This is going to be more of a long story than a book review… but bear with me. I’ve been burning to write about this for quite some time now, and this seems like the perfect opportunity.
Many of you know that I cam to Paleo from a Vegan diet—one I adhered to, strictly, for the better part of a decade. I avoided meat, animal fat, dairy, and eggs because I had seen positive results after trying it for a month with a friend. Turns out, the severe asthma I had since I was a child had been misdiagnosed, and was actually a dairy allergy. Hence my excitement when I discovered Veganism—I could actually breathe! This changed my world, as I was able to not only get off my steroid inhaler but actually participate in sports, and quite literally learned how to enjoy things like running or cycling for the first time.
It also was convenient that being Vegan fit in perfectly to what conventional wisdom, as well as my upbringing, told me was healthy. Growing up, my youngest sibling battled cancer as an infant and into early childhood. This sent my mom on a mission to chase any headline pertaining to food and health—which resulted in eating a lot of broccoli, avoiding aspartame and food dyes, and removing household chemicals (thanks mom! Really!). While my sister’s conventional treatment didn’t appear to work, she did achieve a spontaneous remission at a pretty dire point in her battle. She is fully recovered, happy and healthy today (yay!), but growing up with a chronically ill sibling and a mother willing to try anything to make her well again really affected my outlook on food and health.
From that point on, the connection between diet, environment, and health were forever at the forefront of my reality. As a teen, I chose salad over pizza for hot lunch. I didn’t like red meat, so I ate veggie burgers. I was tall, thin, and never suffered from acne, and everyone said “well its because you and your family eat so healthy.”
Then I found Veganism, and got sucked in. I started to think I was invincible. Every time I heard “saturated fat causes heart disease” and “animal products cause cancer” I thought to myself “good thing that’s me and I will never have those problems” and gave myself a little mental fist-pump. I had vegan friends, ate at vegan restaurants, and felt really good about myself thinking I was immune to disease. Oh how I was wrong!
Six months after becoming Vegan, I stopped getting my period regularly. When I saw the doctor that summer, my total cholesterol was 110. I asked if this was a problem, and he said no—most of his patients would kill to have a cholesterol level that low. “Keep doing what you are doing!”. I did. Eventually, my period came back semi-regularly, but I could never get through my cycle without using NSAIDs. In fact, even with painkillers, I was incapable of working or going to school for the first couple of days every month. This should have been my first sign that something was off.
Fast forward 5 or 6 years. I would no longer consider myself the glowing picture of health I was as a teen. I wasn’t sleeping well and woke up exhausted every morning and needing a couple of cups of coffee to get me going. I had cystic acne around my jawline and my mouth that was painful and embarrassing. My hair was falling out, my skin had rough patches and I had dark circles under my eyes. I had a heart arrhythmia, numbness and tingling in my extremities, and would get faint or dizzy when I stood up. I suffered from severe anxiety, and had occasional panic attacks. This was two years before my autoimmune diagnosis. I went to the doctor and had some labs run and found out that I was anemic as well as low in D and B12. Supplements only changed about 10% of my symptoms, however and were far from a magic bullet.
I decided that my diet was not clean enough. I tried the master cleanse (10 days of nothing but lemon juice, cayenne pepper and maple syrup—sound fun?) and then a raw diet for a summer. I have never felt so tired, bloated, and unhappy as this time in my life. I was also gaining weight while eating 1000 calories a day of carrot sticks, which terrified me. I was consistently feeling bad about myself, thinking that I was doing it all wrong.
When I gave up the raw vegan thing, I settled for regular Vegan again. Except this time, I wasn’t going to be eating all of the tofu and junky processed foods that I was before. I had sprouted grain toast for breakfast, quinoa tabbouli for lunch, and lentil soup for dinner. I became a “whole foods” Vegan, because that had to be the piece I was missing. Sadly, it didn’t work. I’ll spare you the story here, but my perfect low-fat animal-less diet did not spare me from having an epic health crisis, which involved me losing my job, getting diagnosed with two autoimmune diseases, and having to rebuild my life from the bottom up.
When I found Paleo, I was freaking desperate. I would never in a million years thought that I would ever go back to eating meat. Six months barely being able to get out of bed is pretty persuasive. I was willing to try anything at that point, for a chance to be functional again.
I decided to make the plunge, and obviously it worked… otherwise I wouldn’t be here advocating this ancestral nutrition stuff to you all. But even though I was making progress, there was this nagging voice though that I constantly battled… “Am I increasing my risk of cancer by eating meat?”, “Would all of the saturated fat and cholesterol cause heart disease?”, “Isn’t meat inflammatory?”, and “Doesn’t it rot in my stomach?”, among other things.
Which is where Liz Wolfe’s book, Eat The Yolks comes in (sorry, you knew I would get here eventually!). When I was making this transition, I was having a hard time believing that all of the conventional knowledge I had about food was flat out wrong. I floundered along, on one hand, knowing intuitively that the real food I was choosing to give my body was nourishing and healing, while on the other hand secretly thinking I was putting myself at risk for other chronic illnesses like cancer. I was torn. And I’m fortunate I had a decade of low-fat failure to motivate me towards real food instead of the alternative!
In Eat The Yolks, Liz dismantles every facet of conventional dietary wisdom and how most of what we believe about food is based on lies, junk science, or greed. This is the book I wish I had when I began my journey back to health. It makes me want to buy a copy for everyone I know, just because I want to tell them how they have been lied to.
What I love about this book, is that Liz has given us the hard science to show why we don’t need to live in fear about eating real food, but in a very practical, approachable, and even funny way. She walks us through the story of how conventional recommendations and rules were set in place, and what we find is infuriating. I recommend this book to anyone on a real food journey—even those who are convinced that Paleo is healthy and safe are apt to learn a thing or two (or at least laugh really, really hard, like I did!). I especially recommend this book to anyone who was where I was a couple of years ago—recovering from a low-fat, plant-based diet and living in fear.
This book isn’t specifically about the Autoimmune Protocol—in fact it doesn’t mention it once. What it does do, is defend these nourishing, healing diets against the folly of conventional wisdom. While we can’t literally eat the yolks, we can (and should) be eating real, nutrient-dense foods instead of the garbage that the food industry has fooled us into thinking is food. Instead of coming up with a bunch of complicated recommendations, Liz’s approach is sensible and easy. I’ll leave you with this excerpt from the book:
You can pick up a copy of Eat The Yolks on Amazon.com!