Week 1 of the BCCC – In Which We Answer ALL Your Q’s.
Here’s what we discussed at our group Q&A this week. Have a question, problem or tip to share with the group, or just need some support from your community? Join us Tuesdays at 6:30 in the coaches’ lounge, every week during the January/February BCCC – and all of your questions shall be answered.
I’m trying to get more greens in my diet. Any suggestions?
The absolute easy way to sneak greens into your diet is to grab something mildly flavored (our favorites are spinach, kale and rainbow/Swiss chard), tear the leaves roughly off the stalks, and throw the leaves into a pan with some fat. They’ll wilt down a ton, which means you can fit more in there. Try mixing them into your eggs/omelettes/frittatas, and ground meat blend (PS: Spinach/meat muffins from Well Fed – book we have on sale at the front desk for $25! – are delicious and portable.) I love to throw kale into hot chicken soup or broth, too.
How much fat is too much?
This is a totally common concern, especially as you’re just starting to dip your toe into this way of eating. Fret not! When all is said and done, there is absolutely NOTHING about fat that will make you fat any more than protein or carbohydrates will – it just a matter of consuming the appropriate amounts for your physical needs and your lifestyle. AT AN ABSOLUTE MINIMUM, you need about 50 grams of fat per day to support essential bodily functions and regulate your hormones (regardless of whether you’re male or female, smaller or larger framed, active or sedentary). Active women shouldn’t be worried about taking in 85-95 grams of fat per day, and men will need more. To put it in perspective, a breakfast of 2 eggs cooked in a teaspoon or so of coconut oil, plus 2 slices of bacon is only about 24 grams of fat – delicious, healthy fat that will keep you satiated until lunch time and help prevent an annoying 10am snack attack at work. As with ALL your foods, it’s always good to aim for variety, so try to make sure you’re getting your fat from all types of animals (beef/pork/poultry), plants (coconut oil, olive oil, avocados) and full fat dairy (pastured butter/clarified butter/ghee/yogurt/milk), depending on your sensitivity to it. Don’t forget EGG YOLKS, and don’t be afraid of them either. Seriously, every time you throw a yolk out, God kills a kitten. If you don’t want them, send them our way.
I FEEL CRAZY (like, coming off of heroin crazy). Is this normal?
In a word, yes. Your body is used to getting instant gratification when it needs energy (via processed, simple sugars). Now that you’re taking away that instant gratification, it’s reacting like a 3 year old at Toys R Us during the holidays. Temper tantrums all around. My tips for getting through it? 1) Stay hydrated (plain water, seltzer or herbal tea is a great option); 2) Eat something with a little bit of fat to stabilize your blood sugar (a hardboiled egg or a spoonful of almond butter, perhaps?); 3) Accept that there may be some white-knuckling required to get through this. You can email me (meg at crossfitcc dot com) and whine if you need to; 4) Come to the gym and take your rage out on the barbells; 5) If it’s nighttime, just go to sleep! You probably need the sleep anyway.
Is there a difference between grassfed and organic butter?
Yes, but it’s not something you really need to worry about if this is your first time around the block. Mark’s Daily Apple has a great breakdown of different catchphrases you may see in your hunt for butter. Our favorites are Kerrygold (cheap at Trader Joe’s), the butter at Fair Food Farmstand (not as cheap but very delicious) and Natural by Nature (available at Whole Foods).
I think sweet potatoes are gross! Are they my only option?
They aren’t – there are a ton of dense carb sources that you can and should try (again, variety is the spice of life and I totally understand feeling like you might turn orange if you eat another sweet potato).
Here’s our top three ways of prepping sweet potatoes:
1) The microwave: Stab said potato a few times with a fork, and pop it in the micro for 5-7 minutes.
We tend to love potatoes because they’re portable and just freaking easy to make (and yes, I do drop uncooked potatoes in my purse when I’m running out the door. Almost everywhere I go has a microwave, and while I’ll admit this isn’t the most delicious, succulent way of preparing anything, it’s easy and gets the job done in a pinch). BONUS POINTS – throw a big pat of butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon on that sucker before serving.
2) Steam: Grab that crazy looking metal or silicon steamer basket that might be gathering dust in your kitchen. Peel and chop your potato into 1-2 inch chunks and throw the chunks in the basket. Steam til soft, then mash with butter/coconut oil and seasonings of your choice. BONUS POINTS – roughly chop some ginger into the steaming water to infuse your potatoes with amazing flavor. You’re welcome.
3) Roast: This is perfect for a lazy Sunday – almost no prep time required. Preheat your oven to about 400-425 degrees. Wrap a bunch of sweet potatoes individually in foil and pop them on a baking tray in the oven for…as long as they take to get soft and pudding-like. BONUS POINTS: Ummmmm….you already get bonus points for having your carbs for the week pre-prepped. GO YOU!
Can’t I just eat white potatoes?
White potatoes are part of a family of foods called nightshades that can specifically exacerbate auto-immune conditions (pretty much anything that afflicts you with an -itis attached to the end of it). If that’s a concern for you, let us know, because it may behoove you to try eliminating these foods from your diet for awhile to see if they are indeed affecting you.
If that’s not a concern – the only other thing to consider is that the peel may be tough to digest because of the insoluble fiber content. So – peel your white potato and you’re good to go. Just know that it’s still a dense source of carbs and also THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT FRENCH FRIES ARE OKAY DURING THE BCCC. Ahem.
How strict do I have to be when I’m at a restaurant?
The main thing to remember is that MOST restaurants will use the cheapest ingredients possible – it makes sense, right? More profit for them. If the quality of your ingredients is important to you, you may need to do some research ahead of time to see where your destination sources its beef, poultry and produce. That aside, as long as you keep in mind the fact that you’ll probably have to sacrifice knowing every single ingredient – eating in a restaurant doesn’t have to be something to stress too hard about. Your best strategy is to look at the menu BEFORE you go and make a plan of attack – if you’re not sure, just ask us! I can pick out a BCCC-compliant meal at just about any restaurant in Philadelphia, and gluten free dining is especially easy these days as more and more people are requesting gluten free menus. My go-to meals include: curries at Thai restaurants, sushi/sashimi at Japanese restaurants, fajitas sans wrap at Mexican places, or good old steak, potatoes and vegetables which can be found just about anywhere.
You should still be cooking the majority of your food, though. Ahem.
My appetite has been super weird since I started. Is it okay to NOT be hungry?
Funny how that works, isn’t it? You start your day with a delicious, nourishing (fat-containing) breakfast of, say, eggs and sausage and veggies and suddenly you’ve cruised through the morning and past lunchtime and realized you never really got hungry. The nice thing about feeding your body the nutrients it craves is that soon it will start to signal you when it’s REALLY hungry and REALLY full (and you’ll know that the “hunger” isn’t just because you snarfed a candy bar for breakfast, and your blood sugar is in a pit of despair).
Your signals will level out. If you’re hungry, eat. If you’re not hungry, don’t eat for the sake of eating. Know that it’s okay to be hungry sometimes, you’re not going to starve to death. If you start to feel lethargic, you may need to add some calories to your diet (this is where it gets really individualized). This will basically take some time and experimentation to figure out, so don’t fret too much. And like I mentioned in the session, it’s really quite freeing to know that if I don’t have access to the quality of food I prefer, I won’t actually die or kill everyone before I can make it home or to the store to pick up something that will make my stomach happy.
What’s the best kind of fat to bake/roast with?
In general, the more saturated the fat, the better it is for cooking at high temperatures. For sauteeing, I prefer to use fats that are solid at room temperature: lard, bacon fat, tallow, coconut oil, butter, ghee (or in general, the fat off the meat I’m cooking in the same pan). Same goes with roasting vegetables. I melt said saturated fat, drizzle it over whatever veggie I’m roasting, and pop everything in the oven. I do use less saturated oils like olive oil, avocado oil, etc – a lot, but I keep those room temperature and use them over salads and things like that. For more information or maybe a nice list to keep on your fridge at home, check out Balanced Bites’ writeup here.
Why can’t I make Paleo Samoas, and what is sex with your pants on?
In general – I wouldn’t sweat over this too much, especially if you’re very new to thinking about these things. If you have gut issues, a gluten free cookie is still going to feel better than a glutenous one. And there is certainly a place for that, most of the time. All we want you to remember is that a cookie is a cookie is a cookie. And during this very short period of time, when we’re asking you to very specifically examine how much you REALLY need dessert, or why you crave sweet things at particular times of day – you’d be doing yourself a great disservice if you didn’t at least take the time to consider whether a “paleo brownie” is the best thing for you. Also, they take up room in your stomach, room that should probably be used to hold more protein and more green veggies.
What’s the deal with cheese/high fat dairy?
Much like white potatoes – there are certainly some populations that can’t handle dairy in any way, shape or form (womp, womp). If you’re very lactose intolerant, you know by now that nachos and ice cream are never going to make you feel good. And I do think that it would serve everyone well to attempt giving up dairy completely for thirty days at some point in their lives, because it can also be very insidious in its dealings inside your body (like – for me, eating dairy mixed with sugar makes my jawline break out…but only, like, three days later. And Erin can’t mix dairy with wine). That said, if you CAN handle dairy, you want it in its most natural, unprocessed state. That means FULL FAT DAIRY ONLY. Also, we’re lucky enough to live in a place where raw milk is legal. I’m a big fan of raw dairy, and we can talk a lot about what that means and why you don’t have to be as scared of it as the CDC would have you believe, but it’s your call. Fermented dairy will usually be kinder to your digestive system too. Fair Food Farmstand is a great source for all the dairy deliciousness.
Is it okay to eat almond butter? What’s the big deal about peanut butter?
Nut butter can be okay, as long as you remember that it’s dense and honestly, very easy to crack out on. Some people are sensitive to the omega-6 content of nuts, so if you’re still experiencing skin issues or other inflammation, I’d take a look at your consumption of nuts and nut butters. If you can eat a spoonful here and there in a mentally healthy way, go for it. However – peanuts aren’t my favorite thing at all, for a variety of reasons. On occasion, unless you’re deathly allergic, is a spoonful of peanut butter the worst thing ever? Probably not…but why would you even bother when there’s delicious options like almond butter, cashew butter, and my favorite – Sunbutter? (Here’s an EXCELLENT recipe for “Sunshine Sauce” which is a paleo-fied version of peanut sauce).
Is Chipotle okay?
I love Chipotle, actually. They cook all their meats with the exception of the pork carnitas in soy (as well as their fajita veggies, sadly). I personally avoid soy as much as possible, so my meal of choice at Chipotle is a salad with double carnitas, double pico de gallo, a bit of spicy salsa, and guacamole. Sometimes rice if I’ve trained hard that day.
Phew! That was an awesome session, guys! Thanks so much for these great questions. If there’s anything I can clarify or anything you’d like to add, please comment – and join us next Tuesday night at 6:30.