Paleo author Peggy Emch talks about primal eating, nakedness and getting pregnant

Do paleo eaters look good naked? First time author Peggy Emch thinks so. Creator of the paleo nutrition and lifestyle blog, The Primal Parent, Emch released Primal Moms Look Good Naked: A Mother's Guide to Achieving Beauty through Excellent Health last week.

Challenging the belief that pregnant women and new mothers are unattractive and undesirable, Emch has compiled a 256-page guide for getting ride of cellulite, varicose veins, stretch marks and belly flab with a paleo diet (also known as the caveman diet), which consists primarily of fish, grass-fed meats, nuts and fruit.

Emch recently sat down with Westword to share here inspiration for the book, how paleo worked for her and some challenges of being a primal parent. Already receiving rave reviews and a best seller on Amazon, Emch may just be onto something.

See also: - Dining out paleo: Ten dishes to satisfy your inner caveman - Comedian/restaurateur Will White on his paleo-diet truck, Kickstarter and standup - Paleo diet study wins a Centennial teen $2,000

Westword: How long have you been a paleo eater and how did you become one?

Peggy Emch: I started eating paleo in February 2005 after reading Neanderthin and The Paleo Diet. I had been searching for cures to problems like acne, depression, hormonal and joint issues, chronic fatigue, and others. I tried many types of nutritional therapies that I read about in books but none of them worked. When I stumbled upon ancestral nutrition, it made a lot of sense to me. The idea that we are animals just like any other on the planet and that we are meant to be eating unprocessed foods was logical to me. And in practice, real foods make me feel really good.

How has paleo changed your life?

I didn't know that changing the way I ate could affect my fertility but within a few months of going Paleo, I got pregnant. I had been infertile so this was amazing. Pregnancy was just the beginning, though. I changed into a totally different person. I had more energy, felt happy, could think clearer, my joint problems disappeared, and just about every other ailment I complained about all the time ceased to bother me.

Do you miss anything? Ice cream, cheese, white pasta?

While grains and processed goodies are not a temptation anymore, occasionally on a hot day, ice cream is. My body allows for a little dairy and so sometimes I give in to that. But I listen closely to my body and follow its cues, rather than a preset list of cans and can'ts. In general, I have become very strict with my diet because I know what makes me feel good and what doesn't but there are certain "cheats" that don't affect me as much as others (if at all), so when I cheat, I am strict with my choices.

Your book, Primal Moms Look Good Naked was released last week. What feedback have you received so far?

The feedback has all been great so far. The Amazon reviews are all positive, and the book even made it to the number one position of pregnancy/exercise and fitness on Wednesday.

What inspired you to write the book?

For a long time, I had intended to write a book about health. I have had an interest in health for over ten years and have experimented with so many types of diets and recovered from so many symptoms, my insight is unique. But I also didn't want to write a book that had, essentially, already been written. One subject I knew from experience which needed a fresh and honest perspective was pregnancy. There was literally nothing out there suggesting that women could be in control of what happens to their bodies. There was nothing out there which compiled all of the complaints women have about their bodies into a single book, and which explained them and offered solutions. I wrote this book to empower women. We are told so many lies about the fate of our bodies. It is not fair and it is not right. Great nutrition not only can make us look good, but it can improve us on the inside too. Nutrition is usually responsible for things like depression and many of the diseases from which we suffer today. With improved nutrition and fitness, women have the power to change their lives (and bodies) and the lives of their children.

How did you come up with the title?

Everybody wants to look good naked and when we do look good naked it is an indicator of good health. The idea of including naked in the title is because anyone can look good in clothes, but when you are naked is the real test of your health.

You've been paleo since 2005 and have authored numerous articles and run the blog The Primal Parent, however you are not a nutritionist or doctor. Did you consult any before publishing?

I have consulted with many doctors and nutritionists over the years with questions about various topics. However, consulting with a couple of doctors or nutritionists in order to write a book would lead to some biased perspective. The field of nutrition is in its infancy and there is much debate about what is right and wrong. In writing this book I poured over research articles, the collected wisdom of authors before me, and accounts of those who have spent significant time with hunter-gatherers. I formed my recommendations from this. In my book I do not encourage women to stop listening to the advice of their doctors. That would be foolish, but I do think it is important for a woman to arm herself with knowledge that her doctors probably do not have. Most doctors spend their time learning about procedures and drugs and very little about nutrition. Now, on many issues, doctors have insight that I do not have. One is not meant to go without the other; a woman should not blindly accept every morsel of advice her doctor gives her and, likewise, a woman should not pick up my book and ditch her doctor.

You have two daughters that you are raising primal. What challenges have you experienced?

There are challenges to raising children no matter how you do it! Ours is making sure that caregivers understand our diet and also that my children understand our diet. It has been a constant process of teaching about food, farms, health, and wellness. This is not so much a challenge, really, it's kind of fun. My daughter, Evelyn, went through a phase where she became quite curious about what other kids ate and for a period, she lied about food. This was a great learning experience for me. I learned more about her needs and desires. Once I understood that, the challenge was over and we were back to normal.

You are a busy mom. What are some of your go-to snacks for your kids?

We in my family are not big snackers. We're a three-square-meals-a-day kind of family. We achieve this by eating a lot, by eating plenty of fat with our meals, and by keeping our hormones balanced so that we are not constantly hungry. But, kids are growing and do need to snack sometimes. So when we do snack, it's usually things like grass fed beef jerkey, which I dehydrate at home, hardboiled eggs, red pepper strips, fruit, sometimes cheese or raw milk. Nuts are a popular Paleo snack too but none of us happen to be big fans.

What advice do have in your book for moms?

Well, the whole book is advice for moms! But some highlights include, eating a nutrient dense diet for baby and mom's health, exercising throughout the entire pregnancy, keeping stress low, and appreciating and loving the new body as it changes.

How is the book organized? Is there a theme?

The book divides common pregnancy issues into chapters. The book starts out with an intro into eating a primal diet and what foods are recommended for pregnant women. Next I dive into fertility, genetics, and exercise. The remaining chapters are all about specific conditions - each chapter focusing on one. So there is a chapter for stretch marks, for weight gain/loss, split abdominal muscles, cellulite, depression, etc.

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