Everyone is touting their own diet nowadays. There is veganism, raw-foods only, no-grain, eat for your blood type, and of course the Atkins diet, not to mention a myriad of others. Not only are each of these diets unique, but they contradict each other in their principles and scientific claims. How can anyone decide which diet is right?
Here at Willow Hills, we have our own dietary guidelines (of course), and it too is unique. However, the principles on which they rest are not based in the latest pop-science, but in some simple fundamental premises. If you agree with our premises, then you agree with our diet. You don’t have to sort through contradicting studies or anything like that. Fair enough?
There is one dietary philosophy which does concur with our own; in fact it is almost identical – this philosophy is the one advocated by the work of Weston A Price. We wholeheartedly support his work and his findings. For more information on his work, visit the Weston A Price website.
- God designed our bodies to function normally and properly. Malfunction is due to us (or others) deviating from His plan, i.e. sin. While much disease is caused by our own actions, we may also be innocent as well. Not all disease is due to our personal sin, but can be caused by sins of others or the world in general.
- A good diet is the most fundamental basis for good health, and should consist of:
- Locally produced foods
- In season foods
- Foods prepared with traditional techniques
- Foods preserved with traditional techniques
- Foods must be grown/raised using principles found in nature as opposed to modern agribusiness practices
- Poor nutrition, and not bad genes are the primary cause of modern chronic illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, dental problems, and many others.
- Foods should be basic ones available to the average person, and not exotic in character or cost.
Our Principles in Detail
Now lets look at these principles in detail and why we believe them.
God’s Design for Normal Function
Weston A. Price was a dentist in the early 20th century who began to see a large increase in tooth decay, crooked teeth and many other health and dental problems in his practice. He wisely suspected a modern diet lacking in essential nutrition as the cause. He proceed to take a leave from his practice and travel around the world searching for peoples who still ate traditional non-western diets. When he encountered these groups, they invariably had excellent health and teeth. When modern diets were introduced to them, they also fell prey to the afflictions he saw in his practice in America.
Sally Fallon of the Weston A Price association draws an excellent analogy: God creates a perfect blueprint for everyone’s house. If we use inferior or missing materials in building that house, then when the house suffers defects it is not a poor design, but the substandard materials used in its construction.
While much of our chronic illnesses are caused by poor nutrition, there are other factors as work against us as well. Toxins in our food and environment contribute to cancer for example. It is also difficult to obtain nutritious foods due to the sorry state of American agri-business practices.
A Good Diet Uses Locally Produced Foods
Amazingly, our diet should match the locale in which we live for optimal health. This fact alone accounts for the considerable variations we see in diets around the world, and why single dietary regimes so often contradict each other, even when supported by scientific studies. For example, a local diet in artic regions such as Alaska is mainly fat, whereas in tropical regions it is low in fat. The amount of fat we need depends largely on how much sunshine we receive in our area.
While there is nothing wrong with using some foods from exotic locales, such as coconut oil, it should not be a major part of our most basic diet. Here in Kentucky, our indigenous sources for fat include lard and butter. While my family uses olive and coconut oils occasionally, lard and butter are our mainstay. Our diet also consists of dairy, poultry, beef, lamb, pork, grain, vegetables, and fruit. All of these foods are commonly grown in our area. The foods in your area may differ in types and balance. More on balance in the next section.
A Good Diet Uses Foods that are In-Season
This principle is probably the hardest one to adopt in our modern practice. We are so accustomed to eating whatever we want whenever we want, it is hard to deny our desires. It is especially difficult when we can now buy produce from around the world every month of the year. While some out of season foods are okay on occasion, it is best if we stay seasonal in our habits. For example, here in Kentucky, chicken is usually raised only in the warmer months (I am not going to even consider horrid factory raised chicken here – just pastured raised ones). In the cooler months, pork was the traditional meat. There is a very good reason for this variation. Pork fat is very high in vitamin D, whereas chicken fat is not. During the short, cold days of winter, folks in my area need a dietary source high in vitamin D, which pork so amply provides. In the summer however, we get all we need from the sun, so the extra found in pork would be unnecessary and even undesirable. Consider also, the fact that folks in New England often consumed cod-liver oil in winter. Their vitamin D needs are even greater during that time, and cod-liver oil is conveniently available locally due to their maritime location.
Other examples of seasonal changes in our diet abound. The excess springtime milk is made into butter and cheese, so that wintertime diets can share in the wonderful stored “sunshine” of those foods. Milk is also usually in short supply in the winter, so we can still obtain it in a stored form year-round. In winter, vegetables and fruits are scarce, forcing a greater reliance on meat, which coincides with our greater need for fat in the wintertime.
A Good Diet Uses Traditionally Prepared Foods
Modern industrial produced foods are not foods at all. Some of our greatest health problems are due to the widespread consumption of these foods. Vegetable oils for example, are not possible using traditional techniques, except for olive oil. Techniques such as pasteurization destroy healing agents in dairy foods, and actually make them harmful. Hydrogenation of oils is another industrial process that changes oils into something our bodies are not designed to handle. Refinement of flours, extrusion of breakfast cereals, and a myriad of other food processes designed not with health in mind, but industrial efficiency also contribute to our ills. If we seek good health, we must avoid all such processed foods.
Traditional processing on the other hand is not harmful at all. Slow milling of grains, cold-pressing to extract oils, and fermentation to preserve foods are some of the many fine techniques which promote good health.
A Good Diet Uses Traditionally Preserved Foods
Most of the food preservation techniques used today were not traditionally available. As a result they are not only suspect, but also not the best practice in general. Modern preservation processes include freezing, canning, pasteurising, and chemical preservatives. Traditional means of preservation consist mainly of drying and fermentation. While canning preserves many of the nutrients in foods, fermentation actually increases them, and is thus superior. Personally, my family is fairly new to fermentation, so we don’t practice it very much yet. I think this area of dietary change is probably the hardest for us moderns. Nevertheless, it is very worthwhile pursuing. Jerry Brunetti, who has cured himself of Lymphoma, regularly ate fermented Brassica vegetables, and credits it as one of the regimes he used in his cure.
Healthy Foods Must be Raised Naturally
Modern agri-business practices rape the soil, pollute our water, and deliver unhealthy food that leaves us malnourished. While adopting the guidelines in this article will greatly improve the nutrition of your diet, it still won’t be optimum until you eat food that is as nutritious as God intended it to be.
Conventional farming depletes the soil of essential minerals. Even certified organic farming is not required to restore these lost minerals, nor cease to deplete them. You must buy your produce from farmers who you can trust to preserve the soil and restore the minerals which have been lost. Certified organic is meaningless regarding the mineral content of your produce.
Factory meat production is not only abusive to animals – causing considerable animal health problems, but the resulting meat is unhealthy as well. Again, certified organic is no assurance of traditional healthy farm practices. Like your produce, you must buy your meat, eggs and dairy from farmers whom you trust to raise the animals according to natural and healthy principles. For cows, sheep and goats, this means no grain feeding at all – grass only. For chickens, turkeys and pigs, this means moving them across pastures, gardens, woods and such. Food raised in this way will have color and flavour. Egg yolks will be a deep orange, and cream a slight yellow color. The fat content of these foods will be totally different than factory versions. Instead of clogging your arteries, they will heal them and help prevent cancer.
Poor Nutrition, Not Bad Genes is the Cause of Poor Health
Modern medicine is on the lookout for genes that they believe cause health problems such as cancer and diabetes. We don’t agree with that concept. If we all ate properly nutritious foods and avoided bad foods, we wouldn’t see these problems to begin with. While it may be true that when a person is malnourished, his genetic make-up may predispose him to certain health problems, but gene-splicing is not the answer – proper nutrition is.
One of the most visible indicators of poor nutrition in a culture is the health of peoples’ teeth. Do they suffer from tooth decay? Is there mouth too small to accommodate the adult teeth properly, or will braces be needed? Look around, how many folks do you know without these dental problems? Is it bad genes? This is the question Weston A Price sought to answer when he travelled around the world. Without exception, he found these dental problems to be caused by a modern diet. Cultures which ate only traditional healthy foods had very few of these problems. Some cultures did not have the best diets, and those cultures did suffer somewhat from these problems. Without fail, every culture that adopted modern diets however, immediately started suffering from these dental problems.
Unfortunately, we can’t correct problems with our own teeth by changing our diet. We can prevent dental problems in our future children however, by their mother changing her diet before and during pregnancy.
Good Foods Should be Commonly Available to the Average Person
This last principle is to address our heightened concern about getting healthy foods. If in our pursuit of good foods, we spend a lot of money and import them from far away, we are probably out of balance in our diet. This principle is a safety-check; a check and balance. Following this principle will still provide a good diet, and will also make it affordable. For example, before looking far away for an exotic food such as Bison or Ostrich for example, look around locally for some good grass-fed beef and pastured chicken.
Another example of this principle is the no-grain diet that is all the rage. I don’t know about you, but not only can I not afford to eat meat and veggies all the time, but I really like eating bread. I find a diet without it to be rather monotonous. Sirloin steak every night sounds really good at first, but soon I will be searching for some good bread. Grain is a mainstay of our diets for good reason – it is not practical to do otherwise. Meat and veggies are just too costly to raise. I also base this observation on practices in the Bible as well. The Scripture abounds in examples of eating bread, even to the point that Jesus calls Himself “the bread of life”. If grain were as bad for you as people claim, then surely Jesus would have called Himself the “zucchini of life” or the “fish of life” would He not?
I believe the problem with grain consumption today is all the industrial processing which is so common. Eating homemade, whole-grain, sourdough bread isn’t going to cause anyone to get fat in my opinion. Eating potato chips, sweetened cereals, and store bought bread is another matter.
Let everything be done in moderation.
Our Guidelines for a Good Diet (for Kentucky only)
Before giving details of our diet, let me emphatically state that they are for Kentucky and neighboring locations. Your location will most certainly differ due to climate, proximity to the sea, etc. I give them nevertheless to provide an example. Please adapt them for your area in particular.
This is a primary part of our diet year-round. We drink lots of raw milk from exclusively grass-fed cows. While we usually skim much of the cream off, we still eat it by itself or as butter, so we are always getting all the fat from the cow’s milk. We eat a fair amount of cheese as well. I also make Kefir from the milk and drink that on occasion. It is really good on granola as well (I go easy on the granola though –only once a week). We also eat oatmeal four days a week, and found that putting a generous amount of cream on the oatmeal is key to making this food both nutritious and filling. Eating straight oatmeal (sweetened of course) does not keep a man full very long, and is potentially diabetic causing. Adding cream fixes these problems, and makes this inexpensive food into a good food. We found this practice is a traditional one in Scotland where they eat lots of oats.
It is very important to use milk that is raw – straight from the cow, and not pasteurized. There are many articles at realmilk.com that address this issue better than I can, and we have a concise article on our website as well on the subject. Suffice it to say that our creator never intended milk to be consumed in a pasteurized state or it would have come that way from the cow. A number of our health problems today stem from drinking pasteurized milk, and amazingly, using raw milk will correct them.
Meat & Eggs
We eat poultry mainly in the summertime, and beef, lamb and pork mainly in the wintertime, but not exclusively. It is nice to have chicken soup occasionally in the winter months, especially when one is sick with a cold. We also eat eggs year round, and like to fry them in bacon fat, especially important in the winter for the vitamin D. Eggs are a real health food. Eat as many as you like, just make sure the hens who lay them have been pastured on grass. Store-bought eggs from factory farms are not the same, even if they are called “free-range”; it merely means the hens have access to the factory floor.
Things we don’t yet do, but traditional cultures practice is eating organ meats, especially raw. We do eat chicken organs on occasion, especially my wife when she is pregnant for the iron content. She usually craves fried chicken liver during these times.
We eat meat pretty much everyday, but in varying amounts. Sometimes, it may be just a little like in a stir-fry, and other times a good hearty steak. Being in Kentucky, we rarely eat fish. We are trying to get some ponds going, and when they are, we should be adding fish to our diets, but probably not as often as if we lived in a coastal area.
Grain is a mainstay of our diet, as it is in many cultures. We always eat in a whole state however – no Cheese-Puffs or Twinkies in our house. As I mentioned earlier, we have oatmeal with cream for breakfast four days a week, and eat a fair amount of whole-grain bread. I particularly like toast with butter and jam for a snack when I am hungry. We are learning to make sourdough bread, and it is most excellent. Sally Fallon insists that sourdough is the only healthy way to make bread, since the long development time is key to breaking down anti-nutrients contained in the bran. She points out traditional cultures always fermented their grain for several hours before eating it. We agree with this idea, but are still learning to fully practice it.
Vegetables and Fruit
Contrary to popular belief, many veggies are better for you cooked than raw, and even better fermented. We are still learning to make and enjoy fermented vegetables, but do enjoy them cooked. We also enjoy salads every now and then, but especially in the summer. Fruit is of course a favourite, and is often dessert for many meals. We stay completely away from juices, except for some homemade apple cider and grape juice for an occasional treat. You wouldn’t believe how different homemade juices are from the sterilized and filtered sugar water sold in the store. If you like juice, make sure you make it yourself.
We also eat abundantly from our garden and orchard when things are in season. We do can and freeze many things however, but would like to switch over to fermented foods in the future as it is much better.
Fats and Sugars
For fats, we use olive oil in salad dressings, coconut oil in popcorn, lard for frying, and butter for everything else. I suggest you do the same, adjusted for climate and regional differences of course. We enjoy all the fat of the land, as long as it is grass-fed for ruminant animals such as cow and sheep, and pastured for all other animals such as chicken and pig.
For sugar, we do use some in baking, but we only eat what we personally prepare – no store bought stuff. We also like to use raw honey and maple syrup where we can. As the proverb says “My son, have you found honey? Do not eat too much, lest you get sick and vomit”. Everything in moderation.
We drink tea, herbal tea, milk, Kefir, egg-nog and spring water. Fermented soft drinks are also fine. Avoid commercial juices and soft drinks at all costs. If you have trouble giving them up, just start practicing the whole foods diet we do, and they will soon become unappealing. I stopped drinking cola because I not longer cared for how it tasted. I cannot tolerate soft drinks to this day. Drinking raw milk is probably the best thing for losing the taste for these poisons.
We avoid them completely. If it comes in a package, it usually is not food. Packaged foods usually have white flour, hydrogenated oil, various neuro-toxins, etc. They are addictive, cause obesity, all kinds of neurological disorders, diabetes, heart disease, and the list goes on and on. These foods include cereals, crackers, cookies, pastries, snack foods and more. When you stop eating them, you will find very soon that they do not taste good anymore. Then you will be free, and will be enjoying real food for a change. If you want a treat – make it yourself.
We avoid these as well. Almost all of them are fried in vegetable oils and are therefore just as bad for you as processed foods. The meat is rarely even real meat. It usually has all sorts of additives and fillers such as soybean protein.
I hope you have found this article helpful. These dietary principles are in direct contrast to the typical American diet. That should be no surprise since the American diet will almost surely lead to heart disease and/or diabetes. It may sound like a lot of work, and it is compared to the instant food convenience to which we are accustomed, but we need to think long term though. Is it more work to bake bread and make our own meals from food we seek out and buy from local farmers versus the time spent in doctors’ offices, hospitals and pharmacies as we get older?
Remember the simple principles – eat local, in-season, traditional, naturally raised and common sense foods. In doing so, you’ll discover a whole wonderful world of food you never knew existed, as well as feeling like a new person from increased health benefits.