I like legumes and I cannot lie

20130709-150556.jpg

Beans, beautiful beans! And lentils! And peanuts! How I love thee!

Oh wait, legumes aren’t Paleo? Well, I just won’t eat them anymore…

NOT!!

I’m sorry, but I don’t agree with the Paleo experts on this one. I just don’t understand why legumes are vilified and avoided. So, I did a little research. Here’s a brilliant statement found on a paleo forum:

Beans are a no-go on Paleo because it’s a food that has to be processed before it can be rendered edible. You can’t eat beans raw off of the stalk because they’re toxic (a defense mechanism that prevented birds from chowing on them). They need to be soaked & cooked, and cavemen didn’t start doing that until the Neolithic period.

I have multiple issues with this statement. 1) I don’t think the need for a food to be “processed” before it’s eaten should be a qualifier. Meat, one of the Paleo mainstays, needs a bit of processing before you can eat it. 2) I refuse to eat or not eat a food based on an evolutionary millions-of-years worldview. I eat Paleo (-ish) because it most closely aligns with GAPS but allows more freedom, NOT because I actually believe in cavemen/Paleolithic era nonsense.

The only part of the above quote that I can agree with is the defense mechanism built into legumes. But I wonder if calling them toxic might be taking it a bit far. More research into the topic yielded this:

It’s confusing to me that grains and legumes (all beans – black, pinto, soy, peanuts, etc.) would be so pleasing to us, since they’re basically poisonous, having heavily contributed to the current, overwhelming predominance of heart disease, digestive disorders and obesity rates in this country. There are a lot of reasons for this – grains and legumes contain a sordid collection of “anti-nutrients”. Some of them strip away your minerals and some cause intestinal damage and immune problems.

This “sordid collection of anti-nutrients” is made up of lectins, phytates, and saponins.

Read more on lectins here, more on phytates here, and more on saponins here.

Here are some points to consider before determining whether legumes are indeed toxic.

1. Legumes aren’t the only foods with anti-nutrients. Grains, nuts, and seeds also contain lectins and phytates, in similar or greater quantities than legumes. Yet the Paleo community embraces nuts and seeds, using them extensively in baking and snacking. They say things like, “Nuts should be used sparingly” and “ideally, nuts and seeds should be soaked”. But in reality, most Paleo eaters do not do those things. What makes those unsoaked nuts healthier than my soaked beans??

2. Phytates are removed by soaking in water. Overnight or 24 hour soaking, removes phytates, especially if an acid such as vinegar or lemon juice is added. This process works on legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains.

3. Lectins can be removed (or at least greatly minimized). Pressure cooking destroys lectins! It has the same effect on phytates. Read all the technical details here

4. It appears saponins may actually have health benefits. In fact, every article I read on the topic promoted saponins as a very beneficial substance for the body.

5. Historical significance of legumes. Many people groups around the world eat legumes every day! In India, it is in the form of dal, a lentil or bean based dish. Beans are a central ingredient in Central American cuisine. Mediterranean food has multiple uses for legumes, including one of my favorites, hummus! Almost every culture uses legumes as a staple food. Which begs the question, if they are so toxic, why is everyone in the world eating them every day?

6. Select legumes are allowed on GAPS. That includes navy beans, all lentils, and peanuts. The only ones that are not allowed are excluded because of starch content, not any other reason!

All things considered, I’m going to continue eating beans, lentils, and peanuts. Especially now that I have discovered pressure cooking. But I will save that for another post!

Advertisements

Confusing and Contradictory

confused

Last time, I told you that I had done a lot of reading and researching in my blogging absence.  I also mentioned that a lot of what I was reading conflicted with the knowledge I had previously accumulated.  Let me expound on this…

Shortly after we went on GAPS, I began to see a lot of articles in the blogosphere about the Paleo diet.  This was awesome, because GAPS and Paleo are very similar.  The Paleo diet suggests no grains, dairy, legumes, or refined sugars.  GAPS allows certain legumes and some dairy, but is more strict about sweeteners.  Still, most recipes coming across the Paleo blogs were GAPS legal.  As the Paleo movement has continued to grow, more and more science has come in to back it up.  More and more people have success with it.  And more and more, it aligns with GAPS, especially something called Autoimmune Paleo, which is another healing diet specifically for people with autoimmune disorders.

I also began to read more blogs promoting “Traditional” diets such as are described in the book Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats
and promoted by the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF).  These often crossed circles with Paleo and GAPS, because all of them endorse REAL food.  The major difference is that most WAPF’ers eat grains, especially if they are soaked or fermented (think sourdough).  Still, a lot of helpful information.  I knew GAPS was a temporary diet, so learning about proper preparation of grains is something I wanted to do.

So far, so good, right?  And then came Matt Stone.  And you’re thinking, who is he and why do we care?  I thought the same thing at first.  But he kept showing up.  Seemingly everywhere I turned, there was someone talking about Matt Stone and his wonderful ideas.  So I followed the rabbit trail…

Matt Stone has a blog called 180 Degree Health, which I am not linking because I find his writing to be brash, rude, and sometimes foul-mouthed.  I don’t care how good your ideas are, there’s no need for that.  Google at your own risk.  However, there are a whole lot of other ways to find out what he is all about.  One of the WAPF blogs I follow, Cheeseslave, embraced his teachings early on and has since been very vocal about his ideaology.  Here it is in a nutshell: Health is all about metabolism, at the cellular level.  The best way to track metabolic health is to track your body temperature.  If it averages less than 98.6, you are not in good metabolic health.  To raise your body temperature, you need more carbs, more calories, more salt, more sleep, less water, and less strenuous exercise (cardio).  The advice being thrown around the blogosphere is this: JUST EAT THE FOOD.  Whatever it is, whatever you want, just eat it.  No restrictions.  No special diets.  No calorie counting.  Just eat whatever you want to get that body temperature up.  Bloggers started latching on to this, shouting it from the rooftops.  Gladly proclaiming that they have gained 10, 20, 50 pounds but it didn’t matter because they had raised their body temperature and felt really great!  Those same bloggers saying that Paleo is terrible and GAPS should be dumped.

Now, I’m not saying that he’s completely wrong.  Most of what he says makes a lot of sense.  I get what he is saying about metabolic health, at the cellular level.  I understand the science.  We do need carbs, salt, sleep.  We probably don’t need as much water as society tells us we need.  Maybe there are other ways to exercise that are easier on our body.  But I really take issue with “eat whatever you want”.  It’s not that simple.

Then I started second guessing myself.  What if it is that simple??  As I began to get tired of cooking, tired of restricting food, I thought maybe we would test his little theory.  We brought back grains, potatoes.  We eat cake and ice cream at parties (and sometimes in between).  We ate whatever we wanted on vacation.  We get frozen pizzas.  Very non-GAPS!

The result of all this “just eating the food”?  My body temperature has not gone up.  Not one iota.  My joints hurt.  I’ve gained over 10 pounds.  I’m tired.  I think it’s not that simple.

So here we are, in a no man’s land of sorts, trying to sift through a whole lot of conflicting information.  Almost all of it makes perfect sense in theory.  But in practice, for me, it doesn’t seem to work.  My body does not approve.  Even though I have many of the symptoms of an out of whack metabolism, “just eating the food” isn’t helping.  I’m obviously missing something here.  I’m going to keep digging, try to find out what my body needs (or doesn’t need) to be happy again.

 

**This post contains affiliate links.

Long time, no post – a 2 year update in a nutshell

Hey everyone!  I’m baaaack!

I started this blog two years ago, fully intending to track our progress with the GAPS diet.  I spent too long trying to write back story, then got caught up in the massive amount of food prep that comes with GAPS.  Thus, the ol’ blog got pushed to the back burner and eventually fell of the stove all together.

For the record, I regret not tracking our GAPS journey.  We saw amazing improvement in everyone!  I lost weight and stopped having problems with inflammation.  My husband had a major decrease in his pain levels, gained energy, and lost a little bit of weight.  CurlyGirl made great strides in communication and focus.  She also stopped getting sick all the time!  My other kiddos also had improvements in anxiety and behavior.  We all enjoyed relatively good health.  It was great.

But, here’s the thing, GAPS really burnt me out.  I got tired of cooking, tired of trying to make the same old foods look appealing, tired of being the “food nazi”.  I’m sick to death of eggs.  I can hardly eat them anymore.  My kids all groan at the word “soup”.  We wanted to eat cake at birthday parties and not let food and food fear control our lives.  In addition, GAPS eating was getting very expensive.  If you haven’t noticed, food costs are on the rise in a big way.  Feeding a family of seven without grains is very expensive, especially when you are on a fixed income with a small budget to work with.

GAPS is not meant to be a permanent diet, just a healing diet to be used for a time.  We decided it was time to try introducing grains, potatoes, and more regular foods back into our diet.  We started with soaked oats and white rice.  Those seemed to be okay so we gradually added more and more back in.

At the moment, we are mostly gluten-free and we eat grains almost every day, some days more than once.  Potatoes are back in regular rotation, as well as sweet potatoes.  Beans of all kinds are back, helping to stretch the food dollars.  Dairy is back in the form of milk kefir, cheese, butter, and sour cream.  (CurlyGirl remains mostly dairy-free, though we do allow some butter and cheese on occasion.)  We eat cake and ice cream at birthday parties and even eat out once in a very great while.  Everyone is very pleased with these new developments.

But going back hasn’t been all sunshine and roses.  There were legitimate reasons that we were on such a restrictive diet, and those things have not completely healed and gone away.  We are feeling the repercussions of our dietary changes.  RadioDad has had more pain again, CurlyGirl has been a little spacey, and I am not doing well at all.  I’ve gained 10+ pounds since we added grains back into our diet, and inflammation has again reared it’s ugly head all over my body.  Most notably, my hands feel swollen and arthritic every morning and I’m once again having pain & swelling in my SI joint.  My moods are up & down.  I frequently feel not just tired, but utterly exhausted, even though I haven’t really done anything to warrant such feelings.  My body doesn’t like the way I’ve been eating.

What we are going to do about all this remains to be seen.  I’ve read a lot of new information in my blog absence.  A lot of it makes sense, but a lot of it conflicts.  It’s difficult to figure out which direction to go.  I’ll try and detail more of that another day.  But I am going to try and keep track of whatever it is I end up doing, partly for my benefit to have a record, and partly as a way to help others through this journey.

Thanks for reading and hope to talk to you again soon!

Stepping onto the Road

It’s a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you might be swept off to.      ~ Bilbo Baggins

Every decision presents a turn on the road of your life.  Sometimes you make a turn without realizing it.  But sometimes you see an intersection coming and you have to figure out which way to go.  You research and soul-search and pray and hope you turn the right way.  And then you turn.  Whichever way you turn, a new road lies before you… and there’s no telling where it might lead.  But it’s not enough to look at the road.  You have to step out onto it.

Our decision to follow the GAPS diet was a turn on the road.  Six weeks ago, when I started this blog, we were standing at the intersection, scared to step onto the road.  Scared to commit to so big a change.  We decided maybe we would ease toward it, slowly integrate the changes.  But you can’t really “ease” yourself onto a road.  It’s like walking with one foot on the pavement and one foot in the ditch.  It’s uncomfortable.  You can’t walk that way for very long.  At some point, you just have to get up on that road and walk on it.

Knowledge is a dangerous thing.  It changes you.  And armed with our newfound knowledge of the human body, thanks to Gut and Psychology Syndrome, we couldn’t walk halfway on the road.

I started out thinking I would just add a few grain-free things here and there.  Maybe start making breakfast once in awhile instead of feeding the kids cereal every day.  You know, small changes.  But I cringed every time I gave them a slice of bread, a cup of milk, a bowl of cheerios.  I knew what these foods would do in their damaged guts.  I couldn’t in good conscience continue to feed my family that way.

So both feet were on the road.  We kind of went cold turkey.  I started making every meal GAPS legal to the best of my ability.  Now, we weren’t 100% right off the bat.  Our condiments still had sugar in them.  A snack here and there would have an illegal ingredient.  But we cut out the big stuff pretty much all at once.  As we ran out of mik, cereal, bread, it wasn’t replaced.

My children did not appreciate this.  The Princess asked for macaroni & cheese almost every day, which is funny because we very rarely ate mac & cheese anyway.  The Stubborn Buffalo went on a little strike at every meal.  He went hungry a few times but now at least tries things.  Zanna Banana begged for cheerios for over a week but finally stopped asking.  Curly Girl asked for Chex the first day after we ran out, but hasn’t since then.  As long as there is something for breakfast she’s okay with it.  We have tried to explain things to them, but I’m not sure they really grasp the full reality of it yet.  We’re working on it.

Radio Dad, though completely on board, struggled with snacking.  He has a quick metabolism and has to eat every couple of hours.  He used to reach for toast with cinnamon sugar, cookies, brownies, crackers… especially Wheat Thins!  He’s a recovering Wheat Thin addict… 😉  It took awhile for him to come up with quick & easy snacks, but he has created a few favorites like walnut smoothies!  I might start calling him Blender Dad…

I started down the road with great gusto, excited to try new recipes!  I had a few uninspired days where I had no idea what I would make.  But the new routine is starting to sink in.  I am exploring how many different meals you can make with just broth and vegetables.  I am learning how different types of nuts behave in recipes.  I am discovering just how many foods my children will actually eat!  (Cauliflower?  Hard-boiled eggs?  Who knew?!)  And I am always, always planning ahead.  Meal planning has been my saving grace this past month.  I must remember to make the broth, thaw the meat, bake the muffins.  If I do, all flows smoothly.

Overall, it has been a good turn for us.  We are already seeing some results,which I will detail next time!

Why GAPS? Why now?

So, now that we have chronicled our experiences with GFCF and SCD in regards to Curly Girl, I want to focus in on why I’ve chosen the GAPS protocol.

How I found GAPS

I am, at the core of my very being, a foodie.  I love food.  More than just eating it, I love looking at pictures of food, and reading recipes, and talking about food.  As my cooking skills have matured, so has my love for food and it’s many uses.  Over the years, as we began to eat healthier, I started reading food blogs.  I mainly read blogs about gluten-free food (to help Curly Girl) and traditional food (Nourishing Traditions style).  Many times there was a crossover between the two and those were usually my favorites.

The term GAPS started showing up on my foodie blogs about 18 months ago.  I looked it up, read the food list, and said, “It’s just like SCD!  I can’t do that!  It’s too restrictive!”  Then I had to give up my foodie blog addiction for awhile while we moved, had a baby and generally had an insane life.  When I came back, GAPS was everywhere!!  And these blogs made it sound… doable.  The idea of changing our eating habits again started to nibble away at the back of my noggin.

Why Now?

In March 2011, just 2 months ago, I attended a seminar at the local health club called “Is Your Stomach Killing You?”  It was presented by a chiropractor, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I knew a lot about the gut already, but there is always more to learn.  It was free, so I went.  I did learn a few things, but what it really did was put our diet in the spotlight.  It made me think deeply about the foods we were eating and how that was affecting our health.  The speaker talked extensively about leaky gut and about how the health of the gut controlled the health of the entire body.  He had a checklist/quiz thingy, and if you scored high, you most likely had problems with a leaky gut.  Radio Dad & I both scored quite high, and I could see my children and their issues in the list as well.  I knew I needed to do something.  It was time for some drastic action.

Shortly after that seminar, this post by Health, Home & Happiness showed up on my facebook feed.  I read through it, then I read it to Radio Dad.  We were astonished!  Yes!  That description fits our families, fits us, perfectly!  We are a GAPS family!  That sealed the deal.  I started studying GAPS in earnest.

Why GAPS?

You may be thinking, Why this diet?  What is so special about this one to make it worth all this trouble?

Well, because it made sense.  As I read the book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome, it just makes perfect sense.  It explains the why’s of our family’s health issues.  Why Curly Girl is the one who ended up with autism.  Why Radio Dad hurts.  Why I struggle with depression.  Why Zanna Banana can’t handle loud noises!  It seems the further I read, the more of our weirdness is explained.  It’s easy to get behind a diet change when you really understand how it works.  The author has done a phenomenal job of explaining things, right down to the molecular level!  I read the book and know making these changes will help.  I KNOW IT!  And that knowledge gives me hope for our future.

One More Thing…

There’s one more detail to explain why GAPS, why now.  I feel like the blog posts and the seminar were placed in my path on purpose, that God was leading me to this change.  I was dead-set against GAPS 18 months ago.  I remembered the frustrations of SCD and I did not want to go there again.  But over and over I was led back to the leaky gut, back to GAPS, back to our need to change.  I really feel that it was orchestrated by the Almighty.

And the timing makes sense.  Five years ago when we tried SCD, I didn’t have the cooking skills, the creativity, the knowledge of food, that I have today.  I couldn’t make it work then because I didn’t know how.  As I have learned new skills, I have been well prepared for GAPS cooking.  Once again, God’s timing is perfect.

Next time, we’ll look at how our family has started to implement GAPS and what results we’ve seen so far.  See ya then!