Episode 156: Cultural Foods and the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol

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When a Healing Diet Changes Food Traditions

We all come from cultural backgrounds where food is part of our family heritage. Did you grieve lost food traditions when you went paleo or AIP? Did you find AIP versions that came close? Or did you find new ways to celebrate those traditions? These are the questions I’m asking my guests today.

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Show Notes

  • Intro (0:00)
  • Thank You to Our Podcast Sponsor: Paleo on the Go (1:42)
    • A frozen meal delivery service, 100% of their menu is compliant with the elimination phase of the paleo autoimmune protocol (AIP). They have over 5o items, including entrees, side dishes, broth, AIP-friendly bacon, and desserts.
    • Use the code PHOENIX for 10% off your first order.
  • Meet Julie (2:54)
    • Julie Hunter uses the paleo autoimmune protocol as a tool to live her healthiest life. She’s from the United States. Her mother is from Korea and her father is Scottish-American. Growing up in an interracial household, her parents cooked a lot of fusion cuisine. Both of her parents’ cultures influenced recipes.
    • Her mother moved to the United States as an adult, but had never cooked before. Learning Korean recipes was one of the ways she stayed connected to her heritage. Dumplings became a family tradition for birthdays.
    • Her father’s mother was from Scotland, and she taught him to bake her traditional recipes. Scottish Shortbread is one of his specialties.
    • Julie would sometimes bring these favorite foods to school to share with her classmates. Both the dumplings and shortbread were always popular, and she loved surprising them by bringing Scottish shortbread, because it’s a side of her ancestry that her predominantly white classmates didn’t always see or acknowledge.
    • Julie has created AIP versions of both recipes. With dumplings, the filling is easy to make AIP, but the wrapper is the challenge. She experimented with lots of different doughs before finding one that worked. Her parents are her taste testers, and they do like her recipes. In fact, they make a lot of paleo Korean dishes themselves now, in support of Julie. Her father still makes his original shortbread, and Julie makes her AIP version alongside. Julie is competitive and is still trying to make a version of shortbread that her family likes even better than her father’s original.
    • Beyond food, there are many other ways Julie enjoys connecting with her cultural heritage: history, stories, music, visual arts, and traveling. She’s had the pleasure of traveling to both Korea and Scotland. While it can be challenging to travel on the AIP, she discovered many traditional foods were AIP-friendly. As for the non-AIP foods she wished she could eat, she gets creative in the kitchen and makes AIP versions of those foods at home. Resource: Paleo AIP Travel Series.
    • Julie’s advice for people new to the AIP and grieving lost food traditions: Honor that grief. We often underestimate the emotional, psychological, and social challenges of transitioning to a new diet. It was hard for Julie, too. Let yourself feel all of your emotions without judgment. Get support from the online Paleo AIP community, and ask for support from your local family and friends as well. In the end, remember how fortunate you are to be able to choose food as medicine. Resource: How to Get Support from Family and Friends.
    • Update 2022: Julie has retired from blogging, but she’s printed some of her favorite recipes in a small cookbook: Best of Flash Fiction Kitchen.
  • Meet Indira (15:55)
    • Indira Shyju uses the AIP to help manage rheumatoid arthritis. She grew up in India, in the metropolitan city of Mumbai, but her parents were from a rural part of southern India which they visited frequently. She feels like she got the best of both worlds. Her food heritage is a blend of Western Indian and Southern Indian cuisines. She moved to the United States as an adult.
    • The recipe that embodies her culture and childhood is Sadya – a feast made with multiple dishes served on a plantain or banana leaf. It’s made for special occasions like a wedding or harvest festival. It’s traditionally a vegetarian meal and includes lots of vegetables, spices, lentils, and rice. If people are serving the feast for a special occasion at home, they may add seafood. But there are no strict rules on what must be included. When Indira moved to the United States, she enjoyed hosting the Sadya for her family and friends. When she developed rheumatoid arthritis, she was unable to host for a few years, and that was a deep source of grief for her. Now that her health is better, she is hosting the Sadya again. She makes the traditional recipes for her guests, and creates AIP versions for herself. Many of them are easy to adapt. For example, the traditional lentil and vegetable soup, she cooks the lentils and vegetables separately, and sets aside a lentil-free version for herself before adding the lentils to the soup for the others. Similarly, she waits to add chili peppers to a recipe until after she has cooked and set aside a portion for herself. In place of rice, she makes herself some cauliflower rice. For yogurt-based dishes, she uses coconut yogurt. She doesn’t do this for every recipe, but she does it for enough dishes that she has a mini Sadya feast as well. It’s been a great joy for her to host again, and even if her AIP version is different, it still feels special. The most important thing is being able to share in the feast with those she loves.
    • Indira’s advice for people new to the AIP and grieving lost food traditions: The beginning is the hardest part. But when you start to feel better, that carries the motivation to continue. While Indira does still miss some foods, they’re not worth the pain and inflammation. She would much rather be healthy. Creating AIP versions of her favorite cultural recipes has been a great source of comfort and connection. She encourages everyone to try that. It’s better to participate with an AIP variation on the food tradition, then not participate at all.
    • Indira has an article on her blog about hosting a Sadya at home (note: it’s not an AIP menu, so you would need to adapt your portion of the feast, as Indira describes above.) She also posted a slideshow of this year’s Sadya on Instagram. Her favorite Paleo AIP recipe for the Sadya is Avial. Her website contains many other delicious AIP recipes as well: Cook 2 Nourish. Update 2021: Indira just published her first cookbook: AIP Indian Fusion.
  • Thank You to Our Podcast Sponsor – Luminance Skincare (31:23)
    • Today I’d like to highlight their hand sanitizer. Recently, there was a recall of over 100 mainstream sanitizers. Some tested positive for methanol, a toxin that can cause serious side effects. Others didn’t have enough alcohol to actually sanitize. In order to be effective against COVID-19, sanitizers need to be at least 60% alcohol. Luminance uses 70% pharmaceutical grade alcohol combined with a few simple, natural ingredients: filtered water, sea algae & chia seed emulsifier, and a seed oil blend (jojoba, rose hip, and safflower). That’s all! It sanitizes and moisturizes safely.
    • Whereas conventional skincare products are full of chemicals that can hurt our bodies, Luminance is made from ingredients that nourish. Their products are natural, organic, wildcrafted, non-GMO, and gluten-free (and they’re even made in a dedicated gluten-free facility).
    • They have a complete face and body care line, including cleansers, toners, moisturizers, masks, acne serum, sunscreen, haircare, and more.
    • Place an order here, and use the code HELIX for 10% off your first order.
  • Meet Sabrina (33:33)
    • Sabrina Bergmann is from Berlin, Germany. She uses the AIP to help manage Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
    • The food that represents her cultural heritage the most is bread. It’s part of every German meal: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There are bakeries on every corner. The German word for dinner is actually Abendbrot, which means “evening bread.”
    • When Sabrina first went AIP, she missed bread the most. She and her husband did a lot of experiments in the kitchen until they created a recipe they liked. AIP bread was an important bridge for her in the beginning, but it was hard because she had never baked before, and AIP ingredients are so unfamiliar. It also takes a lot of time. Now, the family has transitioned away from daily bread, saving it for special occasions like birthday brunches or a lazy Sunday when the whole family can enjoy cooking together. Sabrina has found other foods she likes more.
    • The AIP also connected Sabrina to the traditional foods of her grandparents’ generation. She makes her own liverwurst and sauerkraut now and loves them both. It also got her family cooking together, and they really enjoy the connection that comes through that activity. She also likes serving healthy meals to relatives and friends to show them that eating healthy can also be delicious.
    • Sabrina’s advice for people new to the AIP and grieving lost food traditions: Look at what you have to gain through the AIP, rather than what you fear you will lose. It’s natural to feel some sadness in the beginning, but don’t get stuck there. If you really miss a food, search online for an AIP version of that recipe. There are many talented AIP cooks and thousands of recipes online. For Sabrina, she no longer misses her old foods. Instead, she has gained so much: her health, and also a joy in cooking that she never expected.
    • Sabrina’s website and ebooks are in German. You can find her recipes for AIP bread and sauerkraut on her website, Hashimoto und Co, and liverwurst is in her e-cookbook.
  • Meet Shariah (46:49)
    • Shariah Hussenbocus is from Mauritius, an island nation in the Indian ocean. She uses the AIP to help manage Hashimoto’s and PCOS.
    • Mauritus was colonized and settled by a wide variety of countries and cultures: Arab, Portuguese, Dutch, French, Indian, African, and Chinese. The result is a very diverse, international, local cuisine.
    • There are two favorite foods that Shari feels represents her cultural heritage. Taro fritters are a favorite comfort food. And Mauritian Biryani is the food of celebrations. She has been able to create an AIP version of taro fritters that she likes even better because they’re crispier. She’s also created an AIP version of Biryani, but it’s not the same. Almost every ingredient in Mauritian Biryani is non-AIP: rice, ghee, yogurt, tomatoes, potatoes, chili peppers, garam masala, etc. While the AIP version doesn’t live up to her memory of the original, Shari wants to have a special food when she’s sharing in celebrations. The AIP biryani is still special, and she focuses on enjoying the people and the celebration itself.
    • Shariah’s advice for people new to the AIP and grieving lost food traditions: Take a piece of paper and at the top, write down an action you want to take. (For example “Start AIP” or “Stick with AIP”.) Then divide the paper into 4 columns. In column 1 write down all of your fears – the worst case scenarios and obstacles you see happening if you do this healing diet. In column 2 brainstorm solutions for each of those fears. How may you prevent that scenario from happening? In column 3, brainstorm damage control. For each fear, how could you handle it if it did come true? Then in column 4, write down the cost of inaction. Where will you be in 6 months, 1 year, and 3 years if you don’t go AIP? This exercise replaces fears with empowerment. It helps you see that you have options.
    • Shariah works with people 1:1 as a registered dietitian. You can connect with her through Instagram.
  • Outro (1:00:50)

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