Determining the Best Traditional Diet for YOU

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist June 7, 2012

Dr. Weston A. Price

A frequent email request I receive from readers is to post a few days or a week of the Traditional Diet I eat or what my family eats.  Seems like a simple enough request, right?

Just write down our meals for a few days and post it.  No big deal.

I’ve posted my menu before when I was on the GAPS Diet and I’ve posted one of my children’s food logs, but I’ve never posted a food diary while eating a regular Traditional Diet.

With many people asking for this, you might wonder why I haven’t done it.   Let me explain.

There are many Traditional Diets.

During Dr. Weston A. Price’s travels around the world in the early 1900′s, he studied 14 of them in detail.  These cultures all ate quite differently.  Some ate no plant foods, some ate a lot.  Some consumed raw dairy, some did not.  The variations go on and on.

The common denominator between these 14 cultures is that they all had at least one sacred food which was always from an animal, never from plants. These sacred foods were discovered by lab analysis to be extraordinary high in the fat soluble vitamins A, D, and K2.

What’s more, these Traditional Cultures were consuming the fat soluble activators at a rate about 10x higher than Americans of the 1930′s!

These sacred foods were revered by the Traditional Cultures that consumed them for bestowing easy fertility and healthy babies.  Ample quantities of these sacred foods were provided to growing children, pregnant mothers, and the elderly to maintain health including the prevention of tooth decay.

With so many different Traditional Diets, you can see why it could be misleading for me to post what I eat specifically.  My Traditional Diet could easily be misconstrued by some that this is the way to eat traditionally, when it is, in fact, only the implementation of a mix of Traditional Diets that works for me given my unique genetic heritage, health history, home environment, toxin load, food budget etc.

How to Determine the Best Traditional Diet for YOU

So how did I come up with the typical way I eat?

Here’s the approach I used.

First, you need to read Dr. Price’s book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.  There is absolutely no substitute for reading this amazing book.  Just seeing all the pictures alone is guaranteed to rock your world!   This book really should be required reading for every dietician, nutritionist, doctor, nurse or anyone else working in the healthcare field today.  It really is quite laughable for anyone working in the field of nutrition to attempt to counsel people on the best way to eat without intimate knowledge of the groundbreaking work of Dr. Price.

That is a clear example of the blind leading the blind, don’t you think?

Once you’ve read Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, then you should read Nourishing Traditions Cookbook, which is the practical implementation of the Traditional Diet blueprint.

If by that point, you are still confused about how to implement a Traditional Diet for yourself, then you can do what I did.

What is YOUR Ancestral Heritage?

Take a look at your genetic heritage and focus your Traditional Diet on those foods consumed by your specific, cultural ancestors.  In my case, the Northern European cultures described in Dr. Price’s book fit the bill.

The Northern European cultures did not consume rice, beans, and corn for example.  These cultures also ate little if any fruit or raw vegetables.  So, my Traditional Diet at home does not include these foods very frequently.

Instead, I focus on sourdough bread, raw dairy, fermented vegetables like sauerkraut, and meat, cooked stews and soups like the mountaintop Swiss culture.

I also include seafood and oats like what the isolated Gaelics consumed.

Of course, there is variation in our diet based on the other cultures studied by Dr. Price, but we focus our staple whole foods on the cultures from which we obtained our genome.

My cultural ancestors didn’t eat that many vegetables unless they were fermented or cooked in stews or butter, for example. Consequently, raw veggies are not consumed much at all in our home except for the occasional veggie juice or salad.

Are you drinking a lot of green smoothies?  You need to know that no Traditional Society ever consumed raw plant foods at that kind of rate.   Given that many green vegetables contain anti-nutrients like oxalic acid or are goitrogenic (thyroid depressing), you are really rolling the dice with this modern day health fad even if you “rotate” your greens.

While this may go against conventional “wisdom” to eat raw veggies, fruits and salads with abandon, to that I say “why”?

The healthy traditional cultures that comprise my ancestry didn’t eat much in the way of vegetables and fruit unless fermented or cooked and they were perfectly healthy with straight teeth free from tooth decay, high immunity to disease, and excellent vitality into old age.

Sounds good to me. Those are the same health goals I have for myself and my family, so I’m going to stick with what works, thank you very much, not with nutritional “science” that blows with the wind and is more interested in influencing your buying habits than your health.

What if you aren’t of Northern European heritage?  What if your genetic heritage hails from South America, for example?  In that case, I would suggest reading the chapters on the South American cultures in Nutrition and Physical Degeneration and focusing your staple foods on what those cultures emphasized, which was corn, beans, and fish – prepared in a traditional manner of course!

If you are of Asian descent, rice is likely to be a better choice for you instead of the oats and wheat in my home.  We don’t eat rice much in our home as we don’t do as well on this grain as we do on wheat and oats which is what my ancestors ate.

Are you getting the picture somewhat?

The Most Important Key to Implementation of Traditional Diet

However you choose to implement your Traditional Diet, the most important key is to focus on ample amounts of the sacred foods.   These foods include raw grassfed butter, organ meats like liver, egg yolks from outdoor chickens, fish eggs, and fermented fish liver oils like cod liver oil.

Don’t skimp on these critical foods!   You can round out your diet with whatever whole food staples comprised the general eating pattern of your ancestors, but the sacred foods should always remain the focal point of the diet to ensure maximum health and immunity to disease both infectious and chronic.

I hope this discussion helps you along the path to finding the best implementation of Traditional Diets for you and your family.  As you can see, it’s not as simple as just posting a mealplan.

 

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

 

Comments (136)

  1. Interesting. I just got Dr. Price’s book and I’ll be digging in soon.

    I am of South American descent (Peruvian – though my father’s side is mostly European, so bit of a mixed bag as many Americans would be. I was born in Peru though) so I was pleasantly surprised there’s an entire chapter dedicated to native Peruvians.

    My thing is though, I mostly follow a ‘primal’ diet, which some would describe as paleo + good dairy. So, with all the readily available research into the dangers of things such as most grains, legumes, etc. I’m not sure if you should include them, AT LARGE regardless of your background. Mind you, I’m not SCARED of these things, like I see many paleos be, and if properly prepared (soaked, fermented, etc) I see no issues whatsoever in people including them in their diets. I just think, we ought to combine both an ancestral approach but also look at new research.

    Not that you suggested otherwise, but I don’t know if basing a diet primarily on corn and beans would be ideal for me or other South Americans. I know I didn’t feel as good as I do know focusing mostly on meats and veggies, and my mom/grandma always had good cooking methods. Even now in America we don’t eat too far removed from Peruvian cuisine, just sugars, flours, cookies, etc have made their way into that home, unfortunately.

    Great post though, lots to think about.

    Reply
  2. What happens when you have a mixed bag family? I come from German ancestry, while my husband is of Spanish/Italian ancestry. It gets a little too involved to make different dishes for different family members.

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        • Eat and observe is great advice. My family is a real mixed bag, I’m African American, Scottish and Cherokee, my husband is English and my stepson is English and Filipino. I pay close attention how our meals affect us to try to figure out what to cook. My stepson reacts badly to daily and wheat. My husband is exhausted after he eats potatoes. I don’t do well with oats. I pay attention to these things to determine how we eat. It’s what’s worked best for us.
          Lovelyn\’s last post: Arthritis Natural Remedies

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        • Thanks for this reply, the above comment was going to be my question too! My husband’s family is mostly from Scotland, and mine Turkey. Seems they both have meat and dairy in common, oh and butter. Yay for me! But it is definitely hard navigate though all this info. I also have to say that being Christian (not implying your not) I am so thankful for God’s grace when it comes to figuring out some of this stuff. I know His hand is on my health and that of my family. So although I don’t have it all figured out yet, my Father in heaven is there to cover my flaws and help me through this journey to better health.

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          • A lovely and calming thing to remember indeed. Thanks for the reminder that we are not in this alone!

          • Dear Tina,

            I was just trying to figure out how to ask Sarah if she fixes different food for her children. I have read both the books that Sarah recommends. Nourishing Traditions recommends lots of meat broths so I increased them and got much worse. But the Lord provides! I was invited three times to hear a lecture by a naturopathic doctor and decided maybe I am supposed to go to this. Yes, I was! The doctor is trained to do genetic food intolerance testing. It would have taken me years to figure out that my husband, daughter and I do not have enzymes to digest any beef, chicken or pork at all. But along with that main food intolerance comes minesalt. We do not have enzymes to digest that and if we do eat it it causes big problems for us physically and even mentally (brain fog). Also, the test will show foods that your body has difficulty digesting if eaten within a certain time frame – seven to eight hours is common. So we have potato days and grain days. If I eat potato and grain on the same day, arthritis comes out in my knees immediately. If I avoid it, I have no pain. What is important about these doctors is that they test food for you. Potato and grain will most likely not be on the label, but my body will tell me loud and clear that it is in it. However, unless your other food is clean (unadulterated with traces of your food intolerances) it is extremely difficult to pinpoint which food is causing the problem.
            I have two sons also and they are dairy intolerant. My doctor told me that they must have had African ancestors. My husbands parents were both from Norway. I have English and Danish ancestors. No where in the extensive geneology my relatives have put together does it show any African descent. They have a combination of fruit and sugar. My oldest son picked up some salad dressing for me years ago and his brother got a headache which he never gets. Sure enough, my son had picked up the wrong bottle. There was sugar in the dressing. As long as they ate the food I fixed they did not have trouble with acne because I did not give them anything with fruit and sugar on the same day.
            You can read and listen to information about it at Songofhealth.com. My doctor also has a website: http://www.doctorananda.com. She is the best tester! Extremely careful and diligent.
            May you grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord.

  3. Christina Foosness via Facebook June 7, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    I really liked this post. I definitely think there is no one diet for everyone, so if you’re trying to figure out what works best for you, I think this is a good starting place.

    Reply
  4. Howard C. Gray via Facebook June 7, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Or one could simply adopt Deep Nutrition which identifies the foods and techniques common to every culture and divides them into four categories, called the Four Pillars of World Cuisine. Meat on the bone, organ meats, fresh raw plant foods, fermented and sprouted foods. And it’s dang tasty, too!

    Reply
  5. We use this method as well. My husband is a Russian Ashkenazi Jew and most of my heritage comes from Germany, norway, Sweden and a little from Scotland so we concentrate on slow cooked meats, sauerkrauts, sausages, lots of broth based stuff, sourdough rye breads, dairy, and stewed or cooked veggies. I make borcht with a big dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream as often as possible. Any time we vere off from this and eat too much white starch, corn, fruit or sugar we start feeling it Immediately.

    Reply
  6. I like deep nutrition but I find the diet she encourages revolves around lots of raw veggies. I’d rather eat less volume but heartier fare throughout the day. Having large green and raw salads daily gives me indigestion. I prefer to leave the large bales of silage for the cows to process FOR me.

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  7. Awesome! I have that book and I started reading it and I realized English has changed a lot in the past century! Wow, it was like reading another language. But then a friend told me to skip around instead of trying to read it front to back and it would easier to understand that way. So maybe I’ll do as both of you suggest then and find the Northern European section.

    I’ve been wondering for some time- where do you get fish eggs from?

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  8. I also want to add that in my own culture/religion we believe that “the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers in the last days”. Even though you likely don’t share my own religious beliefs, I just want to say that I think food & nutrition is one way that this is happening. It hits me at my core and makes me want to understand my own genealogy more. Thanks for the thoughtful post!
    Tricia\’s last post: Greek yogurt, explained

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  9. Pingback: Dieting for the Rest of Us » Blog Archive » Determining the Best Traditional Diet for YOU

  10. Angela W. Rogers via Facebook June 7, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Another great article, Sarah. Thanks!! Btw, we are finally consuming FCLO everyday!! Both myself and my two small boys. It took a long time playing with the different flavors and the different ways of getting it down w/out gagging. But we all take it no problem now! It’s helped my baby boy’s skin too. He has eczema and we’ve noticed drastic improvements!! We’ve found the cinnamon tingle flavor mixed with a little apple juice to work for us. So glad we didn’t give up those first SEVERAL months!!

    Reply
    • Angela – can you share some of your strategies! I have been trying to get my two small boys ages 7 and 4 to take the cinnamon tingle but they end up sptting it out and the crying is really getting to me. HELP!! :-)

      Reply
        • I have two little girls 5 and 2 and a half. I get them to take it by mixing it into a small amount of fresh juice in the morning. After they’ve downed that they can have a full glass of juice. There was a little sniveling about the process from the five year old for a week or so, but they both drink it without complaint now.

          Reply
      • Aimee- After trying all the flavors, I have found that the FCLO/butter blend in chocolate seems to work best in my house with the fewest amount of complaints. I have to squirt a drop or two of organic chocolate syrup (from Trader Joes) on it to make it more flavorful for my daughter, but the peace of mind in knowing my daughter took her FCLO for the day is worth it. BTW, she is 17, so I really feel for ya trying to get little ones to take it!!

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    • Angela – how do you and your boys consume it and what flavors? Ive tried to get it in them but that smell throws them off every time. I can take it by capsule though

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  11. I am a native north American Indian and I have been implementing traditional foods in my household for the past year. Traditionally north American Indian ate a lot of the organ meats and raw small intestine of their game and I am having a really hard time incorporating this into our diet. I always hated eating liver growing up because of its distinct taste, do you have any great liver recipes you could share?

    Brandy
    Brandy\’s last post: Mighty Tarragon

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    • We add chicken liver (cooked in butter and diced) to our ground beef we use in spaghetti. We also use pureed beef liver in hamburger patties, about 1//4-1/2 c to 1 lb of beef.

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      • Thank you both are great ideas. I think I will start with adding very little and build up to acquire the taste for the liver.
        When you are not used to eating something it can be tricky to incorporate it into your cooking:)

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        • I cook then puree the liver, heart, lungs with stock then add it back to the soup/ stew/ casserole. I am usually using garlic and other strong seasonings anyway so it hides the flavor.

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          • Another fabulous idea. I can no longer have the excuse not to eat our organ meats. I look forward to raising strong healthy kids full of endurance.

  12. Sarah, this is the best post I have ever read! I totally agree that diet is not the same for everyone and that is one of the reasons that the traditional way of eating seemed so right for me and my family. Your blog is one that I look forward to reading everyday and I look forward to many more. Thank you!

    Reply
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  14. Sarah, I recently was doing some research on cod liver oil, butter oil, etc. I emailed Dave at Green Pastures with some questions about his products. He half answered some of my questions in as few incoherent words as possible, told me my questions were already answered in the FAQ which they weren’t, and continually ignored some questions until I continued to push. It was like pulling teeth, put up red flags and got me looking for a reason not to use his products (besides the shocking customer service). In looking around I found some chemist on amazon speculating that the stability of fish is not very good so it might go rancid before it gets a chance to ferment. I found Quantum Premier cod liver oil capsules, which you recommended in a blog post, saying it was discontinuing its line and they only had a limited amount left. It seems to still be available. I don’t know if it is the same formula you recommended? Is there anything about this brand that’s not as good as GP?

    Reply
    • Would you mind sharing the questions? We us Green Pastures and I would love to know what your concerns are. Thanks!

      Reply
      • My main question was regarding the butter oil… whether the cows graze on pasture not treated with chemical fertilizers or pesticides, whether they are given antibiotics/hormones, whether they are fed any grain. I also asked if milk he used was raw and he said he used to use raw. He said they’re not given “hormones, etc” and told me that generally pasture does not need a fertilizer, but I know that many farmers use fertilizer on pasture, and didn’t directly answer the question about the pasture for his cows. (randomly put the word “lime” somewhere in there, had trouble dechipering what in the world he was saying) I also asked him what the difference was between Nutrapro’s butter oil and his. He contended that their butter oil is actually ghee. He said the other difference is that GP only use a % of the total oil (which makes no sense to me, how can you only pick a percentage of oil?? he wouldn’t explain) So I am thinking, if the milk he uses for the butter oil is pasteurized, it would be more nutritious and much cheaper to just eat some raw grass fed spring or fall butter. I asked what he thought about keeping FCLO in a hot car for a few days (on a road trip, no refrigeration) his answer “no issues with refrigeration”. I asked what the “gel” ingredient was on his gel products. He said “gel means thicker”. Well, it is listed as an ingredient, so I wanted to know what the ingredient was, I think I can figure out what it means. I also noticed that the flavored oils ingredients list “flavor” but in the info on his site it says they use only essential oils to flavor their products. So I wonder which is it? But I didn’t ask that.

        Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
      Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist June 7, 2012 at 4:52 pm

      Dave is a very busy guy. Even when I call him on the phone, our conversations are very short. Remember that he CANNOT make any claims about his product else the FDA would be breathing down his neck. I have seen all the assays on his products .. they are good and clean and high quality.

      Quantum Premier cod liver oil is wonderful but will be going away soon. Order up if you need too .. see my Resources page for info on them and where to buy. But feel safe knowing that Green Pastures is a wonderful product.

      Reply
  15. This post was extremely helpful. I have struggled trying to put EVERYTHING that is healthy in our diets..too much!!! Thanks

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  16. Well said, Sarah. Keep up the good work. Even if at times I feel completely overwhelmed with your suggestions I love to feel challenged and you have just the personality to challenge people. I keep reading since it helps keep that flame going for why I choose to spend time in my kitchen and my yard rather than in the shopping malls and such. We all have a choice of where to spend our limited money and time.

    Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
      Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist June 7, 2012 at 4:57 pm

      You folks inspire me right back. If you think I don’t get tired of all the dirty dishes from my constant cooking – THINK AGAIN. But then when I am tired of yet another pile of dirty dishes stacked on the counter, I try to remember the last time any of us were really ill and I can’t remember it … SO WORTH IT.

      Reply
      • Amen! At least I know I’m not the only one now lol. I keep thinking there’s for a,be a better way, because it seems I have a perpetual supply of dirty dishes! Thanks for sharing, Sarah.

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      • Ha – this is EXACTLY what I was thinking last night. I had a huge pile, and it wasn’t my first of the day. I was in there quite a lot (along with my two daughters – since it is summer, they are helping more). Was actually thinking about how little we get sick so yes, it is worth it. Health is everything . . . it really is.

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      • Its even more worth it when the ones youre cooking for do all the dishes! I’m lucky that I spend all the time researching, purchasing, cooking.. But then darling hubby washes every single dish!

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  17. @Angela That is great news! You will be rewarded for your persistence with far fewer health issues and meds being needed. No one in our family has needed a round of antibiotics for an illness in over 10 years and the fermented cod liver oil/butter oil is a huge reason why.

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  18. Makes so much sense! We are mostly northern European over here too and I find that eating the way my mom and grandmother cooked seems to “sit right” with me as well. It’s roasts, stews, broth-based soups, meat and potatoes, cooked veggies, and a decent portion of dairy. I still love Mexican though, and always have … so we probably get an extra portion of corn into our diets if we’re not avoiding grains. Making me hungry for our lentil soup tonight!

    Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      I love my corn and beans too. Nothing wrong with some Tex-Mex on occasion!! I just don’t eat it that often (maybe a couple times a month .. see how you go for yourself – it may be more often or less often than me) as these foods even when prepared traditionally don’t do it for me as well as the Northern European cuisine which suits my digestion best. Sample and enjoy from the smorgasboard of Traditional Whole Foods and focus your attention on the sacred foods and those whole food staples that would most likely work best for your heritage or mixed heritage. Some trial and error may be required as you figure things out through observing your digestion and wellness after consuming certain foods. Fatigue is probably the #1 symptom that what you just ate wasn’t such a great choice. You should feel GREAT after you eat.
      Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist\’s last post: Determining the Best Traditional Diet for YOU

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      • This is funny because I’m of Northern European (German, French, English, Dutch) ancestry and love all the foods that go with it but I am equally attuned with Mexican cuisine. My family and I have always thought it must be because I was born on the border of Mexico (outside San Diego) and was the only Caucasian baby in the nursery! I adore all Mexican food and do really well on it. I use many kinds Mexican ingredients 2-3 x’s a week. I also do better on corn flour than wheat digestion wise. It could be that ALL of my ancestors from both sides except 1 set of great grandparents have been in America since the 1600′s and corn was a major staple for them when they got here. I love the principles of Deep Nutrition and find that it makes it easy to cook using them.
        Thanks for a great post!

        Reply
  19. Kathe Yates via Facebook June 7, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Our son also has eczema and we’ve noticed a improvement since we started taking FCLO. I’d much rather pay for something that will build his immunity than pay for something that will suppress it (topical and oral steroids). Plus the side effects of steroid use are not worth it.

    Reply
  20. I really appreciate this post. In my zeal for new found nutrition, I wanted to eat everything in the NT book like a good little WAP’er. I have also tried to keep RAW at the center. But I found my family and I running into trouble with certain types of food, especially too much raw. This gives me a better basis on which to make those traditional food choices. It is more fun to eat when the wisdom of our bodies and ancestry are heeded.

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  21. Your comment on green smoothies leaves me confused. I drink green smoothies, but I don’t use cruciferous veggies very often. But if you are eating the cabbage in the form of sauerkraut or as a smoothie, how does it make a difference on how you consume it. I have read articles suggesting that cruciferous veggies only cause a problem with folks who have a iodine deficiency, but won’t cause a problem otherwise. Cruciferous veggies are supposed to have anti cancer properties too. While it is true that traditional societies didn’t drink green smoothies they also didn’t consume cod liver oil. Or am I missing some part of the picture.

    Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Sauerkraut is traditionally consumed as a condiment and in small quantities. Green smoothies contain obscenely large quantities of raw green vegetables – more than you could ever eat in one sitting under normal circumstances. It’s akin to consuming fermented soy in small quantities like Asian cultures have for hundreds of years (safe and healthy) versus consuming unfermented soy in the modern sense in huge quantities … ground up and put in everything which is not traditional nor is it healthy. It’s a matter of degree.
      Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist\’s last post: Determining the Best Traditional Diet for YOU

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      • Let me tell you my experience with kimchi (kim chee). So I read ‘fermented is great’.
        I go to the nearest town, load up on frozen kimchi, and start to eat this 24/7. Kimchi
        and me were a match. Loved getting up in the morning and having that flavor punch first thing: rousing!

        I don’t remember how long after it started: I got BLAZING rosacea………bright red cheeks AND face. It was embarrassing to be lit up like that! Started to make the rounds of naturalpaths and derms…….but nothing worked. Then someone brought up the idea I wasn’t eating it like a condiment AND since it was commercially prepared, it was loaded with bad stuff like MSG. You really need the whole picture: a little bit of information can be a dangerous thing.

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      • I don’t think I consume an obscene amount. I think of it this way – when humans were still a hunter gatherer society we didn’t eat grains at all because they were not digestible in the raw state. So more of something else must have been eaten, probably more fruits and veggies. Prior to our grain eating ways, archeology finds of human remains showed that we were 6 inches taller and had larger brains. So that shows me that grains interfere with nutrient absorption. Grains make us shorter – just look an asians with all that rice they eat – short, short, short. It is a matter of opinion of how much greens is too much. I juice about an icecream bucket full of veggies, and that juice lasts me one week.. Maybe other do more than this, but for me it is an easier way to get the veggies in my diet that I don’t normally eat. I love your blog though Sarah, keep up the good work.

        Reply
          • I meant no disrespect. I have read about how asian people who have lived in North America and eat a more western diet grow taller than those who consume rice with almost every meal. I am not suggesting that eating rice is unhealthy. I am only saying this to make a point that when humans were hunter gatherers we at no grain, and so we ate more vegetation. That is why when we switched to an agricultural diet we started to become smaller. Fossil evidence shows this. Eating grain stunts growth. Not presumptuous of me at all. I am only trying to argue the point that green drinks are not unhealthy. (The question might be if rice stunts growth more than wheat – I would probably argue YES. Is it unhealthy, in moderation probably not.)

        • Er…that’s pretty presumptuous don’t you think so? That Asians are short because of rice?!?! Yes, diet plays a big role – we generally eat much less meat and drink almost no milk traditionally than those of Caucasian stock.
          Serene in Singapore\’s last post: Helpful Tip #8

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        • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

          A single green smoothie contains an obscene amount of greens to be consumed in a single day. I have never had a green smoothie, nor will I ever. It is not normal nor is it a natural way to consume greens which are toxic in such large amounts.

          The hunter-gatherer logic just doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Science is not really science unless it is verifiable with reality. There were plenty of traditional cultures that ate grains and were perfectly healthy – therefore this thing going around the paleo world that “humans weren’t meant to eat grains” simply does not hold up. Perhaps some folks do better without them but to insist that they are a bad food is nonsense.
          Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist\’s last post: Sweet Potato Linguine

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          • I never said that grains were bad. I just said that based on fossil records they affect growth. But if you choose not to believe that, that’s okay. Rice should be used only in moderation is what I said. Even Nourishing Traditions says the same thing about rice on page 466 (It just says that westerners should not eat rice every day)
            It is true that for me personally that I use a little paleo logic and a little Weston A Price logic and combine the two. Maybe that is why my posts are seeming to cause arguments. I do enjoy your page and your blogs, and I do agree with you most of the time, but I think I have to stop posting here. My intent is not to cause fights, and I fear that is what is happening. I will just read your blog and try to not comment. Cheers

  22. I love your insight on this subject, and I feel much better about the food choices for my family. I always say I am going to throw in more raw veggies and get a variety, but there are so few I even like raw, steam and butter them and we love them all! I do have to say traditional cooking does take a lot of time, traditionally food consumed the life of a mother, their main job was to keep everyone fed and healthy. Change is slow around here, today my daughter caught sight of the chicken head in the stock and wouldn’t eat dinner and I was pleased because I feed 11 mouths and only 1 went unfed because of the head a year ago it would have been 5-7. Maybe someday she’ll ask for recipes.

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  23. Hi Sarah. You are right, it is hard to set a general diet for everyone because culture is a contributing factor to the kind of food that people eat. I am Filipino and our meals are never complete without rice, as it is our staple food. However, some cultures can have a complete meal even without eating rice :-)
    Shelon\’s last post: Positive Attitudes toward Mental Health

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    • Good question – also of Northern European descent none of my ancestors ate anything tropical, like coconut oil. I’m now using it on my skin but prefer to cook with lard, as my mother did until she started on Crisco. So maybe coconut water, coconut flour, etc. are not a good choices for me.

      Reply
  24. What about central/southern Europe? I checked the link of the book online, but there only seem to be Northern Europeans. I am of Slovak origin, but live in Serbia (our ancestors moved here 250 years ago). As far as I know from my mom’s stories of when she was growing up, they ate mostly potatoes and different kinds of soups/stews, as well as various grains – always cooked. But this is only 60 years ago. I don’t know much about the time before that. How would I find out about it? Fermented they used to do Sauerkraut (German influence) and fermented sliced veggies – but today everything is done with vinegar, so I don’t think it’s really the same thing. I will be reading the book now that I have a free source, but would really like to know more about the way our ancestors ate….

    Reply
  25. Tracey Stirling June 8, 2012 at 11:11 am

    Sarah when you say your family doesn’t do so well on certain traditional foods, what exactly are you noticing? When comsuming so many differnt foods in the course of a day it can be hard for me to tell what exactly someone may be reacting to as there can be so many factors. We went to a graduation last night where my daughter ate a cupcake and it was very clear she reacted to that but with nourishing traditionally preapred foods I imagine the reactions are going to be much more subtle.

    Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
      Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist June 8, 2012 at 11:37 am

      Fatigue is the #1 symptom. Sluggish, tired … if you have some health issues … there would be a flare up perhaps like bloating, reflux, headache-y. It could be a myriad of things. You know yourself best. If you just listen and observe your reactions to food, it will become second nature and you will just KNOW what is best for you after awhile!

      I might add that there may be some variation based on the season of the year. Also, as your health improves, you may find that you can say .. eat properly prepared beans where perhaps you might not have been able to a few years before. Life is not static, nor is health and digestion especially in this modern age when we are so bombarded with toxins and other assaults on our system. i do TERRIBLE on most fruit in the winter, but am fine with it in the summer for example. Why? I have no idea. It is what it is.

      Reply
  26. Interesting post, Sarah. I will be sharing this.

    Isn’t most of this stuff inconsequential to the fact that we all in one way or another hail from sub-Saharan Africa as recently as 60k years ago? Isn’t it possible that grain consumption, sprouted, fermented or otherwise, shouldn’t be considered as a part of any “traditional” diet? Did we really have time to evolve from the time grains were introduced into our diet 10k years ago to the present?

    Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
      Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist June 8, 2012 at 11:31 am

      What you say “sounds” logical, but you can’t argue with the fact that plenty of Traditional Cultures like the Swiss and the Scots ate grains and were healthy.

      This is the big fat elephant in the room with the Paleo argument. You CAN eat grains and be healthy .. it would be very wise for them to acknowledge this fact documented in detail in Dr. Price’s book.

      Reply
      • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
        Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist June 8, 2012 at 11:33 am

        If you choose not to eat grains, that is fine, but to argue that grains are unhealthy when so many Traditional Cultures ate them and were vibrantly healthy with virtually no degenerative or chronic disease or tooth decay is kind of unfathomable to me.

        Reply
        • I don’t subscribe to a strict paleo diet. I consider myself more of an archevore in that I eat rice and potatoes in small amounts. I’ve read your arguments in the past, but I don’t think there’s any place in the human diet for wheat.

          Reply
    • I am a creationist, so I believe the world is not much older than 6,000-10,000 years. If you think of traditional diets from this standpoint rather than an evolutionary, much older one, it makes far more sense, at least to me, and would include grains. Cain (Adam and Eve’s son) raised grains.
      ladyscott\’s last post: Whirlwind and Lot

      Reply
  27. Thank you for a really informative post. I have a Northern European heritage as well and find that eating this way works best for my health. When I deviate from it occasionally, my body always lets me know.
    It makes perfect sense to eat according to your heritage, blood type being a part of this I think.
    What are your thoughts about Dr. Adamo’s Blood Type diet?
    Thanks for your insight!
    Agi\’s last post: Easier than Pie Asparagus Tart

    Reply
    • I’ve investigated the blood type diet as well as the genotype diet. I personally think there is merit to these since they have helped improve my health and stop some of my autoimmunity issues. Especially helpful is the SWAMI Genotype calculator, I believe. It even asks for ancestral information and about haplogroups if you want to narrow it down even more. However, nothing is said about traditional preparation and it doesn’t have the answers to EVERYTHING. Take what you learn from your SWAMI Xpress and use it in conjunction with the teachings of WAP and what you learn on your own for best results I would say!

      Reply
  28. Moving in the direction of more traditional eating has been a slow process for my family, but we’re making progress. One of the things I found the most overwhelming about the recipes in Nourishing Traditions is the amount of advance planning necessary to make the meals. Transitioning from planning a meal five minutes in advance (and then nuking it) to planning a meal a couple of days in advance so it can soak and ferment is quite a challenge for me! So if you do decide to post an example of what your family eats in a particular week, it would be great if you could emphasize the preparation process more than the menu. My upbringing is so far removed from the traditional method that the idea of having two or three things soaking or simmering for hours on end and remembering when to interact with those foods over a day or two is a bit daunting.

    Reply
  29. The more I learn about this the more convinced I am that the biggest factor in determining what to eat is looking at what grows in the climate where you presently live. Eating foods only in season where you are and spending as much time outside as possible giving your body the signals that it is indeed living in that climate (living indoors in heat or air conditioning most of the time may not be so healthy). Even so implementing this is tricky and I do think that your ancestral genes also have an impact but to a lesser degree than your current climate.
    PattyLA\’s last post: Super Nutrition for Babies excerpt

    Reply
  30. What do you do with the oats besides oatmeal? I am also of northern European descent and I need more oat ideas and recipes.

    Also, were there any Slavic cultures in the book? What is their traditional diet?

    Reply
  31. I was first introduced to Weston A. Price back in November. I was given Nourishing Traditions and I gobbled up all of the information….then I just cried. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in August and decided to go with alternative therapies instead of the insane conventional therapies. Nourishing Traditions is totally opposite of all alternative cancer therapies!!! I am so torn and so confused as to what to really do. People are healing themselves with raw food diets, green smoothies and juices. (there is more to the protocal than that) Animal products are taboo. I go back and forth eating raw until I am dying to eat butter and eggs. The crazy thing was that I was a vegetarian for 18yrs (be nice, please) prior to this diagnosis, but Nourishing Traditions made so much sense to me. I immediately started my 5 year old on animal products other that eggs and dairy…I tell you, that was a challenge…clean bacon was a hit. The fermenting part is easy….Still anyone have any other ideas, information on treating cancer on traditional foods..I read Thomas Cowens paper also. If not, maybe then some positive thoughts and healing energy sent out into the universe for me.
    Cadie

    Reply
    • Hi Cadie, I’m sorry to hear about your situation. I can relate, my boyfriend developed cancerous tumors and other ailments after being a vegetarian for 20 years. He was very anemic and had fluid in his lungs as well. I am doing a medical benefit for him right now, at http://www.indiegogo.com/brianwalker?a=479713 . He went through chemo at UNC hosptial and he is doing fine now. Since he was so anemic and had nutrient imbalances, it was important for him to start eating animal foods. He also got great benefit from a cancer cure called Essiac. It is a combination of slippery elm, burdock, sorrel, and rhubarb. You can brew the tea yourself, get it in pills or tinctures online or from the health food store. He recommends it to everyone he meets who has cancer or knows someone who has it. Also, something I recently learned from the GAPS diet book– don’t know if you’ve looked into that yet. The doctor/authors outlook really changed the way I think about food. That is, thinking about animal food primarily as nourishing, feeding food, and plant food as cleansing, detoxifying food. Of course, as she says, there is some overlap. She talks about this in this interview with Dr. Mercola http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYJkS3ZBqos. I highly recommend listening to the interview, it has definitely empowered my way of thinking about nutrition after so much back and forth information on the topic was getting me frustrated. The bottom line is listen to your body and what your body is asking for, whether it needs to be nourished or cleansed at any particular time. I’m not sure exactly how that would relate to cancer treatment, I’m not an expert, but I hope I’ve helped in some way. Good luck.

      Reply
    • Cadie I have to say that I’ve been following a guy who is totally into RAW diet (only because he has good prices on certain items I buy) and I’ve noticed from his older vids going forward to now that he’s gone from nice teeth to bad teeth to a mouth full of fake bright white huge teeth. That alone tells me all I need to know about the all-raw diet, and I was thankful that it provided a great illustration to my young son about this trend.

      Reply
    • I don’t usually reply to post, but just thought I’d offer well wishes your way. Both my grandmothers had this disease. So sorry. I would recommend a book called Nourishing Connections by the Ceres Community Project. They provide nourishing meals for cancer patients, prepared by high school volunteers (who are taught traditional cooking practices,etc). The book has a lot of information on healing and nourishing foods, how to prepare them when you have no energy, and lots of reference information. They do recommend Nourishing Traditions, among other books, including raw foods books. It’s about balance, I think. Also I would recommend herbalist Susun Weed’s book Breast Cancer, Breast Health. She gives an awesome amount of information, balanced as well. I think some animal foods, lots of properly prepared plant foods – especially herbs, seaweed (a must!), mushrooms (Asian) – and foods fermented, cooked and raw, is the best bet. You need to find a healthy balance. Good luck to you.

      Reply
  32. Hi, Sarah, Thank you for this post. That`s what I was thinking when I started in Traditional Diet,. But my problem is that I`m from Ecuador (I`m a mixed middle class woman living in the urban center of Quito- 2.850 meters above sea level), so my traditional culture is a mixture from Spain and the traditional indigenous people who lived here (incas, and other cultures). There is very little information about what incas ate and drunk and how they prepared their food. It`s typical to know that they consumed a lot of corn products, and diferent kinds of tubers and fermented beverages made from corn, but we don`t exactly know if they ate meat (since they had different kinds of alpacas), what kind and how often and if they ate fruits or vegetables. I live in Los Andes, where fish food is not directly available, so the information available in the book of Weston Price about indigenous people in the cost of Peru doesn´t helps me.

    Reply
    • @Saraha can you answer this questions? I’m in the same situation…. I’m from Cuenca, Ecuador (also in los Andes). What should we eat?

      Reply
  33. Hi Sarah, not to sound stupid, but what exactly is N. European? My ancestry is 50% German and then some French and English.

    thanks,

    Joyce

    Reply
  34. I feel great when I eat lots of fruit and vegetables — with plenty of fat! I need a lot of both of those things, with some meat and properly prepared grains to balance it out. An ideal meal for me would be a taco salad with plenty of greens, fresh salsa (fermented?), raw cheese, grass-fed beef, soaked rice, and beans. I keep all the fat on the beef and sometimes add extra tallow.

    That is what I have found works *for me.* I had to stop paying attention to all the new science that wanted to tell me I should eat more of this and less of that (whole foods, not junk food) or entirely avoid something. I don’t think that’s right, especially not across the board.

    Reply
  35. I find that I can eat pretty much anything unprocessed and feel good afterward! However, I do tend towards the same as you: cooked veggies, raw dairy, eggs, and meat, with some sourdough breads thrown in. I throw other things in for variety like rice, pasta, or polenta, fish..but those are the staples. This post pretty much sums up how I have approached traditional foods, but it’s part of my personality NOT to have a prescription and just to wing it!

    Reply
  36. Pingback: Proven Health News » Blog Archive » Determining the Best Traditional Diet for YOU

  37. Pingback: Weekly reads |

  38. In my quest for my ideal diet, learning traditional methods and foods (no more processed! Back to basics, and what i can process in my own kitchen), I never thought to look at my ancestry to guide me! What a great concept. So, I’m mostly Irish, with some Italian, French, Dutch, and Blackfeet & Cherokee. I have some research ahead of me. I’ll check out the books, too. Why is the rest of society (ugh, grocery stores and corporations!) so slow to reconfigure our farming system and food supply to be natural, traditional, mostly local? I’m only just learning about this…

    Reply
  39. Pingback: Paleo, Primal and Traditional Diets: Eat like your grandma or someone else’s? | Primal Park Life

  40. Hi Sarah,

    I am from India. My ancestors were vegetarian but they used to consume a lot of dairy. The part of India (north) I come from eats cooked vegetables, cooked lentils and whole wheat bread at pretty much every meal. Rice is an occasional treat. I am one of the very few Indians who are WAPF’s member. I get so confused about eating meat on a regular basis because that may not agree with my genes. Please help clarify things for me. Thank you.

    Reply
  41. I am of North-European Hertiage and my husband is Sotho (from South Africa). What do you suggest for my husband and also my mixed-raced children?

    Reply
  42. Thank you, Sarah. It is difficult to know what to eat these days as I’m breastfeeding a little one with food allergies – he is allergic to eggs. We’re on Full GAPS but I was finding it hard to feel full. I finally added some raw egg yolks to coconut smoothies last night and this morning and feel full! – just what my body was craving! – and I think genius tolerating it pretty well (hopefully!). Nutrition is a beautiful thing when we are relying on animal foods! Thank you for the info about Northern European cultures – this is helpful to direct my diet!

    Reply
  43. Linda Garrison Larsen via Facebook April 23, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    From a perspective of disease prevention some I’m not sure I agree with this information. I also am not fond of any one source being the ultimate source. My doctor is a pioneer in preventative medicine for over 40 years and whether or not he has read this book I don’t know, but I know he is far from blind.

    Reply
  44. What if you have ancestors from England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, France, Austria, Holland, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and virtually every other major European nation that was a monarchy?
    Possibly Cherokee and African as well, in tiny doses.
    Haha

    Reply
  45. Erin Mabon York via Facebook April 23, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    it seems to me that this would be important. Not only getting what you are used to, but also what you need to deal with your current environment.

    Reply
  46. Erika Ramos via Facebook April 23, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    That’s a great question !! I wonder if by then your kids would eat foods from your background and their father’s background(if you have children). Maybe coming from different ancestors/cultures means that you would do well with the staples of each of their diets but listen to your body if one of those things don’t agree with you? I’m not sure.. but I’d love to know ! I’m Puerto Rican so I have a varied background too !

    Reply
  47. Diet is a very common and regular item in our life, but it can change by the location and areas in a nation. So it is very difficult to determine the best diet for our health and your post is much helpful for us to know about the best diet for our body.

    Reply
  48. Sara,

    Coconut oil is a tropical food and not what my ancestors ate. How does using this oil fit with the idea of eating what our ancestors ate?

    Anne

    Reply

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