Monthly Archives: February 2012

Getting Started

We live in a world of competing ideas about nutrition, health and wellness. Everywhere you turn there is someone telling you to eat this, or to eat that. Conflicting evidence at all times. Therefore, I choose to take my cues from nature. I believe that if you eat local, natural foods that you will be making the correct choices for your body.

The Basics

All you really need to eat healthy is to keep these three things in mind:
1. Whole Foods
2. Fresh Foods (mostly fresh, preferrably organic or natural)
3. Eat more vegetables (especially leafy greens), high quality meats and less carbohydrates (especially simple ones such as sugar and refined flours)

Whole Foods:
When we speak of whole foods we speak of the entire edible portion of the food. We live in a world that wants to reduce foods to their basic parts. This is called reductionism. I once heard two pieces of advice in choosing foods at the grocery store. One was to only shop on the outside of the grocery store (typically you find the vegetables, fruits and meats on the outside of the store and the refined foods are on the inside of the store) and the other was to purchase foods that do not have a label telling you that they are healthy. I’ve never seen a label telling me that tomatoes or oranges were healthy, but we all know that they are. That is because they are packaged whole. They come with all of the required parts needed for nutrition.
Typical whole foods are your fruits, vegetables, whole grains, meats
Typical refined foods are white breads, instant oatmeal, cookies, frozen dinners and anything boxed.

Fresh Foods:
The fresher your food, the more nutrients that it will have. Soon after your food is harvested the nutrients begin to lose their effectiveness or to die off. Typical grocery store foods travel very long distances to reach your pantry. I would purchase produce in the following order if possible: local organic and natural, whole produce from the grocery, frozen produce (freezing occurs soon after picking and maintains a high amount of nutrients, some claim more than typical grocery store produce), then canned produce.
Purchasing local natural/organic produce supports both your health and the health of your local economy and farmers. However, if these are cost prohibitive or not easy to obtain feel free to get conventional produce. It will increase your pesticide intake which is obviously not good, but you will reap multiple benefits from the vegetables themselves which might offset that cost.

Eat more vegetables, quality meats and less carbohydrates:
The standard american diet is very heavy on meats and tends to leave out a lot of vegetables. It takes some effort at first to start using more vegetables in your diet. It’s simply not a part of our culture here. I was once told to think of meat as a garnish on the plate instead of the whole meal. This has helped tremendously in my thinking. Simply increasing the amounts of vegetables that you eat will make a large difference in your health. You should pay particular attention to increasing your leafy green intake. They are powerhouses of health. If you are using high quality natural meats such as grassfed beef, and other organic meats then you may eat as much as you like. I believe our bodies are geared to work properly on the fats and proteins of these meats.
As you fill your plate with these meats and vegetables you’ll thankfully crowd out the simple carbohydrates such as white breads, sugars and sodas. These have very little nutritional value and also react similarly in the body by increasing your blood glucose and insulin levels, which then leads to weight gain. Eating fat does not cause weight gain, carbohydrates do.

Those are three quick and easy things to think about when planning your meals. Keep them in mind and you are already most of the way to proper health.

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Welcome

As many of you know, the last several years have been quite a transformation for myself. 5 years ago I moved to Texas as a brand new paramedic. Eager to test my skills and to challenge myself in a system that is regarded as one of the best in the nation. I went from a very green and timid paramedic to one that is confidant to handle whatever situation that arose. Through the help of my training officers and subsequent partner whom I spent nearly my entire career with I learned how to take care of the individuals of Travis County with compassion and respect. During this time I noted on regular occasion the chronic illnesses that plague my fair city and this nation. Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Heart Disease, obesity and many others are common amongst our elders and peers. The question that came to me is, does it have to be this way? Must we end our lives with disease and frailty? Is it possible to live our lives fully and healthful? I believe the answer is yes.
One must take control of their health. One must believe that they are able to change the outcomes of their future. You must empower your life. Better than any doctor can, the individual can choose health from the begining. Not “health” after a prescription. The goal should be finding health without medication, not managing sickness with medication.
So…with the knowledge that I have gained through my quiet meditations as a Marine in devastating circumstances, to my present I have continued to transform myself. First I decided what was important in life. I was 25, with a 1967 Camaro (my dream car) and debt for the first time in my life. I wanted to live free with opportunity, not tied to debt as a slave to the owner of that debt and purchased items. I wanted substance in spirit and culture, not in items. Gas prices were increasing, my continued belief in freedom, personal responsibility and my desire to remain fit and healthy led me to attempt bicycle commuting. So…I bought a Surly Long Haul Trucker and taught myself bicycle commuting for the next year. Then…I sold my car. All in now, and I learned a tremendous amount about myself and what it takes to live in a city without a vehicle. With the help of some tremendous people I made it for two years without a car. It was healthy for me to ride, and after the initial purchase I spent a minimal amount of money on upkeep. Changing a few tires and cables all by myself with the aid of a book that I purchased. I also paid off all of my debt and completed that education of self. Then it was time to move on the the next.
Throughout this entire period I learned about sustainability. I developed a keen interest in sustainable agriculture. I learned that local, seasonal, natural foods were great for the environment, and were great for the individual. They are also typically cheaper. Seems like another win win to me. I also learned that while I believe that seasonal, natural vegetables and natural/grassfed meats were healthy, I did not know how to cook them. This was one of my barriers to fulfilling everything that I believed to be healthy for myself. Also, my schedule was brutal and I was unable to maintain a proper sleep schedule. Therefore after four and a half years, I resigned from Austin EMS. I did this to pursue a certification as a Natural Chef with an emphasis in health and wellness. Now that I have completed this certification I am confidant in my abilities to cook and to eat healthy. I believe that my body has responded extremely well to this. I have absolute faith that I am eating properly as well. As a Paramedic I saw the chronic diseases of this nation and it is quite clear they exist because of poor nutrition and lack of physical fitness. I have been searching for a healthy lifestyle for my entire adult life, and I have learned a tremendous amount. What I want to do is share what I have learned with others.
Therefore as my journey continues I am starting this website/blog. I am here to answer questions and to teach lessons. As I learn I will share. If you are interested feel free to send me a message and we can discuss details further. I am intending to learn sustainable agriculture and I am pursuing a personal trainer certification. I will post regularly on this Facebook page and I look forward to sharing with you. Please add me and keep an eye out for future posts.
Enjoy
David Shatto