In the last two weeks, I’ve shared two recipes that use coconut flour–one for Coconut Flour Pancakes, another for Healthy Fried Chicken Strips.
Still, I don’t think you should regularly eat coconut flour.
There are actually times when it’s not a good idea to have it.
And the frequency it should be eaten will vary from person to person, even from day to day for some people.
(And what about almond flour? Yeah, you shouldn’t eat almond flour in baked goods–much or at all. For the record, I don’t make such recipes that use almond flour.)
There are many reasons for this variability and specificity.
The recipes with coconut flour are lower in starch, have no or minimal sugar, and are grain-free and dairy free.
I regard coconut flour as the smart choice for alternative baked goods, compared to regular grain-heavy recipes.
However, there are downsides to coconut flour, making moderation key when it comes to this alternative.
Grain-heavy recipes don’t have many upsides, and they have a whole lot of downsides.
Coconut flour-based recipes have a lot of upsides, and also some downsides. It’s the better choice, but you have to be smart about your use of it.
The Downsides to Coconut Flour
There’s a veritable coconut-flour-as-alternative-baked-good craze. I see some people going ape over coconut flour, eating it in recipes every day, sometimes at every meal.
This isn’t a smart practice.
Coconut flour can cause bloating in some people. It’s super-fiber-rich, which can feed all manner of gut bacteria–the good and the bad. Over-fed good bacteria can create imbalances digestive imbalances too, believe it or not! Digestive imbalances ultimately have a negative impact on the immune system (the gut is the basis of your immune system).
Plus, because it’s mostly fiber, some people find coconut flour can irritate the gut if eaten too frequently, or in larger amounts.
But here are the biggies for me:
- Coconut flour is not nutrient dense (of course, neither are grains). On the other hand, those eggs in the Coconut Pancake recipe are nutrient-dense, and satiating. But coconut flour in and of itself is not, so you don’t want to regularly fill up on it and lower your intake of more nutrient dense foods.
- Coconut flour isn’t satiating. Believe it or not, fiber doesn’t satiate you! That’s right. (Of course, neither do grains. But grains only make you hungrier.) Fiber gives you the physical feeling of volume in your gut, and it doesn’t stabilize your blood sugar and insulin for much longer than about half-an-hour, so it doesn’t “turn off” that hunger button in your brain. Trust me, this isn’t a big boo-hoo–fiber in and of itself isn’t yummy. And don’t even front, you know exactly what I mean.
So what turns “off” the hunger button in your brain?
What Really “Turns Off” the Hunger Button in the Brain
ANSWER: Fat and protein turn off the hunger button in the brain. (The chicken, coconut oil, and eggs in the recipes I shared satiate you, not the coconut flour.)
(It ain’t fiber, starch, whole grains, beans, etc.)
However, fat and protein work differently from one another, and though they are both necessary, their effects are not equal.
Also, not all kinds of fat are created equal.
And not all sources of protein are created equal.
The truth is that there is a science and a poetry to learning how food works and feels in your body and mind.
Dissociation: Why We Do It + What It Does
Dissociation is a split from our physical and/or emotional experience.
The body is home to our physical sensations.
The body is also where we experience emotions–yes, emotions are physical phenomena that resound throughout our nervous systems.
When something is uncomfortable, or when we are confused about what we are physically feeling, we can instinctively dissociate.
This is a survival mechanism. It helps us to survive when we are confronted with overwhelming threats (a definition of trauma).
But when this survival mechanism continues to operate beyond a threat, it impairs our ability to thrive. We get stuck in our heads, and split off from our bodies.
So how does this relate to nutrition?
It relates because life has myriad effects in our body and brain, just as food as myriad effects in our body and brain. Each influences, and regulates or disregulates the other.
If those effects are uncomfortable, or confusing, the instinctive response is usually to dissociate.
Most of the time we get so stuck in our heads about what is “right” and “wrong” about nutrition (and life in general) that we completely forget about how food feels in our bodies–we dissociate.
We shove food in our mouths.
We anesthetize pain we may not even realize we’re feeling.
We eat foods that only make us hungrier, or make us uncomfortable, but we aren’t aware the foods have this effect.
Then we feel frustrated.
We blame ourselves–something must be wrong with us.
We eat more of these foods to numb our frustration.
It’s a vicious cycle.
The truth is (listen closely) you can’t tap into optimal health, or kick cravings, or sustainably lose weight if you’re dissociated.
It’s human to dissociate. Like I said, it’s a survival mechanism.
We have this amazing thing called the neocortex (often called the “higher brain” — but take note: all parts of the brain are sacred!) that allows us to rationalize everything: physical discomfort, physical pleasure, fear, anger, anxiety, aversion.
By that same token, the neocortex gives us conscious reasoning. It allows us to interpret the world around us: physical discomfort, physical pleasure, fear, anger, anxiety, aversion. It gives us language and spatial reasoning.
When we say we dissociate, one way to look at it is that it’s our neocortex going into overdrive, and suffocating the other parts of our brain that instinctively know how we feel, the “animal” parts.
Do you have a stressful job you won’t leave or relationship you won’t end? Leave it to the neocortex to rationalize why you need to stay, despite how you feel–sometimes so well you can’t even identify what you feel.
How To Tackle Dissociation for Cravings-Control, Sustainable Weight Loss, and to Understand Your Unique Daily Nutritional Needs
The neocortex has its shadow and its light side. Being human has its shadow and its light side.
The aim is to bring your experience into balance, to get out of your head and get embodied, to honor all aspects of your human experience.
And–allow me to wax philosophical here–shadow and light can’t exist without the other. (Okay, Operation Waxing: Complete.)
I want you to remember your humanity–its shadow and light side. Remember it is a sacred call to attention. Remember to nurture it with attention and mindful, informed action. Every day.
There is a science and a poetry to learning how food works and feels in your body and mind.
You do need to understand the science behind nutrition (and not all “science” out there is solid).
But you also have to get embodied. You have to really sit in to your physical experience of the effects of your food. Because your body is always talking.
You need to understand how the foods you eat work when you eat them in varying proportions and in combination with other foods, and when you don’t eat certain foods for a period of time, then reintroduce them.
The effects of foods are never black and white; they exist in the context of other foods, time, portions, and varying lifestyle factors.
Mastering how all this works can take years, but if you have the right guide, you can jump-start this process and skip the guesswork.
Food can become easy, delicious, and satisfying again.
You can enjoy living in your body again–or for the very first time.
There’s no better time to begin your journey with an expert guide who understands the science and the poetry of this process, your struggles and desires, and who has the track record of success with countless others because…
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