In this interview with Tina Turbin, as part of our ongoing interview series, we had a chance to catch up this veteran of both the Gluten Free and Paleo Diet food scenes, the creator of both the Paleomazing.com website and founder of GlutenFreeHelp.info.
I know from your story that you had been an advocate of a gluten free diet for many years prior to going Paleo. What were some of the benefits you found going gluten free?
First of all I feel it is important to share that I HAD to go on a gluten free diet as I was finally and properly diagnosed with auto-immune celiac disease after several years of misdiagnosing. I had many years of hell while my body was deteriorating and I had three young and active children to raise. I ended up having to take my health in my own hands as I had lost a tremendous amount of weight, was rapidly losing muscle tone, had ongoing teeth and gum troubles, nonstop tremendous pain in my joints and tummy, not to mention my hormones went to hell. Once the celiac diagnosis was confirmed (along with severe dairy intolerance) I started immediately applying the Standard American Gluten-Free Diet and started learning along the way.
The benefits I experienced on going gluten-free were truly lifesaving to me. The horrible joint aches and pain lessened immediately and after a couple days I felt pain free. It was undeniably the correct diagnosis and opened the door to the correct handling, simply going gluten and dairy free.
How were you first introduced to Paleo?
After so many years of misdiagnosing I never wanted anyone to go through what I had experienced and I soon found out the lack of proper diagnosing was rampant in the USA, not in just adults but in children as well. I also discovered it was and is the only auto-immune disease with no government funding to help research. That really opened my eyes and I soon after became quite an outspoken active advocate to raise awareness to celiac disease. I started speaking on radios, in interviews and was also interviewing medical doctors, research scientists and the like. Along with these activities I started an information blog (which was voted the #2 .Info in the world in 2009) and was meeting and reviewing many of the gluten-free food company owners around the United States, book authors and even recipe developers.
I also interviewed or talked with many people with celiac disease and I found some were not doing well or “better” on the gluten-free diet. One of the research scientists I interviewed wrote a book that had a chapter about Non-Responsive Celiac Disease. Both these points really caught my interest and made me really realize I was also still battling my health and digestion and I really had to do something about this, but I had no clue what to do. By the way, Non-Responsive Celiac Disease is concerning celiac’s not responding to the gluten-free diet, therefore needing further research.
Ironically a few days later I was sent a cookbook to review and it was this book that opened my eyes to the world of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) and GAPS diet. The SCD was the “original” gluten-free diet for celiacs in the USA in the early 1900’s. It currently enables patients to thrive on a special diet that often reduces symptoms and allows healing of an inflamed intestinal tract. In simple terms it restricts most carbs and all grains up front, and all sugars. My hubby was out of town so I decided to try a week of this book’s recipes as part of my Review. Much to my surprise I felt calmer, healthier, and less toxic; ALL my digestion troubles were gone that week and I knew in my heart there was something to this.
I was reviewing other cookbooks such as Elana Amsterdam’s very popular Almond Flour Cookbook and I became further interested in her grain free concept and I started my own research. This is when Paleo fell into my lap. As I researched and read I could understand and totally agree with the science and theory behind the Paleo information and basic research. Back then this was very new to the “internet world”. Even Robb Wolf’s book, The Paleo Solution and Loren Cordain’s book, The Paleo Diet were just starting to grab some people’s attention but it wasn’t at all a movement and awareness like it is now.
What were some of the benefits you noticed after making the transition to Paleo?
Let’s say that the transition off grains and legumes for me initially was a bit tough as I was groping for about a week with how to work in meals for everyone. I soon got the hang of it. I felt far less inflammation, I was not constantly starving like I had been nutritionally and due to low crashing blood sugar as when on the gluten-free (high carb and high sugar) diet. I had more energy, according to lab tests my hormones started to balance out, muscles started emerging with exercise again, I was sleeping better and my hair and nails grew like weeds. I was no longer feeling some strange emotional feelings I did not exemplify, but no doubt felt. I have never been a more stable, stronger and more certain individual than I am now. My body simply is no longer strapping me down and causing me to slow down.
Tell us more about the Cafe you are involved with in Los Angeles, Habitat Coffee. How did you get involved in that project?
I love food and I love working with others. I met this incredible foodie lady in Los Angeles and we became friends instantly. I always wanted to have a café. She already had 1 restaurant, a bakery and a cafe and helped manage 10 or 12 others. Myoriginal vision was that I would own, manage, work in it and love it as my daily creation. When the time presented itself I really had too little time due to my work in investments, my research and traveling, my family expansion; and my active involvement in the Paleo community and recipe developing had emerged and evolved and I was frankly loving it all too much. Habitat Café opened and my partner was instrumental in taking it from a dreamy concept to an extremely hip hang-out place in Los Angeles. We offer quite a variety to our customers, Paleo, Gluten-Free and what-not. I must mention I am involved with two other new restaurants to the Los Angeles scene and will be sharing some other exciting new food ventures in NYC, SF as well as the Arts District in Los Angeles. For now you can check out and enjoy Republique’ on La Brea and Red Bird in downtown Los Angeles.
Having now had personal experience operating a business offering Paleo food items, are there any challenges with serving that market? Do you think more businesses will transition to offering Paleo/Grain Free options?
The only real challenges business-wise are that Paleo is not the majority in society, nor is gluten-free. The next challenge is serving Paleo friendly foods at a cost point that the customers can afford, want bad enough and will buy.
As far as offering Paleo and Gluten Free options, this is already happening and has been for many years. As an advocate many of us worked to help get gluten free education to head chefs and ultimately their staff, and a gluten-free menu in the restaurants as “the normal”. Then as far as Paleo meals, that is really as simple as asking your waiter or waitress for your plate to be void of the non-Paleo carbs that so often fill the other half at least of your plate. That is the easy part in all honesty.
What are some of the unique topics and articles that you try to focus on with your website, PaleOmazing.com?
Oh man, that is a loaded question. Come January 2017 my Paleo site is taking a little turn which I will explain below. My site currently and will continue to cover the topic of fats, a ton of recipes, getting the word out about various paleo companies and ranchers and of course I will continue to be very frank in sharing my views on my take on paleo, being a template and not a one-size-fits-all and it never will be.
Early 2017 I will be focusing a bit on aging and women, women and Paleo, female issues for those over the age of 40 and how and why to resolve them, all related to the Paleo and Paleo-ish Lifestyle with facts, applications and connections to TRULY thrive. It will be a Paleo site that will empower women with data they need to know.
Do you have any great tips you can share with others in the Paleo community that help you sustain a Paleo lifestyle over the long term?
Absolutely! I came to learn Paleo is not a diet. Boy, was this an eye opener to me. I really know now that the diet alone is not good enough! Paleo is truly a Lifestyle. It involves and includes food, nutrients, sleep, work, stress management, exercise, sitting, standing, action or moving, co-existing with others. It requires the willingness and desire to make changes for a better overall life and well-being on a very broad spectrum. It can change one’s life in a big way. Some can take big grand leaps of change and others need small steps. Either way, one will make it. Paleo is a base with which to learn how to add key elements to improve one’s own life. One can then help one’s family and one’s friends and if the desire strikes, one can even reach out professionally to a greater or lesser degree. Paleo is truly a Lifestyle changer.
As a longtime member of the Gluten Free and now Paleo movements, where do you see things going in the next 5-10 years?
Awareness is on the rise and people overall want to be educated and are doing so and learning about their own bodies and what makes it tick and not. I think it is escalating as a movement, is rapidly expanding and being taken out of the hands of the medical industry, an industry that seems lazy or dead set on prescribing a pill for every ache, pain and emotion they label as wrong.
I personally feel that people are taking their health into their own hands. John Hopkin’s Medicine just released this fast: Medical Errors Are the No. 3 Cause of U.S Deaths. This is third after cancer and heart disease. I feel I could have been one of their casualties had I not taken my health into my own hands and thousands and thousands feel and are doing the same. Thanks to the internet and functional medical doctors we can do much more to help ourselves and those we care about. I believe people are going to rely less and less on MDs and more on food, herbs and such to stay healthy.
Lastly, I know and I truly believe people are going to have the ah-ha moment on a broad scale that their genes (the genetic expression) are not dictating their body’s future outcome; it is a result dictated by one’s own actions, non-action and choices. The genetic “expression” is pretty much turned on by our individual choices and lifestyle, which I explained in my views on the Paleo Lifestyle above. This genetic expression stuff is pretty darn powerful research and so much is being revealed about this already. I am excited to see how society grasps this and learns from these amazing facts.
Tina also asked us to let our readers know that if anyone should have any questions please do not hesitate to ask her. She replies to all my emails as soon as she can.