The Weston A. Price Diet– How it Has Changed My Life

Agnes Thompson

Agnes Thompson

Eating the Weston Price Way

by Agnes Thompson, Nourish DC Blog

I just ate a chicken sandwich.

Not so unusual, right? Americans eat them everyday.

Except with this sandwich, there was no bread, just lettuce and tomato. And the chicken was pastured — not corn- or soy-fed. And it was drenched in home-made mayo. And instead of chips I had nuts. And a side of homemade probiotic-rich sauerkraut.

This is how I try to eat now: in accordance with the philosophy of Weston A. Price. I’m not always successful. I am a mom to two small kids and sometimes the choice isn’t between eating well and eating poorly, it’s between eating or not eating at all. So yes, I do drink my morning coffee. And I had polenta the other day. But I try to be cognizant of Price’s principles, and I try to incorporate them into my and my family’s meals.

Why? It’s certainly not for convenience. And it’s not as though I have a lot of free time I’m trying to kill. It’s because this way of eating — whole, nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables and pastured animal products — has made me healthier than I have ever been in my life. More energy. Less digestive upset. No more canker sores.

For years I struggled with minor and not-so-minor health problems. Endometriosis was what the doctors labeled the horrifically painful cramps that accompanied my period every month starting with the onset of menses. So I was put on the pill at age 15. Irritable Bowel Syndrome was another label given to bouts of gastric upset, bloating and almost violent diarrhea that left me enervated and depressed. The doctors suggested drugs; we compromised on fiber capsules.

Lots of drugs were always prescribed. I had surgery for my endometriosis and was told I should go on a very powerful drug that mimicked menopause and would bring on hot flashes and migraines. No, thanks.

No one, not one single doctor, ever asked me what I was eating.

So what was I eating? Well, I was mostly vegetarian. Sometimes I was more strict than others, but there was very little meat in my diet, almost no dairy, and certainly not full-fat dairy. What I did eat was grains. For breakfast, lunch and dinner and snacks in between. Bread, pasta, cereal, crackers — you name it. Wheat especially. And loads of sugar. Sugar gave me the energy I was craving, and it also gave me extreme highs and lows in my moods. But I couldn’t quit it.

Every once in a while I would “crave”  burger, and like an alcoholic sneaking a drink I would slink off to a diner for a massive intake of fat, protein and iron. Sometimes I would slip bacon into my order at a breakfast joint. But mostly I was proud to be a quasi-vegetarian. That was the high road, right? Meat is murder!

It took me years to realize that not eating meat was murder too — self-murder.

It started with my desire to “cure” myself of endometriosis. I couldn’t imagine a lifetime of curling up on the bathroom floor each month in agony. I bought the book “Endometriosis: A Key to Healing Through Nutrition.” This information-rich tome scared the crap out of me. It was packed with science and the science was saying what I was eating might be causing my problems. I shut the book and put it on the shelf and popped some more pills when the pain came.

Over the years, I would take it down and skim it, trying to wrap my brain around a diet free of cookies and pasta and cake and croissants and all the things I considered wonderful in life. I read “Going Against the Grain” and found it fascinating, compelling and scary. But I still couldn’t pass up on the bread products. (It didn’t help that I lived in France at the time.) I just couldn’t seem to do it, even when my mouth was aching with canker sores, or my gut seemed clenched in a vice. I took comfort in food. I was a good cook, a really good one, and when things weren’t working in life I could measure and stir and bake and broil and something wonderful would emerge.

Along with the joys of giving birth to my children came other odd problems: almost crippling rheumatoid arthritis in my hands, hyperthyroidism that led to dramatic weight loss. Afflictions seemed to come and go.

I knew my body was telling me something with all these various problems, I just wasn’t sure what. As I was doing research on hyperthyroidism (like many I have a PhD in Google), I kept coming across two things: the Paleo Diet and the cookbook “Nourishing Traditions.” I read up on the Paleo diet, but quickly realized I could never adhere to such a limited way of eating. Then I took “Nourishing Traditions” out of the library. By bedtime that evening, I had ordered the book online and made a commitment to try eating this way. A few months later I joined the Weston A. Price foundation.

As Dr. Paula Bass said at a recent meet-up, “If you want to eat well, just eat the Weston Price way.”

The information contained in that book made sense to me on a visceral level. It was as if someone had given me the key to decode all the mysterious links between food and health that had been swimming incomprehensibly in my brain for years.

It’s been a great, albeit sometimes scary, experience so far. I have been saying good-bye to old habits and old foods. And when I meet up with them again, as I did over the holidays, I immediately feel the negative impacts — on my mood, my waistline and my digestive system, for instance. The hard part for me has been coming out of the closet. We live in a country where experts tell us to poison ourselves in the name of health, and truly healthful eating is seen as destructive and ignorant. That’s why I started my blog Nourish D.C. — to help me find others and help others find a way to eat that truly supports their health.

Note from Kimberly:

See Agnes’ blog about our local Whole Foods Nutrition Meetup event with Dr. Paula Bass, The Connection between Nutrition and Mental Health.

As publicist for The Weston A. Price Foundation I put out a press release last Friday which decried Whole Foods Market’s new marketing initiative, which pushes a diet heavily relying on grains, fruits and vegetables, the very diet that made Agnes so sick. See the press release in our press room, Whole Foods Promotes Militant Vegetarian Agenda.

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Comments

  1. Great story- thanks for sharing, Agnes! I see these stories about ex-vegetarians who suffered severe health issues while eating vegetarian diets again and again- I can’t believe the similarities! I have to agree- the information in “Nourishing Traditions” (as well as from the WAPF of course) just makes sense on a visceral level. It seems so obvious to me now. Living in a society that doesn’t support nourishing lifestyles in general makes it hard to make the switch to WAPF, but once you do, I think it changes your attitude on so many levels.

  2. Thanks Kate!

    It did take a long time for it to sink in that what I was doing was not working. A part of it is that I just didn’t want to have to care so much about what I ate and how I cooked! I wanted to be “normal” and just buy stuff at the grocery store and eat whatever and get on with it.
    .-= Aggie´s last blog ..Fat is phat. =-.

  3. Glad you feel better Agnes. Of course you were never a vegetarian if what you have written is true. Refined cereals, milk, and greasy hamburgers on weekends is a pretty bad diet, not a vegetarian diet. Just about any diet would make you feel better than that one. I have a friend who has eaten for many years like you are now eating. She has had terrible IBS, skin cancers, and other maladies. She decided to eat a plant based whole foods diet, nothing refined, with complex carbs from whole grains, beans, potatoes, corn and yams as the foundation along with fruits and vegetables. That pretty well eliminates junk food like white rice, refined boxed cereals, high fructose corn syrup, and of course, all animal products. Her IBS cleared up in two weeks. No more skin cancers. Lots of energy and feeling fine. And all the research shows why. So when you get to feeling lousy again, or have your first heart attack, don’t go back to your “vegetarian” diet which would finish you off, but try a plant-based whole foods diet. Good luck.

    • Tom, you are obviously passionate about your plant based diet and maybe it works for you…I think I can say we are ALL happy for you.  But there are obviously many things you do not understand about how the body works.  Humans have been eating meat for eons, however, the onset of degenerative diseases are fairly new in the human history.  If meat where so terrible for you I highly doubt the human race would have lasted this long.  What do you think people did during the long cold winters while plants were unavailable?  You seem to forget that it is the ease of modern life that has given you the ability to stick to a plant based diet the year through.  So instead of being sarcastic with a woman who has taken her health into her own hands and has successfully brought herself back to health; why don’t you consider what you would do in the dead of winter to survive if you didn’t have trucks and fuel delivering food to your local grocery so you could maintain your plant based diet. 

    • Hey Tom. I hear you and if I hadn’t had the experience I had, I’d probably believe what you’re saying. I had symptoms very similar to those Agnes had, plus severe depression and other issues. I turned to vegetarianism in my mid 20s, because it was the “healthy” way to eat. My vegetarianism was the plant-based whole-foods diet that you speak of. No take aways or sweet treats for me – just organic whole grains and legumes, fresh veggies, nuts, lots of raw foods, and the occasional yoghurt or egg. At first, I felt great. At first. I’d never eaten well, so eating fresh vegetables every day did wonders for me. But about a year or so into it, things started going downhill (I know from others’ experiences that when a human body has had better nutritional grounding in child/youthhood, and the change has happened later in life, it can exist longer on a plant-based diet, but not a lifetime, and they’ve all had to eventually reintroduce animal products for the sake of their own health) and it just got worse from there. I won’t go into it, suffice to say that, after the initial burst of energy and well-being, I was tired and hungry all the time, therefore always eating, and always craving fat (so I ate a lot of avocados!), and getting more and more acid reflux and digestive issues as the years went on. Those years ravaged my body, almost beyond repair. I then went back on meat, which helped a lot, but didn’t do enough because I did it without the use of HCL boosters or the large amount of fat one needs to process protein, etc (doh!). The most dramatic improvements have been following the WAPF guidelines and increasing saturated fats and concentrating on nutrient dense foods. Diet is a complex topic, too complex to go into here, but the main problem with a plant and grain-based diet is that it is too high in anti-nutrients, some which even fermenting can’t ameliorate. It also doesn’t help one regulate pH balance. You’re on your journey, so you’ll make your discoveries. I recommend reading Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price. He travelled the world in the 1930s looking for the healthiest, longest lasting groups of unmodernised humans, hoping to find that the vegetarians were it. To his disappointment, he found the opposite. Good luck! :-)

  4. way to go! it is hard work but it can also become a sort of hobby! little by little people will get sick and tired of being sick and tired. A person needs fats for cell wall repair and this can not be replaced by a plant based diet. people need to read Nutrition and Degeneration before they make the change to vegetarian.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks, Barb. Appreciate your input. I got so much out of NandPD. I too,
      think it should be widely read.

  5. I just recently learned about the Weston A. Price diet and it just all makes so much sense! We’re already eating healthier than the average American (full fat raw milk cheese, bring it on!), but I’m excited to take this a step further for the health of my family. Thanks for sharing your story!

  6. Sounds to me like the author suffers from undiagnosed celiac disease. If so, gluten was the problem and because she stopped eating grains she felt better.

    • Well, I can’t categorically say she’s not one, but I’m not a celiac either and have had a similar experience to Agnes. I do have the occasional piece of whole wheat sour dough bread, which has no affect on me whatsoever. I cover it with lots of raw butter or liver pate. I don’t have it very often, however, because it’s no longer as nutritious as it once was (modern wheat is different and not fresh enough) and I prefer to fill my plate with nutrient dense foods first :-)

  7. Thегe’s certainly a great deal to learn about this issue. I like all the points you’ve made.

  8. Wow I love this post! Ive just discovered this type of eating (don’t want to call it a diet but more a way of life)

    How have you adapted what you have for breakfast? As I’m moving to this way of eating savory meals like lunch and dinner seem more obvious to me than breakfast.

    Thanks for any tips

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