and body composition: calories in v calories out?

Metabolic Regulation


Raw v cooked

Infectious diseases


Gluten and grains toxicity


Fructose toxicity





Evolutionary history

The case of the missing extinctions

The western diet and lifestyle and diseases of civilization

The health of hunter-gatherers versus agriculturalists

The worst mistake the history of the human race by Jared Diamond

Estimated macronutrient and fatty acid intakes from an East African Paleolithic diet

Early man in UK 780 000 years ago

The evolution of costly traits

Things that get on my nerves: the thrifty gene hypothesis

Ethnobiological commentary: Professor “gumby”

What can the diet of gorillas tell us about humans?

No baked potatoes for ancient Europeans

The new genetics: introduction and Part IV: Who’s in the driver’s seat?

How long does it take for a food related trait to evolve?

Contemporary non-SAD

Nutrition and physical degeneration

The Mbuti of Eastern Zaire

Okinawa: the island of pork

Masai and atherosclerosis

Exercise and body fat and hunter-gatherer activity

The Tokelau Island migrant study

The Tokelau Island migrant study: the final word

SAD versus traditional Japanese diets

Loren Cordain Plant-Animal Subsistence Ratios and Macronutrient Energy Estimations in Worldwide Hunter-Gatherer diets

The Inuit: Lessons from the Arctic

Mortality and lifespan of the Inuit

Cancer among the Inuit

Interview with a Kitavan

Kitava: wrapping it up

Cardiovascular risk factors in Kitava: Part IV

Kitavans: Wisdom from the Pacific Islands

Kitava and Uric acid

Living on Kitava

Leptin and lectins: Kuna

Say hello to the Kuna

Genetics and disease: the Pima

More Masai

Contradicting conventional wisdom: Bantu and Masai

Glucose tolerance in non-industrial cultures

Potato eating cultures

In search of traditional Asian diets

I’m so bored of the Kitavans

The Mediterranean diet: Pasta or pastrami?

Weston A Price and Sub Saharan tribes

The good Scots diet

Thailand: land of the coconut

Merrie Olde England

Koreans and beef

Surprising facts about Japanese foodways

Eating by the seasons in Russia

Australian Aborigines: Living off the fat of the land


9 Steps to perfect health number four: supplement wisely

Multi-vitamins boost breast cancer risk

Any point in antioxidant supplements?

Antioxidants do more harm than good?

Is red wine good for you?

Folic acid

Vitamin D supplementation bad?

The vitamin primer

From seafood to sunshine: a new understanding of vitamin D

Vitamin A on trial: does vitamin A cause osteoporosis?

Copper-zinc imbalance: more problems with plant based diets

The great iodine debate

Vitamin B12: Vital for good health

Vitamin B6: the underappreciated vitamin

Magnificent magnesium

Mineral primer

Are protein supplements as good as advertised?

Adiponectin supplementation: body fat loss

The mechanism of green tea

Vitamin K2: a summary


Fish oil or not?

Mark sisson on multivitamins

Throwing the gauntlet: omega 3 supplementation recommendations

Plants and plant compounds are not essential or magic

Weight management and body fat storage: calories in v calories out?

The China Study: Carbohydrates, fat, calories, insulin, and obesity

Clarifications about insulin, leptin, and reward

Carbsane: Why I eat low carb

Calories, fat, or carbohydrates: why diets work (when they do)

The twinkie diet for fat loss

Non-exercise activities like fidgeting may account for 1000 percent difference in body fat gain

How to lose weight

Spontaneous calorie reduction on low carb diet

3500 calories =? 1 pound?

A calorie is a calorie!

Exercise versus diet for weight loss

Leptin, Insulin, adipose tissue, and regulatory hormone

Is insulin resistance really making us fat?

The body fat setpoint: how to change it

Why we get fat

Carbsane Vs Taubes on Why we get fat

Do other theories dispel the calorie hypothesis?  Carbsane response to Guyenet

Views on insulin and obesity

Fasting insulin and weight loss

Low carb, central adiposity, estrogen, and insulin resistance

Regulation of circulating adiponectin

Atrial Natriuretic Peptide: Another fat mobilization hormone?

The myth of starving cells

Microflora and energy balance

Low carb and leptin

Where does insulin resistance start?  The adipose cells

Growth hormone, insulin, body fat accumulation

Growth hormone secretion decreases with age, but not how you’d expect

Butyric acid: an ancient regulator of metabolism, inflammation and stress response

Insulin, leptin, aging, and health

Leptin resistance and sugar

Leptins and lectin

Physiological insulin resistance

Our body’s priority is preventing hypoglycemia, not hyperglycemia

Intermittent fasting, engineered foods, leptin, and ghrelin

Growth hormone: the fountain of youth

Insulin is a door-man at the fat cell night club, not a lock on the door

Insulinogenic is not hyperglycemic

Insulin and glucagon

Insulin resistance and P1K3

Type I diabetes, adiponectin, and leptin

Fat: the endocrine organ

Fasting insulin and weight loss

Fasting insulin and weight loss on a water fast

Growth hormone, insulin resistance, and body fat accumulation

Stephan Guyenet’s recent thoughts on carbohydrate and reward

Thoughts on obesity inspired by Stephan Guyenet


Short term effects of adding carbohydrate to a very low carbohydrate diet

Dangers of zero carb diets, part IV

A brief discussion of ketosis

The effects of consuming a high carbohydrate diet after 8 weeks in ketosis

Ketones and ketosis: physiological versus pathological forms

Ketosis, methylglyoxal and accelerated aging: probably more fiction than fact

Thoughts on Ketosis I and II

Autism and ketogenic diets

Why a ketogenic diet reverses kidney damage in type I and type II diabetics

Ketogenic diet

Ketosis in a low carb diet

Raw vs cooked:

The China Study: Are raw plant foods giving people cancer?

Raw paleo and food re-enactment

Raw paleo and zero carb: right for the wrong reasons

Raw journey Part I

More raw truth about raw vegan diets

Infectious diseases

Nutrition and infectious diseases

Fats and absorbing endotoxins

Short term effects of adding carbohydrates to VLC diets: endotoxins

Does celiac require an infection?

Heliobacter and glucose



Polyphenols, hormesis, and disease, part II

Polyphenol hormesis follow-up

Mother Earth and polyphenols

Gluten and grains toxicity

Quinoa, millet, emmer and einkorn wheat

Reactions to bread: gluten or fructans?

Eating gluten causes symptoms in some people who don’t have celiac disease

The China Study: Wheat might not be so bad for you if you eat 221 g of animal products daily

Traditional preparation methods increase nutritional value of grains

Wheat: in search of scientific objectivity

Minerals, milling, grains, and tubers

The argument against cereal grains

Avoid poison or neutralize it?

Where are all the healthy whole grains?

Wheat and lactose: no one is tolerant of WGA

Gluten sensitivity: promises and problems


Potato diet interpretation

Potatoes and human health, part III

Weight loss on potatoes

Interview with a Kitavan

Kitava: wrapping it up

Potato eating cultures

Taters, eh?  Saponins in potatoes are possibly important

What’s the trouble with sweet potatoes?

Fructose: controversy?

The China Study: Fruit consumption and mortality

The fructose index is the new glycemic index

The bitter truth about fructose alarmism

Why did we evolve a taste for sweetness?

Fructose, not HFCS: Serenity now, death earlier?

Fructose and the tropics

Paleo and fructose

Fructose in fruits may be good for you, especially if you are low in glycogen

Lipogenesis versus adipose tissue gain: Fructose?


Devil in the milk

Dairy fat and diabetes

Pastured dairy may prevent heart attacks

Cheese’s vitamin K2 content, pasteurization, and beneficial enzymes

Cheese consumption, visceral fat, and adiponectin levels

Lactose intolerance: Often a result of ‘silent’ wheat derived bowel disease

A taste of dairy

How dairy entered the human diet

Dairy and its effects on insulin secretion

Mark Sisson’s definitive guide to dairy

Lactase persistence in Europe

Casein versus gluten


How to raise HDL

HDL and immunity

Cholesterol and innate immunity

The central role of LDL receptor in heart disease

Myths and truths about cholesterol

What cause heart attacks?

The China study: Cholesterol seems to protect against cardiovascular disease

Meta-analysis finds no evidence that saturated fat promotes heart disease

Does dietary fat increase cholesterol or promote heart disease?

Statins and the cholesterol hypothesis, part I

Can a statin neutralize the cardiovascular risk of unhealthy dietary choices?

Dirty little secrets of the fat-heart hypothesis

Coronary heart disease: possible culprits part II

The Choline Smackdown (why you should save your liver and eat cholesterol containing foods)

When your brain is hungry for cholesterol

The diet-heart hypothesis, oxidized LDL, part II

Macronutrients: how many?  Is this even the right way to think about food?

9 Steps to perfect health part 2: Nourish your body, or, not all macronutrients are created equal

The myth of the high protein diet

Low carb diet trumps low fat

Positive and negative feedback on replacing protein with carbohydrates

Can you be lean on a low protein diet?

Protein, satiety, and body composition

Can protein turn into fat?

Dangers of zero carb diets: can there be a carbohydrate deficiency?

No such thing as a macronutrient: carbohydrates

No such thing as a macronutrient: fats

FODMAPs (a carbohydrate)

Carbs deserve a presumption of guilt

Carbohydrates: no dietary requirement but metabolically critical



06 2011

What’s on the web? Pepper’s paleo archive: 120 relevant and awesome posts

How much is on the web?  Too much?

When you’re looking for advice, or for specific information, sometimes it’s really hard to find what you’re looking for.  That’s why I try–but it really is so hard–to be as comprehensive as possible with my posts and my pages.  I want to support healthy thinking and disordered eaters as well as contribute to the Paleo Zeitgeist, and, perhaps most importantly, help my friends and family and other newcomers get going with new nutrition and new diets.   This is a huge goal and a diverse set of desires, which is why it’s so impossible to be comprehensively awesome.

Because I so desperately want to provide good information to my readers, I have begun compiling an archive of relevant posts.  It’s almost impossible to google what you want to know about nutrition and find a good answer these days.  Almost always Paleo Hacks comes up for the first ten results, and then some other advice forums.   I’ve started automatically typing -”paleo hacks” into every search bar for this very reason.  It helps, some.   But still I am often stymied.  This is because what I am really looking for is the Good Stuff.  And what I hope I am giving to you, here, is exactly that.  I should have done this sooner.  I should have started years ago.  But better late than never, I am certain.

I decided to finally get started on this because I want to open up my readers  to the vast wealth of research going on out there.  Yes, it’s about cutting grains.  Yes, you should cut sugar.  Yes, you should balance your omega 3 and omega 6 consumption.  But why?  How many different ways does that impact your health?  How many different body functions and micronutrients does your nutrition impact?   How many different opinions are there?  Almost countless amounts.  What I touch on in my blog is nothing. Nothing!  It truly is.   What I even touch on in this post is nothing.  The tippiest, tippiest point of the iceberg.   Stars of the paleo movement are day in day out out there on a rowboat next to the iceberg, chipping away at science, digging through academic journals and staying up to date on the latest research, and I want to help you find and navigate them.  For a number of reasons, I am not one of these stars.  Instead, I filter through their material and sometimes read the academic stuff, and do my best to live  and eat and recommend eating habits accordingly.   If you know me personally, you will not be surprised to learn that I have read each of these blogs in their entirety (along with the rest of the blogs in my blogroll on the right) at least once.  I think they all deserve that deep of attention and analysis.  It is unfortunate that I only have a handful of posts from each blogger on here.  All the more reason, however, to follow the link and see what you can learn.

What follows is a collection of articles by various scientists, doctors, nutritionists, and paleo lifestyle-ers on a variety of health topics.    This is so far away from comprehensive it’s ridiculous.   However, I do not want to overwhelm my new readers.   Instead,  my hope is to provide what I think is both healthy blog diversity and perhaps the best investigation on each topic. Some topics I miss and some I know I don’t do justice to– such as intermittent fasting, and also, weight loss– but 120 is, I think, a good enough starting point.  I have been working on this for many days, and it’s time for me to start going to school again.

So what’s out there that I think you should be reading, and why?  What follows are some specific articles and also general recommendations.


For the updated archives (250+), please see this post or this page.



Eating Paleo in Taiwan Food Porn, 2/6,000,000

Definitely time for an update! Lots and lots of delicious stuff to go around.  Plus I’ve been on an inspiration kick for the last couple weeks and you could probably use a break from all my soap boxing.

You’ll recall from my last post that eating paleo in Taiwan is easy.  Sure, there’s lots of noodles and rice to go around, but they are easily avoidable.   Even when in a specifically noodles or rice restaurant, it is totally cool to request a veggie replacement for your rice.  Buffets are also abundant.  This is great not only because it helps me avoid wading through a Chinese menu, but also because I get to avoid toxins and load up on all the meat balls and fish heads I could ever dream of.

You’ll also note most of my photos are fairly low quality and in take out containers.  This is because I am a giant sissy, and I don’t want to look stupid taking photos in restaurants or at markets and street-side stands, which are the truly interesting shots I’d love to share.  Anyway, this means I hurry up and snatch photos whenever I can, without much attention to detail or composition.


Item number one!  Very common here.  A whole fish on a plate, often in curry or some lemon sauce.  Broiled, baked, or steamed.  This may be haddock.  Possibly mackerel. Correct me if I’m wrong.  I don’t know what half the things I eat here are called, in Chinese or in English.  n00b.

Take out number one.  Steamed fish filet on top of cabbage, seaweed and some sort of noodle (avoided!), and what looks like a mushroomy thang sandwiched in the upper left hand corner.

This is a close up of seaweed sauteed in pork fat.  Touche, Taiwan.  Touche.

Lots of stuff going on here.  At the very top: fried sweet potato.  I’m pretty sure the Taiwanese roll the sweet potato as-is in a tiny bit of sugar then drop it in a deep frier.  Not great for your health, but not horrific, either.  Plus, these things are hugely addictive.  I have to try really hard not to over-do it.  Below the sweet potato is a slab of barbeque-fried mackerel.  I’m sure the fish sauce has some omega 6′s in it, but hopefully that’s balanced by the omega 3s in the fish itself.   It’s a bit sweet (as, unfortunately, many typically savory dishes are in Taiwan, perhaps the only Taiwan downside).  Below that, on the right, is an egg and scallion “pancake,” but it’s just eggs so it’s really no pancake at all.  On the bottom left, of course, is my heaping dose of seaweed again.  I love the curly ones, they’re my favorite.   Or they were.  You should know that I’ve dialed it back on the seaweed.  I think I over-did it once, finding out later I had eaten about 3000 percent my daily dose of iodine for a few days in a row, and I had this really high, no-sleep-for-two-days-but-high-energy, can-feel-my-heart-beating-in-my-chest episode.  It felt nice, rather like some of my favorite recreational drugs, but hyperthyroidism isn’t the best thing in the world for our health.  Moreover, the next time I ate a big portion of seaweed I got enormously ill.  Could be completely unrelated, but now I have no taste for it at all.

Some similarities in this photo with the last one.  It’s a smorgasbord.  One stick of sweet potato, a tiny portion of scrambled egg, and another serving of seaweed are scattered throughout.  This type of seaweed is kelp, and said to have the most iodine in it.  Also here:  bottom middle: sauteed bamboo.  Savory and tangy and a bit chewy, it goes great with mushrooms, with seaweed, and with eggplant or potatoes.  Bottom left: meatballs, which are surprisingly common here, and which have fairly western flavors.  I like them a lot, despite the fact that I don’t exactly know what’s going into them.  And finally, upper left: chicken stomachs!  A staple at my favorite buffet.  I eat them often.  I don’t know how nutritious they are, exactly, but since they’re organs I snarf ‘em.  My other “go to” buffet has an absolutely to-die-for cucumber, pepper, and liver dish.  I’ll get some photos of that one in the next post.

Finally some food that I know intimately how it was made!  Because I made it!  Welcome to my kitchen.  This is a heaping many-days-serving load of cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, carrots and cabbage in the back, fresh from the street market.  On the right is a dish of minnows and mini shrimp.  This is my favorite snack of all time.  Take a bag of minnows and throw them right on the stove with some butter, salt, garlic, and onions.   Or just them and butter is fine.  Stir ‘em up for ten minutes and you’re good to go to munch on all week.  The little shrimp are the same.  Sometimes I toss ‘em together, and sometimes I leave ‘em separate.   They’re crunchy and salty and fishy in the best proportions imaginable, and I really, really hope I’ll be able to get my hands on some in the states.  On the front left are some cuttle fish.  Like… mini squid?  I guess.  Also for these, just buy ‘em and throw ‘em in a pan to sautee.  I eat them whole.  They taste great but can get a bit.. pungent?.. in the digestive track and brain.  Still, the body and tentacles and whole shebang really is another fantastic paleo snack.

I’ve really been getting my fair dose of omega 3s lately, eating mostly veggies and seafood.  My skin has cleared up enormously, so now I know that a lot of my acne problems were due to inflammation.   There’s also a lot of salmon here, for really cheap.  My favorite buffet (again! told you it’s great!) had salmon in it this week, so I filled up two carry out containers and walked home with EIGHT SALMON FILETS FOR FOUR DOLLARS.  This is the coolest thing that’s happened to me all week.

Finally, some sweet lime-orange-mango-vodka drink thing.  Life ain’t about perfection, it’s about life. Drink up!

Hopefully I’ll grow a strong pair of balls or ovaries and get some awesome behind-the-scenes shots for you for next.



04 2011

Best paleo foods to eat after sugar binge

So you’ve done it.  You ate more than you wanted to.  Or you ate foods you think are unhealthful.  You feel overly full, perhaps, and maybe are slammed with a sugar rush, and you are (wrongly) feeling shitty and guilty about the whole thing.  What do you do?  I get asked about post-binge/ post-sugar behavior a lot.  I don’t have all the answers.  But I do have some.


What happens to our bodies when we binge?

Mostly, we get flooded.  Our hormones get right down to work, and do their assigned jobs with absolute vigor.  We’ve consumed lots of carbohydrate, so our blood glucose and our insulin levels spike.  The blood glucose eventually crashes, so we feel lethargic and perhaps dizzy in the end, but in the beginning we feel high and charged.  Often, I think, we feel good enough that we try to maintain this high, and therefore keep on eating.  This is a strong motivator both for bingeing and for grazing behaviors.

Another strong motivator is dopamine, which gets released in the brain when we eat.  Those of us who have experience with overeating know this phenomenon well.  The more conditioned a response–that is, the more of a habit this behavior is for us–the stronger the desire for dopamine, and the more relieving it feels to finally eat.  This relief and this pleasure is so strong that it keeps us eating.

So sugar and fat are processed in the intestines and in the liver and then getting stored as fat.  Protein is much more difficult to convert and to store, so its likely that if protein has been a part of our binge, it is being sent to become molecular backbones for a whole range of cell types, particularly muscles.  If we ate” too much” protein (more than 1 g/day/lb of body weight, generally), our body will convert it to glucose in the liver, and it will be handled by insulin like the rest of the glucose already in our bloodstreams.

The food in our systems is all the while triggering the release of satiation hormones.  The biological need to eat has passed.   Ghrelin, the “appetite” hormone produced primarily in the stomach, decreases after food has entered the stomach.  Insulin acts on the hypothalamus and tells our brains we’ve had enough.   Cholecystokinin, glucagon-like peptide 1, and peptide y are all produced by the gut and signal satiation.   Lots and lots is going on here.  But: “I don’t know what it feels like to be ‘satiated’!” you cry.  Amen.  It’s… I don’t know.  Difficult.  Really, really fucking difficult. Those of us who binge, or who graze, or who have some sort of unhealthful relationship with food often have dysregulated appetite signalling.  Or we’ve got it just fine but don’t know what to do it with.  So we binge.   We never feel satiated, and we don’t know how to stop.  But we employ certain strategies and eat certain foods and think certain ways… and in the end we find progress.  Over time.  And perhaps get better and better at hearing the signals of our hormones.

In any case.  We’ve now flooded our systems with food and with the appropriate hormones and we’re each wondering… how the hell do I get back on track?  Is it hopeless?  Is it futile?  Can I still be healthy?  Can I still be me?


How do you recover?


First, you fast.  Easier said than done, I know.  But hear me out:

Fasting is great for your system, metabolically.  It triggers autophagy–a sort of cellular clean up–increases insulin sensitivity, and generally allows your body to clean up shop, get efficient, and perform damage control.  If the idea of a fast doesn’t scare you, doesn’t further dis-regulate your eating, and won’t be further stressing out your adrenal system, consider waiting a while before you eat.  Determine the proper time period for you.  Is it the following morning?  Afternoon?  Evening?  Or another great idea: wait until you feel absolutely, certainly physically hungry before you eat again.  That way, you’ll know that you’ve maximized the calories and benefit you can get from the foods you binged on, and your body is now hormonally and physically primed to resume eating.  This will help you feel positive about your self, affirmed about your actions, and physically much better all at the same time.

You may also, of course, exercise during that time.  (!)

And what foods do you eat?  Whether you’re coming off of a fast or not, what helps your body and your mind the most?

Eat protein. Protein is a vital part of every cell.  Therefore, when we consume protein, a lot of it is going to go directly to cell maintenance and repair, and will not be stored as fat.  Protein, when digested, also comes with a thermal effect, which means, in essence, that it creates some excess energy (re: heat) when digested.  It’s “harder” to digest than carbohydrates or fat, so our body expends more energy (that heat) when digesting it.  Bottom line: metabolically, you work the hardest to break it down, so if you’re looking for a low-impact, highly satiating food, protein is your star.

Some great proteins to eat would be eggs, which are high in protein, important vitamins and minerals, and saturated fat.  Also: fish, which is high in protein, high in omega 3s, and low in just about every other kind of fat.  It is also relatively low in density, and fairly low calorie, if that is a concern of yours.  Also: beef, lamb, or pork.  Ruminants have awesome protein, vitamins, saturated fat contents, and pretty good omega 3/6 ratios.  Eat a lean portion if you just want the high protein content, but fat is great for satiation, so go ahead and eat up as much of the fat as you like.

Eat fat.  Animal fat. Re: eggs, fish, and meat, as stated above.  Bacon. Fat gets you all kinds of wonderful satiation hormone activity, so eat up!  Try eating in small quantities at first.  Since you’re coming right off of a binge, you don’t actually need all that many calories to maintain your weight and your health.  What you’re looking for in this meal is a regulator, something to take the place of a meal, and something healthy and filling that can get you back on track.  Perhaps have a few eggs fried in butter, one hamburger patty, or one half filet of salmon.  These foods are hugely nutritious and hugely satisfying, even when we have somewhat messy relationships with feelings of fullness.

If you feel the need to keep eating, however, or perhaps to fill up your stomach with more stuff, supplement your animal foods with some nice, fibrous veggies.   Sometimes when I come off of a period of overeating I feel the need to ramp down slowly.  So I might do a whole head of cabbage for lunch one day, and then have a protein/fat heavy meal for dinner.

The point here is to think about your favorite healthful (PALEO) food, to get as much satiation from it as possible, and to make sure you get as much satisfaction out of this time period as possible. You want to be healthy, and to “stay on track” but you never want to create feelings of deprivation.  One negative eating episode won’t derail you (IT WON’T), so just fast a  bit and eat your favorite paleo foods and continue to revel in how awesome you treat yourself and your body.

You also need to think about you. How do you react to certain foods?  What made you binge in the first place?  Is that trigger removed from your life?  What foods will help you get back on track as soon as possible?

And you need to think about your psychological response. Despair is a big NO.  Self hate is a big NO.  Disordered eating is a monster and you are amazing for resisting it as often and as well as you do.  The fact that it got you this time is OK, and natural, and, in fact, inevitable.  So forgive yourself for bingeing, and consider it a natural part of your healing process.  Use the binge as a learning episode and continue your paleo lifestyles as healthfully and happily as you had been before.  If you really, really can’t resist the pull of sugar, phase it out of your life gradually.  The next day, have some sweet potatoes and enjoy them and consider it a wonderful and healthy paleo way to ease back into excellence.  Recall that your body is in fact a temple and you are going to continue treating it with as much love as you were previously.  And in the days following your binge you will eat the best paleo foods for your body and for your particular soul, and it will feel good and satiating and all will settle with time.



04 2011