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Join Me as I Welcome Saving Dinner author Leanne Ely
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Yuri: I’m here with my good friend Leanne Ely from SavingDinner.com. We’ve got some really cool stuff we’re going to be discussing today. Welcome, Leanne. I’m happy that you’ve taken the time to join me today.
Leanne: Thank you so much for having me, Yuri.
Yuri: Absolutely. We were just briefly talking, and you mentioned that you came across some recent news about beef and meat in general. Can you just elaborate on that stuff so we can discuss it a little bit more?
Leanne: Sure. It was a supposed Harvard study, and they’re saying that even eating three ounces of beef is going to increase your risk of dying by about 13 percent. They crunch a bunch of data apparently from thousands and thousands of questionnaires and asked people how frequently they ate different foods, and they discovered that replacing red meat with other foods seemed to reduce the mortality risk for the people who participated in this study.
Which, to me, I just look at the science of this whole thing, and I’m just like, “What?” I think there’s a bunch of different things that we need to look at when we see these kinds of things. We see this stuff on the news all the time, where they’re making these declarations that if you do this, you’re going to die; if you eat this, it’s going to increase your risk of dying. And then you dig a little deeper and you dig a little deeper and you find out, for example, what we were just talking about a minute ago, the cereal study that was funded by General Mills or any of these other kinds of things.
There’s a suspect; there’s always something that’s a little bit off, at least from what I have seen. A couple of things that I want to look at with this study is: First of all, what they’re looking at is CAFO beef, and we all know what that is, a concentrated animal feeding operation. The way that these animals are raised is with lots of antibiotics, with lots of steroids, with growth hormones, and in a concentrated feeding operation.
This is where they just cram these poor little animals together and they feed them all these GMO grains. You’re going to get a sick, a not-so-well animal, and you’re also going to get food that isn’t, honestly, a lot of it is very high in uric acid; it’s not fit for human consumption. As opposed to a cow that is raised naturally, grass-fed beef and grass-finished beef, and it’s had a happy life out in the pasture and, then, of course ends up as a steak on our plate. That meat is full of ALA, it’s full of iron, and it’s full of all kinds of things that our bodies can use.
Yuri: That’s a great point. I’ll jump in in a second. Go ahead.
Leanne: My whole point is just to circle all of this back is: The food needs to always be quantified, I believe, in studies. They need to say “conventional CAFO meat,” but that’s not what you ever, ever hear. You never hear about any of this. Most people do not understand how conventional meat is raised, and most people don’t understand what is all this stuff about beef and saturated fat. This brings us all back to the quandary about saturated fat versus trans fat versus clean fat, etc. Jump in. This is my soapbox, so I could just go on and on.
Yuri: I’m really happy you brought that point up because I think exactly what you just said, where people don’t consider the source or the quality of the food is so important because, as you mentioned, there’s a massive difference between grain-fed, antibiotic-infused meat verses meat that’s coming from pastures eating grass. In my mind, it’s almost two completely different foods; it’s not even the same. I think a lot of studies owe it to the average consumer to really disclose that because we don’t necessarily know that…we would assume that the impact of these, the cattle that’s raised in a confined area and fed crappy foods and injected with hormones and stuff is going to impact our health in a much more negative way than those that are raised in their natural environment.
And I think when people talk about how red meat is bad and this and that, we tend to forget that not all red meat is bad, and it really depends on, obviously, how much you consume it, the quality of it. Even for a lot of people that follow me, I really espouse more of a plant-based diet, but I’m not opposed to meat at all. I’m opposed to poor-quality foods in general, so whether you’re a vegan—and just because you’re a vegan, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re healthy. We all know vegans who survive on tofu and processed soy. For me, I mean, other than the moral reasons that they’re doing that, that’s one thing, but from a health perspective, if you think that packaged, processed soy is healthier than naturally raised animal products, I think we missed the mark there. It’s really interesting that you brought that up.
Leanne: Well, I think the thing that we need t look at too, because—and this shouldn’t be an awe declaration, but I think its true: There is not a lot of difference between a vegan and somebody who’s earnestly pursuing the Paleo lifestyle except that one eats meat and one does not. It should be very plant-based; it should be very…if you think about it, if we hearken back to our Paleolithic ancestors, they probably gorged themselves on meat when they got it, but most of the time, they were vegetarians.
They were what my girlfriend would call availavarians. They would eat what they could; they ate what was there, and it was a lot of greens, a lot of berries, a lot of whatever it was that they found. They ate nuts and seeds if they could find them; whatever they found, that was what they ate. The meat was far and few between or not as much as we do today.
I mean, today our modern—we can’t even, we who eat Paleo can’t perfectly mimic the way that they did it those thousands and thousands of years ago, but we can eschew certain things that we are showing with a lot of research that just doesn’t work for us as human beings. Our digestive system and our needs and our biology hasn’t evolved that much that we aren’t, we’re adapted to eating grains and dairy, for example.
Yuri: It’s funny that you brought that up because I was thinking about this; I was talking about this with my wife a long time ago it seems like. We were like, if you were a caveman, you wouldn’t be saying to your friends, “Oh, I’m going vegan this week,” or, “I’m going low-carb or whatever this week.” It didn’t exist; you eat whatever you have available to you in order to survive.
Yuri: We live in this day and age now where we’ve complicated the whole simplicity of nutrition with all these different diets out there, and when you boil it down, for the most part; most of them are saying the same thing: Eat more fruits and vegetables; eat more foods in their whole state. As you said, the difference between Paleo and vegan is simply one adds some more animal products and that’s it.
I was talking about this with Abel, as well, from Fat-Burning Man. It was so funny because I was telling him, like, I’m not a raw-foodist, but for me, my body responds best to eating more raw foods, but I’ve never, ever once said that I’m a raw-foodist, yet some people, they lash out at me and they’re like, “Oh my God, Yuri, I can’t believe you’re promoting meat,” and all this stuff. I’m like,
“Honestly, I’ve never said that I’m a raw-foodist.” I’ve only encouraged the consumption of more raw foods. I just had a piece of steak for lunch. What are you going to do, put me on the cross? You have to find what works best for you. I just find that we’ve really complicated this issue of nutrition when it’s really a very simple thing.
Leanne: It is a very simple thing, and I think these, a lot of people—and you can see it on the blogs, we both read the blogs and you read ’em in the books and all of that and you can even go to conferences—and people are going to sit there and they’re going to debate: Should you eat potato or should you not eat a potato if you’re in Paleo? Or should you do this or should you do that? Honestly, I think that we’re too uptight. I think what we need to do is understand our nutrition as best we can and understand how it works best for our bodies.
This is the thing that I’ve always stressed from the very, very beginning, when I wrote my very, very first book back in 2000 and that is this: If we listen to that inner nutritional guru that we all possess, our bodies will tell us if we do well eating legumes, for example, or we don’t. Our bodies will tell us if we’re good at eating, if we’re protein-driven or we’re not.
If we’re listening and if we’re watching and we’re tuned in to what’s going on inside of our bodies, we will be able to put our own nutrition program together that works just right for us. I will tell you, people get all wrapped up in one thing, and I’ve seen this, too, in the vegan community, which confirmed me where, and I’ve seen people, too, also former vegans say, “Gosh, I never really understood what was going on until my hair was falling out,” and they were just really having a hard time with nutrition. I used to always say to people who’ve asked me—and as a nutritionist, I’ve been asked these questions over and over again—I’d say,
“We’re human beings and as human beings, we have to look at our teeth. Our teeth tell the story on what we are to eat.” Every mammal’s teeth tell the story. If you take a look at a rabbit, rabbits eat green stuff. They don’t have molars to grind with, they don’t have much of anything; they don’t have the canine teeth that you and I possess and that dogs and other animals possess.
Canine teeth; they’re called canine teeth and there’s a reason for it, because they’re meant to shred meat. So, when we get wrapped up in these things, I think we need to kind of hearken back and just say: What are we supposed to be eating? What is our body telling us? What are our teeth telling us? Our teeth are the first place, that’s the first landing place for digestion. Our teeth don’t lie.
Yuri: And also our digestive systems too. I remember seeing a really interesting thing on Discovery Channel a while ago about lions and tigers and they were comparing the too anatomically, and underneath their skin they’re almost the same animal. What they were showing, they pulled out their intestinal tract and they said that because lions and tigers both have very small intestinal tracts, they’re built to eat meat, in addition to the fact that they have these massive canines.
But when you compare that, for instance, to the cow, which is pretty much a vegetarian, it has a very, very long digestive tract, which is necessary for it to its thing in terms of digesting all the fiber and everything else from the grass and reap all those nutrients. And if you look at the human digestive system, it’s kind of a combination of both. It’s not as short as a lion’s, but it’s definitely not as long as a cow’s. Again, as you mentioned, we are a combination of plant- and meat- suitable in terms of what we can and what we should eat.
Leanne: Omnivores. And there’re very few animals that are. I think it’s interesting; skunks are omnivores, so we share something in common with skunks…and a few other animals. I had them written down at one point, but the skunk always stood out with me. One day I was driving along; I saw a skunk scurry across the road, and I thought I’ve got more in common with that skunk than I do my own dog at home.
Yuri: Exactly…hopefully other than the smell.
Leanne: Yeah, no kidding. Stay away from skunks.
Yuri: Is there anything else from that study you wanted to pull out, or do you feel we covered that pretty nicely?
Leanne: I felt like, I just thought that it was interesting that it was a Harvard study, and yet, when it comes to these studies, they don’t really put a lot of emphasis on a lot of science, which I did not see in this particular article. It was an LA Times article, and I did not see a lot of science in this and I didn’t understand why they even bothered with it.
It was just like, “Well, we got a sampling of a few people, and we figured out that they’re thirteen percent—” They didn’t say what the data based on. I find those kinds of things to be very, very interesting. I could not find who funded it for Harvard or if Harvard funded it or whatever. I find these studies to be really amusing most of the time.
Yuri: Sometimes it gets you; it kind of makes you question why they even conduct certain studies. You just did a study on why maple syrup boosts your blood sugar; just very common-sense types of things. It’s like, why did you just spend all that money and all that time doing a study on this seeming less area of nutrition that most people kind of understand?
Leanne: It’s ridiculous. There was, a couple of weeks ago, too, that reminded me. There was another, it was breaking news that sugar causes type 2 diabetes; they made the link. Can you believe that? I’m thinking, what is this, 1970 or something? Why are we just now coming up with that? A lot of this, and then it really, just me a little bit; I don’t know how you feel about this, but I think, why are we not educating? Instead of spending all this money on these ridiculous studies, which we all know that sugar, is definitely linked to type 2 diabetes.
Why don’t we, instead, educate the public on what really qualifies as nutrition and take it off of Madison Avenue’s plate so to speak? And let’s get these researchers out and saying, “You know what? Let’s talk nutrition. Let’s talk about the obesity epidemic. Let’s talk about lifestyle-induced disease epidemic that we have in this country and all over the world.”
Everybody is falling apart. I was at a conference this week, and there was a guy who I sat next to at the conference and we had a chance to talk. He’s got one of the biggest Paleo Web sites in Denmark. I was like, “Wow, Denmark!” I didn’t know that Paleo had been traveling all over the world and, apparently, it has. He said that they have a huge obesity problem in Denmark.
I don’t think of anywhere as having the obesity problems that we have here in the United States, but, apparently, Europe is just as plagued as we are. If you look at it, it follows…if you had a graph out; you can follow where the obesity epidemic came from as the fast-food industry infiltrated all of the EU. It’s really pretty tragic.
Yuri: And I totally agree with you about the educating-the-public perspective, and that’s the total reason why I developed Super Nutrition Academy, because I find it appalling, to say the least, that we spend so much time and kids stress out so much about their ability not to remember when the War of 1812 took place, which is never going to serve them ever again in the future of their lives.
I don’t know about you, but other than when I went back to school to study holistic nutrition and health, I never had a single nutrition class in all of my years in high school, junior high, or elementary. Nothing. I think the only education health class was sex ed, where they talked about prevention and abstinence and stuff like that, but there was nothing about nutrition.
I’m thinking kids are being exposed to so much useless information in our academic bubble that we all kind of push our kids into, and I think the two most important things that kids should develop in terms of a good understanding, nutrition and finances, they’re not even taught at a fundamental level. No wonder we’re so screwed up in both of those places as we get into our twenties and adulthood.
Leanne: Well, that’s true and I think part of the reason why this is so prevalent is that, you know, it’d be nice if they taught it in schools, but, unfortunately, there’re a lot of parents today who weren’t taught those things; they weren’t taught how to cook. If you really want to boil it down, nutrition, in the practical term, is cooking; it is. It’s cooking and food preparation and grocery shopping and being able to tell a head of cauliflower from an eggplant.
It’s being able to be a little bit savvy and understand and know that when you pick something up, you look for the brown spots on it. It’s being able to take care of yourself. In my estimation, this whole thing about nutrition, the hands-on aspects of nutrition—the shopping and procuring of food that you’re going to take home and make—all of that stuff, that’s just as important as learning how to wash your teeth, wash your face, and vacuum a floor.
All of that is a life skill, and it’s sorely missing in today’s world. I will tell you, one of the most effective things that somebody can do for their health is learn how to cook. Learn how to cook, quit relying on everybody else to do it and all these other food establishments and chains. Quit relying on them to do it; learn how to cook yourself. Learn how to season food; learn how to appreciate the bounty of what’s out there, and save yourself the—speaking of finances, save yourself the money too.
Yuri: Totally. And with that said, again, I’ll just plug your business and you’re Web site: SavingDinner.com, guys. You gotta check it out. Leanne has amazing stuff for helping everyday people; busy parents prepare amazing, healthy, delicious foods that the whole family can enjoy.
Check it out; it’s awesome stuff. That was great advice. I think what you just said in terms of…again, it’s an essential skill that we all need to develop. Obviously there’s, we’ve traded our health for convenience pretty much nowadays.
Leanne: Oh yeah, that’s awesomely put.
Yuri: We’re moving—I think, slowly but surely moving back to hopefully the basics of food preparation and all that great stuff. What else, somebody, you have a busy mom or dad who has kids at home.
They want to be healthy; they’re just busy; they’re stressed out when they get home; they don’t want to take even twenty minutes to prepare something. What kind of recommendation would you make for that person so that they’re not dialing for pizza when they get home from work?
Leanne: Yeah, not dialing for pizza. You know, I think that we have to kind of step back, and we have to kind of look at some old-fashioned virtues is what we need to do. Where best are we taught than when Mom and Dad said, “Okay, son, you’re going to learn how to mow the lawn,” and the next thing you know, you’re fourteen years old and, man, that lawn’s yours; you’re the one mowing the lawn. But you were taught how to do it at first.
It’s the same thing in the kitchen. Those little kids that we pamper and believe are completely helpless, even the three-year-old. Three-year-olds can put some spoons in the dishwasher or take them out and put them away. There’re little stepstools. Getting those people in your household comfortable with the kitchen and knowing that it’s not just a room that houses the large appliances helps to get people moving in the right direction and gets them taught. As soon as they are able, they need to be by your side cooking and preparing and chopping, and there’re ways to do that without them severing an artery, for Heaven’s sake.
You can buy little knives that carve pumpkins that will cut a carrot, and there’s no reason why a four-year-old couldn’t be cutting a carrot next to you, on a little stool, wearing their little apron, and helping you prepare a salad. When a child understands that this is how we do dinner, then the child—or this is how we eat—then the child is more apt to eat it. I will tell you one thing that’s really huge:
When your child is making their own food, they’re going to eat their own food because that’s massive hands-on nutrition, and they take ownership at that point. I always hear about, people always ask me about picky eaters, picky eaters, picky eaters. Well, picky eaters are not born.
Some of them may have a little bit more sensitivity in taste or whatever. Picky eaters are trained to picky, and they train us to give them something else if they don’t like it. We give up too easily when we’re trying to feed them the good stuff they need, absolutely one hundred percent need in order to grow up to be a strong, solid adult with a healthy constitution.
Yuri: Yeah, that’s awesome.
Leanne: Those moments…the thing is that we have this martyr complex—women do—of, “Well, I can’t possibly. I’m just going to call for pizza,” because she’s doing everything. She’s doing the grocery shopping, she’s bringing home the food, she’s doing the cooking in the kitchen, and all the kids need to do their homework, this, that, and the other thing.
Food is a family affair, and when everybody’s involved and everybody has their hands on it and it’s expected and the responsibility is spread out, the stress dissipates. And I will tell you what happens after that: All of a sudden, one day your twelve-year-old will be able to make dinner all by herself or all by himself, and you will have suddenly made a victory that is absolutely huge.
Yuri: Yeah, that’s terrific. I’m really happy you brought that up; because that’s something we’ve realized with our, well, we have two young kids, just over two and almost a six-month-old. Our two-year-old, Oscar, he loves—I think all kids have the same innate desire to want to help and to try things and experiment. If we make a smoothie, he’s like, “Oscar do it! Oscar do it!”
He’s putting the stuff in himself and he moves the chair over to the counter and he’ll stand up and he’ll spoon stuff in. I would be very hard-pressed to find kids that do not want to be involved in that kind of process, especially if they see their parents doing that. I mean, if you saw your parents smoking, you’d probably want to smoke. If you saw them drinking a lot, you’d probably want to drink a lot. As you said, be the example and your kids will just follow suit.
Leanne: Yeah. In the interest of, it’s just so much faster to do it ourselves and I get that, but we’re also shooting ourselves in the foot because we’re not training them, then all of a sudden… I had a situation where I was in a, a few years ago we were with a couple families on a vacation, and somebody was making some frozen orange juice. I don’t drink frozen orange juice, but no big deal. Somebody was making some frozen orange juice.
She was twenty years old; she’d never done it before, and she put how much water was needed into the pitcher and then put the frozen orange juice on top. As you can imagine, it just went everywhere. I looked at this little girl, and I thought, You know what? She’s completely inapt because her mother has valet parked her butt for years. She’s never, ever done anything.
You know, we do our children a gigantic disservice, and we train them to be completely incompetent when we don’t bring them into the kitchen, when we don’t train them how to do these different things. I guess that could be a separate subject, but it’s really super important that they are there and they are doing with us. It develops, also, a family culture, and the food battles, they don’t exist.
Yuri: That’s great. Well, I really appreciate you sharing that insight. That’s amazing, amazing advice. I think that’s probably one of the most important pieces of advice that anyone could ever take action on in terms of long-lasting effect. So, we’re just about at the time here, so I want to thank you for joining me, Leanne, and bringing up that cool Harvard study that we dissected a little bit and then obviously talking about some of the strategies that people can put into place to make healthy meals and healthy eating more a part of their everyday life. Once again, the best place to check out her stuff—Leanne’s stuff, that is—is at SavingDinner.com. Any closing thoughts, Leanne?
Leanne: I just want to encourage everybody to get back to the kitchen and to really enjoy the process. It’s a pretty cool thing to cook with your family.
Yuri: It is. I definitely agree with you on that one. Thank you very much for joining me. Thank everyone else for listening.
Leanne: Thank you so much.
Yuri: We will see you in the next episode.
About Super Nutrition Academy
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