Variations of this way of eating abound. Here is one of the very best descriptions I've found of the reasoning behind this way of eating. Read each of the brief points carefully. You'll resonate with them, I'm sure.
And here's another, more fun description. This way of eating isn't hard, trust me! Wait ... yes it is, kind of. At first. But you will WANT to eat this way once the weight starts dropping and your metabolism settles into a happy state. Stuff you used to eat will start to look extremely unappetizing in that light!
For some time, my stepson had been gently explaining that the dietary guidelines that had been in place since the 70's were in fact making more Americans sicker than ever before. He read the premier tome on the subject. He stopped eating wheat and pasta and bread. And frankly, he was rather annoying to eat out with as we determinedly munched away on our floury entrees.
At Christmas 2010, he gave us a book, The Perfect Health Diet, that tipped us over the edge into ancestral eating. We lean toward the Perfect Health Diet's attitude toward carbohydrates, and so we have a little rice now and then.
Ancestral eating is sometimes referred to as the Paleo or Primal diet. The basics are covered in the link I gave above. And a very interesting article here. Can you believe it? Government turns out to be a pretty poor nutrition expert, and I'm sure that surprises everyone.
Update: February 2012: It's been a year now, and I've been eating coconut oil, avocado, grassfed meats, olive oil (dressings only, not heated) and ghee (clarified pastured butter) the whole time ... along with lots of vegetables and some fruits, of course ... but almost no processed or grain/legume carbohydrates (no flour or sugar), and almost no seed, legume or vegetable oils. My blood work shows improved HDL and triglycerides. My thyroid medication has been reduced by two thirds. The 25 pounds I lost have stayed off, and I feel so well that floury foods, pizzas and packaged crappy foods don't even appeal. Joint aches and pains have vanished. Digestion calm. My doctor, who was skeptical last year, told me to keep eating this way! And revealed that he now tells people to, at the very least, eliminate wheat from their diets. Woo hoo!
Update: January 2013: Well, we're two years in and will never go back. We're sticking with this way of eating because almost every day we say something like, "Wow, who knew you could feel this good!" It's also wonderful to have my Hashimoto's thyroiditis resolved. Seriously, if you have any weight or health issues, this is the way of eating to try. Just give it 30 days. The key is to do it long enough that you feel so much better you can't imagine going back.
This way of eating is not a diet per se, but a reboot, a fresh start. It is a return to real, whole foods. And while certain foods are known to be universally harmful, no single micro-template can be applied to everybody. People have different food sensitivities, burn fat and carbs differently, and utilize protein differently, so everyone needs to find their own optimal nourishment when it comes to the right amounts of protein, fat and carbs, and whether to include eggs, dairy, shellfish, and nuts.
People like to say, "A little bit of (suspect food) can't hurt." But your body still has to deal with it. Over decades, the strain and damage begin to show. Yet people remain addicted to their favorite foods, eating them even as the damage grows worse.
Daily snacking and mealtime consumption of carbohydrates creates high circulating blood insulin, and thus a condition called "insulin resistance," a situation that promotes inflammation and disease.
Humans were not designed, and have not "adapted to" (witness increasing obesity and diabetes in our population) the release of insulin from the pancreas frequently at high levels, to cope with high and often sustained carbohydrate intake. Insulin tells the body to store incoming carbohydrates as body fat (commonly on the belly) for burning when food is scarce.
With our way of eating (except when we eat rice!), there are no insulin spikes, and blood sugar levels stay sane. You have three healthy meals a day, and in between, your system is doing what it wants to do ... digest the healthy food you ate at the last meal.
You have to admire the beauty of this way of eating. You have no crackers, chips, or cookies. You have no candy. Your whole "snacking" regime is ended. It's amazing how much time can be spent "grazing" and roaming around having snacks. No more! Now you can get a lot of other stuff done and improve your health at the same time!
Your body does not have to deal with processed sugar hits, industrial vegetable seed oil inflammation damage, grain or bean starch hits and toxicity, or intestinal turmoil. Your blood sugar stabilizes.
We were rather astounded to feel so good when the grains left our diet. We both noticed we felt calmer, more alert, and just ... happier. It was weird! Episodes of fatigue vanished. We both lost weight ... and it has stayed off.
I attribute the weight loss almost entirely to the fact that we are eating no highly processed food, are consuming probably around 400 carbohydrate calories a day (this is NOT a very low carb diet, but there are no processed carbs) and in general we are not snacking. Nor is this a high protein diet.
There are a number of compelling arguments for keeping carbohydrate consumption down. It's now well known that the "official" government recommendation of up to 1,200 carbohydrate calories (not grams) per day is too high. Depending on weight loss goals and activity levels, from 200 to 600 carbohydrate calories (or even less, depending on your metabolism) per day are more along the lines of what the human body was designed to use. Consume too many carbohydrates, and eventually you can count on learning a whole lot about the word insulin.
We have learned a lot, and as life unfolds we find we are naturally still excluding grains except when we are traveling or eating out ... and even then we find it is VERY possible to skip obvious grain-containing items like breads and pastas. It is so weird! We look over menus .... and choose the grain-free dishes, or just don't eat the grain thing when the dish is served. We have had some rice when eating at Thai restaurants, and understand that sauces and such contain sugars. But we seem to eat way less when we do eat out.
In a million years, I never would have thought I could do this. But it took a very short time for me to really register that foregoing grains and sugar is not a sacrifice ... it's a decision to keep feeling well and to keep weight down. It's interesting to note that factory farms use grains to fatten their livestock.
And doesn't it make sense to avoid taking medications for indigestion, GERD, blood sugar issues, high blood pressure ... if you can eliminate the trigger foods that cause those conditions? We think so.
I need to emphasize that we are not obsessing, just choosing to eat this way probably 98 percent of the time. Restaurant food is the main departure. We don't feel deprived. My only complaint (as the family cook) is that we eat out far less often!
What DO we eat? Click on the Dinner Plates tab and see.