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What follows is the second part of my conversation with Karen De Coster, CPA. (Read Part 1. )
Karen De Coster is an accounting/finance professional and a freelance writer, blogger, speaker, and sometimes unpaid troublemaker. She writes about economics, financial markets, the medical establishment, the corporate state, food politics and, essentially, anything that encroaches upon the freedom of her fellow human beings.
ILANA MERCER: Two months after he had started following the food philosophy you espouse, and 30 pounds lighter, I told the spouse that he was a Karen De Coster fan. Thinking that I was accusing him of some indiscretion, he barked, “What the bleep are you talking about?” He was then informed that his almost overnight weight loss and newly found well-being were due to your recommendations about low-carb, primal/paleo eating. Before KDC, my husband had been gaining weight and swooning – not for any romantic reason, mind you, but, likely, from a prediabetic condition. Although we were raised on real food and had always eaten “things natural,” the spouse was wedded to carbs – bread, rice and mounds of pasta. Then he began eating like nature intended, and has never looked back. Tell us what he (and millions like him) was experiencing, what “going paleo” means and why it cured him.
KAREN DE COSTER: If Sean, who had supplemented real food with some bad foods, was so dramatically affected by a total switch to the paleo-primal lifestyle, imagine how others would be transformed by it! Most Americans eat a diet dominated by pre-packaged, highly processed foods, even more so than fast food. In fact, during your next trip to the grocery store, survey the contents of peoples’ carts, and you will observe that most carts are loaded to the gills with boxes, bags and cans of processed foods, along with a cornucopia of sugar-laced, liquid calories.
Food journalist Michael Pollan has often spoken about how grocery stores are laid out so that shoppers are tempted to buy as much convenience food as possible. Staples such as milk are always the furthest items from the entrance door so that shoppers have to weave their way to the back of the store, and along that path will be the industrial food machine’s most profitable (in terms of profit margin) items such as pop and snacks. Pollan challenges shoppers to stick to the perimeter of stores, where the whole foods are found.
Many people refer to the modern diet of convenience as the SAD (Standard American Diet). However, I always refer to the food system that produces the SAD as the Industrial Food Machine. There is nothing uniquely American about this diet at all. These foods are created by the industrial system. The industrial machine is churning out what I call “chemicals laced with food.” The designation “American” is used because America had the industrial infrastructure to produce these foods, though many of them did not even originate here. Our industrial system has been very efficient with food production while it is heavily backed by a political subsidy scheme, so America is really the first country to fully embrace the lifestyle of eating inexpensive, processed crap that takes little or no preparation time. The term Western Pattern Diet would be a more accurate description of what has actually taken place.
However, this industrial diet is no longer uniquely American. Due to the efficiency of our production and distribution channels, we have exported our convenience-food ways all over the world. Add to that the American political machinations that support and maintain an omnipotent corporate state (system of government-business alliances), and you have a mega-industrial organism that is fully supported by the power of government decrees.
When people adopt the paleo-primal way, that essentially means that they give up the industrial diet that consists mainly of refined grains; processed foods in a can, bag, or box; carbohydrate-rich snack foods; refined sugar; refined salt; sweetened, liquid calories; industrial oils; fast foods; and maybe even industrial meats that are the end result of confined animals loaded up on processed grains, steroids and hormones.
I don’t always like the term “paleo” used alone, because the original “paleo diet” is more restrictive and a tad doctrinaire. It calls for the elimination of all foods not available during the Paleolithic era, which essentially means Neolithic foods such as dairy. I like to think in terms of adopting a real food lifestyle vs. a dogmatic diet. “Diet,” to me, implies the short term; such as someone wanting to lose weight fast to fit into a wedding party dress. A lifestyle is a shift in thinking from the short term to the longer term. This change in lifestyle means defying the conventional wisdom that has been heavily influenced by politicking and powerful special interests.
Giving up the industrial diet is difficult in the short term because of the intentionally addictive properties of modern foods. Refined sugars – and replacement sweeteners – and refined salts are just as addictive to some people as nicotine or heroin. People don’t like to be told they are addicted to carbs, but it’s not difficult to see that behavior in people who are close to you.
It has taken a long time, but finally, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has received the bad rap it deserves. Always, the industrial system is ready to trot out yet another “food” that is cheap to produce, and it hooks consumers with carbohydrates and refined salt. Two of the cheapest items found in so many foods, HFCS and soybean oil, are heavily subsidized by the government-agricultural alliance known as Big Agra. While HFCS is starting to fall out of favor due to a media thrashing of the product’s downside, soybean oil seems to be in almost everything, and that’s because soybean subsidies have increased exponentially since about 1997.
I think people seem to forget how resilient the human body is in terms of healing, and at any age. One doesn’t have to be a 20-something to experience the power of going paleo-primal. Quitting the industrial diet and gravitating toward real food, even on an 80-20 mix, brings most folks much success and quick healing for all the various things that ail them. Cutting out gluten, sugar, processed foods and industrial oils alone will usually produce a drastic change in weight, health and/or appearance. The paleo-primal lifestyle brings one back to eating the kind of food that humans evolved to eat.
Let’s remember that carbohydrates are not bad because they are carbs; it’s the kind of carbs that we are eating nowadays that are destructive. So many foods are processed and refined. Refined grains are a staple for most people in America because they are a source of cheap calories. Real carbs from real foods – potatoes, vegetables and fruits – are not the root of the carb addiction in people. True, some folks just have to stay away from carbs as much as possible because they can’t adapt. Additionally, some people may enjoy the natural fructose in fruit, but they keep their fruit intake at a minimum to avoid eating too much simple sugar.
MERCER: Whenever people hear that one generally avoids pasta, breads, cereals – grain-based products – you get the stare. “Everything in moderation,” people will intone. “Some whole-grain products are essential to your health.” True or false?
DE COSTER: It’s amusing how often people use that term, “everything in moderation.” The term has no definition, and it is an easy “out” instead of applying further analysis to the topic at hand. For instance, rattlesnake poison would probably be best not consumed “in moderation.” There are good-quality calories and there are poor-quality calories, and the important task is to make the distinction as to “quality vs. non-quality.” That’s why self-education on food is so important. …