I love my family. There are so many reasons why. Here are my top three.
1) They love me unconditionally, as I do them.
2) Where else can you let it all hang out and feel 100% at ease in your own skin other than around those that know you best and love you unconditionally?
3) Family makes great fodder for my blog posts.
I spend a lot of time thinking. I find myself now thinking about how passive most of our society is, or at least how passive it seems to me, and the current state of affairs as they relate to health, diet and overall nutrition. And when it comes to people’s own personal health, diet and overall nutrition, individuals seem yet even more passive to me. They are willing to listen to, and rarely question, what they are told by television news anchors, television commercials advertising the latest and greatest health potions, pills and quick symptom fixes, newspapers, magazines, their friends, and doctors and other health care professionals that many times DO NOT have backgrounds in diet or nutrition. But why would they question the “experts?” As a society we are taught to follow “expert” advice. What could there be to question?
What is the result of following the advice of these perceived reputable sources? People continue to consume foods that are part of the Standard American Diet (SAD), which as we know and continue to learn more about, is based on very old, outdated and FLAWED information. More and more studies, and yes scientific, peer-reviewed studies, are showing how the SAD is making us sick and unhappy, and is literally killing us slowly in the form of chronic disease (obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension to name a few). Yet folks continue to follow the guidelines based on this flawed information and in addition happily take their cholesterol and blood pressure medications for example, while they eat their pasta and rice (because they are low-fat), order their egg whites, steer clear of red meat, and look at me with horrifying shock (like I just shot a cat) when I mention that saturated fats are healthy, that I eat egg yolks daily, and red meat happens to be a dietary staple for me. Yes, I’m talking about my family! I mentioned I love them unconditionally right? Yes, good. Ok let’s continue.
I should add a caveat here about my family. Overall they are healthy. They (most of them) do some form of regular physical activity, and they do not eat fast food. No one is overweight. The problem? They follow the guidelines of the flawed SAD. This is what makes me SAD (pun intended)! They are doing what they believe to be best in the name of their health. They do everything they are “supposed to do.” Eat low-fat, stay away from saturated fats, red meat and egg yolks, use olive oil for everything, etc. Is it working? That would be a big NO. HUGE ONE. They have high cholesterol and high blood pressure, and they balance these LIFESTYLE related health issues by taking medications prescribed by their doctors.
I’m watching as they go with the flow of doing what they are told by the perceived reputable sources I’ve outlined above, resigned to the fact that medications are the answer and they were just handed bad genetics. Somewhat unaware they have other options, and when told there are options (by me for example, and I actually do have expertise in this arena), it doesn’t seem to make sense to them. How could it? They’ve been brainwashed to believe otherwise. And yes, this is a regular point of discussion when I am present at family gatherings (honestly I’m surprised I’m still invited to family gatherings at this point). I feel I should point out that I am not the one starting these discussions. I’m usually asked a question, then it just starts to snowball.
My favorite part of this regular discussion at my family gatherings is the genetics piece. When I rattle off what my diet includes I’m asked what my cholesterol and blood pressure are. Yes, my family is educated on this topic to the point that we can have discussions about the recommended guidelines and what the numbers should be. They are educated enough to be dangerous, and to keep me on my toes, that’s for sure! So my numbers, first let’s address cholesterol. My cholesterol is just over 200. That may freak you out because it sounds high. However, what’s more important than the whole number is your cholesterol ratio. To find your cholesterol ratio you divide your total cholesterol number by your HDL (high density lipoprotein, the good stuff). My HDL is over 100, so my ratio is about 2:1. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), you should keep your cholesterol ratio at or below 5:1. The ideal cholesterol ratio is about 3.5:1. So that means I’m golden! At least a little.
In general, people with high HDL are at lower risk for heart disease. People with low HDL are at higher risk. Here’s a link that explains more about HDL.
And here’s a link to information about LDL.
My blood pressure has always been on the lower side. Normal blood pressure is 120/80. Mine is usually around 100/70 on average I’d say. Here’s a link to more on blood pressure.
And yes I do realize that I’m bashing some guidelines and using others as a reference to make my point. We can address that in another post. And I’m going to have to. I don’t even think I question this stuff enough!
Back to my favorite part of these family discussions, the genetics. My numbers are good because of good genetics so says the family. But then they also say their numbers are off because of their bad genetics. So my family has bad genetics and that’s why they need to take their medications. If everyone has bad genetics, where did my good genetics come from? As far as I know I wasn’t adopted. Mom, if there is something you haven’t told me now might be a good time. When I attribute my fantastic health to my paleo lifestyle I am balked at. “Oh, just wait until you are older and see what happens. You’re arteries will certainly clog up if you eat all that fat, cholesterol and meat.” Well guess what, not only does current research show this will not happen due to consumption of these items, I’m already 40, and I’ve been eating and living this way for close to 20 years now. I know 40 is not all that old, but by this age, and with this diet (and based on my family’s belief system), those “genetics” should have started playing a role don’t you think? Where are they? Where are my bad genetics?
Also, I happen to find it more than suspicious that “genetics” amongst the general population seem to have gotten worse in the last several decades. Did anyone talk about bad genetics before the 1970s? Call me crazy but it seems to me that the increase in bad genetics that is discussed, and not just amongst my family, seems to coincide with the advent of high fructose corn syrup, the low-fat diet craze, higher yielding crops (GMO), and dietary fat and cholesterol phobias. Blaming genetics for dietary and lifestyle factors that have created a sick society seems pretty convenient doesn’t it? It certainly lets the food, health care and pharmaceutical industries off the hook, as well as the government agencies that cook up (pun intended again) all the super helpful (sarcasm) dietary and lifestyle guidelines we are supposed to follow.
I’ve been following a paleo lifestyle fairly strictly for about four months now. So while I’ve been eating somewhat similar to paleo in some respects for a couple of decades it wasn’t paleo because I did eat some dairy, some grains like brown rice for example, and yes, sugar (the gross refined stuff). So about four months in, the benefits of my paleo lifestyle can literally seen on me. I LOOK healthy (along with the fact that I feel fantastic). I’ve been receiving complements on how I look lately, including complements on my “glowing skin and bright eyes.” I say it’s my lifestyle. What do others say? “Oh it’s your hair, you are wearing it down, it looks great.” Right, it’s just because my hair is down today. That’s the reason my skin is glowing and my eyes are bright.
Where am I going with all of this? It leads me to question a few things from a broader perspective. At the societal and public health levels, how do we make it stop (the deeply engrained health behavior based on misinformation)? I know the beliefs I’ve described here are not isolated to my family. How do we re-educate people? How do we fight the status quo and make these societal changes to improve overall health and wellness?
My main take away here is that I need to spend more time with my family. They inspire some great thinking and writing.
Another take away for me is that I am again proving to be the Taylor Swift of paleo blogging! Maybe threats would work to induce behavior change. “Until you change, until you listen to me, I’ll keep writing about you!” It might be worth a shot, even though I’m pretty darn sure none of the theoretical models of behavior change include threats as a strategy for health behavior change. Maybe I’ll create a new model. I’ll call it the ‘Alliefitfoodie Tie Them Down And Beat The Information Into Them Until They Say Mommy Model.’ I’ll work on the research behind this one and keep you posted.
This is Alliefitfoodie, calling you out paleo style!
P.S. Did I mention I love my family? Fortunately, I don’t think many of them follow my blog.