Nell Stephenson – Paleoista
Jonathan: Hey, everybody! Jonathan Bailor here with another bonus Smarter Science of Slim podcast. Today, we have a treat because we have an author and a speaker with us who, I’m going to say it and I hope I don’t offend her, really brings the sexy back to health and nutrition wellness ancestral living and that author is none other than Nell Stephenson. Nell, the reason I say you bring the sexy back is because I think you take something which sometimes people may call the ‘caveman diet’ and you show it in… you turn into a much more friendly and sexy and doable and practical just way of living, and I appreciate that and that’s why I wanted to bring you on the show.
Nell: Well, thank you so much and I’m very glad to hear you say that because that is precisely what I want to do. I want to take this healthy way of eating which we call the Paleo diet and show everybody that it’s actually not that strange. It’s just a common sense approach to eating. Lots of healthy local vegetables with some fruit, wild proteins and healthy fat, nothing in a packaged or wrapper so you think about it in that type of a terminology, it’s just common sense eating and I really like to present it in a manner that everybody can do it in an easy friendly welcoming way rather than making it appear that you have to be a caveman or something like that which just isn’t the case.
Jonathan: Absolutely. Especially, since cave women are just as relevant in many households even really the arbiters of how individuals are eating more so ensuring we communicate it in a message that’s friendly in that sense is also very important.
Jonathan: Well Nell, just to back up a little bit, one of the things that I love about you is you worked with Dr. Cordain who in many ways is the founder of the modern Paleo or ancestral movement. I love to just back up and talked about your story and how you got hooked up with Dr. Cordain, how you got turned on to just eating real food and all that kind of fun stuff.
Nell: Absolutely. I actually found out about the Paleo diet by accident. I had stomach issues in my entire life and I couldn’t figure out what was causing them because I was eating what I thought was a healthy diet and I was getting sicker every day. It basically got to the point where I was having to go to the emergency room, having to go see G.I specialist. None of them would asked what I was eating which I thought was kind of strange. I was given lots of different prescription medication, different diagnoses for things like irritable bowel, colitis. Told not to eat vegetables because it would be too harsh on my stomach, all kinds of advice that I just thought was very nonsensical.
I was just frustrated and thought there’s got to be something that I’m eating that’s causing this distress so I went online and learned that we can have a latent allergy to gluten which means sort of working there in the background and it might happen when you’re two years old. It might happen when you’re 70 but something occurs in your body just kind of says “I had enough. I can’t take anymore gluten.” I refer to it as a gluten tipping point in my book and after I learned about that I began eating a gluten-free diet for about a year, and I felt a lot better but after learning that something I ate my entire life which I thought was good for me was actually causing so much harm, I felt there was a little seed of doubt planted.
I wondered what else I might be eating that I thought was good for me which actually wasn’t so I went back online and did a little bit more research and that’s where I stumbled upon the Paleo diet which basically just talks about the connection between lots of the diseases and illnesses we see in today’s society that are killing us as a society that weren’t present when we ate a more natural whole diet before the agricultural revolution, and I just thought it made sense to try it so I gave it a try and I felt so much better in such a short period of time that I was convinced. I didn’t need any further proof than that and I felt compelled to write to Dr. Cordain just to say thank you because his work changed my life.
Little did I expect that he would actually reply and say that he, first of all, wanted to use my email as a testimonial but also invited me to be part of his newsletter because he liked my writing style. I had already begun my blog which I contribute to every single day which is about all things Paleo so that’s how our relationship started and we worked together on an implementation program the following year and then finally, he invited me to co-author his cookbook in 2010. Until this day he remains my mentor and somebody I highly recommend anybody who’s interested in Paleo or just living a healthy lifestyle. His books are, I think a crucial part of anybody’s Paleo library.
Jonathan: That’s so awesome, Nell and just to bring a few things home and to shine a light on few excellent points you made there for the audience so for folks who aren’t familiar, Dr. Loren Cordain is in Colorado State University, is that correct?
Jonathan: Dr. Cordain has been doing… at this point, I have no idea how many academic and peer reviewed papers he’s published but Dr. Cordain was one of the academic founders and really a champion in the academic world of bringing what is popularly called the ‘Paleo diet’ but one thing I love you mentioned Nell, which is more just eating foods we evolved to eat. In fact, it’s actually the normal diet. If you look at the span of human existence, it is what we ate for the vast majority of time.
In some way, it’s unfortunate that we nowadays refer to it as a diet because in some ways it is the normal way of eating and the way we’re eating now is a diet so Dr. Cordain popularized that. The thing that I love that you said, Nell was the idea of making healthy healthy again or doing things that you were told were healthy were actually making you sick and discovering a way of eating which I like to actually call the normal way of eating. We look at the broad scope of time and making healthy healthy again.
Nell: Exactly. That’s one of the reasons why I like your videos so much, too is we feel the need to sort of categorize and tag all these different methods of eating but just the idea of telling people to eat real food, it’s so simple but it has become so complicated because several reasons. Most people want a quick fix. They might have taken five or seven years to become 50 or 100 pounds overweight yet they think they want to lose that weight in two weeks or after a lifetime of eating poorly, they’ve developed different health issues and rather than look at what they are eating, they go to the doctor and asked for prescriptions and continue eating the junk which is causing it in the first place.
It’s kind of a Band-Aid. There’s a lot of work to be done but I think if we realize how simple it is in terms of what we actually are supposed to be eating and then, just recondition ourself to understand how easy it is, I think it can change things tremendously.
Jonathan: We want to dig in to that, Nell because one of the biggest pieces of feedback I get is without question that this is simple. The analogy I always use is to smoking. If you don’t want to get lung cancer, it’s very simple, just don’t smoke.
Jonathan: Where it becomes more simple but maybe not easy. And where I love in your insight is imagine we were living in the 1920s where almost everyone smokes. Smoking was legal everywhere. Avoiding second-hand smoke was almost inevitable. It was nearly impossible because in some ways that’s the world we live in today where it’s simple, we just eat things we find it directly in nature. However, that’s not easy given the “second-hand smoke” we’re exposed to everywhere we go. How can we make it easier in today’s modern society?
Nell: I think part of it is education. Learning what actually is. What’s in our food? Where is it coming from? Asking questions. The simplest thing that we can all do without spending a dime or even really spending any time is stop buying the junk. It might seem a small trivial thing but these big companies that are selling us all these things that are so bad for us they’re doing it because they are making a lot of money out of it and the only way to send a message to these big companies is to stop contributing to them so every time you don’t go to McDonald’s, every time you don’t buy that junkie candy bar, every time you don’t buy that 64 ounce soda, that’s a way to send a very strong message, so that’s one thing that we can all do.
It’s something we can all do. It doesn’t matter if we’re student on a budget or somebody with all the money in the world. Just sending that message is very important. Asking questions and learning about what we’re actually supposed to be eating and really taking the common sense back into it even if you’re not somebody with the science background or you haven’t really paid that much attention to mind/body connection and that sort of thing but just really, really taking a step back and thinking of the common sense. Looking at something in a wrapper, in a package that which has an ingredient list 20 things long. Some of which you can’t even identify as food yet it’s easy.
Therefore, and a lot of people’s opinion of good reason to eat that versus taking maybe an extra couple of minutes when you are at the grocery store to grab an apple and some sliced turkey and maybe some spinach and make a quick salad on the go or something like that. It’s just a matter of learning and reconditioning bad habits and replacing them with new good habits, and the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
Jonathan: Well Nell, what do you say? One thing that you do so well… I know you work with people a lot and you have all these wonderful downloadable guides that really outline just literally everything you need to do day in, day out, what you’re eating day by day, meal by meal and those are available at your website, Paleoista.com which is P-A-L-E-O-I-S-T-A.com but what can people do or start doing today to start living that lifestyle to make it easier?
Nell: I refer to this in my book, too. There’s three steps that I refer to which the first of which is the kitchen makeover or a kitchen clean out during which you take everything out of the kitchen that’s not good for you and get rid of it. If you feel better, you can always donate the non-perishable goods to a local food bank, that type of thing but get rid of anything with white sugar in it, with flour in it, with all these different types of refined products that do nothing other than increase the shelf life. Get rid of all the junk, all the sugar it make and kind of start over with a clean slate. Clean the kitchen out, literally.
Then, step two is going to a healthy grocery store field trip, if you want to call it as a field trip, if it’s a new adventure for you and that could occur at a Whole Foods. It could occur at your local farmer’s market. If you’re on a budget, it could occur at a local chain grocery store. Just learning how to budget accordingly and having a plan going to the market, shopping around the perimeter which is where you’ll find all the fresh produce, vegetables, and fruit. You’ll find the meat section, the fish section and so on. Going and coming home really just armed with abundance of fresh local foods.
Then, step three is what refer to as an hour in the kitchen and a mere two times per week if you can spend one hour doing things like steaming a couple of batches of veggies, baking a couple of proteins, washing your whole piece of the fruits, washing and spending your lettuce leaves. That sort of thing. After you come home from the grocery store then you see an entire refrigerator full of fresh ready to eat foods and that is incredibly time saving and none of us have lots of free time these days. That’s a very important thing is just having that food ready, prepared and you can take it one step further and package everything to go, whether you’re going to work or your kids are going school.
It really, really takes a lot of the stressing and the effort out of it by just being so prepared because you’ll always be with your food and you’ll never have to worry about whether or not you’ll be able to get a healthy option or what additives it might have, and then if you can do that most of the time, it balances out with the time when you do go out to the restaurant. I enjoy eating out at least once a week, if not twice and it’s completely doable. It’s just a matter of asking a lot of questions and learning who does the best steak. It doesn’t have soy marinated and can you ask for some steamed vegetables rather than rice pilaff off on the side and things like that. It’s all about the delivery of the order and most of the time, the server is more than happy to help you because they’ll stand to get a better gratuity anyway.
Jonathan: What I love what you said, Nell about the time in the kitchen because you mentioned it’s really just a couple of hours and we’re so quick in our culture to throw time at the gym, right? We’ll spend time driving to the gym, driving home from the gym, showering after the fact, doing our hair. At the end of the day, this 30 minute workout ends up being this two hour ordeal and honestly, if we spent those two hours divided across two days, if you spend three additional hours in the kitchen, you’re good for the week and what that will do in my experience for your health and well-being is dramatically superior to jogging for five hours a week.
Nell: Right. Yeah, people don’t realize the significance of the nutrition and that’s something that I’m really trying to get across to people is there seems to be this big misconception that “Oh, I’ve gone to the gym for an hour so I can eat whatever I want for the rest of the day.” or in the athlete population that I worked with as well, there’s this thought that “Oh, I raced marathons so I can eat whatever I want. I can get away with it.” It’s just not the case. I supposed you could say, they’re getting away with it in the sense that they can probably eaten more calories than somebody who’s sedentary and not gain as much weight but that doesn’t matter. The bottom line is you’re putting junk in, you’re going to get junk out so people don’t understand the way food works.
It’s not the case of just numbers. I love what you said about the body not being a math problem but a biology system so it’s not just a matter of find out your height and weight and then that’s the number of calories you need a day and it doesn’t matter where they are coming. I think it’s quite interesting to learn about how the different foods affect the body and learning how to balance out the macro-nutrients so that you’re not functioning on a blood sugar highs and lows and insulin responses which is going to lead to diabetes over time but just really keeping it balanced. Eating real foods throughout the day is really the way to go.
Jonathan: Well Nell, you mentioned a word there ‘balanced’ which conjures up thoughts in my mind of this other word which I actually consider a dirty word nowadays and that’s ‘moderation’ because I think that word kind of balance. For example, Nell, if you went on a daytime talk show, I can imagine you coming in saying a lot of what you said here and then the camera would cut away. You’d go behind the stage and the news anchor would say “So as Nell mentioned, it’s all about moderation so…” and actually that’s not what we’re saying. It actually sounds that there’s some foods here which even in moderation can do quite a bit of damage.
Nell: Absolutely. I actually did a blog post on that very topic not too long ago. That idea drives me absolutely nuts that everything should be eaten in moderation. It’s ridiculous because look at white sugar. White sugar is so toxic, so potent and I don’t hesitate to refer to it as far as what it really is. It’s a drug. There is a study that was out last year where rats were fed… at one point in the study they were fed sugar and at one point they were fed cocaine and when they have the option to choose, they all chose sugar. When the sugar was taken away from them. They withdrew into a fetal position and began shaking. What is that sound like? That sounds rats withdrawing from a drug. I don’t take this lightly. I don’t mean to be offensive. I understand the magnitude of people that are dealing with drug addiction. In fact, I have a family member who’s going through a heroin addiction right now so I’ve seen that firsthand so it’s not to make light of that.
However, in that case, never in a million years would you tell that person “Oh, you’re trying to deal with the heroin addiction, let’s just give you a little bit now and then.” Again, I don’t think that’s an extreme exaggeration. I think that’s a legitimate way to compare it. Any amount of white sugar is too much. There’s nothing remotely healthy about it. There’s no reason why anybody can argue that it’s a good thing to have in your diet and the problem is… I’m sure lots of your audience listening can identify with this. How often have you said “I’m just going to have one cookie?” Well, how often does it really one cookie? Because when you eat that white sugar, the pleasure center in your brain is basically it gets a high.
It tells your body that it’s a good idea to have more and at that particular moment in time, there’s a chemical reaction that goes on and you feel at that particular moment in time that you should go ahead and have more. Then, you have all the other emotions tied to it. “I’ll be good tomorrow. I’m just going to have this one last vestibule of eating ice cream and cookies.” and that kind of thing. It just needs to be stopped immediately so that’s really why I have an issue with that everything in moderation thing.
The other thing is with Paleo, when you’re eating a balance diet and you’re satiating and you’re eating food that’s not only good for you but taste good and balanced and your blood sugar stays level. You don’t want those things that you think you might be craving right now. You honestly don’t especially if you can identify those things with making you feel poorly or actually making you sick. It becomes a lot easier to take them out from your diet permanently.
Jonathan: I think you hit the nail on the head, Nell, which is for a lot of individuals trying to eat some of these toxic edible products in moderation is actually harder than if you were to just avoid them for let’s say three weeks. Then, you don’t want them anymore because you said, if your goal is to not overeat girl scout cookies because I’m seeing those getting sold over the place now, so I love Thin Mints. For me personally, I’m sure for a lot of our listeners, if my goal is to avoid eating an entire package of Thin Mints, I would be better served to not eat any of them rather than just eat one of them because that one is not going to do anything to satisfy me, it’s only going to make me want more.
Jonathan: That’s all it does. It doesn’t satisfy you. It actually just drives you to eat more.
Nell: Exactly. That’s the thing is looking at the Paleo diet, you’re so balanced and everything is so local and fresh and all the nutrients are being provided to your body and is there a room for a treat in the Paleo diet? Yes, there is but it’s meant to something that you have on moderation like once in a while or on a special occasion. For example, I have a recipe for Paleo truffle which is very definite. It’s made with very high quality raw chocolates, raw cacao rather, coconut oil, almond butter and that type of thing but there’s this little tiny truffles that you make, you have one and because it’s balanced out with the fat from the coconut oil and the almond oil and there’s no refined sugar in it, you could have this treat once in a while.
I’m talking about on a birthday, on Christmas or something like that but it’s not meant to be something you’re having on a daily basis and that kind is where one of the main thing that we need to rethink is desserts, treats, that type of thing aren’t something that we need to have regularly.
Jonathan: Well Nell, you made a key point there which is also the inclusion of fats in these treats because my podcast co-host Carrie Brown, she is a former world-class pastry chef from England and what she started to do is she has made what we call SANE or more Paleo friendly versions of all of these kinds of treats and what you find is that when you have these wonderfully healthy fats like coconut and raw un-Dutch cocoa and you eat a SANE or Paleo friendly cupcake which is made with a coconut flour or things like that, it actually does satisfy you. Where this empty toxic treats really don’t do anything to satisfy, they actually just trigger cravings, when we enjoy these healthy fats, in addition to, potentially natural and less damaging ways of providing a sweet taste, those actually do satisfy.
Nell: Absolutely. It just reconditioning that whole sugar high and low and also the fear of eating fats. So many people, myself, I used to fall into this categories as well, being a child prior to the early 90s when we have the low fat thing going on, but so many people are afraid to eat more fat. Again, Paleo is not a high fat diet, it’s just higher than the typical recommendation of My Plate, but people think “I’m trying to lose weight, won’t fat make me fat?”
Actually, that’s not the case. If you’re talking about real, healthy fat like avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, the fat we find in a piece of wild salmon, those are all good fats and not only do they help you feel more satisfied, they help you absorb many of the vitamins and nutrition and minerals that are in other parts of our diet. Fat is actually good for you and including more of that makes you far less likely to have a binge and far less likely to have a craving in the first place.
Jonathan: Absolutely, absolutely. I think that’s so key but what do you say for individuals who do have… I have a sweet tooth. I have a notorious sweet tooth and I’ve found healthy ways of indulging it but for individuals or even for children who do have those sweet tooths. For me personally, I’ve found that it’s not actually the sweet as much as it is the flavor of cocoa so if I eat un-Ducth cocoa I find that my sweet craving goes away. It looks I’m actually not craving sweets, I’m craving something else. Have you found other tips or tricks like that?
Nell: Well, actually, rather than having a tip board, what I do is when I have a client that says “I have a sweet tooth.” that raises a red flag for me because I want to know when somebody says ‘sweet tooth’ or ‘crave sugar’, we need to back track. What did you eat last? How much do you eat? Was it properly portioned? Was the macro-nutrient ratio accurate? If you were exercising, did you factor a recovery meal or snack from the exercises? What did you eat before you work out?
All these things because anytime your brain gets to that place where it’s saying “I need sugar. I want sugar. I crave sugar. I have a sweet tooth.” that tells me your blood sugar is dropping and so the normal reaction is that the brain tells you, “You need sugar.” which it does, but that doesn’t mean you have to go right into going hardcore candy fix because even if you start to get into that place where you’re little too hungry and your blood sugar is dropping, you can still nip the instant response in the bud by having a healthy protein, fat, vegetable type of a combination.
Say you’re working from home one afternoon and four o’clock rools around and you’re starting to feel a little sleepy, irritable, cross-eyed, whatever your specific symptoms of hunger seems to be rather than just saying “I’m going go out for an ice cream. I’m going to the coffee shop and have a coffee and a milkshake.” or rather a cake and a milkshake which is a muffin and a whippy coffee drink.
Nell: You can head over to the fridge and have some of that leftover chicken you have the night before with some spinach and a little bit of olive oil. Just a small bowl of it. That will actually stop the insulin response set and attracts and switch you into a glucagon response which is the antagonistic hormone to insulin which will actually tell your body “Everything is okay. Everything is balanced. We can actually go ahead and use fat for a fuel. We can save the carbohydrate for the next time our skeleton is moving.” That’s what it’s going to set you up for a weight loss if you’re trying to become a bit leaner.
Jonathan: Nell, what do you say to individuals who… it’s less of a craving, let’s say for sweet, but almost more of an emotional drive for indulgence just to feel almost a little bit naughty. Like “this is a treat, I’m going to treat myself.” How do we handle those kind of emotional eating states?
Nell: Well, that’s actually a really good question. I had so many clients. Most people these days do need to lose weight and I can’t tell you the number of clients I had will say something “I was good all week. I lost three pounds so I treated myself to an ice cream sundae over the weekend.” and that just doesn’t make any sense to me. That’s three steps forward, four steps back because that’s not the idea. Yes, you should set up a reward for yourself but it shouldn’t be a food reward. One thing I like to do is treat myself to a manicure. Some ladies out there might want to go to the spa and do manipedi or a facial.
Some of the guys out there might find a reward in the fact that now their pants sizes gone down to a 32 from a 36 or whatever the case maybe but a reward system is very important, absolutely, for both for small steps and big steps especially if you got a big goal. For example, if you thought 50 pounds to lose, a hundred pounds to lose, if that is your only goal, that’s going to be a long time in the works so it’s important to have short goals as well and not only just weight loss goals. Maybe your goal is to lose one pound a week or two pounds a week but also things… I’ve had clients who have let themselves get into a very progressed state of unhealth where walking up the stairs is difficult so that might be a little landmark.
The fact that you can now walk the stairs without feeling winded. You can walk around the block two times whereas before you can only do one so setting up a reward system is very important but it should be not a food reward because that in itself makes you sort of feel you got to… we need to move away from the idea of this is a diet with an endpoint. It’s not. It’s a lifestyle and it’s sustainable to do all the time because it is so balanced and the foods do taste so good. It’s not diet, restrictive low calorie trying to move on celery sticks and low fat cottage cheese. Not at all. It’s abundant and plentiful and so it’s sustainable long term and going back to rewards, you need to have reward absolutely but it should be not a food reward.
Jonathan: Wow, Nell. Those two points right there, I just want to bronze that up on the mantle because what you said about you’ve got have a reward system but even if you want a visceral reward like maybe get a massage.
Jonathan: There’s other ways to reward yourself that can even make you feel that guilty pleasure. Have a spa day. Do things that indulge more of these, call it almost an ‘animalistic pleasure’. There’s other ways to do that. Spa day, massage. It’s a little bit more of a visceral. Little bit more animal-like. There’s other ways to do that aren’t going to compromise your goals and may actually even further your health. I love what you said about this idea of the need to treat. As long as we think that, it reiterates in our mind that what we’re doing is temporary and what we’re doing is a form of deprivation.
I would argue that if we feel that… we’ve talked about this with Carrie on the podcast is that things which traditionally would be thought of as treats, if prepared properly are perfectly fine to eat. Let me give you an example on maybe… I don’t know if this will pass. I don’t know if this will pass the Nell test but you tell me. I had a craving for some ice cream the other day because I was out of town. I was on a family business and everyone was eating ice cream and I didn’t really want to have any ice cream but I was “I remember eating ice cream back in the day.”
When I got home from my travels, got out my Vitamix blender and I took some un-Dutch raw coca. I took some casing based all-natural protein powder which I know our ancestors didn’t have access to but it can’t be perfect, and I took some Xylitol, which is a natural less damaging sweetener and I took some other ingredients. I turned that into an ice cream of sorts, which was very, very delicious and very, very nutrient-dense and I think quite SANE so I didn’t really feel I was treating myself. I felt I was just creatively solving a problem.
Nell: No, exactly. I call myself the queen of concoctions. I love doing stuff like that and doing that once in a while it satisfies that need for something special. The mouth feel of the ice cream, that smoothness but without the downside. I know for example if I eat something by accident which doesn’t happen very good because I’m rather anal about making sure that I don’t have anything hidden in my food but my reaction to dairy is I’m very congested the next day. I choose to avoid it for that as well as for the aesthetic contribution it makes to the body but you don’t need to have it because you can make things like what you just described.
I make a smoothie for myself in the morning often if got a long work out ahead where I used coconut water, banana, coconut oil or avocado for some fat and then I’ll blend in… you can actually, rather than using protein powder, you can take a couple of eggs, soft boil them for six minutes because that’s a nice happy medium between making it soft enough so it will still blend up quite nicely and raw which is…when you cook an egg, it does lose some of the nutrition. However, understandably many people are uncomfortable with the idea of eating raw egg and I would be too, unless you know for sure. For example, your neighbor has hens and you know the eggs are fresh and the risk of salmonella is relatively low.
You can do raw egg or you can do a six minute egg but so you do have some protein in there and then I’ll throw in some turmeric which is natural anti-inflammatory, some ginger, which is good for the stomach. I’ll throw in a little bit of vanilla because I like the flavor and also put in some raw kale. It’s such a nice thick, lovely smoothie that you made at home. You know exactly what’s in it. It’s balanced because it’s got some protein, some fat, some carbohydrate and it’s nice and thick and delicious so there’s really no end to the amount of concoctions you can come up with. I’m a big fan of that.
Jonathan: I like to use the analogy of finding a beautiful outfit on sale because I joke with my wife. I’m like “You can go to a nice department store, a nice mall and find nice clothes.” There’s no question, right? If money is no object, you can find nice clothes. You feel extra special when you find that outfit and it’s 50 percent off. You feel “Not only did I get that outfit but I did it smartly.” In your scenario here, not only did I have this smoothie which was delicious but I furthered my goals of having robust health and being delighted with the way I look and feel. That one, two punch, you want to talk about feeling good after you eat something and just feeling good in general, there’s no guilt with that. That just feels great.
Nell: Absolutely. Totally agree with that.
Jonathan: Well, I love it, Nell. One thing I wanted to close on here is I know you worked with a lot of individuals and I know you worked with quite a few females and I’m sure that you worked with a lot of families and one issue I hear with individuals is children and the fact that kids aren’t always with you. They’re going to schools. They’re going to friends’ houses. For those of us who have families or who take care of small children, what would you say are your top three tips we can have to help our children avoid this toxic environment that we live in today?
Nell: Well, first of all, there’s got to be a balance unless the child has something where they absolutely, medically have to avoid something. For example, if they’re got celiac disease, they absolutely have to avoid gluten all the time. If the child doesn’t have a disease like that, I’m a fan of keeping a Paleo at home but not making a big deal or fuss when the child goes to school and has a birthday party or something like that because the bottom line is if you make it so rigid that they feel ostracized at school and they go to the birthday party and everybody knows “There’s the kid that his mom won’t let him eat a cupcake.” or something like that.
The last thing you want to do is create a situation where they’re old enough to choose their own food, they’re repelled from Paleo and they wanted is just do nothing but eat fast food all the time. If you keep it as balanced as you can at home, knowing there will be times where they will be at a birthday party or they will be at their friends’ house and they’ll have something that might not be what you would like them to have, that seems to be the best approach that I find that my clients who have children use and it works really well. I think a lot of times we underestimate kids’ ability to process and think and make good choices.
I had one client who said that her eight year old son… she picked him up in school one day and he said “Mom, I ate some cheese doodles today at school.” She uses that approach where she’s Paleo at home but she tries to be a bit more flexible with him when he’s at school or at a friends’ house and that sort of thing. She said “Oh really? Well, what did you think?” He said “It wasn’t really that good. At least, it was a whole foods kind so it wasn’t that bad but I didn’t really like it.” It’s just a good example. This kid knew that he could try something. He didn’t love it. He told his mom and he probably won’t eat that food again, and he was only eight.
That’s the most important thing is to just keep it balanced and don’t turn it into a big deal if and when they have something that’s not unless of course your child does have a disease where they are medically risking their life if they have this particular food that they might have an allergy to or what have you. The other thing is getting kids involved, getting the whole family involved. If children can help in planning a meal and this goes for kids of all ages. Younger kids can flip through the pages of big, beautiful cookbook with lots of colorful pictures and literally just point or pick out that. Older kids if they’re toddler age or something like that, they can help you do things like tossing the salad with their hands, mixing that type of thing.
Kids that are older are old enough to help with the actual cooking. Teenagers can help with chopping and preparing and that type of thing. The more they’re involved and they see their product come to life from what is just a table full ingredients into a lovely meal, they’re much more likely to be interested in it compared to if they’re never exposed to it in the first place. I think ultimately the most important thing is leading by example. If you’re healthy and fit and you’re that cool soccer mom or that dad that’s got more energy than the other dads so that kind of thing, the kids would want to be that way versus if you’re one way and telling them to eat another way and just sort of forcing it upon them that doesn’t seem to work very well.
Jonathan: I love it. I love it, Nell. Well, the quick follow up question is cost. You’ve named the store of Whole Foods a couple of times which I know some people refer to as Whole Paycheck.
Jonathan: What do you recommend if you’re feeding a family of five and you’re on some tough economic times? What do you do?
Nell: Well, first of all, definitely true. That point is a very good one and not everybody has the budget to shop at Whole Foods. However, the analogy of Whole Foods, Whole Paycheck, there just need to be a little bit more of a connection realizing that food and what we eat needs to be a priority so for some clients they just need to rethink that. I had one guy who’s doing most of his shopping, I think at Target once a month, which tells me that everything he was doing at buying and eating was packaged in boxes and cans so that needs to be rethought.
However, it is unfortunately much cheaper and affordable to eat a poor diet than a good diet so we don’t have to shop at Whole Foods. We just have to be savvy. Doing things like buying in bulk foods is an option. Say you’re planning on making dinner of wild salmon preparation and you go to the fish store and you’ll see while wild salmon is $24.99 pound but they’ve got Halibut and it’s half the price, stock up and buy extra and freeze the remainder so being flexible about what you’re going to buy and learning how to buy in bulk and what you can do that you can save in the freezer necklace for all types of proteins.
Keeping it local is also really important. Here in Los Angeles we’re pretty spoiled in the sense that if I wanted to I could go to Whole Foods today and buy blueberries which by the way, came from Chile. I could buy grapes that came from somewhere else, very, very far away. Buy asparagus from Peru but I don’t need to do that. Thinking about what you’re buying and how far it traveled… we’re not supposed to be eating the same thing year round. We’re supposed to be eating seasonally so keeping it local and organic also helps to save on cost.
Jonathan: Nell, I love what you said about just potentially… there may be some additional cost here but it is really a values issue kind of. If you look at the statistics around what individuals are spending on food in this country compared to other industrialized nations, it’s lower in this country and if you look at what we’re spending as a percentage of our income on food relative to what we did historically, it’s dramatically lower.
I think there’s also interesting observations to be made in the sense that during the worst economic climate since the Great Depression, a technology company such as Apple, which is known for selling very, very expensive products which we probably don’t actually need to survive has seen the largest growth and become the largest technology company in the world during the time of such economic downturn kind of shows that if we value something highly enough, we’ll find a way to make it work. The type of investment we’re talking about here is something that will pay dividends way beyond what the next iPhone would pay for. I don’t know. This is my opinion.
Nell: No, absolutely. The thing is if you cost out how much you’re spending… take a single guy who doesn’t have a family to support and ends up eating most of his meals out every day that really starts to add up to. Just for arguments sake, I took the weekly food bill that I spend for myself and my husband at Whole Foods and I divided it up into two people and the number of meals we have and I came up with an average of $7.14 per meal so that’s grass-fed meat and local organic kale and avocados and olive oil and apples.
All these things are local and fresh and organic and you’re not going to get $7.14 meals like that at most places I’m aware of so it’s actually reallocating the budget to a degree and becoming more savvy about what you can buy in bulk and be cost-effective that way. Then, there’s the argument of either pay for eating better food now or pay for it in the end with health care cost so it really just makes sense to be preventative and proactive versus throwing a bunch of junk in your body, treating it like a trash can and then trying to fix it later.
Jonathan: Absolutely, and I would say that if you… how much benefit do you think an individual would get? Let’s say that you don’t have access to a Whole Foods or you are in a rural area. However, you are able to go and focus more on foods you could find directly in nature although, maybe the vegetables have to frozen, maybe some of the proteins have to be canned, it seems at least in my experience that you could derived a massive amount of benefit around that and it could be quite delicious and if that was the situation you’re in, you’re looking at maybe $2 to $3 a meal.
Nell: Absolutely. One of the case studies in my book, I talked about this woman Tanya who contacted me from her post in Kabul, Afghanistan where she stationed for the U.S Navy and she is Paleo there. Granted a lot of the stuff that we ended up being creative and advising her to eat more different from what I would advise a local client in Los Angeles to eat so there’s gray area. For example, most of the choices that she can easily get at her compound involved fast food so for her eating packaged tuna that she rinses to remove some of the sodium is a better option than eating at McDonald’s every day so things like that.
Yes, eating too much tuna is not a good idea because you’re on the risk of having too much mercury so we have to be creative and take that into consideration as well. However, the points is if the desire is there and the motivation is there, you can make it work anywhere. It’s not only for those of us who are in areas like Los Angeles where we’re spoiled with all the access to fresh foods.
Jonathan: I love it. I love it, Nell. Well, I’m going to be really respectful of your time here tonight. You’re a busy woman and along those lines, what’s next for you? What can we look forward to on the Paleoista horizon?
Nell: Lots of projects in the works, actually. Working on book number three so stay tuned for more on that. My download plans are still available for sale on my website and they’re usually about six weeks long though I have a couple of different options and it’s a .pdf point and click and it will tell you exactly what to eat, portion sizes, easy preparation tips. It’s a really good guide to help you in conjunction with your study on Paleo living if you’re looking to do something like that. You can follow me on Twitter @NellStephenson. You can like me on Facebook, Facebook/paleoista. I really appreciate having an opportunity to be on your show.
Jonathan: Thank you so much, Nell and you’re also going to be speaking at the upcoming Paleo Effects Conference, correct?
Nell: I am, indeed. That’s going to be at the end of March in Austin, Texas and if anybody is out there that’s listening to your show, please feel free to come up and say hello.
Jonathan: Awesome. Thank you so much, Nell. Everyone I would highly recommend checking out paleoista.com and Nell’s cookbook is fabulous. Lots of wonderful ideas in there and I think she really does a great job. I think you could hear in this podcast that Nell definitely holds a high bar up in terms of food quality so when you look at the recipes and what Nell is able to do while restrictions is the wrong word but the beautiful murals she’s able to paint with the limited set of colors she allows, it just shows how diverse, how beautiful we can make our diet even if we hold ourselves up to what I would call the, some of the highest standards I’ve seen out there so kudos to you, Nell. I think it’s a great example.
Nell: Thank you. I love the analogy.
Jonathan: Alright. Everyone, thank you for tuning in. Have a wonderful week and remember to eat more and exercise less but do it smarter. See you next week.