Real Food Eating in the City & Market Price Comparison

During the course of my Nutritional Therapy Practitioner studies, I’ve deepened my understanding of foods that promote health in our bodies. I read a fantastic book called Nutritional and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price. Weston A. Price was a dentist who studied a variety of native cultures over the course of ten years starting in the 1930s. He found that native peoples who consumed their natural diets experienced robust health and produced offspring with the same robust health. Peoples who ate the “foods of commerce” or the standard American diet in his day experienced poor health and also had children with similar poor health.

Price’s work can be distilled into twenty dietary guidelines, but there are four concepts I want to focus on today.

  1. Avoid processed foods. Don’t eat anything with ingredients you can pronounce. Choose food that can spoil (but eat it before it does!).
  2. Eat fruits and vegetables. Choose organic as much as possible.
  3. Eat naturally raised animals and animal products. This includes pasture-raised, grass-fed ruminants (beef, lamb), pasture-raised chicken (and their eggs), pasture-raised pork, and wild caught fish. When consuming dairy, choose raw and/or fermented dairy from grass-fed/pasture-raised animals.
  4. Use traditional fats and oils like the cooking fats that have existed for hundreds of years like butter from properly raised cows, cold pressed oils (olive, sesame, flax) and tropical oils like coconut and palm oil.

Price Comparison – Whole Foods, Sprouts, Vons, Trader Joes, Mar Vista Farmers’ Market

How does one go about implementing these dietary guidelines in the city? The majority of us don’t have access to a farm down the road with grass-fed pastured beef, pasture-raised eggs, and organic vegetables for sale. I decided to go on a mission to four stores and a farmers’ market (Mar Vista Farmers’ Market to be exact – I highly recommend this market if you live in Los Angeles!) to see what all they had to offer, and at what prices. See my full price comparison below.

  • G = Grass fed
  • O = Organic
  • P = Pasture raised
Item Farmers’ Market Whole Foods Sprouts Trader Joe’s Vons
Ground beef $10.00/lb G,O,P $7.99/lb G,O $5.39/lb $7.49/lb G,O $7.99/lb G,O,P
Chicken breast $9.50 O,P $9.99 O $2.99 $6.99 O $7.99 O
Nitrate-free Bacon $15.00 P $6.59 $5.99 $5.49 $6.99
Canned tuna $1.99 $3.79 $1.69 $5.59
Carrots $1.50 O $0.89 O $0.99 O $0.79 O $1.69 O
Broccoli $2.00 O $2.99 $1.99 $1.79 $1.99
Spinach $4.50 O $3.99 $3.49 $1.99 $3.50
Avocado $2.00 $2.50 O $0.77 $1.49 O $1.50 O
Strawberry $4.00 $4.99 O $2.50 $3.49 O $3.99 O
Eggs $8.00 P $7.49 O,P $4.99 O $4.49 O $6.49 P
GT’s Kombucha $3.79 O $3.49 O $3.49 O
Saurkraut $9.99 O $3.99
Coconut oil $6.99 O $6.99 O $5.99 O $8.49 O
Tomato paste $0.99 O $0.99 O $0.89 O $1.19 O
Diced tomatoes $1.69 O $1.49 O $1.49 O $1.89 O
Canned coconut milk $1.99 O $1.99 O $0.99
Almond butter $9.00 $7.99 $8.99 $7.99 $9.79
Coconut aminos $5.99 $6.99
Chili powder $3.99 O $3.99 O $4.79
Garlic powder $3.99 O $3.99 O $1.99 $5.49
Total* $65.50 $55.41 $38.09 $42.00 $51.92

*For items all 5 stores had.

Conclusion

I found that no one store had every item in it’s most ideal form based on Weston A. Price principles. Sprouts won on price alone but they sell predominantly conventionally raised meat. Trader Joe’s has an organic selection comparable to Whole Foods, but at better prices. The only thing I don’t like about Trader Joe’s is that the produce isn’t sold by the pound. The Mar Vista Farmers Market by far had the best selection when it came to animal protein and the produce prices were relatively close to the prices at the other stores. The added benefit of the farmers’ market is that you get to support local farmers who are often running smaller operations and can be very passionate and informative about their products. Even if the produce or meat is not certified organic, most of it is grown or raised using organic principles and you can get more information about a farmer’s practices by asking them directly!

Tips

  • Prioritize buying the highest quality (pasture-raised, organic, and/or grass-fed) animal protein as possible and organic versions of the produce on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list.
  • Consider buying conventional produce for those items on the Environmental Working Group’s Clean Fifteen list to save some money if you can’t afford all organic.
  • Buy organic versions of all other items when possible. Look for minimal additives in any canned or pre-packaged foods you buy.

I typically plan my shopping trip on Saturday and buy as much as I can from the Farmer’s Market on Sunday then hop over to Whole Foods or Sprouts for any remaining items I need.

Happy shopping!

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What can Nutritional Therapy do for you?

Last weekend I completed my second of three workshop weekends for my NTP course. After four long days I’m feeling super motivated to practice what I’ve learned as much as I can before I graduate, and that’s where you come in!

What is Nutritional Therapy?

Nutritional therapy is a foundations-based approach to bringing balance back to the fundamental systems of the body. The foundations of nutritional therapy are:

  1. Digestion
  2. Blood sugar balance
  3. Mineral balance
  4. Fatty acid balance
  5. Hydration

The nutritional therapy process creates healing opportunities for clients by focusing on the foundations above first, and giving the body the tools and support it needs to fix dysregulation or dysfunction that can often manifest in many ways (allergies, sensitivities, cardiovascular issues, hormone imbalances, autoimmune conditions, acne, and more).

What tools do Nutritional Therapists use?

We believe that each person is a biochemical individual. What works for one person may not work for another. As such, we use a variety of tools to assess you as an individual and formulate a unique protocol for you. Those tools include the:

  • In-person interview,
  • Food journal,
  • Nutritional assessment questionnaire,
  • Functional evaluation, and
  • Follow-up visits.

How can I experience Nutritional Therapy?

These services are normally billed by the hour, but because I am a student I am offering my services free of charge to people in the Los Angeles or Orange County areas so I can practice my skills.That said, you would experience the most success if you approach Nutritional Therapy with an open heart and a willingness to work with me and implement the protocol I recommend which will include foods and/or nutritional supplements you’ll need to purchase.

If what I’ve described about Nutritional Therapy resonates with you, please contact me via the form on my About page so we can start this process!

My 2015 Motto

Midnight passed, 2015 started, and less than an hour into the new year I realized I didn’t make any resolutions. And you know what? I’m happy about it! This year feels like a no resolution kind of year.

In 2014, I learned what lifestyle makes me feel healthiest. No matter how far I stray, I envision myself returning to the Paleo template because it is utterly sustainable and addresses all aspects of health. I also grew empowered by my enrollment in NTP training. There is something magical about identifying an interest and finally taking action to pursue it.

This all culminates to form my non-resolution of 2015 – a motto to live by this year and beyond:

Do what excites you, and let your path reveal itself along the way.

Mediterranean Paleo book signing in Manhattan Beach

Closing out 2014 in style

I can’t believe it’s been almost three months since I’ve written. Time sure can fly by! I’m peaking at all my pictures from the past few months, and I can’t believe how much I’ve done.

In October, I ran the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco, CA. San Francisco is one of my favorites cities, so I enjoyed spending the weekend there, and I love the Tiffany’s finisher necklace. The race itself was a struggle. I’ve definitely fallen out of love with running and don’t plan on completing any races in 2015.

Finisher photo with the Firemen

Finisher photo with the Firemen

I attended several music events including Hard Day of the Dead (Saturday), Gorgon City, and Rave of Thrones. All the shows were awesome. The Deadmau5/Prydz set at Day of the Dead was one I’ll always remember for several reasons.

Sunglasses at Night at Day of the Dead

Sunglasses at Night at Day of the Dead

I met two of my favorite Paleo bloggers in the matter of a couple of weeks. Los Angeles isn’t much of a hot spot for Paleo bloggers to visit. It’s probably because we have a reputation for being flakey, but I’m not! I jumped on the chance to meet Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo and Diane Sanfilippo of Balanced Bites (along with Caitlin Weeks of Grass Fed Girl and her husband Nabil). I really enjoyed the Mediterranean Paleo book signing because they gave a presentation and it was very empowering being in a room full of like-minded people.

Meeting Michelle Tam & her husband Henry at Whole Foods Pasadena

Meeting Michelle Tam & her husband Henry at Whole Foods Pasadena

Mediterranean Paleo book signing in Manhattan Beach

Mediterranean Paleo book signing in Manhattan Beach

My NTP training is in full swing, and it’s what’s keeping me the most busy these days. In mid-December we had our first of 3 in-person workshop weekends. It was amazing meeting all my classmates and learning functional evaluation skills. Maybe I will see individual clients someday.

Last but not least – I went to Utah and experienced my first ever white Christmas!

Utah

At the Olympic Park in Park City, UT

The NTP program – I’m a student again!

Saying I’m interested in nutrition is an understatement. I might be borderline obsessed – but not in the calorie counting, daily weigh-in kind of way (at least not any more). I’m obsessed because I realize there is so much knowledge out there, and I want to get as much of it as I can into my brain. I’ve informally dedicated several hours a week to researching and learning about healthy nutrition and lifestyle for over 9 months now. A few months ago I reached a crossroads where I was felt stagnant. My instincts told me getting some formal nutrition education was the right thing to do to get me out of the funk. I am already putting in the time – I should have a certification to show for it!

I want to funnel my passion into improving my blog and helping others. I want to teach people that it’s not all about a clothing size or number on the scale. You can look good by accident when you pursue true, optimal health. To be honest, its taken me 2 years to even begin to grasp these lessons myself, but I am determined to spread them as far as I can. I’m excited to announce that I’m 4 weeks into my studies to become a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner through the Nutritional Therapy Association!

What is an NTP you ask? A certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, or NTP, uses several tools including a Nutritional Assessment Questionnaire, Food Journal, Functional Evaluation to look for root causes of dysfunction. NTPs then recommend traditional food preparation and cooking techniques, whole foods, and supplements (if appropriate) to help bring the body back into balance.

I decided on the NTP program for a few reasons. First, I agreed with the underlying philosophy. This is not a program based on the Paleo way of living. Rather it promotes bioindividuality – the idea that there is no one way of eating that works for everyone. That said, the program does still jive close enough to Paleo for it to work with my current personal approach, while also giving me the flexibility to evolve and support a wide audience of potential clients. It just wouldn’t make sense for me to enroll in a program aligned to one nutritional approach, especially if I didn’t follow that approach myself. Second was cost. I know my budget limits and the NTP program works within them while still providing great value and high quality training.

I honestly don’t have defined plans once I complete the program, but I know I won’t be quitting my day job anytime soon! Right now I’m just focusing on enjoying the learning process again, and I’m excited to share my journey with you.

21 Day Sugar Detox – an experiment in listening to your body

Google for information on any health topic and you’ll probably find the following piece of advice:

“Listen to your body.”

What does that mean? I’ll be honest with you – I don’t really know. But I’ve been working on trying to figure it out. When you start learning about Paleo and the benefits of real food you can’t help but get the sense that everyone must be riddled with food sensitivities and allergies. So after my Whole30, the nutrition nerd in me was really excited for the food reintroduction process. Not because I was craving a scoop of ice cream or a pile of corn chips (though I was), but because I thought: “This is it! I will finally see if I have any food sensitivities! I will have the answers!” Well, guess what happened when I reintroduced dairy, rice, corn, and legumes? Nothing. At least not that I could tell.

Fast forward to present time. The Whole30 was still great for me, because it allowed me to finally kick gluten to the curb. Again not for sensitivity reasons but because I tend to overeat all the things that contain it (baked goods, I’m looking at you). However, if I honestly look at the past 8 months, I was not doing a great job following the Paleo way of eating I was striving for. Instead of aiming for 100% and getting to 80% I was barely shooting for 50%. When I ate out, I didn’t even try to follow the template other than avoiding gluten. But I always still felt like the Paleo template was what I wanted to achieve.

During this year I’ve also stopped using the scale for my mental health, as I tend to obsess over it easily even though I think it’s one of least valuable ways to measure ourselves. However, a month ago I sensed I’d gotten too far off the rails. I felt heavy, large, bulky, and overall just blah. A step on the scale confirmed it. I realized my body was telling me something! And I decided to listen!

I had a feeling that the real culprit was sugar and carbs, and I wanted to return to the Paleo way of eating that I love conceptually but was not trying very hard to achieve in practice. I settled on doing a 21 Day Sugar Detox because it best addressed my problem areas. My experience was great! Some of the benefits I have experienced:

  • Higher quality sleep
  • Regulated appetite – I regained the metabolic flexibility to skip a meal or go a long time between meals
  • No more sugar cravings
  • Appreciation for less-sweet treats
  • 8lb weight loss

Most important of all – I now know conclusively that I don’t feel my best eating grains and beans. I may not have an obvious adverse reaction to these foods, but now I know I feel bloated and icky when I eat them. I’ve always felt this way so I assumed it was normal. Now I’ll have the fortitude to listen to my body and avoid grains and beans more often. The call of my taste buds isn’t worth the feeling after. Knowledge is power!

 

My first weightlifting meet

Running was my gateway into fitness, and it kept be motivated for a solid couple of years as I lost weight and saw my finish times improve over the course of 12 different races. I’ve since maintained a healthy body weight for a year and a half, and have been CrossFitting for a little over a year. Over the past few months I experienced a shift. The 10K I use to see a an enjoyable hour to myself suddenly felt like a tedious chore that I didn’t want to do under any circumstances. Then it dawned on me – I have officially grown bored of running.

Although I’m nowhere near top of class in CrossFit and I still scale every workout, I love how CrossFit is based on skills. In the fun and newness of my first few months of CrossFit I thought “hey, I should really try to get good at this stuff! maybe I can compete!” but I quickly realized that some of the movements, mainly the gymnastics, are just too foreign to me. I entered CrossFit July 2013 with 24 years of virtually zero athleticism up to that point. Do I think I can get an unassisted pull up some day? Definitely. What about a muscle up? Maybe. But I see it taking a few more years of consistent practice.

I digress. So what do I do to motivate myself  if I don’t want to run anymore and CrossFit is out of the question? Weightlifting. A few months back my fabulous gym Alliance Culver City posted a “Who’s interested?” sign up for a weightlifting meet. It was so obvious to me at that moment. Who was interested? ME. I even signed up for a USAW membership the same day.

Weightlifting has consistently been my favorite portion of each class, and I love WODs that include weightlifting movements. Why? Well, unlike gymnastics weightlifting seems like it’s in my realm of ability. It’s something I can work on and get better at right now.

1st weightlifting meet

Last weekend was the inaugural weightlifting meet at Alliance. The day was focused on learning and practicing what a meet is like. Most the participants were first timers. I had such a great time, learned a ton, and walked away with a medal! For those of you who don’t know, during a meet you get 3 attempts to snatch, and 3 attempts to clean & jerk. Your score is the sum of your heaviest successful lift of each. This is how I did:

Snatch

  1. 28kg – success
  2. 29kg – fail
  3. 29kg – success

Clean & Jerk

  1. 34kg – fail on a technicality (lowered the bar before instructed by the judge)
  2. 36kg – success
  3. 37kg – fail (press out on jerk)

Total – 65kg (143.3lb)

My favorite part about the meet was the rush of being the only one on the platform in front of spectators and judges. I was forced not to let failed lifts bother me, even though in class I often let them get the best of me. Overall I had a great time, and I definitely plan to compete again. My first immediate goal is to get my total to equal my body weight!