Category Archives: Paleo

Thoughts on Food Reward

The latest post in Stephan Guyunet’s ongoing series about food reward and how it affects obesity (or body-fat set point) is out, and it comes with recommendations for how to lower body-fat.  I’ve been waiting for this post for a while.  I’ve really enjoyed reading about food reward theory, but was unclear about how to put it into practice.  I was more than a little worried that I would have to be even more strict about my food choices.  Luckily, that isn’t the case.  But before we get to my thoughts on that, let’s do a quick overview of food reward theory for those of you new to the concept.

What the heck is food reward anyway?

“Food reward is the process by which eating specific foods reinforces behaviors that favor the acquisition and consumption of the food in question.”(1) Our brain rewards us for good behavior – behavior that it perceives as positive for our survival – and discourages behavior that it perceives as threatening.  As you can imagine, this was quite useful for the survival of our species.  Fire causes pain, so don’t touch fire, etc.  This same system of reward also extends to food.  There are several qualities in food that we are programmed to seek out, such as: fat, starch, sugar, salt, meatiness, absence of bitterness (though we can learn to like this in the right context [i.e. beer]), certain food textures, certain aromas, and caloric-dense foods.(2) In the natural environment, foods that contained a high amount of sugar/salt/etc. would have been very limited in quantity, and prized whenever found.  As these food qualities were important to our survival, it is completely natural to crave them. Continue reading

The Paleolithic Diet…in a graphic.

Hey gang!  Check out this awesome chart on the history of the Paleolithic diet and be sure to pass it along to friends who are interested in learning more about Paleo.  I like the graphic and think it gives a nice general overview of a “Paleo” lifestyle, but be careful of the part that says toEat your Omega 3 & Omega 6.  A healthy ratio is between 1:1 and 4:1.”  It’s a little misleading.  That’s 4:1 Omega 6 to Omega 3, not the other way around. 🙂

-Cheers

Reviewing Expectations – Liver and Vacationing

What I’ve Been Up To

This past week was “Golden Week” in Japan, a combination of three back-to-back holidays and one of the busiest travel times of the year in Japan.  Not wanting to miss out, Valerie and I headed down the coast to Muroto, where we did some awesome hiking, ate traditional Japanese foods at a ryokan, and took time to appreciate the natural beauty all around us in Kochi.

Hiking through the National Park down by the beach.

The meal at our ryokan included: sashimi, grilled fish, pickled cucumbers, oysters, veggies, soup, white rice, tempura (didn't eat), and a fresh strawberry and slice of melon.

Rock formations along the coast caused by upheaval from earthquakes.

And the best part about it:  it wasn’t even planned.  We just up and went one sunny day.  We felt no pressure to stick to an itinerary or even stay overnight, but just let things play out as they would.  It was wonderful.

Vacation, far from being the stress-relieving time the name implies, often turns into more than we bargained for. Isn’t it only too true that most people need a vacation from their vacation after they’ve been going too hard for too long on too little sleep?  Usually, this is a result of trying to do too much.  It’s funny how our expectations of what vacation will be like (relaxing) and what we will do (everything possible) are so dissimilar.

My suggested solution:  don’t have expectations. Or at least, shift the focus of those expectations.  Plan on taking time for yourself, on slowing down, on absorbing the beauty of the world around you, on re-connecting with your loved ones.  You can’t rush these things, so don’t load your schedule with things to do.  And whatever happens, make your best effort to find the good in your situation (or the hilarity, as often enough).  Things always seem to go better if you can laugh about it.

You won’t always have the freedom to be able to up and go like I was this past week. You’ll probably have to do some planning and budgeting.  But maybe a little less planning and a little more leeway is just what you need to make your vacation work for you! (No pun intended.)

A Food Experiment

A couple of months ago, I was asked by a reader about how much I use organ meats in my diet, and if I had any tips on how to stomach the stuff.  My answer at that time was not at all and no idea.  Though they are nutritionally dense and would have been a part of our ancestral diet, I had never given offal much thought.  We never ate liver, heart, or kidney at home growing up, and I didn’t have the first idea of how to cook them, let alone enjoy them.  So I pointed them to two articles at Mark’s Daily Apple (#onlinefoodbible) discussing the basics of what to do with offal, and that was that.

This past week, however, I was inspired at the grocery store when I saw a pack of chicken liver.  I decided that one way or another, I would work this into my meal.  (#challengeaccepted!)  This was the result:

Some readers may recognize that this looks a lot like my “Sloppy Paleo Chili” from an earlier post – and they would be right.  I’ve already discussed how Paleo Chili is a great way to work a variety of veggies into your evening meal, but I wondered if liver could be ‘hidden’ the same way?  (Like when my mom used to chop up broccoli and bury it in her homemade pasta.)  Maybe it was a bit of a cop-out, but you gotta start somewhere!

So, we food-processed our veggies (carrots, peppers, onions, red cabbage, garlic) and sauteed them per usual.  We didn’t know exactly what to do with the liver, so I suggested blending it up and throwing it in the mix.  Valerie was hesitant, and after we blended the liver into a bloody, pasty goo, she looked at me and said “Are you SURE you want to do this?”  I was…pretty much.  Yea.  It was alright.  I mean, how bad could it be really?  Suddenly, I started to think that this was a bad idea.  But I’m nothing if not persistent, and so we soldiered on.  We threw it into the batch, added the ground beef and tomato sauce and spices (including fresh coriander which was baller) and there you have it.

Everything ‘looked’ the same. You couldn’t even tell the liver was in there.  But I was surprised at how much of a mental battle it turned out to be.  Valerie had a couple of bites and then encountered a chunk of “something” and opted for something different.  I chowed down, though admittedly I didn’t get any stringy bits (luck of the draw I guess).  However, I did notice that I was uncomfortable eating – I was shoving food into my face and swallowing fast enough that it barely touched my tongue, and used enough Tobasco sauce to drown a small horse.

It’s interesting how much my expectations of what it would taste like changed my eating habits, when in fact there was no distinction in taste or texture (for the most part) at all.  Guess I still have a little ways to go before I’m comfortable eating offal, but I’m glad I gave it a shot and will try some more recipes out in the future.

Here’s to expectations and the unexpected!

-Cheers.

Quick and Healthy: Paleo Meatloaf

A slice of Paleo meatloaf.

Full of savory, subtle flavor, this hearty meatloaf is sure to satisfy!  Valerie’s rating:  Gloriouuuus! 🙂

What you Need:

  • Ground Beef (1 lbs)
  • 2 apples (peeled, cored, and chopped)
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • Garlic, 1 clove (minced)
  • Dried Mustard Powder (1 tsp)
  • Worcestershire sauce (2 Tbsp)
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What to Do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients (you can use your hands to mix if you want!).  Press mixture into pre-greased (we used coconut oil) pan.
  3. Bake for about 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

-Stay healthy everybody.

Reader Feedback – Nutrition

I got this email the other day and wanted to share it with you all.  Lesson learned:  Don’t make eating healthy harder than it has to be – you WILL get results as long as you stick with it for a while.

Dear FreeFit Guy,

I just wanted to let you know that I had a revelation: if you eat right, food is better than a multivitamin! (emphasis mine) I don’t know if you have mentioned it to your readers before, but fitday.com is a great resource for inputting your food and getting a huge amount of information back. I don’t think you should do it every day because that is a bit too obsessive for a free, happy lifestyle, but it can be really useful for people trying to get healthier.

Anyways, I put in my usual day’s food, which is:

Breakfast: Baked chicken and a pint of strawberries, black coffee

Lunch: Baked chicken and a side of a medium carrot and a medium cucumber

Dinner: Primal Chili (Ground beef, onion, olive oil, garlic clove, zucchini, bell pepper, carrot, tomato sauce and spices)

Dessert: Cup of frozen blueberries

I knew I would get the calories and fat/protein/carb ratio (1777 and 46/34/20), but was shocked when I got to the nutrition tab. It really made me realize that food is the best medicine. 162% RDA of Vitamin A? 303% of B6 and 243% of B12? Plus WELL over 100% of Vitamin C, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Niacin, Phosphorus, Selenium, Riboflavin, and Zinc! The nutrition facts looked like the back of a Multivitamin- but in a form my body can actually use! (emphasis mine) Next time I see a cereal box with “vitamins and minerals added” I’m just going to scoff and eat some freakin raspberries!

Sincerely,

Fitday Fanatic Reader!

As always, I love to get feedback from my reader’s about what’s helping them the most, what changes they’ve seen, or what they’d like to learn more about.  Feel free to send feedback to me any time at:  feedback@freefitguy.com, or send in topic ideas to topics@freefitguy.com

-Cheers, and stay healthy everybody!