#002 The Core Four: Food
Read time: `4 minutes
Ever since moving to Boulder in the early 1990’s healthy food as become a huge passion of mine. I’ll never forget my first New Years there when I went to the grocery store and asked the butcher for some fat back to cook my black-eyed peas. He offered me sea kelp instead. I knew I wasn’t in Georgia any more. I took it as a challenge and each week I would spend hours in the grocery store asking questions and trying new things. It opened up a whole new world for me. I loved it.
So, you can imagine my surprise after 3 decades of study and practice that the nutritional plan that had sustained me so beautifully for so many years just wasn’t working. Looking back it was kinda gradual until it wasn’t. Hello, estrogen cliff!
As I entered menopause my weight never changed but my body composition ABSOLUTLEY DID.
It was like everything just scooched down 2 inches and rested on my belly and thighs. Now, I like a curve so this didn’t bother me one bit. Besides, no one could tell in my sweatpants. 😄
But I did begin to notice a feeling of weakness. All of a sudden I needed two hands holding the castiron skillet. I found myself asking Ted to open more jars for me. Just little things but when you look forward 25-30 years, this got my full attention. We dream of living on the ridge 20-30 more years but that will only be possible if we take care of ourselves.
I realized that although my weight was stable, I was losing lean muscle mass and gaining adipose (fat) tissue.
Of course, this is completely normal. Sarcopneia is the medical term for loss of muscle tissue as a natural part of the aging process. But women tend to get a double whammy when our estrogen drops so the rate of sarcopenia is accelerated vs men.
The good news is we can mitigate the effects by making a few lifestyle changes. One of them being consuming adequate amounts of high quality protein.
This was a huge aha moment for me because I had spent my most of my 30's & 40's ignoring protein all together. I was vegan for several years and vegetarian for many more. This is precisely the time I should have been paying more attention.
BUT this is where things got tricky for me.
My decision to be primarily plant based was strongly influenced by wanting to be a good steward of the planet and animals. My thought has always been to try and balance preserving my health with minimal harm to the environment. So, I began researching everything I could find from all sides of the argument.
After extensive study this is where I landed FOR ME:
My nutrition was no longer in alignment with my goal of being an active, healthy 80 year old.
The good news is I could make a few tweeks that would have a big impact.
The key was not to sacrifice fiber and plants for protein. We are a holistic system and tissues may need protein but the gut needs fiber and healthy microbes.
I noticed that breakfast tended to be my lowest protein meal and I learned that it really needs to be one of the top. This helps the body to kick off protein synthesis. Studys have suggested that equally distributing protein intake throughout the day assists the body with protein turnover (the breaking down and building up of protein). A critical process that effects every tissue in our body.
OK. There is ALOT of science stuff here that I’m not going into but if you’re interested let me know and I can create a separate little video.
You may be wondering, can you reach these goals being fully plant based?
ABSOLUTELY! There is one modification that needs to be made. Because our beloved fiber is wrapped around protein it is not as bioavailable as animal protein. So, you will need to up your protein intake by roughly 25%.
Here are the small changes I made.
As you can see above, I’m well below recommended values of protein but in my mind it was super healthy.
By just swapping oatmeal at breakfast for yogurt and dropping bread at lunch then adding 2 cups of bone broth I’m right where I want to be. I added NO processed foods or supplements.
NOTE, because over a third of my total protein is plant based, I bumped my protein to just over 100g.
Curious what it may look like for you? Click link below to determine your protein needs.
Protein Needs Calculator
My current fave Bone Broth Recipe:
Preheat oven 400 F
add 3 - 3.5 lbs of bones to sheet pan (I use Maui Venison bones or buy local grass fed)
slice onion and garlic bulb in half and add to sheet pan
drizzle with a little olive oil, salt and pepper
Roast for 40 minutes.
When 40 minutes are up add all contents of sheetpan to instantpot (bones, onion and garlic).
Next, add sliced hunks of ginger, turmeric, lemongrass, bay leaf, dried mushrooms and tablespoon of black peppercorn to instantpot. Bonus points for herbs like astralagus, reishi, turkeytail whatever you like but don’t go crazy with it. 🙂
1/4 cup Apple Cider Vingear
A little salt to taste
12 cups of water.
Pressure cook for 2 hours and let it naturally release (~1 hr more).
Strain through large nut milk bag or whatever you have.
At this point you can either store in jars or let it sit in fridge to cool and skim off fat that rises. I pour mine in 16 oz wide mouth mason jars.
So there you have it! I hope this was helpful and would love to hear about your food journey or answer any questions.
With love and gratitude,