With all the talk of food reward and CIH it occurred to me that perhaps the best thing to keep in mind/tell people to do (if they’re asking for advice) is “cook all your food.”
I mean eat nothing that you don’t cook from scratch yourself. I do this currently and have been doing it for about 2 years and realize that I never have health/digestion/anything problems. In that time I’ve been WAP, paleo with dairy, paleo without dairy, ZC (eating no plant matter at all), had vastly different lifestyles from high energy-expenditure lifting, running, daily jiu jitsu, months where I just walked the dog and did nothing else really, etc. The one thing that has been constant is that I cook all of my food (the dairy was yogurt from a farmer’s market or Fage).
Processed (in other words food that is not cooked by you) food inevitably is flavored with stuff designed to make you eat more of it than you otherwise would. I think that is probably not a good thing.
I think that (and this is prolly coming from my WAP days) as long as you cook all your food you can prolly eat grains, legumes, and dairy with no ill effects (celiacs and people with overt reactions aside).
Do you think that so long as you prepare all your food from scratch you don’t have to worry about CIH, food reward, obesity, etc?
PS: I don't worry about special occasions where you go out to a nice place for dinner.
EDIT: An example to point out what I mean: yesterday I was eating lunch in the park. I was eating leftovers of salmon and beef tenderloin I had cooked that morning with some whole sweet potatoes I had baked (like you’d bake a plain white potato). I knew everything in it. It was simple, cheap, tasty, and kept me full. A woman sat next to me with her lunch. She had a bag of potato chips, a salad with salmon on top (the kind of salad that seemed to be prepared fresh for her like you can get at any of a number of delis here in NYC). I realized that we were eating similar meals as far as base ingredients go: basically meat and starch (she had some greens as well). However there is nothing hidden or unknown in mine. Her starch had the vegetable oil it was fried in at the factory, the salad had the oil it was tossed in, the salmon had the oil it was cooked in, poor quality salt on everything, etc. That pattern repeated all the time seems to me to foster losing connection with what kind of portion one actually needs/consumes, what flavorings/additional ingredients are required to make something palatable, etc. and I wonder if that starting point is at the base of so many of our problems in the US. By the way, the woman was slender and seemingly in good health.
I'm fat. I've cooked the vast majority of my food since I was 19 or so (I'm 28 now) and I've lost some weight, gained some weight, been more and less active, but always been fat. That said, I do also have a kind of broken endocrine system (PCOS, HGH deficiency), so I may not be a great test case. I am also healthy by other markers—blood pressure, cholesterol numbers, triglycerides, hip/waist ratio, etc.
I do think that home cooking (from quality, whole ingredients) goes a long, long way towards health, but I don't think it's a guarantor of thinness. Then again, I also don't think being fat is in and of itself a death blow or that thinness is an indicator of health, but that conversation is probably not worth having here.
Haven't you ever seen a plump peasant woman in fairytales and books? The Babushka is a perfect example. There are plenty of such women in my own family, women who have cooked Old European peasant staples from scratch their entire lives and are quite plump. But it's worth mentioning that they live very long and healthy lives, despite not conforming to beauty ideals.
I have pictures of my family going back into the mid 1800s and many of the women, particularly the older, are not thin, but they lived into their 70s and 80s, which was not that uncommon for upper middle class women back then. However, they did have defined waists, which seems to indicate that they had less visceral fat than many "apple" shaped people we see today. And they weren't overweight in childhood either. That's the scary thing today- we have people overweight their entire lives with large concentrations of visceral fat.
In the paleo community I've often thought that people who cook elaborate things are more likely to not succeed with weight loss. Cooking can be your salvation, but it can also be a downfall if you are frying stuff all the time or making "paleo" baked goods.
Myself? I ate out at least one meal a day my first two years of paleo and still lost 30 lbs and got rid of most of my issues.
I just commented on Stephan's blog suggesting the opposite thing. I definitely don't think that just eating whole foods or just cooking all one's food is adequate for good health for most people.
I think, perhaps, the extremity of bad eating in the US (the image of millions of people exclusively eating junk food exclusively) has created the misleading impression that if you don't eat like that then leanness will follow. The UK and the rest of Europe is not radically different from the US, but I know plenty of people who eat a starch heavy, mostly whole food diet and are obese and diabetic. I suppose you could point the finger at the shop bought in their sandwiches at lunch, but I don't think this can be the entirety of the issue.
Similarly I think a lot of lean young people over-estimate how difficult it is to gain weight and over-generalise from their own situation. Most people are lean while they're young anyway and I certainly know plenty of people who are lean and subsist largely on sugar or other junk and remain lean. Clearly there are a lot of people, including on PH, who do struggle with their weight and for whom different interventions do make a lot of difference, so I simply don't think we can generalise across these different populations.
Speaking personally, and to repeat a case history that must be getting boring by now, I used to eat an extreme version of the conventional dietary advice, all home cooked wholefoods and had to constantly count calories and keep myself slightly hungry to maintain my weight, despite being very active. On LC things couldn't be more different.
I've definitely been appalled at the ingredients in deli foods at regular supermarkets, even in what looks to be a simple food: salads, roasted chicken -- not just the seasoning on top, they inject the thing with "flavour".
However, there's kind of a gradient of homecookedness. You can buy a pie shell and pie filling, slap it together, and call it homemade. You can take a piece of fish, dump a can of soup over it and bake it, and call it homemade. You can form some meatballs with chopped vegetables, and pour some canned tomato sauce on it, or cover your chicken wings with some corn-starch concoction that's labelled as "garlic seasoning". You can buy a curry mix instead of mixing your own. Where do you draw the line?
Beyond all that, though, I see this question as essentially the same as the recent one about conflating low carb with removing refined foods, and my answer is the same: It might be enough for some people, but there is a huge contingent for whom it is simply not addressing the true biological problem.
I don't think so... When I was obese I was also the poorest I'd ever been. I ate mostly beans (soaked and cooked as canned was too expensive), rice, yams, pasta, eggs, apples and olive oil. I put on 55 lbs eating this way. I never ate out as I could not afford to. I rarely if ever ate meat. I stress ate. I ate all day, never felt full, was always stressed, had terrible insomnia. I could eat five times the calories I needed on rice and beans alone.
This past summer I spent a month travelling and eating out often. I did not gain a pound. I just made sure every meal was paleo. I have only ever been able to put on a couple pounds eating this way if I eat a lot of fat or too much dark chocolate.
The food reward theory makes a ton of sense to me as one of the things making us obese but in my experience cooking everything from scratch did not prevent obesity.
I cook everything except on special ocassions where I eat out. I greatly prefer my own cooked food. The food is fairly simple.
It has a great health benefit for me. I still watch what I eat however lots of dairy because I am sensitive to coconut. I am very careful what I eat and it would be very easy for me to gain weight on an all paleo diet if I did not make good choices...
To a degree I agree. I think w/ all the info out there, we tend to over complicate things. I understand for people who have specific diseases, syndromes, deficiencies, allergies, etc may need to find a more strict diet.
For the rest of us who are trying to live healthy is should be simple.
I think cook at home, would probably help most people, since so many eat out where they tend to eat junkier foods w/ toxins, and over indulge.
That being said, cook at home probably is a bit too simple. I could be at home and bake a cake and make some cooking.
So I would modify: Cook your own meals, eat with your family, use fresh "real" ingredients (choose local than organic first), base your meal around a healthy source of protein, add some veggies (including starchy ones) and I think you will be fine.
To me you could probably include legumes if properly prepared, but I would still avoid wheat. To me avoiding wheat, vegetable oils, and high fructose corn syrup, pretty much keeps me away from processed food