This week we have the pleasure of hearing from Mira and Jayson Calton. Mira and Jayson wrote the wonderful books Rich Food, Poor Food and Naked Calories, and are here to help make super smart and SANE grocery shopping as easy as possible.
The Slim Is Simple.org Non-Profit Nutrition Education Effort
Jonathan: Hey everyone, Jonathan Bailor here with another bonus Smarter Science of Slim podcast. Today is just a really exciting show for you, because I think we’re going to get into some wonderful tips and tricks and stories that you can take to the grocery store. You can start applying tomorrow, and we’re going to build all of that on a foundation of real proper nutrition with two wonderful authors, individuals who are not just writing it out there in the internet community but have more letters behind their names than I think I’ve ever seen in my entire life.
So, I won’t try to list all of that but I will encourage you to check out Mira and Jayson Calton, the authors of the brand new book Rich Food Poor Food, the proprietors of caltonnutrition.com and just two outstanding individuals. Mira and Jayson welcome!
Mira: Thank you so much for having us Jonathan.
Jonathan: Well, Mira and Jayson, before we get into your new book, which is just a wonderful, wonderful addition not only just to the literature about proper nutrition in general but an awesome, practical guide that individuals can start interacting with from day one. Let’s talk a little bit about your story, because you guys just actually have a pretty awesome story. Let’s start there.
Mira: Okay. I was living in New York. I was a publicist. I was 30, and at that time I went to the doctor. I went to the doctor because I wasn’t feeling well for about a year prior and started to feel a lot of pain in my lower back, but like a lot of people do, you ignore it, and make excuses for yourself why you don’t feel so good. I was just over tired. I was working too many hours.
My shoes must be uncomfortable, and I just got to the point that I could no longer stop paying attention. I had to actually force to pay attention. I couldn’t do my job anymore. I couldn’t go and see my clients, so I went to the doctor and I was diagnosed with advanced osteoporosis with a bone density of an 80 year-old woman.
Jonathan: You were 30 at the time?
Mira: I was 30 years old, and they basically told me, “You have 80-year-old bones. They’re not going to get any better. Here, take a pack of Fosamax and take one for the rest of your life as long as you live. You’re ready to start breaking more often” and basically that was the entire diagnosis.
Jonathan: I’m sorry when they said breaking more often, do they mean taking breaks or you literally would be breaking more often?
Mira: No, breaking bones.
Jonathan: Oh, geez! Okay.
Mira: They meant my bones breaking. I was already starting to exhibit a lot of fracturing, and so I was getting to the point that – they weren’t bad fractures, but it’s just going to get worse. With 80-year-old bones, you do expect that. There is no real reason. They couldn’t figure out what it was. They just knew that my bones were in a bad state. I started looking into micronutrients those vitamins, those minerals, and the essential fats that they told me that you should about sometimes vitamin D and magnesium and calcium; and I am starting to do some research on that. I had to leave my job in New York.
I could not work any longer. I was that ill, and I went down to Florida with my sister to take care of me and did a little research on my own and luckily, my research led me to Jayson Calton, who at the time had already been studying for over a decade, and we started to work on these vitamins and minerals and becoming sufficient in them or getting enough of them through my food and through supplementation to rebuild my bones.
Within two years we went to see the doctor and I got a DEXA scan, which is how they test for osteoporosis and it was within two years, I had a clean bill of health. I do not have osteoporosis. It has been I think eight years now since that happened, and I still don’t have osteoporosis, so I reversed it and keep it off.
Jonathan: You actually experienced, we have to be very careful here but we’re just talking about your experience. You experience the C word a.k.a. “Cure.” You were cured of osteoporosis?
Mira: It has completely been C word that, yes cured and reversed. Reverse is how we get existing I don’t have it any longer. I don’t have osteopenia. I had to go literally from looking at myself, and I thought I was losing weight and getting healthy, and this is one, people, please pay attention, you’re not just losing weight. A lot of times you are losing muscle. A lot of times you are losing bone, and because you’re starving yourself or you’ve gone on a very low-calorie diet, it doesn’t mean you’re doing something that’s healthy for your body. I was actually hurting myself by trying to be that perfect size 2 my entire teens and 20s. What I found out was that once I started to get my muscle back and my bone back, yes, I got a little bigger, but at the same time I got a hell of a lot healthier. I’m really, really happy about that.
Jonathan: Well, it sounds like within that story so and listeners here at the Smarter Science of Slim can totally empathize with that. We talk about starvation is not healthy. As crazy as that sounds, we seemed to have lost sight of that a bit in our society. We definitely don’t want to starve ourselves, but I am guessing you may have not only, if I understand the story correctly here, you not only cured your osteoporosis but found yourself quite a wonderful partner.
Mira: I found a husband. We fell in love over this mutual desire to figure out what was wrong with me, and now we’re happy.
Jonathan: I want to say that’s like a full service consultancy right there. It’s just that’s pretty amazing.
Jayson: Well, I try to please. Yeah, it really was something that, it was just this Mira and I… First of all, we have a wonderful relationship, and we’re so blessed for that; but, of course, it didn’t start off that way. It was crazy when she first walked into the office, because Mira had this situation that you just don’t see in 30-year-olds but yet it is because I think as nutritionists we don’t really look at this other side of food very often. We really get kind of cornered, when clients come into our office and say, “I want to lose weight or I want to get rid of this high cholesterol. I want to get rid of this,” you know, whatever the problem is, we typically just put them on a diet.
That’s what they want, so that’s what we do. We tell them what to eat and how often to eat and how much to eat, and so we get focused on those macronutrients. Very rarely do we really have an opportunity to look at the other side of food, which is the micronutrient component, and a component that I think is equally important to the fats, carbs, and proteins that we all focus so hard on. That’s where we come from now in the nutrition world.
Every one of our books from Naked Calories to Rich Food Poor Food and all the books we are going to be writing ongoing is always going to be first focused on the micronutrient and making sure that the individuals who are reading our books and following our programs first become micronutrient sufficient, and then build a proper lifestyle and diet on top of that.
Jonathan: Jayson, I think that’s so profound and actually that’s one thing I like to do and I try to do on the show is celebrate the similarities between all of the various groups who on some level agree that the traditional American diet of processed starches and sweets and fats is bad. To celebrate those similarities, one example I like to use is, while I myself am not a vegetarian and my research does not suggest that others become vegetarians, although you could potentially be healthy being a vegetarian. One of the things I love it about the Chinese study which otherwise I did not really like very much was their emphasis on nutrient density and just saying it’s not all about elimination. You have to replace that with something, and the nutrient-dense vegetables and nutrient-dense low fructose fruits using these almost as a therapy or get into therapeutic component of these. I think so often we can focus on what not to do rather than what to do and that’s one of the reasons I love your guys’ approach because you kind of pursue the positive very much; and I like that.
Mira: Well, thank you. We actually coined a phrase called the Nutrivore, and as I believe much like you’re the unifying group, and we’re actually looking at different groups. We’re the nutrivore, and you can be a nutrivore regardless of your dietary profile, a paleo, a primo, a low-carb, a low-fat, a vegetarian, a vegan, it doesn’t matter. The one thing you have to understand is that becoming nutrient sufficient first is the great platform for building health, and that’s we want you to understand. There is junk food in every single one of those arenas. We just want to make sure you’re not eating that and regardless of your dietary profile, we want you to choose rich food.
Jonathan: I think that’s so important. What do you think we could do, just given your rich experience in this field, how can we work to help to communicate that just in the community and amongst our friends and family?
Jayson: Well, I think again it’s just bringing the focus back to those micronutrients and getting that word out there. I can’t tell you how many times our publicist and PR people and media people, they say well, come on, but don’t say the word micronutrient; because nobody knows what it means, and it scares people. We try to get it in there as much as possible. And, of course, I know your listeners probably all know what it means, but these are the course that things to vitamins, the minerals, and the essential fats that are supposed to be inherent in food; and, of course, Mira and I, we were lucky enough to travel around the world for six years to go to over 135 countries and all 7 continents to live with and observe remote people from all walks of life. Our goal was to really look at what they were doing nutritionally and lifestyle wise that were helping them to achieve this state of really a disease-free lifestyle which so many of the very remote tribes are finding themselves in and what, somehow, what we’re doing in our modern societies, in our big cities that are causing so much disease.
Of course, we know it’s nutritional. We know it’s lifestyle-based, but until you can really go and look at the human being today, not in some textbook somewhere or in some studies somewhere, but I am talking about kids running around in the grass. What foods they’re eating, how they’re moving, what water they’re drinking, what they’re doing… Is it really so hard to create optimal health as opposed to what we’re doing now?
I think that again is a very unique perspective that we have, having studied all these cultures and really looking at it and we came to one very, I think a very profound truth that micronutrient deficiency is the most widespread and dangerous health condition of the 21st century. We believe that to be true because so many of today’s lifestyle and health conditions from cancer to high blood pressure to heart disease to osteoporosis, and now, even obesity and being overweight are all linked somehow to some micronutrient deficiency. If we can prevent that, if we can create a micronutrient sufficient state in our bodies, not necessarily a really high micronutrient state but just reaching the minimum levels our body needs to maintain health, I think we can really see a major turnaround in the health of our nation; and that’s why we wrote the book to show you how to find these foods quickly and easily in your grocery store, so you can start to apply our Rich Food Poor Food principle today.
Jonathan: Let’s get into that because I can go off for an hour on how much I agree with what you’re saying. I mean individuals with my work know that I talk about SANE foods and the N in SANE is nutrient density, but the nutrients per calorie and how important that is. We all love that, but what I love even more is the framework and the guidelines you provided for that in your new book Rich Food Poor Food; so let’s talk a little bit about that.
Mira: Okay, well basically we all want that framework. We do know exactly what he’s saying talk like a nutrient density, but we know that’s not enough to protect you anymore. What we did is we layered on top of that one more layer which is what we call the poor food ingredient. The poor food ingredients are things like pesticides and hormones and preservatives, gums that leach micronutrients, things like BHB with known carcinogens. What we did is we said we’re going to have these micronutrient dense foods, but we’re only going to pick foods that don’t contain over 150 other poor food ingredients but we’re going to make not only nutrients, we’re going to make them savory from every aisle from dairy all the way to desert.
Jonathan: Are these things that we can do in any grocery store, or do we have to go to like let’s use whole foods for example?
Jayson: No, not at all. You can use this at your grocery store. It’s going to be things like if you’re picking out juice for your kid. Okay, well, we’re going to start to show you all the different ingredients. First, we are going to explain to you the kind of juice that you should be choosing. Of course 100 percent juice and freshly squeezed juice are going to be your best bets, but then a lot of parents are just grab and go.
They’re like well, let me grab this V8 splash or Welch’s Grape Juice, but we’re going to show you that a lot of times on the ingredient list of these foods they added things in like sugar and high fructose corn syrup or maybe you get to see fruit juice concentrates, which are really just another name for sugar. There are so many things that could be in there that you don’t want to have, and so there are little things like that don’t really cost any more money that can be found at any grocery store. You can use that knowledge anywhere.
Of course we do give suggestion as where foods that we’ve certified is what we call our certified rich food tip, and those may not be in every store. What we did do also is we have a resource center on our website called the Rich Food Resource Center, where you can come and you can download our rich food request list. What we did is we simply listed all of the foods that we highlighted in the book on that list, and we provide the UPC code there so that you can print it off, checkmark right next to the food that you want your grocery store to carry that you’d like to try, bring it in to your manager and just request it; and the manager with the UPC code can get it in the store, lickety split, and you’ll be able to try it yourself.
Jonathan: I love this because this really takes the general guidance, I say, and I am not the first person to say a lot of people have said this. It seems like your book really takes it to the next level and general guidance is when you’re at the grocery store stay on the perimeter of the grocery store by and large and oftentimes like if it doesn’t have ingredients lists on it… like a lot of these packaged processed foods have to have ingredients lists, because no one knows what the hell they are. Whereas like spinach is just spinach, and you’ve got that; but a lot of people want more. They say, “Okay, that’s great, but I’m on the perimeter of my grocery store and it’s still unclear to me. It sounds like it will no longer be unclear after they pick up a copy of Rich Food, Poor Food.
Mira: Absolutely, because even on the perimeter list there is a whole lot to think about. You’ve mentioned spinach, for example. Do you buy spinach organic or do you not have to buy spinach organic, because that’s one of things that carry pesticides. You have to know a lot of things like that, and so what we did we demystified the entire grocery store, every single aisle so that you don’t even have to wonder about that.
We created something called the list of the terrible 20 and the bad 14, which outlines exactly which fruit and vegetables are the safest to buy conventionally and which ones you have to buy organic; so we go through all of those things. What are the little PU codes, what all the little stickers on your produce means. I man, all of that is really important as you move forward and by the way for your listeners, spinach is a terrible 20 food, so that is something that you do have to buy organic. It carries a lot of pesticides.
Jonathan: That’s where I wanted to go next, was to talk about… I think that sometimes individuals can feel overwhelmed by the amount of things which may cause them to have suboptimal health; and sometimes individuals kind of have to say. “Okay, if I’ve got to pick up one of the big rocks, I’m okay not being perfect; but I want to make sure I am getting the most bang for my buck. When I pick up of a copy of Rich Food Poor Food, will you give me a sense of if you can only remember a finite set of things, like these are the top issues to avoid.
Jayson: Yeah, exactly and I want people listening also to know that we do not expect our readers to be perfect. Mira and I are not perfect. We did not create this book for people who are looking for perfection and like yes, you could take it to that extreme if that’s what you’re searching for but this book was really for the masses to be able to do exactly what you are saying. How can I, through almost very little effort, look at this book, we open it up to the aisle because that’s how the chapters are, they’re aisle by aisle.
We did nine aisles so they’re just the way that they’re laid out in the grocery store. If you’re in dairy, you look at dairy. If you’re in meat and fish, you look at meat and fish. If you’re in condiments, you’re in condiments. If you’re in snack aisle, you’re in snack aisle. We do all of them. We show you exactly what they are, and, yeah, if we give you the exact take aways even if the foods are bare we have something called the checkout checklist which is really just kind of the synopsis of that aisle or chapter and what that does is it gives you the pros and cons to look for in each and every food in that particular category. It’s the same criteria we use to certify if food is either a rich food or a poor food. You can say, “Well, my store doesn’t have…” whatever it might be, “Jackson Honest Chips there, which is our choice in the potato chip aisle but it has this other ones, so let me check and see if it meets the requirement.” They can just check the checkout check list, and they can certify the food themselves quickly and easily right away.
Jonathan: That’s what I really like is I think the book is structured in a way where if you’re a detail-oriented person you want to geek out. You can literally go on a safari to your grocery store now and just, you can completely get instant details if you want, or you could just read this maybe when you’re on a plane trip or while you’re commuting to and from work or just waiting in the waiting room. It’s written in a way that I will then, while I won’t remember everything, I will, next time I’m looking at let’s say pasta sauces, I will be able to say, “Wow, there’s 36 options here. I’ll quickly be able to narrow that down to five, and then if I want to quickly turn over those five labels, I’ll have enough knowledge that I can probably make the best choice just from memory.
Mira: Absolutely, we want people to be able to, the whole thing about making it simple from one product to another, just to make their life a little healthier in every small change you make. Some people, like you said, we get emails from some people who go to grocery store and do it all at once, and then we get shopping cart photos; and those are fun. I really enjoy getting those. Then there’s other people who say, “You know what? This week I am doing dairy, and I’m going to learn all my dairy. “
Other people who go on airplanes and actually reading the book, they put it down, they fall asleep, and the person next to them started reading their book — that is the true story we just got back. You can do it in bits and pieces; however, it makes it the easiest for you to learn these small facts. Once you get it, the great thing is you’re never going to forget. It saves time in the long run because once you know what spaghetti sauce you’re going to buy. Every time you go to the store, you grab that spaghetti sauce; and you only have to think about that one time.
Jayson: Yeah, one of the nice things too about the book that I don’t know if a lot of the listeners know is that it’s also wheat-free and virtually sugar-free. Those are two foods that a lot of people are now thinking they’re going to take out of their diet. They maybe gluten intolerant or maybe they’re just taking wheat out for health reasons, and, of course, I think a lot of people are trying to stay away from sugar in general as well. A lot of these other books like we had before, like Eat This, Not That and these other type of grocery store gods, they didn’t take into consideration these ingredients. They were just worried about calories, sodium, and fat. Well, quite frankly I like foods with a lot of good fat in it, and I am not worried about calories as long as I am eating good food; and I am eating just nutrient-dense foods, so that didn’t apply to me.
I don’t care about sodium as long as it’s unrefined sodium, so what I really wanted to look at was some of these other things in the foods like the micronutrients and/or the sugar and the wheat. Everything from our bread, our chips, the candy bars, even the ice cream is sugar and wheat free, so it’s really easy for people who are following these types of diets, if it’s a paleo-friendly diet as well it works as well.
Jonathan: Jayson, it’s so funny that you should say that because I literally, I wrote notes down here as we’re talking and the last note I wrote was this is Eat this, Not That Book for food quality, rather than calories.
Mira: Absolutely, it’s for the health conscious person who just… I mean, one of the examples we give in the front if they chose Twinkies as a snack food and they chose the Baked Lays as a snack food. In the intro in our book, we actually go into detail why Baked Lays would not be because all the genetically modified ingredient, the sugar they added basically it’s not a healthy food, but we really want this to be the same sort of easy guide like that. We wanted to have valuable information that’s going to make people healthier.
Jonathan: The thing that I love about it is, again, the title of my next book Calorie Myths, I personally believe that the root of all the disease and suffering epidemics we see in modern culture is caused in large part to the focus on calories rather than the focus on food, and that’s, again, why I am such a big fan of your work and why I wanted to have you on the show because one of the things we can learn from the “calorie movement” is approaches that people tend to like. For example, eat this, not that. It was a widely successful book, and if we can just take that delivery mechanism and turn that into something that actually reflects good and simple science, which is what you guys have done, well then we get the best of both worlds.
Jayson: Yeah, that’s what we’re hoping people do. That’s exactly what we wanted to do, and we wrote the book the way we shop; but I think what’s really unique about it the way that the book turns out, at least from my perspective is, that it can be used by people who are just wanting to go and say, “You know what? Tell me what I should buy. Keep it simple for me. I don’t want to do a lot of thinking. I just want it to be easy.” You can use it like that. It can also be used for those individuals you know those nutritional geeks like us who love to dig into the details and this book can take you all the way down that rabbit hole, too. If you are real food movement person, and you think, “Well, I already eat all the real food in the world. What are they going to tell me about it? I hardly even eat at the grocery store.” I’ve got news for you. We go into how to eat and shop at the farmer’s market and how to shop at the farms as well. On the cover of the book we’ve got where I have an apple and Mira’s eggs.
There is no way that you can visually tell me if that apple and eggs are rich foods or poor foods, because just eating real food isn’t enough. We go much further than just the real food movement. That apple today could be grown in nutrient depleted soil. It could have 42 different pesticides sprayed on it. It could have been shipped 1400 miles across the country. That’s a poor food apple. That’s not an apple that I want to be eating. I want to be eating an organically grown apple that was grown somewhere.
[End of Audio 24:34]