Diane Sanfilippo, author of “Practical Paleo” and “21 Day Sugar Detox” answers a few questions about food, Paleo, and what you should (and shouldn’t) be eating.
CrossFit enthusiast and author Diane Sanfilippo, BS, NC, is making a trip to sunny SWFL for a book signing on December 27th at CrossFit Redline. She’s best known for her book “Practical Paleo” and has a new book out, a”21 Day Sugar Detox.” FN’s Associate Editor Anne Reed got the skinny on everything from what Diane eats for breakfast to why Paleo is a way to eat for everyone–not just CrossFitters.
FN: Where did we go so off track with our eating?
DS: If you are trying to feel it out for when did everything go so wrong, it starts with the Industrial Revolution. Once we industrialized our agriculture and factories became involved, we started seeing more processing of foods. More recently, your grandparents ate real food. The last 30 years or so, we have all been fed very industrialized foods. Frozen meals, refined flours, and refined sugars entered our diet and it became a modern problem.
FN: As athletes, there seems to be a movement towards going Paleo. What do you think the motivation is?
DS: I think that a lot of the excitement about Paleo is that it is growing with the CrossFit movement, and that can be attributed to Robb Wolf, who used to teach the CrossFit Nutrition Certification. The reason why Paleo makes sense to athletes is that it is the cleanest food we can put in our bodies, and we are looking at food as fuel. We want our food to be high quality, organic, real food. Deeper than that, it’s about better recovery and better performance. When you take out inflammatory foods like sugar and refined grain products, we allow or bodies to recover better and perform better.
FN: Let’s talk a little bit about your new book, “21 Day Sugar Detox.” What was the motivation behind this book?
DS: Originally I wrote this because I was struggling with sugar cravings and I needed something to reset myself. When I created the program, I had done a similar type of program years ago, and it wasn’t that detailed and I thought, this could help a lot of people but they need more information. That was three and a half years ago. I created the program as an e-book and then transitioned it to print. I think there are a lot of nutrition books out there that talk about the problems with sugar, and they get really scientific and clinical, but the big thing that is missing is the how-to, an actual guide. That was my vision with “Practical Paleo;” a book that you could hand someone to give them the why and the how. Same thing with “Sugar Detox.” Most people know they should not be eating a lot of sugar or refined foods. It’s not so much on the why, and a lot more how- meal plans and recipes and guides to dining out and how to find sugar that is hiding in foods.
FN: So it’s learning to read labels?
DS: Yes. I make a point in the guidebook where I go through a Kashi Cereal label and show how it is has 4-5 different sweeteners in it.
FN: So I guess you don’t eat Kashi for breakfast. What do you eat?
DS: I eat eggs or eggs and bacon. I don’t eat cereal for breakfast. Sometimes I don’t eat a traditional breakfast. I ate soup today.
FN: What is your favorite pre-workout or post-workout fuel?
DS: I generally recommend a lot more post-workout fuel for short, intense exercise. You don’t want to be starving before your workout, so eat a few hours before so that you aren’t hungry and your blood sugar levels don’t crash. In CrossFit, your hunger signals will switch off because you are in a fight or flight mode, which is different from triathlon. You are in a chronic stress mode in endurance whereas CrossFit is a short, high-stress mode. After workouts I recommend a combination of protein and carbohydrate, which varies based on the type of athlete you are and your goal. For some people, that is a clean protein shake like grass-fed whey protein. Sweet potatoes are also good if you do not want to do shakes. For the average person who is not a competitive athlete, go home and eat your next meal and make sure you have some sort of carbohydrate with it. If you sit all day long and train for 30 minutes, it doesn’t really warrant an extra 400 calorie meal. A lot of people go Paleo and eat meat and vegetables, but if you are an athlete, it’s important to still get those carbs, and sweet potatoes are a good option. Look for nutrient dense foods, especially vitamin C-rich foods if you are an athlete.