The Island Story That Will Answer 97% of Your Nutrition Questions


The second step of the Rebirth Body Transformation series after assessing your Point A is to begin to plan a strategy to get to Point B. I believe the scientific term for this step is called connecting the dots. The purpose of today’s blog is to begin giving you a clear illustration of the right path so you know what to look for.

Today, I am going to focus on the nutritional path. Rather than give you a list of foods you should eat and another list of foods you shouldn’t eat, I want to tell you a story that will empower you to make good decisions on your own. If I just give you a list of foods, it would be either unbelievably long or leave much to be desired. I would also be catching a fish for you rather than teaching you to fish. After the following story you will be a pretty darn good fisherman (or fisherwoman).

The Island

Here is the scenario. We find ourselves along with a contingent of close friends and family deserted on a tropical island with no way to get off. Picture the Hawaiian island of Kauai. I like to envision Kauai because it fits the specifications of this story perfectly and because I would love to move there some day (do yourself a favor and take a vacation to Kauai).

For those of you that aren’t familiar with Kauai, I’ll do some more detailed explaining about our current situation. Kauai is a tropical paradise. It is where Jurassic Park was filmed. As far as islands go, this would be the one to be stranded on. The island gets an abundance of rainfall and sunshine. The soil is excellent too. There is lush vegetation everywhere. Almost anything you can think of could grow here.

Once we have all gotten over the shock of waking up on this tropical island together, we decide that it is probably best that we do some exploring to get a feel for our surroundings. Our large group splits up into three smaller groups to canvas the island in a day and then meet back at the beach where we started. The first group decides to walk around the island to check out the beaches and to get an idea of what the coastline is like. The second and third groups decide to walk inland and split the island into halves to explore. One group covers the east side of the island and our group decides to do recon on the west side.

Upon our first inspection of the island we find evidence that humans have lived here before. While doing recon in some caves our group finds very basic tools for farming and hunting (score). It looks like we have hit the jackpot. We have found ropes, harnesses for plow animals, the plows themselves, shovels, pick axes, hoes, spears and an assortment of other farming and hunting tools. So far things are looking good for us (now if we could just find steak).

By the time we pack up all the tools it is starting to get late so we decide to head back to the beach. On our way back we discover herds of wild cattle and sheep grazing in the foothills (our prayers are answered…is bacon asking for too much?). Further along the path back to the beach we meet up with the group that was responsible for exploring the east side of the island. They tell us that the east side of the island is mostly forest. In the forest they saw signs of animals we can hunt for food like wild pig, deer, and rabbit to name a few (BACON!!! Lets go for broke, I’m asking for satellite tv). One of the more nimble in our group climbed into a tree to see if she could find squirrel nests. She hit the jackpot finding squirrels and their nuts (if you laughed you need to grow up…that was a test).

We continue our walk back to the beach when a couple that was walking in the back start yelling with excitement. They have found an assortment of berry bushes. If this is starting to sound like a dream in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, you’re right.

When we get back to the beach the third group is waiting for us with good news and fish cooking on a fire. They found some great fishing spots that are easy to access and some springs with fresh water. A small contingent of the third group decided to follow the spring inland only to discover a rich area of forgotten farmland with some vegetable crops still growing. It wasn’t in the best condition, but they say it looks like whoever was here before us successfully farmed the land and left us something to get started with.

All things considered we are looking pretty good. There is no electricity or modern engineering for us to use on the island, but we have plenty of wildlife to sustain us with a climate and land that holds a lot of promise for gathering, farming and agriculture. If we can somehow find satellite television in time for the next season of Sons of Anarchy I would consider this paradise.

Answering Your Nutrition Questions with a Question

Can I find this food on Tanner’s Tropical Island?

If you can answer yes to that question when you are at the grocery store or ordering at a restaurant you will be walking on the right path 97% of the time. I reserve the right to change that percentage, but at the moment I’m sticking with 97% with a high probability I will lean to 98% in the near future.

I also challenge you to think more critically about this scenario. If you do you will be rewarded with better answers and better diet decisions. Here are some hints and questions that I will pose for you to help you peel this onion:

- Time management is critical on the island. There is a limited amount of daylight on this island to hunt, farm and gather food. Start to think of time management on the island as a metaphor for your daily food menu. Spend your time wisely. - Does it make more sense to hunt and kill a wild pig full of protein and quality fats that will feed and fuel us for days or to spend all day gathering berries that will go bad in a few days and have relatively little fuel for us? I’m not saying berries are bad, but they are better as snacks that we pick during a hunt to give us a boost of energy between meals while we work. - There is only so much land that we have available for farming and only so much land that we can farm. Which vegetables should we grow? Which vegetables are the most nutrient dense? What will give us the most bang for our buck? - We could grow wheat, but consider how much time, effort and man-power it takes to grow, harvest, grind, mill, blah, blah, blah, and bake. Is the time and effort worth the low nutritional value when that time could be spent hunting, cultivating and collecting more nutrient and energy dense foods. - How important does fat as a fuel source become? Think hard on this one. Consider the alternative fuel source. Strawberries and blackberries, for example, are a great snack, but when was the last time you spent all day performing manual labor and then satisfied your ravenous hunger with fruit? Does a juicy rib-eye with mixed greens, avocado, and asparagus sound more up your alley? - Trail mix is for the trail. - It makes sense to ferment our veggies so they have a longer shelf life and so that we can get the benefit of all the healthy bacteria in fermented foods. These bacteria boost our immune system and aid in digestion. Eat fermented foods like sauerkraut, kim chi, and pickled vegetables! Now!!! - Native Americans are known for using every single part of the buffalo that they hunted. Take a page out of their book. Use every part of your food. It is the right thing for our bodies and it is the ethical thing to do. Eat meat on the bone, eat marrow and collagen and eat your organ meats. Your skin and joints will thank you one day. - Quick word on the animals on the island. None of them are raised in pens, pumped full or hormones/antibiotics or forced to live in their own excrement. They live free in pastures eating their natural diet. We should treat our animals the same way. You vote with your dollar. Money talks in America. If you really care about the environment and animal rights you had better start making the right decisions at the grocery store and the famer’s market. If you think it doesn’t matter you to watch the documentary Food Inc. - Our vegan and vegetarian friends can ask the same metaphorical questions as if they were on the island. Substitute questions about meat with questions about a plant based diet. If you have an ethical issue with eating meat I totally respect that. Based on my own experience and research I believe high quality, organic grass-fed meat that is humanely raised is the healthiest choice. However, I also respect everyone’s choices and hope that there is something that everyone can take from this without having an emotional response. The key is to avoid all the processed foods and junk that you couldn't find on the island. - I highly recommend the following reading. This is your body and your life. Educate yourself.

Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon

Deep Nutrition by Catherine Shanahan

All of these books have a lot of great recipes! Try my Almond Crusted Salmon recipe and my Pinterest for some quick and easy recipes that I have pinned.