Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!
Welcome family & friends!
This year, I wanted to do something a little different for my Christmas gift to all of you. Over the years, I’ve read a LOT about using food and lifestyle to manage my health. And during that time, I’ve had people ask me about these healthy habits. Whether you want more energy, want to better regulate your hormones, or wish you could lose a few extra pounds around the middle, I think we all at least like the idea of increasing our healthy habits. Because of this, I’ve been compiling some science, meal planning tips, and recipes that you all might enjoy into a little downloadable booklet to share with you all!
Unfortunately, the appendectomy has set me back a bit, but part of my healthy habits is not sweating the small stuff! So, I will have the full, downloadable booklet to you soon. Until then, scroll down for the first couple pages!
Love you all! Merry Christmas! Enjoy!
Over the years, I’ve tried a LOT of different cuisines, diets, and eating styles. From the years I was vegan to that time I only ate six foods for two weeks, it’s been a fun, weird, and generally educational ride. In this little booklet, I’ve pulled together some of my favorite recipes along with some of the best advice I’ve received from nutritionists and scientists over the years. I don’t expect you to try (or like) everything in this book—and I’m certainly no Nana or Chef Matt! But, I thought you all might enjoy learning a little bit about nutrient-based eating while trying out some new, mostly easy recipes.
I’ve broken up this booklet into three sections. First, I’m going to talk a little bit about nutrient-based eating, what it means and how I use it. This section gives you some science and some food for thought about using what you eat to lower inflammation and boost energy, about eating according to your ancestry, and about creating and maintaining a healthy gut for best nutrient absorption. Second, I’ll give you some of the advice I’ve learned about meal planning and using templates. Rather than constantly worrying about calories and macronutrients, this section provides some easier ways of thinking about your plate so that you get the most out of every meal. Last, the recipes! I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
With lots of love, Alex
Part One: The Science
Food as Fuel
First, let’s talk about the word diet. I don’t mean eating to lose weight when I use this word. I just mean eating. In general. While I’ve tried a bunch of diets that are generally based on some small fad (keto, primal, raw veganism, etc.), science basically tells us that there’s no one diet that works for every person. Keto is dangerous for hormone production in pre-menopausal women, for example, and people of Western European decent often do better with some dairy in their diets. But science also tells us there are some generally helpful ways of thinking about how we eat that are good for everyone.
Second, what do I mean when I say nutrient-based eating? I mean that I focus on eating the nutrients my body needs rather than sticking to a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all diet plan. Because my body is super sensitive to what I put into it, for me this looks like: getting labs done every few months to check my nutrient levels and inflammation markers, regularly checking in with my gut flora, and adapting to what this information tells me my body needs at the time. Most people don’t need this level of scrutiny! Instead, you can usually use your genetic ancestry, your gender and age, and several bodily symptoms to let you know what nutrients your body really needs right now.
In the next few chapters, I’ll cover: nutrient-based eating, the importance of a healthy gut, macros vs. micros, the relationship of diet and hormones, the role food plays in hormone production for women, and ancestral eating for people with Western European heritage. I’m including this section on ancestral eating as an example of what you can think about when deciding which foods will probably work best for your body.
Nutrient-based eating focuses on two main goals: boosting energy and lowering inflammation. Boosting energy is pretty easy to figure out – we all want to have more energy throughout the day! But why worry about inflammation? Inflammation is the cause of Every. Single. Disease. Even when we’re talking about viruses and bacterial infections, the main damage done to the body is often inflicted by our own immune systems. When our immune systems mount a response to invading particles, this is called inflammation. But our immune systems aren’t always specialized enough to only attack the invading particles, so the inflammation will damage normal healthy cells, too.
In the case of infections, this is an understandable side effect of protecting your cells from the invading pathogens. But the immune system is not perfect, and it can flare up and wreak havoc on healthy cells in a number of ways through inflammation. Inflammation can causes major problems through extremely high fever, swollen glands, cancer, diabetes, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure… you get my point. Inflammation either causes or exacerbates nearly every single thing that can go wrong in the human body.
While some inflammation is a good thing during infection, just like some stress helps your body learn resiliency, even moderate levels of inflammation shorten your life span. (Oh yeah, and stress leads to inflammation, too!) So, how do we lower or prevent inflammation? One of the easiest ways to prevent and lower inflammation is through healthy diet and regular, moderate exercise. When it comes to healthy eating, one of the best ways to lower inflammation and increase energy is by making sure your diet is high in foods that have a lot of nutrients and low in foods that trigger an immune response.
Some of the foods with the highest amount of nutrients are:
- Pasture-raised meats
- Offal (organ meats, especially liver)
- Seafood (especially shellfish)
- Healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, butter from pastured cows, etc.)
- Fermented foods (kombucha, kimchi, pickles, etc.)
- Green and black teas (steeped 5-10 mins)
Some of the most immune-triggering foods are:
- Alcohol (especially in excess)
- Sugar (especially processed)
- Artificial sweeteners
- Vegetable oils
- Factory-farmed meats