How & What Should You Really Eat?
CAUTION: This post does not contain the words 'vegan' or 'paleo'.
A little pre-blog post message
First of all, I've had enough of the kind of information in this post still being difficult to learn about - because personally if I had heard about it sooner a few years back, it would have saved me a lot of pain and trouble. However, now that I've learned much (and am still continually learning), I am on a quest to make this knowledge more available for as many people as possible! This post cuts through numerous schools of thought and many public figures out on the net that advocate a low fat diet, high carb diet, this/that diet (which if you're thriving off, then good for you, you do you!) but the truth is that every person is different thanks to bio-individuality - and the information I want to share is so that you can find what is right for YOU. Hope you enjoy. x
I have been waiting ages to finally write this blog post because I wanted to do it justice and use the amazing information from an interview with one of my university lecturers, Jim Kiatos, who is a GP turned naturopath. He covered a whole lot of topics worth 10 posts, however today we are focusing on a huge fundamental concept of health - DIET. This post goes back to human basics, filtering out all the information on the internet to reveal what we really should be eating based on our body structure.
This blog post will help to clear up a couple of myths and misconceptions that people often still have about food. Warning: I do like to geek out on this stuff, so there’ll be random terms thrown in but I try my best to explain it in a way everyone can understand!
So you’re probably thinking - Kimberley, how is this post any different to “so and so’s” blog post or video about a low fat diet, or veganism? Well babe, the difference is that instead of reading a tonne of books on diet (which there’s nothing wrong about), I got the guidance from a health practitioner who has been eating a certain way for 20 years, looks fit as a fiddle, and speaks from an evidence based practice. And most importantly, this blog goes back in time 6000 years ago to how human bodies were designed to thrive. You see, everything in our body was designed to do a particular job. So let’s get right to the good stuff.
STRUCTURE GOES WITH FUNCTION
You might already know that I’m studying osteopathy, and one of the core principles in osteopathy is that structure goes with function. Using Jim’s words, “if you look at the structure of something, you’ll sooner or later work out its function (and vice versa)”.
He went on to say that our bodies were made for circumstances that existed 6000 years ago. Let’s start with a substance that is ever-present in the typical Australian diet: SUGAR.
How much sugar would’ve been in your diet 6000 years ago?
- The main sources of sugar (discounting veggies) would be fruit and honey. You’d most likely only have fruit seasonally, 2-3 months of the year. And to get honey, you would have to kill bees and hives which you would occasionally come by (and would be a tough task). You’d run out of honey pretty quickly!
- Apart from that, you would run out of other sources of sugar.
THE BOTTOM LINE: so if this is the case, why on earth would our cells be good at breaking down sugar, since they were never designed to break down that much in the first place?! Our cells cannot metabolise that much sugar (that is in the typical Australian/American diet). Even fruit should be consumed in moderation.
Let’s begin by exploring the human mouth, the first part of the gastrointestinal tract. If we look at our teeth, we have 4 canines to bite into meat. The other 28 teeth are flat, grinding molars which are designed to break down plant material.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Jim says that according to our mouth and the ratio of teeth, we should have 80% plant material, 20% meat. Which means in 10 days you should be having meat twice (or maybe once a week). Contrast this to today where people are eating bacon for brekkie, chicken for lunch and beef for dinner. We are doing the things to our body that they were never designed to do!
MYTH BUST: 'you need carbohydrates to live'
- So we know that food is basically made of 3 components. Carbohydrates, protein and fats. There are essential fatty acids (fats) and essential amino acids (protein). If you don’t eat these, you will most likely not survive. However, have you ever heard of an essential carbohydrate? NOPE! There are no “essential carbohydrates”. Your body can make glucose from amino acids, so you don’t NEED to have carbs.
- But! I’m not saying to not eat carbs. Like I said, everyone is different and each person has different energy requirements based on how active they are. However, the best source of carbohydrates are leafy green veggies and all vegetables, because you’re also getting nutrients and vitamins with them. If you compare that to eating bread, which has no nutrients - see the difference?
HOW YOUR BODY GAINS FAT
The organ that we are talking about for fat storing is the liver. Jim's rundown is that the liver works by grabbing any excess nutrients you don’t need at the time, and stores it in the most compact molecule it can - which is fat! This is all well and good until we know what basis the liver works by….
Our liver works on the assumption that we are going to starve (how it worked 6000 years ago). What does this mean? It means that even if you have 3 meals a day and they are in excess to your needs, it STILL thinks you’re going to starve. (It doesn’t know how to turn off). Two years on, if we aren’t careful we start to think to ourselves, where did this fat come from? It happens sneakily and gradually and this is only the subcutaneous fat (superficial fat) - not even the visceral fat (which is a deeper kind of fat surrounding our vital organs and can be toxic).
HOW OFTEN SHOULD WE EAT?
MYTH BUST: eating frequently does NOT speed up your metabolism (more on this in a future blog or Youtube video) - but I’m going to support this further by talking about how often we should be eating looking at how our ancestors functioned thousands of years ago.
"6000 years ago, you wouldn’t have 3 square meals a day." says Jim. "Instead, you would have food whenever you found it. You could have very well gone a day or two without eating much at all." When you aren’t eating frequently, your body kicks into a system called beta oxidation (a form of ketosis), where it grabs fatty acids (dips into your fat stores), chops them up and relates them into your blood stream for energy production.
BOTTOM LINE: You will not die if you don’t eat 5 meals a day. In fact, 3 hearty meals a day is more than enough! By eating less frequently, and only when you’re hungry you dip into your fat stores (i.e you burn fat).
This post is barely scraping the surface on how much deeper I want to explore these topics! For people who follow me on Instagram you will have seen what I eat for lunch and dinner (I often don’t eat breakfast) which often reflects what I just wrote about. In the future I’ll be posting a youtube video on what I eat, reflecting all this information from today!
In the meantime, this vlog from a few weeks ago shows a food haul Byam and I got and what we ate which pretty much aligns with the information in this post!
I hope this post was an eye opener for you, and that you consider thinking about how your diet is compared to how your body thrives. It certainly made a lot of sense to me and gave me confidence in what I’ve changed to eat in the last 6 months.
Until next week!