Friday Favorites: Book Review Part 2 – The Nourished Metabolism
Last week I gushed over The Nourished Metabolism by Elizabeth Walling. I said it was one of the best health books I’ve read in a long time and I truly mean that. In Part 1 of my review I told you all about the book and what you can expect. If you missed it, you might want to take a quick peek before you read this. In this part of the review, I’d like to dig a little deeper and tell you why this book resonated so much with me.
But before I get into all that, I need to tell you a bit about my background, specifically my health and nutrition journey.
I’ve never had major health or weight issues. In fact, I was an athlete my whole life. I chose organic, natural, healthy foods ever since I was the one paying for my groceries. I also never had a negative relationship with food. It sounds all fine and dandy right? Well, keep reading.
A few years ago, a few of my athletic trainers told me about the Paleo diet. I had never heard of it before, so I spent weeks in the library researching it and learning everything that I could about it. One of the things I loved and that drew me into the Paleo and Primal diets was the focus on eating the most nutrient dense foods possible. Since I was a competitive athlete at the time, I wanted to fuel my body in the best possible way for performance. This was also the first time that I heard grains aren’t as healthy as I once thought (I used to eat a boatload of whole grains at every meal). So I ditched grains, all refined sugars, processed foods (even the “healthy” ones) and officially became “Paleo.”
You can read more about how ditching the grains changed me and my husband’s lives here.
At that time in my life, you could say I fell in love with nutrition. I was spending a ton of time in the library researching about food and nutrition. This was also the first time in my life that I realized the food we eat directly relates to how we feel. I know this seems so basic and you may be like “duh, Kelly,” but I truly never thought about it like that. Before this point, I ate what I considered “healthy” food and went about my merry way. If I got a headache, I never thought, “I wonder what I ate that made me get a headache?” If my skin was exceptionally dry and flaky, I never thought it could be the food I’m eating or not eating that is making it that way. I never attributed my moodiness and hormone issues to being on a blood sugar roller coaster.
Becoming Paleo and learning so much about food and nutrition was a real eye opener for me. My minor health ailments (sore muscles, out of whack hormones, headaches, fatigue, brain fog, mood swings, sugar crashes) are all healed because of nutrition and the food I choose to put in my body.
I ate Paleo for almost 2 full years. After that, I slowly started adding foods back into my diet to see if they worked for me. I realized it was best for my body to still not eat gluten grains or conventional, pasteurized dairy products because they didn’t make me feel well. I did ok with adding some organic legumes and raw sheep and goat dairy products so I ate them on occasion. I also added some rice back in my diet. I can almost hear the hardcore Paleo peeps gasping right now 😉
Things were wonderful. I felt great, I had plenty of energy and I was listening to my body and the feedback it was giving me. I didn’t get caught up with “is this Paleo? is that Paleo?” I just ate what made me feel good. If it didn’t make me feel good, I didn’t eat it. The food I was eating was delicious, nourishing my body and life was good.
And then I decided to start this recipe and wellness blog. I based my recipes on the Paleo/Primal way of eating because that most describes how I eat. Yes, I eat non-gluten grains and legumes on occasion but 90% of the time, I am eating what could be considered all Paleo/Primal foods (and a boatload of Paleo desserts 😉 ).
Once I started my blog, the crazy world of Paleo opened up to me. I truly had never even seen a Paleo recipe blog the whole first 2 years I was eating Paleo. That sounds crazy now, but I love creating my own recipes so I didn’t have any reason to see these types of sites. Keep in mind, this also was a few years ago when most Paleo recipe sites didn’t even exist. I did all my research in a library, so I didn’t even know that Paleo/Primal gurus like Mark Sisson, Robb Wolf and Chris Kessler had websites.
But when I started my blog, I was forced to be on the computer so I saw all these websites for the first time. Paleo was gaining in popularity and it seemed to be the hot button word. Everywhere I looked there was a new Paleo book coming out or a new Paleo website popping up telling you their ideas on what you should eat and what you shouldn’t. Paleo detoxes, paleo programs and paleo challenges were starting to show up everywhere.
This was the first time I realized the Paleo community can sometimes be very harsh with one another. I received a fair share of criticism for posting so many treats on my blog and calling it blog a Paleo blog. “A true Paleo person doesn’t eat these treats or desserts,” I was told. The more time I spent online looking at other Paleo blogs and forums, all kinds of thoughts started running in my head – Maybe I was eating too much honey/maple syrup. I do eat a lot of fruit. I love sweet and white potatoes and eat them almost everyday. I even eat white rice. Is this not ok? And holy moly, have you seen my blog? Every other recipe is a Paleo dessert. I love my chocolate and healthy desserts. Did I need to go on a ……detox?
Nevermind that I felt perfectly great. Nevermind that my blood sugar roller coaster was non-existent anymore. Nevermind that it’s been years since I’ve had a headache, cold or flu. Nevermind the fact that I had plenty of energy throughout the day.
But somehow I still let these Paleo voices and books get into my head and convince me that I was eating way too many carbs, too much fruit, too many “paleo sweets” and I needed to go on a “detox.”
So on a “detox” I went. And I felt awful. Just awful. I barely had the energy to make it through the day. I was cold all the time, I was in a bad mood and I completely stopped exercising – something I love to do – because I couldn’t even muster the strength to do it. You’ll notice my Tuesday Fitness Training posts went MIA for awhile. Now you know why.
After months and months of trying these Paleo “detox’s,” I woke the heck up. Whatever I was doing was clearly not working out for me.
***I want to mention that I am in no way bashing these Paleo books, Paleo detoxes, or Paleo programs. In fact, I think they can be incredibly helpful guidelines, especially for newbies wanting to try out the Paleo lifestyle. But that’s what they are – guidelines – not a definitive source on what you should and shouldn’t eat for the rest of your life. There is no one better that knows your body than YOU. Listen to it and feed it the foods that best nourish YOU – not what some book or expert says you should do.***
At this time, I started reading Elizabeth Walling’s book, The Nourished Metabolism. Her balanced plan for eating and biofeedback chapters in particular that really hit home for me.
Elizabeth does not subscribe to any particular way of eating. Instead she focuses on balanced eating and listening to what your body is telling you about the foods you eat. She recommends limiting dietary restrictions as much as possible.
She also warns against the dangers of following a low carbohydrate diet. She says that fat, protein, and carbohydrates all work together in the body to promote a nourished metabolism.
“Research has demonstrated that low-carb diets lower thyroid hormone levels (T3 levels specifically). Thyroid health is the center of metabolic health, and down regulating thyroid hormones will in turn down regulate the metabolism. In short, low-carb diets lower your metabolic rate. Figuring out the right balance of carbohydrates in your diet is crucial for improving your metabolic health.”
I very much needed to hear this and be reminded of it. Somewhere along the line, I stopped listening to myself and started listening to these Paleo guru’s instead. For those months, I was so focused on following a rigid plan of what I can eat and can’t eat. I was also severely restricting my carbohydrate intake based on many Paleo recommendations. Most of these plans even included limiting fruit and starchy vegetables. Once I woke up, I realized this type of thing did not work for me at all.
After reading her book, I realized I needed to start listening to my body again. Our bodies are amazing creations and will tell us when something isn’t working. Elizabeth reminded me to pay attention to how my body responds and adjust my diet as needed to get the best response. She says instead of following rules made by someone who doesn’t even know you, pay attention to yourself and what your body is trying to tell you. Ditch the diet dogma, the long list of restrictions and replace it with balanced eating and listening to your body. That’s exactly what I needed to do to get back on track and start feeling great again!
I’d loved this book so much that I wanted to buy it for all my friends and family. I consider you all my friends (internet friends!) and I’d love for you to read this book, too. It’s filled with so many nuggets of wisdom (backed up by science and 12 pages of references). If you are sick and tired of being on a diet that’s not working out for you, this book is for you. If you want to learn how you can end digestive problems, get a great night sleep, have energy throughout the day, then this book was made for you, as well. I really hope you get a chance to read it!
If you are interested in purchasing the book or finding out more about it, you can do so here.