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We are Brandon and Megan Keatley

We live in South Carolina. We’re currently working on opening our own CrossFit gym in Columbia, SC–. We started eating Paleo in 2007 and CrossFitting in 2009. We’ve competed at the CrossFit Games Regional multiple times and are the only CrossFit owners in the state that have both ranked in the top 5% of CrossFit athletes worldwide.

health-bent (adj.)

1. dedicated to pursuing health, most importantly through food

2. unwilling to accept conventional dietary wisdom outright

3. resolved to eat real foods with benefits affirmed in modern science, supported by traditional culture, and confirmed by evolutionary evidence

4. intent on following a collective Paleo/Primal diet approach

5. steadily refusing to believe that healthy food has to be boring, bland food

6. persistently searching for foods of the highest quality, in their most whole and pure state

7. constantly evaluating what really is healthy in the first place

You will see some gray area ingredients on this site. Things like some dairy, vinegar, cashews, etc. These foods may not be quote, unquote Paleo in the sense of whether or not they were available as food in the Paleolithic (10,000+ years ago/pre-agriculture). However, we’re not after a Paleo reenactment here, since by those rules grass fed beef and olive oil (for example) would not be “Paleo” (as domestication and oil extraction was likely not available/not practical for hunter gatherers). These grey area foods do not make up staples in our diet but they are included for variety and because in the Venn diagram representing Paleolithic Foods/Neolithic Foods/Agents of Disease…they do not fall squarely in the category of an “agent of disease” (based on our best interpretation of the data/information available). We feel that these foods do fit a Paleo Framework that helps us to reach the benefits of Paleolithic metabolism…while avoiding the rigor/impracticality of strict reenactment.

Bottom Line

These are the foods we choose to eat, and are subject to constant evaluation as our definition states. If you have individual reasons to avoid any ingredient found on our site, by all means, please substitute or omit it. Email us or drop a comment and we will do our best to help you with these substitutions/omissions.

Think of This Site As a Buffet

Take what you want and leave what you don’t. In addition to the umbrella diagram below, our blog contains several articles outlining some of our food philosophy. We are happy to answer sincere questions about our ingredients or approach. We do not exempt ourselves from open mindedness, but please refrain from attacking or discrediting our material based on your difference of opinion.

To us, the USDA food pyramid/plate has a few problems. The most obvious one and the one most commonly written about is the danger associated with the high carbohydrate/grain and low fat recommendations they promote. The second, and we think less obvious one, is that the pyramid/plate does not represent visually what benefits eating well can help you obtain and what detriments it can help you avoid. It also does not represent the major underlying principles that drive the decisions on what foods should take precedence on your plate.

With the Health-Bent Umbrella we set out to address both of these issues. Because to us, to create a sustainable lifestyle of healthy eating requires more than just a list of foods….knowledge of how your food can truly be used as medicine can help you stay the course.

Meat and Eggs Beef, pork, lamb, bison, poultry, eggs, fish, other seafood and shellfish, game meats, organ meats (and less common animal meats all work here)

Vegetables Mostly non-starchy and some starchy; potatoes, sweet potatoes (and yams), celery root, cassava root (tapioca), plantains, winter squashes

Nuts and Approved Fats Enjoy nuts moderately, macadamias are the best; approved non-dairy cooking fats include tallow, duck fat, lard, olive oil, high oleic sunflower oil, palm oil and palm shortening

Fruit and Added Natural Sweeteners Berries and cherries are the best; we use coconut sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc.

Dairy Grass-fed (and raw) when possible; heavy cream, butter, and cheeses

The Umbrella Handle

The Health-Bent approach is founded in collective Paleo diet methodology and supported by modern science. As the handle of the umbrella lets us grasp it and postures it overhead, evolutionary biology and evidence of what our ancestors ate is the theory that allows us to grasp all the other aspects of the lifestyle and see how science supports them.

1. Evolutionary Evidence/ Paleo Diet /Modern Science

Our hunter-gather ancestors enjoyed lean/muscular physiques and lives largely absent of many modern diseases. Their pre-agricultural diets were free of grains, beans/legumes, vegetable oils, and refined sugars but high in animal protein and fat. Modern science supports that eating this way helps your body work the way it was designed to work.

The Umbrella Fabric

The fabric of our umbrella is made up of the foods we mindfully choose to eat. These foods provide the shelter to protect from the perils above in the clouds.

The Umbrella Ribs

The ribs of the umbrella support the structure and allow the fabric to stay taut and open. The ribs of our diagram are some of the major principles that guide our decisions about food and support the decision to eat the way we do.

2. Challenge CW

Conventional dietary Wisdom (think USDA food pyramid…high carb, low fat) has been linked to the increase in obesity and health problems prevalent in our country. CW recommendations are based on questionable data and are perpetuated by government and industry with suspected special interests other than optimal health.

3. Eat Low Carbohydrate, Especially Fructose

Chronically elevated insulin levels from high carbohydrate intake can break your metabolism and lead to fat storage coupled with the inability to burn it. Your body’s regulatory hormones and energy can suffer. This imbalance is tied to inflammation and a host of diseases. Carbohydrate intake also blunts satiety and causes those dreaded blood sugar crashes, which can lead you to overeat more of the wrong foods. Fructose is one of the types of sugars found in fruit and refined sugars. There is mounting evidence that large amounts of fructose in your diet (which are normal anymore) are very dangerous to your health.

4. Don’t fear saturated fats, but do watch your Polyunsaturateds (Omega 3:Omega 6 Ratio)

Saturated fat has been villified for years based on poorly conducted and reported science. A conclusive link has never been drawn between saturated fat intake and heart disease, dispite all of the $ spent to try and prove this. Replacing these fats with carbohydrates is misguided, see above.

Polyunsaturated fats are essential in your diet…but their ratio has gotten very unbalanced. An ideal ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids would be around 1:1. The standard American diet has been said to approach 1:30. The culprit is largely modern vegetable oils. Processing and refining these oils has required sophisticated manufacturing processes that have only been available very recently. These oils trend toward very high Omega 6 levels. Omega 6 fats are pro-inflammatory (although we need some) while Omega 3′s reduce inflammation. The imbalance is what can create a dangerous environment in your body harming your immune function among other things. Do your homework on these oils, apart from being high in Omega 6 they are also highly susceptible to oxidation (damage).

Approved: Coconut, palm, olive, avocado, animal (bacon renderings, etc.), some nut oils – cold pressed is best

Avoid: Soybean, peanut, corn, sunflower, safflower, canola, flaxseed oil, and most others that are not on the approved list

5. Truth about Grains

Grains have evolved to possess a host of compounds designed to discourage consumption. They don’t want to be eaten! When you consume grains you are ingesting toxins. These “anti-nutrients” wreak havoc on your gut lining (can block absorption of nutrients you need) and are associated with auto-immune disorders among other things. Beans and legumes contain many of these compounds as well. Grains have only been an available food source for humans for about 10,000 years…a mere blink of the eye compared to our 2+ million years of existence.

6. Quality

Extra effort to find organic produce and pastured or free ranging animal products is worth it. Local is generally better as well. Conventional produce can contain harmful pesticides and fertilizers and frequently is grown and harvested in such a way that compromises nutrient levels. Industrialized meat is typically fed a diet foreign to the species, lives in unsanitary conditions, and is bolstered with hormones and antibiotics. Animals should eat what they would eat naturally and live in a spacious environment, these products in turn will be healthier and bio-accumulate less toxins.

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