When I tell people about my “paleo” lifestyle and that I use food as medicine, they often want to know more. I have occasionally emailed to friends a list of books and web sites I find particularly useful, along with some notes about why I like these resources. Currently, “paleo” is the new hot thing in nutrition, which is funny because it’s just going back to basics. Finding information is easy. What follows are some of my favorite resources about nutrition. This is an overview, not at all exhaustive, and something I’d like to update from time to time.
I’m old fashioned in that I like to read books and keep them for reference.
I start with Sally Fallon’s now classic book Nourishing Traditions: the Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats (New Trends Publishing, 2001.) Fallon and the Nourishing Traditions approach are not paleo. Yet I start here because this book is about returning to traditional ways of eating, with an emphasis on using whole foods, eating a lot of animal fat, and — if one must eat grains and legumes—preparing them in such a way that they are more digestible. I first encountered this book when I started working with my holistic doctor. It’s got great recipes and instructions for making bone broth, beet kvass and other super foods.
Fallon is the founder of the Weston A. Price Foundation which promotes healing through a return to traditional ways of growing and preparing food. (Weston A. Price was a dentist who studied the health of indigenous populations and found that without exposure to processed, industrial foods, their health was phenomenal.)
Nora T. Gedgaudas’ book Primal Body, Primal Mind: Beyond the Paleo Diet for Total Health and a Longer Life (Healing Arts Press, 2011) is an essential text, laying out the science behind the Nourishing Traditions approach.
“Primal” is a term used by those who eat an “ancestral” diet but who also include some dairy products, which strict paleo people exclude. (As I said in my last post, I’m “primal” not strict paleo.)
A leader in the “primal” approach is Mark Sisson, whose book The Primal Blueprint is also an essential reference work. Sisson has published a number of cook books, plus the recent Primal Connection which discusses a range of primal lifestyle practices (especially exercise, sleep and stress reduction). Sisson hosts MarksDailyApple.com, a must-read primal/paleo blog.
When one delves into the paleo/primal lifestyle, it is useful to read the classic books on the subject. Two of the classics are Loren Cordain’s The Paleo Diet and Robb Wolff’s The Paleo Solution.
Recently, Chris Kresser, an acupuncture doctor who lives in the East Bay, has published Your Personal Paleo Code. This book is very useful for people just getting started with paleo. Kresser’s thesis is that each of us needs to design and tinker with our own paleo program. It’s not at all a one-size-fits-all program.
Also useful, and a great read, is Jason Seib’s The Paleo Coach. Seib is a strict paleo person, personal trainer and fitness expert. He teaches about why the over-use of cardio exercise is detrimental to the body.
Seib and his colleague Sarah Fragoso host the popular Everyday Paleo web site (they also do podcasts; I’m not a podcast listener).
Fragoso is the author of several Everyday Paleo cookbooks, geared toward making paleo work for people who have busy lives and, especially, children. She recently published specialized cookbooks on paleo Italian and Thai cooking. She’s also very oriented toward physical fitness and like Jason Seib and Robb Wolf, she’s strict paleo.
Also in the more strict paleo mode is Diane Sanfilippo, whose book Practical Paleo is an essential health book and cook book with some of the most amazing and simple recipes available. Sanfilippo has another new book based on her 21-Day Sugar detox program.
Then there’s a growing body of works that flesh out the paleo theory. William Davis’ Wheat Belly is a bestseller regarding the perils of modern wheat. (Other recent books are The Grain Brain and Big Fat Surprise; I haven’t read them yet and will.)
Less known is Lierre Keith’s The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice and Sustainability. Keith is a leftist who nearly destroyed her own health with veganism. This book is the answer to those who think vegetarianism is good for their health and environment.
When I first got started with paleo, I wanted to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible, and I don’t have the time or inclination to listen to podcasts. I set up my Facebook page to receive a stream of daily paleo/primal blogs. I have a bookshelf full of paleo reference and cookbooks. To keep up with it all, though, I check in on Facebook throughout the day for endless recipes and tips.
Some of my favorite paleo/primal bloggers include
- Grass Fed Girl (fabulous recipes, especially desserts using gelatin)
- Balanced Bites
- Against All Grain
- Everyday Paleo
- Mark’s Daily Apple
- Coconut Mama
- Pete’s Paleo
- Hollywood Homestead
- Nom nom Paleo
- Empowered Sustenance
- Paleo Leap
- Beverly Meyer on Diet and Health
- The Nourished Life
- The Weston A. Price Foundation
There are many, many more as countless people are shifting to the healthful paleo lifestyle.
Oh, and this is not a fast food, take-out program. It requires planning and work.
One can buy some ready made meals through Three Stone Hearth in Berkeley, available at Berkeley and El Cerrito Natural Groceries. There may soon be a paleo take-out program in north Berkeley.
Paleo eating is “expensive” compared with eating junk. The best way to go is to prepare and cook your own meals! I cook dinners that last for two or three nights or lunch the next day.
This means having a good kitchen set up. One needs a few good pots and pans and glass baking dishes.
My essentials are: a good knife, wood cutting board, cast iron skillet, crockpot (for making bone broth and stew), a big pot to steam veggies, glass containers (not plastic) for storing leftovers and lunch to take to work.
For more fun and ease, a food processor can also be very helpful.
The best way to get started with paleo is to read some of the classic texts, check out some cookbooks or web sites and start experimenting.
Next post: an overview of my own current health program.
* I repeat here my disclaimer that nothing in this blog constitutes medical or any other kind of advice.