Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Natural Life - Diet

I've been on a bit of a natural revolution of late. I'll do a series of posts about the changes I'm making in my diet, exercise, home and personal care.

...It started with a thought about dairy...

I'm a breastfeeding mum, and through the amazing fantastical Interweb have discovered many online communities (like Kellymom, Best for Babes, and the ABA) that share exciting information about the magical properties of breastmilk. I came to the realisation that babies are biologically designed to recieve breastmilk, and that when they do, they develop exactly as nature intended. I began to wonder about the foods that adult humans are biologically designed to eat....

This made me realise the absolute weirdness of consuming dairy products. Milk is what mammals make, with their mammary glands, to feed their mammal young. Why on earth is it seen as completely normal for adult humans to eat massive amounts of milk and milk products from another animal?
So I stopped. I used to be a huge fan of milk and cheese and yoghurt and sour cream, but I just can't bring myself to eat it anymore.

I also tried my hand at eating my idea of a hunter-gatherer diet. I didn't research this or think too deeply about it, I just limited myself mainly to meat, fruits, vegies, nuts, seeds and anything else that was unrefined or unprocessed. I didn't last long, my sweet tooth getting the better of me, but the idea stuck with me.
Then I discovered that someone had already had this idea, done real research into it, and called it The Paleo Diet, and The Paleo Solution. I was pretty excited and chuffed to have thought of the same idea as some pretty swanky scientists. I told the Lion King about my find, and then forgot about it, settling back into the modern version of "healthy" eating.

A little while later, the Lion King told me he had read about the Paleo lifestyle and was giving it a go. After a few chats about the pros of eating this way, and the occasional difficulties encountered, I decided I was going to jump back on board. This time around I read a bit about the actual diet of paleolithic humans, learned that a few of my ideas were wrong (like that wholegrains are great) and have armed myself with more online resources, like Everyday Paleo, The Civilised Caveman, and Cave Girl Eats. These have been invaluable in helping me stick to my guns (or club, if that is more appropriate), and while I'm not 100% Paleo, 100% of the time, I am pretty much entirely dairy and gluten free, and am working my way towards total cavemum status.

I'm excited and focused, and super proud to be treating my body the way I feel it deserves, not to mention I get to make the most scrumptious food and not worry at all about whether it's "naughty". My intake of fibre, protein and fat is up, sugar intake waaay down. I'm not concerned with weight loss, although it seems to be happening anyway, but most importantly, I feel fantastic!

How do you and your family eat? Are you thinking of making changes?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

When mankind really means mankind

I watched a DVD the other day called "The Experiment". It was a very interesting (not for the weak stomached) movie based on a famous study done in 1971 called The Standford Prison Experiment, in which a group of students representing 'average people' were placed in a simulation prison environment, with some of the subjects are given the role of guards and the rest are given the role of prisoners. Despite the fact that test subjects were chosen for their apparent mental stability, within 6 days of commencing, the experiment had to be shut down due to the increasingly sadistic behaviour of the 'guards' and trauma of the 'prisoners'. Even the leading scientist, Philip Zambardo, who had taken on the role of superintendent had lost moral reasoning (this is in the actual study, not the movie).
Criticisms of this study include the obvious lack in ethical standards, the fact that it did not accurately represent true prison environment, and also claims that Zambardo biased the 'guards' to act in an abusive manner.
My criticism, to add to the list, is that the entire group were all males. This experiment is repeatedly referred to as a glimpse at the darker side of human nature. Human nature. How can this possibly accurately reflect the true nature of humans when it has completely marginalised half of all humankind. (not to mention that almost all participants were middle-class and white, so really it was an extremely narrow look at 'humans')
Do I think that if it was done with all women it would be a lovely experience? No. I certainly don't think that women are devoid of hurtful tendencies or are uninfluenced by power. Do I think that the results would be exactly the same? No way.

Sidenote: The original Stanford Prison Experiment was shut down due to moral objections by Zambardo's then girlfriend, Christina Maslach. She was the first of 50 people who witnessed the study to openly question the ethics of continuing. Possibly she was only listened to because of her relationship with Zambardo.

I have no idea how an experiement like this would play out if conducted with, all or part, women. I couldn't even begin to speculate. But I absolutely object to being excluded from 'humankind'.

From now on, I would appreciate if anyone wishing to make comment on the nature of humans would study more than just one sex... and one culture, and one colour, in one country.