Quality Over Calorie…I’ve had this concept on my mind a great deal over the last month when it comes to the foods we eat. By “we” I mean the Standard American listening to the typical mantra of calories in/calories out, low fat is good, saturated fat is bad, etc…you know the spiel.
This quality over calorie idea has been weighing heavily on my mind because I’ve been learning more about how important the quality of our food is to our overall well-being. I have known this, of course, that’s one of the reasons my family transitioned to a mostly “paleo” diet over 3 years ago. However, it has never been more pressing on my “to-do’s” in terms of tweaking how and what my family eats as it is now. Mostly because I’m obsessing over the book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Dr. Weston A Price. Here is the book description from Amazon:
“For nearly 10 years [in the 1930s], Weston Price and his wife traveled around the world in search of the secret to health. Instead of looking at people afflicted with disease symptoms, this highly-respected dentist and dental researcher chose to focus on healthy individuals, and challenged himself to understand how they achieved such amazing health. Dr. Price traveled to hundreds of cities in a total of 14 different countries in his search to find healthy people. He investigated some of the most remote areas in the world. He observed perfect dental arches, minimal tooth decay, high immunity to tuberculosis and overall excellent health in those groups of people who ate their indigenous foods. He found when these people were introduced to modernized foods, such as white flour, white sugar, refined vegetable oils and canned goods, signs of degeneration quickly became quite evident. Dental caries, deformed jaw structures, crooked teeth, arthritis and a low immunity to tuberculosis became rampant amongst them. Dr. Price documented this ancestral wisdom including hundreds of photos in his book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.”
When we talk about “diets,” whether it be paleo, Shakeology, Atkins, vegan, vegetarian, Zone, whatever Jillian Michaels is telling us to eat or not eat, ALL OF IT doesn’t matter.
What matters and what we should be listening to and mimicking is the wisdom of our ancestors and the indigenous people that effortlessly maintain excellent health without the help of “experts” in nutrition and exercise.
We should not be counting calories and putting our food in the proper size containers to control portions.
Our ancestors didn’t have to think about what to eat and what not to eat to be healthy and they certainly didn’t limit the amount of food they ate. They just knew what foods to eat, both animal and plant, they knew how to prepare those foods by soaking, fermenting, mashing, boiling, drying, etc. And our ancestors passed this salient knowledge down generation after generation to ensure the resilient health of their babies and their baby’s babies.
“Dieting” to lose weight or to maintain health was (and still is for primitive tribes alive today) a foreign concept to them. They laugh at it.
We need to focus on the quality and the kind of food we eat, and squash the notion that calories in/calories out is a healthy option. We need to shift the focus of constricting consumption to one where the source, preparation and quality of our food is what matters. The rest will fall into place. Weight will be lost to the point at which your body says, “nah, I need that and I’m healthy this way” – in which case, we need to stop idolizing the skinny and start celebrating healthy beautiful bodies. People will be less sick and in less pain. Diabetes and obesity epidemic will be a thing of the past.
What Dr. Price shows us in his research and book is that tribes and cultures around the globe who have not been influenced by modern diets can procreate and thrive without modern medicine and the help of a health coach. We don’t need to look at cavemen to be “paleo,” we just need to look to the people who are still living off the land and not eating Hot Pockets. These people don’t even brush their teeth or get an annual exam. They don’t measure their cholesterol and question whether eggs are a healthy choice because the yolk is too high in saturated fat.
One thing that really hit home for me is when Dr. Price wrote about wisdom teeth. Yea, you know, the mollars you had to have ripped out of your jaw in high school? These indigenous tribes don’t have to see an oral surgeon. That’s because their nutrition and their parent’s nutrition is sufficient enough to produce a dental arch with the capacity to fit these much needed chompers. The thought never even occurred to me that I actually needed wisdom teeth, or that they are meant to be there. I mean, why would everyone grow wisdom teeth if we didn’t need them?
It goes far beyond just the size and shape of your face too. Dr. Price linked the tell-tale sign of a narrowing face, small dental arch, and chin to nutrient deficiency and overall immune function. What I’m saying is, if you have poor teeth or not enough room in your face to fit all of your teeth, it is because the nutrient content and QUALITY of the food your parents and your parent’s parent’s ate, sucked. Sorry.
Over and over again Dr. Price documents the superior dental formation, resistance to infection and modern disease, (including tuberculosis, heart disease, cavities, cancer) and contributes this directly to the nutrition, source, preparation and soil quality of the food eaten.
In every culture the women and men are put on a special diet for 6 months to a year prior to conception. They don’t take a multi-vitamin, instead they eat highly nutrient dense foods. Think organ meats, high fat butter and milk products, seafood and vegetables. And then ev-er-y. single. time. as soon as the primitive people are provided modern foods – white flour, sugar, canned goods – the very next set of babies has problems. Crooked teeth and other deformities chiefly among those problems. Can some of those things be fixed by a multi-vitamin? This research was done in the 30’s after all. Sure, we have fortified our modern foods to add vitamins and we have prescribed prenatal synthetic vitamins to pregnant women. But these fixes absolutely cannot replace nature’s food and the ancient wisdom of food preparation and storage.
Look at these beautiful faces and teeth:
Time and time again, after the adoption of modern foods, this happens:
This last brain bubble was never so clear to me as it was while riding on a subway in NYC. Looking around I didn’t see a single person with a well formed dental arch. Not a single person that didn’t have some sort of apparent deformity. Now, I’m not judging, I have a small dental arch too, removed my wisdom teeth and had braces for 4 years. So then it hit me. This nutrient depletion caused by processed foods, improperly prepared foods, and overall super focus on calorie restriction and “vegetarian is good, omnivores are bad,” is so sad. These people don’t know there is such a simple, uncomplicated solution to all of our modern ailments.
I want people to be healthy, not skinny. I want my children to not have to suffer the aches and pains of modern disease. I want everyone to hear this and to listen and to change.
But that’s what I want, it’s not what everyone wants. Because we are so far removed from the ancient wisdom of nutrition – the knowledge that really matters, not what we’ve created in the last 50 years – it will take a herculean effort to fully restore the true health of our communities.
What Dr. Price drove home in his book is that the thing that matters in whatever you choose to eat is the quality of the food – not how much you eat. The questions this book forces you to ask are:
- How much nutrition are you getting from the foods you eat?
- Is it prepared in the traditional sense? (i.e. is the grain ground fresh and fermented or soaked to make it more easily digestible?)
- Is it organic and non-GMO, is it from the earth or an animal raised on pasture, wild caught and free to roam?
- Can it maintain insect life? Because if it can’t, then it ain’t food.
- Is the soil the plants are grown and the grass for the cows to eat depleted of calcium and phosphorus?
I heard a lady in the grocery store tell her husband “Just grab bananas, a banana is a banana, it doesn’t have to be organic.” Yes, it does have to be organic. Because that’s how bananas were meant to be grown. That’s how all fruits and vegetables are meant to be grown. Throw out all of the scientific “evidence” that says organic makes no difference. Just ask the people of Haiti who burned a pile of GMO seeds because they wouldn’t plant them – even though they needed the food.
REAL food matters.
Animal foods matter.
Not calories. Calories don’t matter.
You can learn more about Weston A Price and his research at the Weston A Price foundation.