Evan Brand chats with Devyn Sisson about her new book Kitchen Intuition. Devyn Sisson is an author, artist, culinary enthusiast, and restaurateur involved in the launch of the Primal Kitchen fast-casual restaurant chain. After graduating from the The New School in New York City with a degree in Psychology, she started to express her creativity with a deep immersion into the study of nutrition with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and self-improvement through the Spiritual Psychology program at The University of Santa Monica. She lives in Southern California where she is kind of successfully training her new dog, Ninja.
Dr. Alan Christianson is a Phoenix, Arizona-based Naturopathic Physician (NMD) who specializes in natural endocrinology with a focus on thyroid disorders. He founded Integrative Health, a group of physicians that reverses complex and chronic diseases. Accolades include Top Doc recipient in Phoenix magazine. Dr. Christianson co-authored The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Thyroid Disease and authored Healing Hashimoto's a Savvy Patient's Guide. His numerous media appearances include CNN, The Today Show, The Doctors, Insider and Shape Magazine.
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Today we discuss
- What are the biggest problems we are facing right now?
- So diet and exercise can have nothing to do with health?
- An example of how the mind can overpower healthy habits
- How stressful situations should be safely recreated to please our DNA
- Sleeping pills and the horrors of them. You need REM Rehab instead.
- A clip from Alan Watts
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Before we get into anything, have you listened to the podcast? Hearing is much more engaging to most.
What should I eat?
First, Paleo is not 100% strict, just because there is a list of certain foods that you should eat, that doesn't mean that you have to eat all of them.
People get stuck in the mindset of eating foods that they aren't a fan of and become stressed. Look at all of the amazing opportunities that you have in front of you and pick your favorites! Your palette will change over time, so don't stress if you can't eat some or a lot of these foods.
An 80% clean Paleo diet will be more than enough for people, although I advise being 100% strict for the first 30 days to see drastic results, and then add other things back in.
Quick Tip: When it comes to the "other 20%" of your diet not being Paleo, this should consist of rice, raw dairy and sweet potatoes or other organic variety of potatoes. Gluten-containing foods as part of your "extra 20" basically eliminate all of the progress against removing brain inflammation. Learn more in my discussion with Dr. Rodney Ford.
- Grass-fed beef
- Pastured chicken
These animals are supposed to be roaming on pastures and eating grass, not conventionally raised animals which are fed corn and are submitted to a large amount of cruelty and stress. You eat the stressed animals and become stressed.
- Grass-fed butter
- Ghee (clarified butter)
- Fish oils
- MCT oil
- Coconut oil
- Cold-pressed Olive oil
Depending on your allowed sugar intake, you may want to eat fruit in moderation. However, fruit is a great way to reduce cravings from the low-quality or other types of sweets that used to be in your diet.
If you are being extra cautious with fruit intake, discover the glycemic-index.
There is a rating system from 1-100 which determines the amount that your blood sugar levels rise. High-glycemic fruits and foods are okay in moderation, especially to restore glycogen levels after exercise.
Quick Tip: Don't eat canned fruits, frozen is safer, fresh is best.
- Avocado (biologically a fruit since it's from a tree. Avocado translates to testicle)
- Cabbage (especially sauerkraut)
- Celery (burns more calories to digest than it contains. I don't eat celery)
- Dark-colored lettuce (not that white crap from Subway)
- Green beans
- Tomatoes (always organic)
- Sweet potatoes
Quick Tip: Don't eat canned vegetables, frozen is safer, fresh is best.
Nuts & Seeds
Arguably the best part of the diet!
- Hazelnuts (not very tasty)
- Pine nuts
Nuts contain phytic acid, which has become an increasingly popular concern for some that are more sensitive.
Phytic acid is there because nuts are designed to go into the ground and grow! It's their natural pesticide.
Another reason people look at nuts carefully is nuts don't have the proper amount of omega-3's that our body requires for optimal health. Supplementing with a high quality fish oil will be sufficient for most to balance this out.
Nuts are calorie dense, which is great for people trying to gain weight and consume more calories. Nuts should be used in moderation for those trying to lose weight. (You poor thing, don't miss them too much!).
When should I exercise?
Whenever works best for you, 2-3 times a week for 30 minutes.
This exercise doesn't have to be in the gym, don't go for your wallet just yet.
The best investment you can make towards your health is to start moving now. It's free!
Get off this article after you read it, take a few deep breaths, smile and then go hop around! 30 minutes of physical, safe fun!
This may seem like a lot or a little, depending on your background. Our goal in exercise is to be intense, but short. This helps keep the stress and inflammatory hormone cortisol levels down. High cortisol levels can lead to many negative side effects.
Quick Tip: Most people are so exhausted and think that exercise is one of the first steps to achieving optimal health. In reality, diet, lifestyle and sleep are the top three prioritization categories.
What should I eat before my workout?
A quality sourced meal containing a 4-6 ounce portion of meat with 2 cups of vegetables.
Some people can tolerate food before their workouts, I love eating right before I workout and have had great results. If you cannot do this, give yourself a 30-45 minute window to rest after a meal before exercising. I recommend spinach, meat and some berries.
What should I eat after my workout?
A balanced meal of protein and carbs such as grass-fed beef and a sweet potato.
The first hour after your workout is the most important time to consume food! This is called the anabolic window, and is the time when your body rapidly absorbs food!
Exercise tends to fire up our entire body, mind and soul, metabolism too.
Bananas are a bodybuilder's post-workout staple, I don't eat them. I prefer berries, some high-quality protein or some grass-fed beef or pasture-raised chicken.
These high quality ingredients aren't cheap, but your health budget should override most other budgets beyond survival!
How can I sleep better?
There are many things that can influence your sleep habits
- Caffeine intake
- Exposure to blue light at night
- Stimulation from external sources such as TV, loud music, noisy roommates, spouses or significant others
- Any other source you feel that disrupts your sleep.
If possible, eliminate all sources of light and sound when it comes to bedtime. This includes alarm clocks too! I wrote about why you shouldn't use an official alarm clock. Leaving a 30-minute window, at least, to avoid all these sources.
Take 1mg melatonin only for jet lag, swing-shift or special scenarios.
A lot of people find melatonin as a quick fix for good sleep, which it is! Except, you don't want to develop a tolerance and interfere with the natural level of melatonin production.
But, melatonin is a hormone naturally produced in the body, and releases enough on it's own if you are in complete health otherwise. Primal life is a good start to achieve healthy melatonin levels naturally, but in our modern day and age, I imagine MILLIONS of people are suffering from a lack of melatonin production.
It's essential to deep, restful sleep.
If you're reading this late at night
Use a program called flux which is free and takes away the blue tint to your computer, iPhone etc.
Your eyes will thank you, it feels better this way.
Take a warm bath or shower 30 minutes before bed using a bath and shower filter
There has been a lot of debate about hot baths before bed, and studies that say they actually hype up the nervous system before bed and should be avoided.
It's up to you, I enjoy them.
They help for muscle soreness and stiffness, relaxation, meditation and they are just plain amazing!
I advise you to use a filter on your shower/bath nozzles because of the heavy metals that you can absorb. Nutritional Therapist Wendy Myers talked about heavy metal toxicity on episode #9 of the podcast.
With the rat-race wheels spinning faster than ever, people are literally going nuts.
Trying to operate at 100mph brain and body is not healthy and can and will lead to adrenal fatigue and chronic fatigue. You must relax.
This does not make you lazy, it's essential for brain health and muscle growth. I can't express how much of your fitness goals can be affected from stress. It's an essential thing to reduce in your life. Whatever relaxation method works for you (deep breathing, baths, meditation, low amounts of red wine, singing, sewing, etc. You know what makes you relax)
Take my sleep course
UPDATE: I wrote a book and created a course all about sleep called REM Rehab.
How can I get more energy?
I could write a book on this because there are so many aspects to it.
One helpful sentence would be to get enough sleep, drink enough water, reduce stress, sniff essential oils, meditate, reduce caffeine dependence, laugh, change negative energy sources in your life.
Energy comes from mind, body and the external world. With a mindset of creating energy and the willpower to stimulate yourself and apply that motivation to life, you can do anything.
It just so happens that the Paleo diet and lifestyle are essential to high energy levels. Of course, society can continue to prop itself on things like excess caffeine, sugar, energy drinks and other forms of stimulation, but this can't be sustained.
Your body will wear down from a consistent pattern like that. Applying things like, living by candle light when it's dark outside, taking naps, laughing (ancestors would probably laugh when they realized the terrifying shadow outside the cave was just a bunny rabbit)
Once you have developed a pretty clean diet, 80% Paleo or more, this mindset of creating energy will make more sense. If you are changing lifestyle habits like eliminating TV as well as a good diet, your results will happen exponentially.
Quick Tip: Read how Vitamin B12 is impaired from gluten and how to boost your moods naturally.
Any particular schedule to start working out?
Newton taught us that an object in motion stays in motion.
Well, it would be a good idea to keep it moving! Anything more than 3 days of not exercising in a row tend to throw me off balance. Exercise could be counted as going on a sprint down the block and back and that's it for the day. Depending on how fast you recover, you will naturally find out how many days work best for you. I suggest a schedule like this.
For Men and Women
Monday - Strength Training for certain body area for 30 minutes i.e. chest and triceps together, back and bicep together and legs and abs together. (If you do them on separate days you could overtrain from the exercises that use both body parts.
Tuesday - 10, 10 second sprints. A total of 100 seconds of sprinting. Depending on your experience level, as always, start slowly. You may want to read tips for getting results in combination with this. Sprinting is not for everyone, but for serious fat loss, sprinting works. Also don't forget to do a walking cool down after each sprint for about 15 seconds.
Wednesday - Off day - You deserve an off day now, continue to eat quality food and rest! Don't exhaust yourself too much in your recovery period, we need to keep cortisol and lactic acid levels down. The Paleo diet itself is high in vitamins essential to health and recovery and can improve the healing process ten fold. Essential Fatty Acids found in Salmon, Fish oil and other cold-water fish products (wild caught preferred) contain natural levels of EFA. Inflammation is also reduced with consuming EFA's, part of the reason they are a staple in the Paleo/Health community.
Thursday - Off day, play time or Strength Training - Time to work the opposite body group you worked last time. Leg day should not be avoided for men or women, which is a common misconception. Women want skinny lower bodies while men want big upper bodies, you should have a balance of both! Men will be unstable and not powerful on their feet when they are top-heavy. Women can simply benefit from upper-body strength and will notice a huge difference in the ease every day lifting movements. Smile, you kick ass!
Friday - Stretching, play time or a combination - It's time to loosen up all of your body, I recommend a slight warmup and cool down for most exercises, but isn't always essential if your body is in good shape. It will help prevent injury. Either way, a play day is encouraged after a focused week of training. Frisbee, playing in the grass barefoot, playing in the dirt, sand or snow. You see where I am going with this, being outside is essential for happiness and primal mentality. Playing outside is all we're used to re connected to yourself when you're playing outside.
As with anything in diet and fitness, if your current routine is working, keep it up! This is just a sample of what could help you focus.
What kind of self care products should I avoid?
Almost all mainstream brands.
Makeup, hairsprays, shampoos, perfumes, conditioners, soaps, detergents, deodorants, toothpastes and air fresheners. I'm sure I am forgetting other sources of carcinogenic substances and chemicals, but it's easy to change. It may sound extreme, but these types of chemicals and products are completely foreign to us. If you want to lookup your current products for cancer causing agents and more, you can here at the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, it's a little hard to navigate at first, but has a huge list of items.
This list was found here.
Some of the main ingredients that you want to avoid
1. Cocoamide DEA (diethylalomine) TEA, MEA,– detergent in most shampoos, moisturizers and more Studies also show that DEAs (including cocamide DEA) directly inhibits fetal brain development in laboratory studies by blocking the absorption of choline, a nutrient required for brain development and maintenance.
2. Propilene Glycol - industrial antifreeze – in deodorant, shampoos, shaving gels, and moisturizers.
3. Sodium lauryl sulfate and flouride garage floor cleansers, detergents – in shampoos and toothpastes.
4. Benzaldehyde (in perfume, cologne, hairspray, laundry bleach, deodorants, detergent, Vaseline lotion, shaving cream, shampoo, bar soap, dishwasher detergent).
- Local anesthetic
- CNS depressant
- Irritates the mouth, throat, eyes, skin, lungs and GI tract
- Causes nausea and abdominal pain
- May cause kidney damage
5. Benzyl acetate (in perfume, cologne, shampoo, fabric softener, stickup air freshener, dishwashing liquid and detergent, soap, hairspray, bleach, after shave, deodorants)
- Linked to pancreatic cancer
- Can be absorbed through the skin causing systemic effects
6. Benzyl alcohol (in perfume, cologne, soap, shampoo, nail enamel remover, air freshener, laundry bleach and detergent, Vaseline lotion, deodorants, fabric softener)
- Irritates the upper respiratory tract
- Causes headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and drop in blood pressure
- CNS depressant
- Death in severe cases from respiratory failure
7. Ethanol (in perfume, hairspray, shampoo, fabric softener, dishwashing liquid and detergent, laundry detergent, shaving cream, soap, Vaseline lotion, air fresheners, nail color and remover, paint and varnish remover)
- Is on the EPA Hazardous Waste list
- Irritates the eyes and upper respiratory tract
- Causes initial stimulatory effect followed by drowsiness, impaired vision and ataxia
- Causes central nervous system disorder
8. Ethyl acetate (in after shave, cologne, perfume, shampoo, nail color, nail enamel remover, fabric softener, dishwashing liquid)
- Is on the EPA Hazardous Waste List
- Irritates the eyes and respiratory tract
- May cause headache and narcosis
- May cause anemia with leukocytosis and damage to the liver and kidneys
9. Linalool (in perfume, cologne, bar soap, shampoo, hand lotion, nail enamel remover, hairspray, laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid, Vaseline lotion, air fresheners, bleach powder, fabric softener, shaving cream, after shave, solid deodorant)
- Causes respiratory disturbances in some cases leading to death
- Causes central nervous system disorder
10. Methylene Chloride (in shampoo, cologne, paint and varnish remover)
- Banned by the FDA in 1988
- Is on the EPA Hazardous Waste list
- Causes headaches, irritability, fatigue and tingling in the limbs
- Causes central nervous system disorder
Are you sure that organic cosmetics is safer than the conventional varieties? Not necessarily. When shopping for organic cosmetics there are specific ingredients that should not be on the label. These are:
11. Grapefruit Seed Extract. It derives its antimicrobial properties not from grapefruit seed, but from toxic chemicals, primarily benzethonium chloride, and to a lesser extent from triclosan and parabens.
12. Cocamidopropyl Betaine. It is toxic to the immune system and can cause dermatitis and other allergic reactions.
13. Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein. Anytime you see something that is hydrolyzed there is a hidden source of MSG that is absorbed into your bloodstream when it comes in contact with your skin.
14. PEG – Studies have shown that any ingredient that contains PEG in its name can be contaminated with the cancer-causing chemical 1,4-dioxane.
15. Tricolosan - This is extremely common, used in antibacterial soaps. Avoid it as well.
What are the safe alternatives?
This list is overwhelming at first, I agree. Let's cover the staples of a healthy home.
Dr. Sarah Ballantyne from The Paleo Mom uses water and only water for her hair cleaning products. Water is a great solvent, but expecting everyone to switch to just water is unrealistic (for now). Whole foods and many of your local groceries have alternatives to mainstream shampoos. Whole foods 365 brand seems to hold up pretty well, as well as Shea butter shampoos, which usually have minimal ingredients.
A simple search at your local grocery will help you find some amazingly healthy and natural soaps. Just be aware of the chemicals listed above, if you want a specific type, I occasionally use 365 (whole foods brand) rosemary soap.
Any fluoride-free toothpaste is okay. I love Now Foods Xylitol Toothpaste, it's a natural sugar that is healthy for the mouth. Toms, Jason's and a few other healthy alternatives are popping up quickly!! Colgate better catch on quick.
No more headaches in the car from those silly trees!
You can buy a piece of cork, soak it in essential oils and hang it for drive-by relaxation. Or you can simply use an essential oil mist and spray it in your car, sheets, pillows, bathrooms etc. Leave the house smelling like oranges!
This is a tricky one. My family uses this one.
Almost all women use makeup everyday, which gives the potential to give daily doses of harmful chemicals directly into the face. I recommend these makeup products.
Perfume & Cologne
If you can't live without your Dior perfume or Polo cologne, spraying it on clothes may be slightly safer than direct skin spray.
Hairspray & Gels
Mainstream hairsprays are ridiculously toxic, don't take this switch lightly if you use hair products!
Now back to food!
Why does Paleo work?
Paleo works because it's based off the foods that your great-great-great-great-great grandparents ate.
Okay, that probably doesn't go back far enough before farming was invented, but you get the point.
Mainly, it's impossible to overeat on whole foods that the Paleo diet consists of. The lack of excess carbohydrates compared to the mainstream diet is a huge factor for explaining weight-loss and fat loss.
Remember that calories don't matter, quality does.
Is the Paleo diet enough to get results?
Absolutely, but I recommend exercise in any shape or form compared to nothing. Of course for the fastest amount of fat-loss, intermittent-fasting (rearranging your days to not eat for many hours at a time. Simulating random parts of starvation that would exist in caveman lifestyle) mixed with HIIT (High intensity interval training such as sprinting as fast as you can followed by walking and repeating).
How long does it take to get results?
If you are strict on your "diet" for 30 days, you will notice a huge difference in energy levels, quality of sleep, fat loss, weight loss, and overall well-being.
Now we aren't gonna lie to you, there are going to be some HUGE cravings for sweets, breads, bagels pastas and any other form of refined sugars or carbohydrates, but you can get through it. These patterns and items that have been in your diet for years and decades will take a while to get over. It's okay, you will form new pathways to happiness and eventually will crave blueberries and extremely dark chocolate, I promise!
How do I change my palette for healthier food?
There are two easy ways. Force yourself to eat healthy foods or slowly sneak items into your palette.
Adding berries into a blender with some spinach can be the introductory way. Just give it time, keep adding foods into your diet slowly. If you don't like "insert food here", is there another form that you can consume it in? If not, spice it up, mix it up, chop it up, hide it and keep trying it! Think of how beneficial it is for you.
What do I eat when going out to a restaurant?
This is a tough one.
In progressive cities across the United States, there are Paleo food trucks and brick-and-mortar stores popping up everywhere. This is great!
However, 98% of the country hasn't caught on and funds are tight for those that have the knowledge of these healthy foods. That leaves most of us with mainstream restaurants and local restaurants. Look for places that advertise farm-to-table and ask about the source. Don't be ashamed, snobby or act otherwise, it's completely normal.
Decipher the Menu
Opt for wild-caught seafood if grass-fed beef is not available. Ask for some sunflower seeds by themselves in a cup that would have went on the salads. Ask for a piece fruit that would have been a topping for an alcoholic drink or dessert. Mainstream restaurants will rarely serve chicken that is high enough quality for most strict Paleo folks. Everything in small doses is okay, sometimes you just have to eat.
What do I eat if I'm in a rush?
Arguably the most popular question on this list. Our society's wheels are spinning faster than ever (at least it feels that way) and there is no sign of slowing down.
For quality meals in a hurry, you should precook food.
I don't like using the microwave, but for most busy people, sometimes it happens. Whipping out a glass container out of the fridge, warming your chicken and sweet potato for 1 minute and leaving the house should be fine. If you are in that big of a hurry you should first figure out how you can allot yourself some more time to chill out!
I recommend a moderate dose of macadamia nuts, beef jerky and an apple. That should hold you off for a few hours.
How do I eat Paleo when traveling?
This goes hand-in-hand with eating at restaurants.
The reality is, when traveling for short amounts of time you will probably not have a kitchen to prepare your own dinner. If bringing a small cooler with your own food items is unrealistic, you should just decipher the menu at wherever you end up. Once again, I'd advise you keep a bag of jerky on hand! It's a lifesaver for many of us.
How can I get my family on board?
Some families will adapt faster than others, depending how far away they are from Paleo today.
If they are on a diet of soda, doritos, hot pockets, poptarts and video games, you may have a long journey ahead.
The best transition is just to switch from peanut butter to almond butter, and serve it on vegetables instead of bread. S
lowly transition away from potato chips into apple chips or kale chips. Even some kale chips can be made with baker's yeast, which you should avoid.
Packing school lunches and leaving an encouraging note inside will help too.
It's hard to open people's minds up to the fact that food companies are out to make money, not always out to help your health. Remind your spouse, children, significant other, friend, roommate that they must make changes now or pay in the future! It's not intended to be fear-mongering like the news does for flu shots, but it is important to make healthy choices immediately.
Why is stress such a big deal if I'm eating healthy?
Eating healthy can cause stress!
Especially when you are unfamiliar with all of the specifics of food quality and preparation methods. It takes a while to get into a good routine of how you prepare your food, where you can find all the ingredients and food choices you need, and how you can find the time to research and find all these things.
You see how people can get frustrated, especially while naturally reducing their carbohydrate intake and then binge on cookies and doughnuts! Don't do it. Just stay calm through this whole process, you are on the road to health and happiness. They do correlate believe it or not.
Stress leads to an increase in adrenaline output as well as a spike in cortisol levels. There are natural levels of these, but an excess, as you can guess, can lead to a plethora of problems.
Stress reduction is huge and is a topic that is not talked about in the Paleo community.
We're our ancestors stressed?
Absolutely, but it was in different forms than we experience today. There were no leases on cars that locked you in for years and years, or house payments and other debts. It was a different way of life, but our brains are still wired for that lifestyle. Did we evolve past that already? Not a chance.
Is diet and fitness enough?
Yes and no. Do you feel good? Do you feel unstoppable? Diet and fitness will transform your life, but the modern world presents so many new variables and struggles that the mainstream "health and fitness" industry has no clue about. Dr. Jack Kruse have uncovered some of these topics.
Our lives not long ago were based around quality food, exercise, hunting, running, playing, laughing, crying etc. In an age of machines and technology, we tune ourselves out from experiencing these emotions.
If we want to achieve health, happiness and sense of purpose on this planet (something that many people have lost), we have to seek out and cultivate these experiences.
Get outside more, bang on drums, climb trees, let your fear of judgment go, swim in a natural spring. You get the idea, seek out natural experiences. It's not a surprise you feel anxious in an office full of fluorescent lighting, fax machines, WiFi and a group of individuals that are not thinking outside of the box. Seek out others that connect with you!
The glycemic index is an important aspect of your food.
If you are not familiar with the Glycemic Index (GI), basically it is a number rating system for how quickly foods will digest and how much that particular food will raise your insulin and blood sugar levels.
Paying close attention to the GI is especially important for those who are diabetics, as low-glycemic foods usually make your body produce less insulin and keep your blood sugar from raising too significantly.
I personally don't see why food companies in America don't put the GI rating on the food items.
I think it would be neat and very informative and helpful for those wanting to pay close attention. Similar to the Genetically-Modified-Organism (GMO) labeling that was attempted, we need better labeling for our food in the scientific age of food.
Now, according to the GI rating scale, a score of 55 or below is considered a low-GI food.
Examples of low-GI food are:
- Cherries - 22
- Apple - 38
- Pear - 38
- Grapes - 46
- Banana - 52
- Walnuts - 15
- Cashews - 22
- Most vegetables fall in this category
- Seeds such as sunflower and sesame
Foods that digest faster, raise your blood sugar levels more are those with a GI of 56-69. These are known as medium-GI food.
- Kiwi - 58
- Cantaloupe - 65
- Pineapple - 66
- Corn - 60
Lastly, I'll give a couple examples of High-GI food, look closely at what foods contain such a high-GI and you will understand why it's a good idea to avoid them. These are rated 70 and above.
High-GI foods are going to keep you full for a very short amount of time.
High-GI foods digest and process extremely fast and cause a large spike and drop in your blood sugar levels.
If you are familiar with how quickly you are hungry after eating a typical Chinese meal that contains sticky white rice, now you know why.
Here's a few more:
- Rice crispies - 82
- Dates - 102
- Instant mashed potatoes - 86
- Sticky white rice - 98
- Pretzels - 83
- White bread - 70+
Obviously these foods are "created" and you shouldn't be consuming them anyways. But, now you understand why unhealthy foods are considered that way. GI index does not have to be a list to base your diet around.
However, generally speaking the best foods for you such as berries and nuts have a low-GI rating.
Since meat does not contain carbs, it has a GI of zero.
This applies to other fats and oils which are usually rated at an extremely or nonexistent GI.
Thanks for reading!