Thursday, September 29, 2011

Discerning Between Food Produce & Feed Products

Continuing from my last post:

Delusion Damage revealed his strategy for finding food to eat at odd hours while on the road:

I have a few guidelines when I travel:

- when it's 2am and fast food is the only option, choose Subway above any other fast food place

- when I have to carry food with me and survive on it (ex. overnight flight where food isn't served for 8 hours but I'm awake and hungry because I'm coming from a different time zone)
choice #1 is hard rye bread
if that's not available,
choice #2 is trail mix
if that's not available,
choice #3 is granola/protein bars

I think this sort of strategy is commonplace amongst the normal person who at least understands that vending machine snack food like chips, crackers and candy bars are junk, so you have to try and make the best of the situation when hungry and faced with limited options.

Unfortunately, while these options DD lists are marginally better than say potato chips or chocolate bars...they're not much better, and will in the long run have the same effect as the kind of stuff most people readily recognize as junk food: short term satiation that leads to stronger hunger later (which could also lead to binging on even more junk food), and essentially the same bad effects on your health.

And it all gets back to the theme of DD's blog & book - nearly everything you've been told about food and diet is a lie. The most common lies that are used to misdirect people into making choices favoring feed products over food produce are: Saturated fat are cholesterol raising and bad for your heart, that too much meat (especially red meat) will cause cancer, that plant based foods are healthiest, and that fiber is absolutely vital to having a healthy digestive system. As I quoted yesterday:

The State’s primary tactic in mind control is FEAR...

...FEAR of saturated fat. FEAR of red meat. FEAR of salt. FEAR of the sun. FEAR of not getting enough “fiber” in your diet.

Some of these things I've just mentioned are based on half-truths - some plant based foods are certainly healthy for you, and some kinds of fiber are also good for your digestion...but other plant-based foods are literal poison and some forms of 'fiber' can downright destroy your digestive system. Your biggest concerns in eating a healthy diet should be to eat plenty of animal based fats and proteins, eating plenty of vegetables, some fruits (treat fruit as a dessert after having eaten a full meal of protein and fat...don't eat fruit as a meal unto itself,) and avoiding grain and flour products as much as possible.

So let's start off with what I believe is the most important factor one should realize is the biggest delusion promoted by today's feed product industry - I've come to the belief that the single most important thing anyone should do when trying to discern whether any kind of food you eat is a real food produce item or an industrially manufactured feed product, is to determine the type of fat.

The most important thing to understand here is this: the oils/fats that as healthy (especially "Heart Healthy") are not, and the oils/fats that we are all warned to avoid or minimize are the fats that are best for your health and well-being.

The most common fat found in feed products is Polyunsaturated vegetable/grain/seed oils high in linoleic acid, are typically rancid from the production process which involves very high heat and the use of industrial solvents like hexane to extract as much oil from the plant matter as possible.

Canola. Cottonseed. Sunflower. Safflower. Soybean. Corn. Peanut.

These industrially produced oils are the primary culprits for why the Standard American Diet is dramatically imbalanced in terms of Omega fatty acids. From a cellular level, your body needs a 1:1 ratio of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids to function properly. The problem is that all of these "vegetable" oils have a very high Omega 6 (n6) fatty acid content and no Omega 3 (n3) fatty acids.

In their natural state, most plant material has both n6 and n3 fatty acids in varying ratios...but n3 are fragile, and the heat and solvent extraction methods destroys the n3 fatty acids, while the n6 is not affected.

So if you look at a bag of potato chips or your bag of trail mix (or even your granola bar), you will typically find one or more of these aforementioned oils in the ingredients. This is the primary problem with most processed snack foods (but the establishment would have you believe it's the salt. It's not.)

But even worse than these n6 unbalanced, rancid oils, are the partially hydrogenated oils, aka "trans fats." The most common place you will find this literal poison is in baked goods (in which the bakers/manufacturer's substitute margarine for butter in the recipes) and deep fried foods; from fast food, to deli's to, high-end restaurants. This is because the cheapest deep frying oil that lasts the longest in the deep fat fryers without needing to be changed often is partially hydrogenated soybean ("vegetable") oil.

Most people already have the idea that "deep fried" foods are bad for you, so I don't have to go much further on that topic, other than to say that deep frying can be a perfectly tasty and healthy food choice - if you use a healthy oil to deep fry with (coconut oil, lard or tallow).

But the real subversion is the use of margarine (partially hydrogenated soybean oil) in all baked products. Hamburger buns, hot dog buns, sandwich bread, crackers, cookies, pie crusts, pizza crusts, flour tortillas...the vast majority of these products you'll find at restaurants, food stands, convenience stores and delis. Why? Because it's cheaper, and it resists spoilage far better than real food made with natural fats. A large bag of partially-hydrogenated buns at a fast food restaurant or a hot dog stand that is vacuum sealed, can last for months without spoilage.

The truly healthy fats/oils, are the ones most demonized by the establishment - the saturated fats. Butter. Lard. Tallow. Coconut oil. I could go on and on about this, but let me just put two reference links here if any reader is interested in digging into the details - Know Your Fats and The Queen of Fats (pdf).

So why are fats the most important consideration with regards to having strategies for trying to eat healthy while traveling? Short answer: fat is the key to satiety.

Healthy fats contain vital, nourishing fat soluble vitamins such as D, A and K. These are substances your body needs to survive and thrive. This is why your body's digestive signalling system is cued to the FAT in your food. Natural fats slows down your digestion, leaves you feeling full longer, and supplies your body with needed nutrition for proper function. This is why you can eat a meal of bacon and eggs, and you can eat as much as you'd like until you feel full. At that point, you can easily stop and feel pleasantly satiated.

Industrial oils in most feed products? They don't contain any of the vital fat soluble vitamins or fatty acids, so they don't trigger your satiation signaling or that "feeling full" response properly. This is why one can sit down with a bag or box of "fat free" or "low cholesterol" chips, cookies or crackers, and eat the whole thing in a single sitting and still feel hungry - or worse, temporarily "stuffed" almost to the point of nausea...but hungry again within an hour or so. This is because your stomach is full, but your body is still starving for the nutrients that are missing from the feed products.

So, to come up with a strategy for dealing with hunger while traveling, a complete understanding of fats and how they play a role in digestion and satiation is the primary consideration in choosing your food. While composing this post, I considered just writing this next section...but I believe understanding fats is too vital to skip over.

So, given the differences in fat content and quality, what are the strategies to use when traveling?

I think we have 3 strategies here, best simplified into these concepts: the 80/20 principle, Intermittent Fasting, and Making Do.

The 80/20 Principle

This comes from Mark Sisson over at Mark's Daily Apple. The idea is that a person who eats wholesome, healthy foods 80% of the time will be able to eat the occasional splurge on junk foods without suffering much (if at all) from bad health effects. For the person who eats a healthy diet in day to day life, the occasional feast of junk food while on a short travel trip won't really hurt. This is also a good principle to follow when you have social/familial obligations that supersede being a militant diet nazi - aka screw dietary perfection when your at your sister's wedding. Just shut up and eat the cake. Or...if you're a dinner guest of someone you care about, just eat what you're served to be polite. Obviously, for someone with DD's situation of constant traveling, this approach could quickly lead to a 60/40 or 50/50 ratio of junk food, so it's not really relevant to his concerns as a long term strategy here.

Intermittent Fasting

This is my favored solution here, and it is the reason why I focused the first part of this piece so much on Fat. Because natural, healthy sources of saturated fats are so satiating over the long term, a diet rich in these fats will make fasting relatively easy. The best explanation I've found is at blogger J. Stanton at His advice can be summed up in a single phrase: Eat Like A Predator, Not Like Prey:

Predators gorge and fast; prey grazes.

Rephrased for modern humans: predators eat meals, prey grazes on snacks. This means you need to eat meals which will carry you through to your next meal, but that won’t make you tired or sleepy.

Think about predators like Lions and Tigers. They catch some grazing ruminant, gorge themselves, than lie around, mate, sunbathe, and play...until they get hungry again - many hours later. Than it's time to go hunting again - and they are hunting hungry.

When you observe someone (or yourself) who is dependent on carbohydrates and plant foods (and most likely believe the lies regarding meat, saturated fats, fiber, etc.), and they often have to eat every two to three hours to keep their energy levels up, because their blood sugars are unstable. People who experience this, are on a roller coaster ride of dramatically fluctuating energy levels. These are the folks who couldn't conceive of taking a 6 hour plane ride without eating. The idea of fasting is terrifying. That's because they eat like grazers.

What I would do if faced with the impending 8-10 hour long plane ride? I would eat a massive meal just prior to going to the airport, full of fats and proteins. Bacon, eggs, sausage, all fried in butter. Or Steak and eggs with a baked potato smothered in butter, bacon bits and sour cream. Eating a massive meal focused primarily on proteins and fats can leave you satiated for quite a long time.

And this is not just some theoretical suggestion I'm making here. I've done it. I flew from Dublin, Ireland to Los Angeles. I did not eat the crap-in-a-box meal they served, nor did I eat the snack foods they provided on the in-flight service. I didn't go to the vending machines or food stands at the L.A. airport while waiting to connect to my Honolulu flight either. I just ate a large steak dinner in Dublin prior to going to the airport.

That was roughly an 18 hour fast for me. Of course, when I got home I was ravenous and I ate like a beast...but the point is, I didn't HAVE to break down and buy some crap from a vending machine or airport fast food joint. And as hungry as I got, I never got that "shaky" sick feeling, grazers stuck on the blood sugar roller coaster get. I didn't even start to feel hungry until about an hour into the flight back to Hawaii, and I'll admit that the food service on the L.A. to Honolulu flight was tempting...but it was not an uncontrollable hunger at that point.

I do need to state a caveat here: intermittent fasting will only be a viable option if you already eat a nutrient-dense diet of real food and are used to deriving your energy from animal meat and fat. If you are a person who starts to feel sick and "shaky" after only a couple of hours of having eaten, fasting is obviously not an option for you.

Making Do

If you must eat at a restaurant, convenience store or food stand, but you want to avoid the worst of industrially manufactured feed products than try to pick your poison.

- Order pizza and eat the toppings and not the crust.

- Order hot dogs or hamburgers and eat everything but the buns.

- Taco salads with those deep fried tortilla shells? Just don't eat the shell. Order extra meat and sour cream to help fill you up.

- When ordering meals at fast food joints, skip the value meals (you don't want to eat the fries made with hydrogenated soybean or canola oil, and you don't want to drink the high fructose corn syrup laden soda either). Better to order two bacon cheese burgers and eat them without the buns. Beef, bacon, cheese, onions, tomatoes and lettuce. Think of it as a cheeseburger salad.

- If you're eating at sit down restaurants that are a little more upscale, most offer the option to substitute steamed vegetables in the place of fries. Ask for a side of butter and smother your vegetables with it. Far more satiating, and the fat will help you absorb the nutrients from the vegetables as well. Avoid anything deep fried at a restaurant. Also, if you're not overweight or dealing with other digestive issues, don't worry about carbohydrates like rice or potatoes. Most starchy vegetable carbs are fine in combination with plenty of fat and protein.

- Nuts can be a good, satiating source of fat and protein, but most trail mix or nuts sold in packages and vending machines are fried in crap oil. Stick to roasted nuts. And definitely get the salted varieties...they taste better, and salt is not the health hazard it's been demonized to be.

- Avoid low fat and fat free dairy...most of those substitute sugar to make them palatable. Embrace full-fat cheeses, yogurts etc., with the knowledge that full fat foods are not only not bad for you, but downright good.

As for portable foods that you can pack for yourself - again, focus on the proteins and fats. Beef jerky, string cheese, roasted nuts (make your own trail mix), hard boiled eggs. Another option is preserved meats like pepperoni and salami. Now meats preserved with nitrates/nitrites are somewhat controversial...I've seen arguments going both ways. I used to try and avoid any meats with nitrates or nitrites listed on the ingredients. But I was referred to the following pubmed abstract from Dr. Michael Eades blog: Food sources of nitrates and nitrites: the physiologic context for potential health benefits.

Apparently many vegetables and some fruits are rich in nitrates and nitrites, so I'm not longer concerned about this preservative. I buy sausages, bacon and other processed meats - as long as they don't contain other additives like MSG, corn syrups (dextrose, maltodextrin, etc.) and other such garbage.

In summary, the important thing to take away from all this, is to understand which foods provide long term satiation and nourishment, and which feed products actually don't do, and leave your body still starving for nutrition.


dannyfrom504 said...

i like this. now i don't feel weird for having a few cliffhanger bars on me when i travel. *whew*

considering i'm a southerner.....and my grandparents used crisco to fry things (and WEREN'T overweight btw) i'm glad to be reassured when i use lard or quality butter to cook with.

predator's eat and gorge. prey grazes. as a fellow hunter.....i LOVE this. spot on brother.

stay up. hope the family is well.

Anonymous said...

I also agree with and follow similar diet practices.

A close friend back in university was aiming to become a (natural) pro bodybuilder, and as part of that, he was majoring in nutrition. In his words, of the three main elements of bodybuilding (exercise, nutrition, rest), nutrition accounts for 70-80%. You can screw up you exercise and rest to some extent, and as long as your nutrition is good, you'll be okay. Conversely, screw up your nutrition, and it doesn't matter how perfect your exercise and rest are; you won't grow.

The foods you eat, the liquids you drink, and the air you breathe affect every cell in your body. You can put your time/money into diet or doctor visits, but one way or another you're going to end up paying. Your choice

Keoni Galt said...

danny - Once you embrace cooking and eating with butter and lard, you realize just how much better real, natural fats taste and make you feel.

I remember one of my favorite junk foods was the 'awesome blossom' from Chili's restaurant. Except I noticed that whenever I ate more than a few bites of it, it always upset my stomach.

Now, I make my own onion rings with rice flour, seasonings and deep fry it in coconut oil, I can eat as much as I care to and never get that queasy feeling I used to get eating that chain restaurant onion rings fried in hydrogenated soybean/canola crap.

Thanks for the well wishes, keep hunting. I'm about out of meat from my last wild hog caught several weeks ago, time to load up the hounds and go for another run.

Anon - The foods you eat, the liquids you drink, and the air you breathe affect every cell in your body. You can put your time/money into diet or doctor visits, but one way or another you're going to end up paying. Your choice


Sociopathic Revelation said...

This is good stuff, KG. I've been more conscious of my diet again, and I've noticed a difference on every level, from anything from my workouts (I have gained some strength in my bench and front squats), the grappling I do, to feeling like I can go through a work shift without much energy level drops---and even my overall moods have improved.

Delusion Damage said...

Thanks for this, I can definitely do at least some of these things, although others would be difficult.

I have to make one correction though:
trail mix isn't fried in anything. It's raw, dried stuff - fruits, nuts, berries, seeds. (which makes it a somewhat more sensible choice)

Anonymous said...

Nice piece KG. How do you feel about quality greek yogurt?

Keoni Galt said...

SP - Good to see you're still around! Yeah, one reason why I've become so passionate about this topic is because I've seen a dramatic difference in my energy, stamina and strength in my martial arts training, hunting, and any other recreation I engage in.

DD - Like anything else, their are varying degrees of quality. When you wrote trail mix, I was thinking about the sort of stuff bought out of a vending machines which is typically composed of peanuts and other nuts fried in peanut oil.

Anon - Greek Yogurt aka full fat yogurt (from goat's milk?). Never had it, and haven't seen it available at any of the stores I shop at here in Hawaii, but it sounds good to me. I occasionally eat Nancy's brand organic full fat yogurt with various fresh fruit as my dessert after a meal.

Jamin said...

Good post! I fly every week for work. My main strategies:

1) Domestic Flights: soft boil about 5-6 eggs the night before and eat on the plane. Or just fast. Always bring cod liver oil + high vitamin butter pills to supplement restaurant meals.

2) International: most international airports have a duty free area. Often I get treats such as caviar, foie gras, etc... and take on the plane. Great tasting once you get past the odd looks from the flight attendants and other passengers!

WP said...


There's full fat greek yogurt in the smaller (8oz?) size at Wholefoods. Course, b/c its smaller and at WF you pay a bit of a premium on it. Unsure if worth it...

Other than that most places carry 2%.

Also - do you have to remove any foods at all from your diet because its TOO good/easy to overeat?

I just added butter and I find I really over do it, especially on sweet potatoes...

Alek Novy said...

Even if all this over-complicating made a difference (let's say you live 10 years longer) I'd rather shoot myself then overthink eating this much :)

Anonymous said...

@alek novy... there's only one thought for every piece of food?

Could I have eaten this 10,000 years ago?

No thinking involved whatsoever, the science is just necessary to convince the morons who can't grasp the first concept.

MW said...

Great article KG. I`ve after reading you for sometime I`ve switched to eating basted eggs for breakfast with vegetables usually leafy green spinach, Chinese broccoli with some nuts and raisins mixed in for body. Definitely filling.

I`ve been avoiding processed meats, just sticking to beef as well as learning some simple Ethiopian dishes (Have been going to a restaurant for years). Lentil stew, cubed beef and fresh cabbage from the garden. Amazing how filling a small amount was, and how long before I was hungry again.

Keoni Galt said...

Alek, IIRC, you're not from the US. You have no idea just how ubiquitous processed junk Feed is here. The entire mindset here is to not have people think about their food at all - except to only think about taste. That way, as much people as possible are simply vulnerable to the mindless marketing messages and how the snack foods and other crap is available everywhere.

To not think about food and where it comes from and what it does to your body in the US, is to set yourself up to become the next pic to be featured on the front page of the peopleofwalmart blog.

dannyfrom504 said...

Thank you. and continued good hunting to you Sir. i take turkeys with a bow in 2 weeks. something wicked this way comes. lol.

The Lightning Weasel said...

Basically, whatever we were eating as cavemen 5000 years ago is what we should be eating now...?

It follows that anything with added sugar is out, since as far as I'm aware nobody was farming sugarcane until a few hundred years ago.

J. Stanton said...


Spot on with the benefits of eating paleo while traveling.

First, as you mentioned, I don't have to eat any airport junk. I fast, and eat when I next encounter real food.

Second, and even better, I don't have to waste time foraging for three meals a day (plus mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks) when I'd rather be out doing and seeing things. This leaves me with the time to find excellent food and to savor my meal, as opposed to "oh no, I'm hungry, gotta find something NOW" and settling for junk.

On my last trip, I ate one huge meal a day for four or five days straight. No vending machines or packaged crap necessary. I'm sure some of the meat was cooked with canola oil...but I was able to stay gluten-free, and I ate very well.


Keoni Galt said...

Thanks for dropping by, JS! Your blogging on Paleo topics has been inspirational and influential.