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A Return To The Basic Needs - Thomas Rode, Chef & Writer

Some ten years ago, Thomas Rode, decided to change his lifestyle after many years of debauchery. He started strengthening his body and a little later, he started eating like our ancestors did - also called the Paleo Lifestyle.

The life of Thomas Rode

In his teenage years, Thomas dreamed about becoming a soldier. He loves being outside, doing things that are challenging him and in many ways doing different things than others do. He never became a soldier. Thomas became a trained Chef in 1990 and immediately started working in some of the best restaurants, in Germany, Austria and Denmark. From 1996 he was Head Chef and Manager at Kong Hans Kælder, the oldest Michelin restaurant in Denmark. 

"Then I could as well be the best. Do it 100%. It costs to be one of Denmark's best chefs.”

In 2005 Thomas was divorced and found a 13 years younger girlfriend, a highly skilled, passionate colleague at the Restaurant. In the fight of keeping his dream woman he had to become the best version of himself. This is where he started cross-fitting, eager to become the best version of himself “In which he succeed” with the words of his wife. 

In 2014 he and his wife, working alongside him for a decade, decided to quit a profitable, challenging, prestigious and secure position to pursue other goals, more in sync with their philosophy and their way of life. 

Parallel to his life as a chef Thomas has written books, acted in films and hosted television programs, coached, made cooking schools, product development, food styling and much more, so it made sense to continue down that road. 

Today he and his wife runs “Rode & Maarbjerg” a Consultancy company and “Rigtig Mad”, that provides the Danes with “real food”, as he calls it. Nutrient dense food, as original and true to nature as it gets in 2019. Thomas is not a fan of the term “paleo”, and all the misconceptions that comes along with it. 

His goal is to inspire people to be conscious, aware and alert about their bodies. To treat them right, to give them what they need not to suck at life. To move and to eat according to the common sense of evolutionary science. 

His goal is to inspire people to be conscious, aware and alert about their bodies. To treat them right, to give them what they need not to suck at life. To move and to eat according to the common sense of evolutionary science. 

For Thomas, the training and diet became an important and essential part of his life. Therefore, it also occurs naturally to him. The functional training helps keep him in shape, and focus on the diet gives him the energy he needs to do what has to be done, BUT also allows him to enjoy the pleasures of life as having a glass of wine, indulging a piece of nice chocolate or a dessert when eating out. 

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The road to a dramatic dietary change

As our ancestors,Thomas focuses on getting the most profitable and right mix of nutrients. The energy primarily from fat and protein, from both plant and animal sources, backed up by A LOT of vegetables containing fibre, vitamins and other essential micronutrients, most of them from his own 500 square mtr big 100 % biodynamic vegetable garden, where also chicken roam freely, taking care of both fertilizing the soil, getting rid of unwanted critters and getting fed with wonderful fresh eggs as a result. 

One of the most obvious reasons and actually the one that initially kicked of Thomas dietary change, was the constantly fluctuating blood sugar levels. 

Working as Head Chef and Manager for a prestigious and highly profiled Michelin Restaurant took its toll and Thomas just did as the rest of the pack and just got by with poor food, smoking, loads of coffee, starchy quick meals, sugary beverages, too much alcohol and too little sleep and time to restitute properly. 

After he started training, he realized that the utterly positive changes he gained from physical training and hard exercise, he got the idea that maybe other things in his life could be changed too. But still after he quit smoking, cut down to a reasonable consumption of alcohol and changed to the Gouvernemental dietary recommendations and guidelines, one important issue hadn’t been fixed. 

After staff dinner at 16:30, consisting of full grain pasta and bolognese sauce made with organic beef and veggies, he was still feeling uncomfortable and tired, feeble, flimsy at 18:00 when the Restaurant opened, and he and his staff was supposed to be on fire, alert, ready and eager to give the coming guests and extraordinary culinary experience. 

Something extra needed to be done. 

“I found that it worked and gave more energy. I never missed anything. You have to go away from the bad habits. I believe in the idea of “we have always lived like that”, so why should I not, I mean it's the best way to live? The needs we had 40,000 years ago must be the same we have now.”

This specific nutrient composition of the Paleo Diet, assures that Thomas is never bonking during high physical activity, actually he can't remember the last time it happened, despite the physical activities he takes part in. Grueling Crossfit workouts, long distance swims, MTB races and conquering the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro. Back when Thomas decided to change his lifestyle, the fluctuating blood sugar levels, was the main reason that he changed. 

The energy comes from the fat he eats in connection with his food. He never goes sugar cold and does not have to eat snacks to get his blood sugar up. The grease also helps to keep the skin young and give it a shine, and helps to lubricate the joints in the body. The proteins also help to give him the energy he needs, but they also contribute to building muscle. Therefore it is, for Thomas, the right kind of food combined with training. 

The Paleo Way

Paleo is to eat the things man has always have eaten. It is trying to live as originally as possible - of real food. Paleo is not a diet - it is a lifestyle. The name originally refers to the Paleolithic era, the time BFC. It is based on only eating of foods presumed to have been the only foods available to or consumed by the humans of the era.

He was introduced to the term “paleo” from a training partner in 2009, found out it worked for him and got more energy. He has not looked back since. In 2012 he wrote the book “Stenalderkost”, which is his story into The Paleo Lifestyle, containing lots of easy-to-cook-at-home recipes . The book sold more than 100,000 copies in Denmark. Thomas never thought the book would be such a huge success as it became, but gave him the spirit to write one more. This time, his knowledge about paleo was a lot bigger, and he even got his body tested completely. The test results showed that this way of living was the perfect way for him and his body. 

“Your perfect formula, in the right way of living, is different from mine, but we received, in connection with the book of “Palæo”, the evidence that it worked for me and my body.”

In his book “Palæo” he describes this precisely by living for the principles of the Paleolithic era. According to him, it is not all bodies that are able to live according to these principles. However, he believes that everyone can cut the unhealthy carbohydrates and starches away, such as rice, pasta and potatoes, as well as cutting down on sugary foods such as candy and fruit, and instead add proteins and the saturated fat, then you have already reached far. It does not have to be troublesome.

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A day with paleo - by Thomas Rode: 

A normal day, powered by paleo food (I prefer to call it “real food”) for me, contains eggs’s, meat or fish and plenty of vegetables in all meals. On a beautiful Sunday like this, we could get ourselves started with my wifes version of Rancho Eggs, but without the dried beans. Bacon, ground beef, onions, garlic, fresh herbs, chili properly roasted in a pan, tomatoes added, a couple of eggs hatched into the mix, and the 5 - 6 min at medium heat, covered by a lid. A lot of freshly chopped herbs sprinkled over and you're in heaven. 

For lunch, it could be some of the delicious fish cakes I produce, made of line caught cod. We love to have them with a home fermented coleslaw; lots of dietary fibers, vitamins and minerals and as an extra bonus they're even probiotic as well = awesome nutrition for your microbiome, all the little organisms that takes good care of your digestion IF you give them good nutrition to work with. Treat them bad and they will treat you just as bad. 

Fit living

You are what you are eating. A term used in many situations. If you look at Thomas Rode, you will probably see the perfect 50 year old man. Yet he feels as a 24 year old, both physically and psychically. 

You don’t have to stop when you are having kids, getting a new job or buying a house. Your purpose will then be wrapping yourself up in a cheap fleece blanket, lying in your Ikea sofa, watching someone else's life on a big screen. You do not have to defend your family from anything - the police does that, you do not have to bring food to the family - your wife does that, you do not have to raise your children - the society does that, you do not have to control anything - your wife also takes care of that. All you have to do is roll yourself into your blanket, with your pear-shaped ass planted on the couch and watching television. Shut up, it’s sad!

‘How is it possible to remain fit and look more healthy than the average man? The answer lies in your priorities.

Thomas started training 10 years ago, and immediately felt the transformation on his body, both physically and especially mentally. After many years with no thoughts of keeping his body maintained, Thomas had enough. Despite his growing age he wanted to do something for himself. He started crossfitting, quit smoking and drinking.

Crossfit is like Paleo, a lifestyle, and is based on a strength and fitness program built around constantly varying functional movements performed under relatively high intensity. Unknown and unknowable. 

It's difficult for Thomas to give good advice because he's just gone through it. He has changed his lifestyle and he has achieved what he wanted, so it is difficult to give good advice, because advice is usually very subjective. 

"Basically, it's really about grabbing yourself by the balls and just do it"

As mentioned above, you can start cutting down on the unhealthy things and increase the healthy things like the green vegetables, fats and proteins. If you get that into your daily life, then you have reached a good part of the way. But before that, it's a good idea to clean up your kitchen. Throw all the unhealthy foods out, or give it away, because then you no longer have it in your home. Then you can start shopping for what you need. It's okay to buy in for several days, as long as it's only the good and healthy stuff. If you fall in (it happens for everyone), buy only what you need! Because once you've eaten it, it's gone and it’s no longer in the house.

Then you can start walking in the woods, around the lake or whatever is nearby. Most importantly it must be something that gives a joy and inspiration.
One can easily, even in a busy family and weekday, get these things to happen. For Thomas, it's simply a matter of getting together, because once you've done it for a couple of weeks or a month, it will automatically be a part of your everyday life. Is it difficult getting introduced to the family? No, but it is clear that as a busy family, you will have to back up each other and help to accomplish it.

Thomas has one mission in life: "If I can inspire people and start some thoughts, then my goal is reached, but if I can actually help change the lifestyle of some people, I will be very happy."