Dr. Eugenia Victoria Ellis has a lot on her plate—but only in the academic sense.
Ellis is an associate professor with a dual appointment with the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design and the College of Engineering, and she was recently elected to become a 2012-2013 Fellow for ELATE at Drexel. She is also leading a project along with Appalachian Lighting Systems that will evaluate the interior design of the fourth floor dementia unit of St. Francis Country House in Darby, Pa.
Ellis recently took time to chat with DrexelNow about what she’s reading in her spare time—a book called The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf—and how the dieting read isn’t too far off topic from some of her work at Drexel.
What are the basic guidelines to the Paleo Solution?
The Paleo diet is what the author calls “the original human diet.” He makes the argument that in America, we’re eating all the wrong foods. He points out how there are reasons why we as a society have so much diabetes and obesity—it’s because our society is structured around fast food and convenience stores—none [of which] is very good for you at all.
The Paleo diet approaches food as if we were still hunters and foragers—when we ate different kinds of food, before we were an agriculture-based society and started cultivating grains, milking cows. In the “original human diet,” people ate berries, plants, bugs. The easiest guidelines are to eliminate grains, legumes, dairy and grain-fed meats. It’s not an easy formula to follow.
Why did you choose to read this book?
My chiropractor told me about it. I’m doing this research on the elderly and lighting, and you wouldn’t think it relates, but it kind of does. Actually as you age, you begin to crave more sugars, which grains are eventually converted into. When you see what they’re feeding the elderly—mostly grains and sugars like rice, mashed potatoes, corn, lots of bread—they’re inflammatory foods that can alter our cognitive abilities.
It’s what my daughter calls a “food coma,” or that tired, slow feeling after you eat. If you sit down and eat a salad, you’re not going to have a food coma. But that tired feeling you get after eating mac-and-cheese? That’s the inflammation.
What is your overall impression about the book and the diet?
I don’t know if I’m totally buying into this diet, and the book itself is very anecdotal [as opposed to] academic, but I have lost a whole bunch of weight. It’s made me start to think about what we eat and what options we have, and if you’re not going to the grocery store to get your food, there are not really any healthy options for you.