The last time I posted on what I eat and don’t eat was over two years ago. Time for an update. The biggest difference between now and then is I no longer follow a strict low carbohydrate interpretation of the Paleo diet. In fact, I don’t even primarily consider myself Paleo. I’m more in the WAPF camp, which places greater importance upon traditional methods of food preparation.
What I Don’t Eat
I have found that most of my health benefits came from eliminating the foods with the highest amount of anti-nutrients. People who preach moderation when it comes to toxins never seem to have excellent health. Here is what I avoid.
- Gluten (Wheat, Barley, Rye, Couscous)
- Vegetable and Seed Oils (Corn, Canola, Soy, Sunflower, etc)
- Excessive Sugar
- Soy that hasn’t been fermented (I eat miso and natto, not BOCA burgers and Tofu)
- Legumes that haven’t been soaked and sprouted (#7 on If I Were Still a Vegetarian)
- Beer, Wine, Cider (my body hates liquid sources high in histamines)
- Milk (unless raw, which is a very rare treat)
- Fruit Juice (no fruit without fiber)
- Food from China
- Peanuts (except purposeful trace exposure)
- Oranges, Tangerines. (I hate the taste and smell)
Things I have taken off the No List include starchy vegetables and white rice. My experiences suggest that The Perfect Health Diet is accurate in labeling them safe starches. I’ve also started drinking the occasional Coke Zero again. It helps me when I have extreme headaches in a way that coffee, tea and water don’t. In Podcast #15 of Upgraded Self Radio, I felt James Krieger made a strong case for the safety of diet colas. In an ideal world, I wouldn’t drink Coke Zero, but it is more effective than Alleve or Advil for my headaches.
Here are some foods I eat that fall into a middle ground. They aren’t necessarily healthy, but I have found they don’t cause me problems. Run your own experiments.
- Gluten-free grains (in small quantities)
- Ice Cream (occasionally and on high activity days)
What I Eat
Once the toxic foods have been removed, I like the strategy of loading up on highly nutrient dense foods. The post High Velocity Super Warrior Foods has a list of ideas. Here are the foods I eat.
- Mostly pastured, organic meat
- Mostly clean seafood
- All vegetables (raw, fermented, cooked)
- Some fruit
- Coconut oil, butter, lard, tallow, ghee, palm oil, olive oil
- Yogurt (Full Fat)
- Coffee and Tea
- Dark Chocolate
- Soaked almonds
As much as I’ve tweaked my diet in the past few years, there are some foods I still have some uncertainty about. I will run tests on these foods to determine my personal tolerance.
- Nightshades – I plan on doing a 30 day elimination test on this food group later this year.
- Tyramine / Histamine Foods – My test last year was flawed, I need to do a strict test to see if this is a cause of my headaches.
- Coffee – My 2 week test last year was flawed as well. I need to go a full month and not have decaf during the test period. I am not ready for that test. It’ll be much later in the year.
- Cheese and Almond Butter – The two foods I find the most hyper palatable. They are fine foods, but I can’t control myself when they are in the house, so I’ve drastically cut back on both.
- Gin – Recently, I’ve discovered that my body might be able to handle very small amounts of gin. More data is needed.
This list is less rigid than the one I made two years ago. I now know which foods are the most toxic and which are the most nutrient dense. I suspect having a healthy attitude about everything in between is a better approach than becoming a neurotic eater obsessing about the quality of every calorie.
May 7, 2012 — 8:09 am
I realize it’s a very small part of your diet, but I’m curious about the Coke Zero and headaches link. Is it the caffeine that helps? I know many painkillers like aspirin often contain caffeine.
May 7, 2012 — 8:18 am
@Jim – Espresso and tea have more caffeine than Coke Zero, so I am uncertain how CZ often works better. Maybe it is the caffeine + carbonation? Beats me.
May 7, 2012 — 1:08 pm
I recently began having popcorn again. It’s soooo good made on the stovetop with coconut oil 🙂 I just have to control how much I eat, so it doesn’t upset my stomach.
May 7, 2012 — 3:57 pm
One of the great things about becoming healthier, figuring things out for yourself and eventually being less rigid while still maintaining the benefits, is that you free up a bunch of time to become neurotic about something else.
May 7, 2012 — 5:05 pm
@Rachel – I too am doing stove top w/ coconut oil. I add Cajun spices on top. I have found it really suppresses my appetite. I think it is all that crunching.
@Aaron – You know me too well. A new thing to be neurotic about is quite likely. 🙂
Dave Asprey (The Upgraded Self Radio Guy)
May 7, 2012 — 6:16 pm
Michael, the interview with James Krieger was anything but convincing. He cited a bunch of studies – mostly paid for by artificial sweetener companies I believe – but hadn’t even tried some of the sweeteners himself. He ignored the complaints to the FDA about adverse reactions (80% of them are nutrasweet). Every doctor I know and respect in the anti-aging and “wellness” field universally condemns nutrasweet as an unsafe sweetener.
You’re also getting ace-k in that stuff, which does create benign thyroid growths. It happened to me when I was taking high doses of ace-k in the late 90’s. Stopping the ace-k resulted in the nodules disappearing.
What’s going on is that you’re relying on the excitory neurotoxin part of nutrasweet to stimulate some part of your brain when you get a headache. It’s not a very good way to deal with headaches to be perfectly honest. 🙂
May 7, 2012 — 6:20 pm
@Dave – You might be right. I guess I could try switching the Coke Zero for a lemon-lime carbonated water to see if I get relief. Thanks for the comment.
May 7, 2012 — 7:33 pm
Since you’ve already got Dave “on the line”, I’d heartily recommend that your coffee experimentation jump directly into bulletproof coffee. I’m still converting over to a more strict Upgraded diet protocol but the butter/coffee routine is fantastic.
May 7, 2012 — 8:12 pm
@Andrea – I’m not a fan of butter in my coffee. I tried it and wasn’t impressed. But I’m a serious coffee snob. Been home roasting my own coffee for 14 years now.
May 9, 2012 — 12:01 pm
I had terrible headaches for 15 years until I eliminated caffeine from my life. Getting through the withdrawal headaches was awful and, if I remember correctly, took months. Eventually the headaches stopped altogether!!! I began drinking decaf coffee about 15 years ago and the headaches returned, however they are much less severe than when I consumed black tea, regular coffee & coca-cola decades ago. I’ve now limited myself to 3 or 4 decafs a month to avoid the headaches. So far so good!
May 10, 2012 — 9:49 am
I think we’re at similar places in terms of figuring out what works for us, but I’ve been moving in the opposite direction as you in some ways. I seem to perform better with a lower level of carbs. I tend towards reactive hypoglycemia, and starches (especially rice) spike and crash my blood sugar way too much. My brain and body definitely function better without them.
Also, I’ve pretty much cut out all dairy and fermented foods (and other high tyramine/histamine foods, such as canned fish). They dramatically aggravate my post-nasal drip and flushing. It’s too bad about the fermented foods in particular, but it was a major breakthrough when I discovered that they were a major contributor to excessive mucus.
May 10, 2012 — 10:17 am
@Richard – I am more cyclical carbs. Higher on activity days and very low on rest days. And like you, I will soon be starting a low tyramine/histamine diet. My previous test was flawed, so I need to repeat it.
May 10, 2012 — 1:19 pm
Also, being in the WAPF / Paleo camp…..I’ve never been one to drink soda, but I have known a few ultra healthy friends that went to coca-cola in times of emergency. They claimed the phosphoric acid was a savior when caught in a pinch.
I always thought it was interesting.
but, in terms of headache relief, if anything, its probably the coca leaf extract
“Coca-Cola has its roots as a “medicine” that was marketed as a cure for headaches and morphine addiction. The coca plant, alongside the kola nut, served as the primary stimulants for the alleged medical qualities of the drink from its very beginning. Until 1903, one serving of Coca-Cola contained small amounts of cocaine–the natural coca leaf byproduct.
Today, Coca-Cola uses coca leaves for flavoring that have already completed the cocaine extraction process. Technology allows the removal of all traces of cocaine from the coca leaf, prior to making the Coca-Cola concentrate.”
Incas have been chewing on coca leaves to cure headaches for thousands of years. Not to mention many modern Bolivians, Peruvians, and Ecuadorians.
I guess you can order coca leave tea in the states, but once in a while, US Customs gets involved.
May 10, 2012 — 4:38 pm
@RareArtists – Before I break US law, I think I’ll travel to the region first and try it. If it works then maybe I’ll just move there. The food in Peru looks awesome.
May 10, 2012 — 4:50 pm
Ha! yeah, there is some good food around those parts.
FYI – coca leaves / coca leaf tea is actually legally exported to the US, its just that US Customs officials sometimes intercept packages when you order directly from the region…..I’m sure its just because the Customs guys want to keep the product for themselves.
You can get it from importers who have already gone to the trouble of legally importing the leaves. If you search Amazon, for “coca tea” or “coca leaves,” you’ll find a bunch of choices. I personally haven’t tried any of them, but my friends who travel often to the region report great results from chewing the leaves or drinking the tea.
May 10, 2012 — 5:05 pm
@RareArtists – Wow, I had no idea this stuff was available for sale on Amazon. Thanks.
May 10, 2012 — 5:11 pm
I guess the issue is determining which stuff is the real deal. I’m sure some of it is powerful medicine and some of it is oregano
Oct 11, 2012 — 12:55 am
And what about potato? What’s your opionon about this article?
Do you eat white rice occasionally nowadays? And what do you think about brown rice flour? I use it 🙁 .
Oct 11, 2012 — 7:07 am
@Anna – I eat white rice regularly and potatoes occasionally. I have no opinion on the article other than we all need to do our own experiments. I don’t bake, so I don’t have the need for any flours.
Oct 11, 2012 — 10:54 am
Thank you for the answer, Michael. It helps me. I like your way of eating and thinking.
Nov 25, 2012 — 8:59 pm
I was just wondering your opinion on corn.
I see that you eat popcorn – as someone with a plethora of intolerances/allergies (gluten, legumes, shellfish, barley) being the major ones, corn has always been something I’ve seen as a “savior”. Meat upsets my stomach, fried food upsets me, I almost can’t tell anymore what makes me feel good or not. I have always been able to rely on (well at least I thought) a bowl of cornflakes with milk, because I knew that wouldn’t make me feel sick and satisfied me.
I can’t find many articles specifically on corn, so if you have any advice or information I would greatly appreciate it!
Nov 26, 2012 — 9:00 am
@Gen – I don’t have a strong opinion on corn. I’ve added and removed it to my diet with no striking effects. I do know for me that popcorn with Cajun spices is an outstanding appetite suppressant. If I want to drop a few pounds, I’ll make popcorn.