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What We Want and What We Need

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I mentioned in my previous blogs that I attempted veganism once in my past. Some may argue that I wasn't doing it correctly. They would be right. I abandoned it because it is not a lifestyle within my core beliefs. I would never be able to adhere to it. The faux meat substitutes were highly processed foods, and that did not fit with what I wanted for myself. Veganism without faux meat was an even further stretch, and not something that would fit for me either.

At a later point, I tried flexitarianism. I thought it would be the best of both worlds. It's not because I have an ethical problem with eating animal protein because I do not. I take a native American view of hunting and eating meat. The animal gave its life for me, and it deserves respect. By consuming the animal, it is now becoming a part of me.

I attempted flexitarianism because I thought it would be a good middle ground. As I could not be vegan, I knew I could not be vegetarian either. But maybe I could reduce my meat consumption by only eating it for dinner. This seemed like a great idea.

I did it for about a month. I felt fine, and I enjoyed the food very much. No processed frankenfoods, and I didn't have to eat faux meat substitutes. I ate yogurt and cereal for breakfast, quinoa and beans for lunch, and beef or chicken for dinner. It was a diet that I could support for a lifetime.

Except one problem.

My body didn't like it.

Mentally, the diet was there for me. But physically?

I didn't lose or gain weight, however, I was getting fatter. My scale weight stayed the same, but I could tell by how my clothes were getting tighter that I was losing muscle and gaining fat. I was baffled as to why.

The worst was when I looked in the mirror. I had dark circles appear under my eyes. I don't normally wear much makeup, but the dark circles forced me to wear concealer and foundation to cover it up. I also developed a disfiguring stye under my left eye. I didn't understand why I seemed to be deteriorating so quickly right before my eyes. It was frustrating, frightening and alarming.

According to my food logs, I was doing everything correct. I stayed within my calorie ranges. Avoiding meat until supper time meant that protein and fat stayed very low, which at the time I thought was a good thing. This was the best I had ever done to adhere to the standard low-fat recommended diet.

It was only by chance that I eventually linked my symptoms to my diet. I took a 'break' from my flexitarian schedule. With the increased protein, the sunken, black circles under my eyes disappeared. The stye took several more months to fully go away. After that, I concluded that even though I fundamentally liked the diet, I had to abandon it. This eventually lead me towards a lower grain, high vegetable, and moderate protein diet. AKA low-carb.

I'm not a carnivore or herbivore; I'm an omnivore. Veggies+protein, and this is what my body responds to.

Don't misunderstand what I'm saying. I am not saying that because this was bad for me, therefore it is bad for everyone. I can't really know if your diet is right for you any more than you can know if mine is right for me. I'm not you. You're not me.

I have a problem with the dogmatism that there is a one size fits all solution to weight management. Dietary needs can vary due to genetic predispositions, allergies, and/or activity levels. I would eat very differently if I trained for a marathon, for example.

I'm not a fitness or diet professional, and I make no money from it. I don't have anything to gain if anyone follows the same diet that I do. If there's any agenda that I push, it's to suggest that if the diet you're following isn't working for you, then maybe it isn't the right one.

Even if it fundamentally fits your personal vision. The truth is the truth whether we believe in it or not. If your body doesn't like the food and exercise stimulus you're giving it, you don't get the results you want. What we want and what we need are not always in alignment, unfortunately.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KAYOTIC 6/14/2013 10:27PM

    I'm amazed at how you were able to put the pieces together and figure out how your diet was affecting you, more people should look so carefully at that! And kudos to you for not sticking to something that wasn't working for you even though you really believed it was good and healthy.

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THINRONNA 6/14/2013 4:01PM

    Great blog! Your journey is a fascinating one for sure lady! I thank you for sharing all that you do.

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BILL60 6/12/2013 9:33AM

    Wise words from a wise lady.

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FITGIRL15 6/12/2013 1:06AM

    Such simple advice! But when it comes to food, diet and weight loss... there is soooo much fog, differing opinions and the poor misguided souls!


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KIKKI-G 6/11/2013 4:31PM

    I agree with the no one plan fits all point of view. It really is individual and sometimes on here I feel like I'm being preached to or sucked in my everyone & their fads. I eat what makes my body feel good and sometimes I indulge in things that don't but thats not all the time. Its crazy how the low fat/protein thing made your body react so drastically! I can relate in the sense of, my homeopathic friend suggested i try putting some maca root in my smoothies for energy & its supposed to balance out hormones (i have a bit of an imbalance) so i tried it and my body DID NOT like it at all. my face/neck broke out in deep pimples, make my heart race and i felt like I was on something ...soo that little experiment ended quick & now i have a bag of maca sitting in my cupboard. womp.

Keep on finding whats right for you!!

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DDOORN 6/11/2013 4:29PM

    Absolutely we are all on our own journey and each of us has our own unique combo of foods that "work" or don't. Kudos to your keen sense of tuning into yourself! I have an image in my mind of someone who cracks a safe by carefully listening, sensing the tumblers inside falling into place and VOILA! You've got it!


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_VALEO_ 6/11/2013 3:55PM

    Great job on listening to your body! You have to follow what works for you, physically and mentally.

I am a vegetarian, but I never push it--it is usually the others who emphasize it, and sometimes make jokes on my diet. My diet is personal and fits my beliefs: I am in harmony with myself, that's all it matters.

I hear you about the faux meat, and I don't like when it tastes like the real meat.
I tried to avoid it as much as possible, but sometimes the lack of time and easy option have the best of our good resolutions.

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AJB121299 6/11/2013 3:10PM


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JANET552 6/11/2013 3:10PM

    Well said!! I believe we each must find what works for us. There is no one else in the world like you, or me, or anyone else. Therefore, why would it make sense that there could be a one-size-fits-all diet or exercise program. Thanks for the blog!

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To The Victor Goes the Spoils (Gardening)

Monday, June 10, 2013

I am a city girl. Not necessarily metropolitan cities, but I have never lived in a rural community or a farm. I grew up thinking of food as something you buy in a grocery store. My family never did much backyard gardening because the soil and climate in Colorado was terrible for crop plants.

I do not have much experience with plants. House plants tend not to live very long in my care. If I underwater plants, they turn yellow and die. But confoundedly, if I overwater them, they also turn yellow and die. So I don't know if I'm giving too much or too little, and by the time I know which, it's too late.

I have been labeled the "black thumb" by my husband. Heaven forbid a pretty plant catches my eye, because I might sentence it to death by taking it home.

I have even killed cactus.

When I moved to Seattle, a metropolitan city, I was shocked to discover how much farmland surrounds the city. It is truly the Emerald City. Everything is green. It is the complete opposite of Colorado; the climate and soil are rich and fertile for growing plants. I was once told by a native, "If you can't grow it in Washington, you can't grow it anywhere."

I became very interested in the idea of the urban pea patches where Seattle city dwellers could rent small patches of land to grow their own crops. The waiting list was ridiculously long. In the six years I lived there, I was never able to get one.

However, I discovered a U-pick farm in Redmond. We all know Redmond, WA as the capital of Microsoft these days, but there are still parts where there are farms and wineries. They have dwindled as some farmers opted to sell their land for the premiums corporations and land developers offered. There are a few holdouts, though. This particular farm I found hiding on the backside of the largest software company in the world was one of them.

They did not sell their produce commercially; they sold their produce straight to the public. I would not say they were a certified organic operation, though. They did use some commercial pesticides and fertilizers, however, they were very reserved in their usage. Poisoned soil would grow no more food. They still employed the traditional agriculture technique of crop rotation. The lettuce would be grown on the left side of the field one year, and the next year it would be on the right. They did not use Monsanto seed. I would not say that buying from them was cheaper than the local Safeway. The price was more like buying from Whole Foods - not cheap. However, cost wasn't the reason you bought them from. Even Whole Foods could not give you what this farm offered.

Every year I eagerly waited for the spring, summer and fall crops. They gave us a basket, and we walked around the farms where they marked with a green flag the produce ready for picking. They grew the well known vegetable classics like onions, carrots, potatoes, squashes and tomatoes, of course, but they also grew exotic varieties of herbs and veggies that you'll never find in a store. I can't remember the names of them because they were exotic! But I ate several different varieties of Greek, Italian and Asian fruits, veggies and herbs I've never seen or heard of before.

I ate heirloom varieties of tomatoes that were so juicy and sweet, I could understand why tomatoes are actually fruits, not vegetables. The tomatoes we buy commercially are bred to be bruise resistant as they travel in transit, but they taste like cardboard; they are flavorless. These heirloom tomatoes grown on the farm were the classic tomatoes that my grandmother probably grew up with. They were like a very juicy, soft apple.

Potatoes from the farm tasted like "apples from the earth," which is what their French name pomme de terre means. I never understood why those crazy French named them that...until I picked them, washed them, cooked them, and ate them. They didn't even need any salt to be delicious.

Zucchinis are my favorite vegetable, but I was spoiled by the ones I picked from the farm. They were so fresh, they tasted "green" and "alive". Now when I eat store bought zukes, they taste "flat" and "dead". I remember wistfully that they are pale imitations of the real thing. The farm fresh zukes were so bright and flavorful, I could eat them raw. Wholesome food is flavorful without being cooked to death with seasoning. Now I could understand why grandma used to say food tasted better in the golden days. I can believe that it was literally true. I didn't know until that moment when I bit into a freshly picked and washed zuke, and I just wanted to devour it whole.

There are farms in Georgia, but they aren't like the ones in Washington. At least, I haven't found any like that one in Redmond. There is a small farmer's market in downtown Savannah every Sunday, but I live far enough away that I can't always get there.

Now that I've had a taste of what 'real' produce should taste like, it's hard for me not to look at store bought produce as pretenders. Sure it looks like a tomato, but it's just a shadow of what it should be. Zucchinis are still my favorites, I suppose.

I was living in ignorance of what real food should taste like. Now I know what it should be, it is hard to go back.

Since moving to Georgia, I've been so desperate to get back to the delicious real food. I have attempted patio gardening growing tomatoes and herbs several times, but the summer heat eventually kills them. It is a lot harder to keep plants alive in scorching hot weather outside, and I've already established I'm not a great gardener to begin with.

The first 'home improvement' I wanted to make when we moved into our house was to build a raised bed garden. I wrote about it several months ago. I planted three different varieties of tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, jalapenos, and bell peppers.

I haven't shown pictures of it developing because it kind of took a life of its own! My tomato plants went from small little bushes into viney monstrosities that I didn't expect! Here's a photo hubs took of the cat and me inspecting it.

A close up of my cherry tomatoes. On one of the leaves, you can see where the bugs are eating my plant alive.

The roma tomatoes are ripening.

This is my bounty from this afternoon. Two different types of cherry tomatoes and a couple of romas. One of the cherry tomatoes burst in my hand as I was picking it, and it was so sweet, my hands felt sticky.

I am growing semi-organically, and it is a challenge. As I've said, I have no background with growing vegetables at all. I'm learning as I go. I have learned three tomato plants in my 5x3 raised bed garden is too many! My tomatoes have engaged in plant survival of the fittest as they try to grow the biggest and tallest to get the most sun. My roma tomato plant is losing the battle. I've trimmed the others back quite a bit, and they are still out of control. If I do this again next year, I'm going to plan differently. My jalapenos and bell peppers are crowded out by the tomato plants - I'm not going to get any fruit I don't think. My tomatoes are delicious...and vicious. They don't want to share the box.

My plants seem to be surviving well because they are in a large planter box with lots of soil, so it retains more moisture even in the heavy heat. This was my major problem with my container garden. My pots didn't have enough soil to retain water to both cool and feed my plants.

As with any gardener, I am at war with a number of pests who want to eat my plants. Bugs, slugs, birds and squirrels mainly. I put bird netting over the top, but my tomato plants refused to be contained and grew through it.

The squirrels are the biggest pains in my rear. I no longer think they are 'cute.' They are pests that dig holes all over the yard, and try to steal my veggies. I seriously want a dog so s/he can chase the friggin squirrels out of the yard. I've seen a few remnants of partially eaten green tomatoes, so I think the squirrels have been sampling to see if they are something good to eat. The bird netting keeps the fruit mostly protected, but they are exposed where they have grown through the net. So I will most likely unwillingly share part of my crop with the neighborhood birds and squirrels. I'm not sure how I will address this for next year. Bigger hoops and a bigger net? Dunno.

The organic part of the gardening has been interesting, and I came up with a few issues as I went along. I used mostly organic soil, but I did mix it with a little commercial soil and top soil for cost reasons. I haven't used any fertilizer yet, and I'm glad I didn't because my plants have already grown too large.

The first time I went to water my plants, it occurred to me that my garden hose wasn't 'organic'. Water is the main ingredient for vegetables, and I didn't want my vegetables to taste like garden hose. I went and bought a potable water hose meant for RVs to water with.

I bought an organic pesticide that is made of essential oils. Certain plants are natural bug repellants, and this pesticide I found was made of peppermint and oregano oil. It seems to work ok, but it smells very strong. It is completely safe to eat, but if it doesn't get washed off my veggies, it does leave an odd aftertaste. Next year I will try to reorganize my planter to contain some companion plants to deter bugs so maybe I won't have to use so much.

If nothing else, this has been an eye opening experience on what it takes to grow food. I've written many times about how disconnected we are with our food. There's no way I could grow enough food to feed my husband and I, but this is a very welcome supplement. I am nostalgic for the farm fresh produce that was so readily available to me in Washington, but since I can't have it, this is the best I can do. The tomatoes I'm growing are plentiful enough that I probably won't need to buy any store bought tomatoes this summer.

Sometimes the challenges seem to be more effort than it is worth, but when I wash and eat my efforts still hot from the sun, I change my mind. It is worth enjoying while it lasts.

P.S. I didn't realize this would be so long when I wrote it! So if you read all the way through, thank you! :) You deserve an award!

emoticon emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BTVMADS 6/19/2013 8:24PM

    I know you're a little further south than me, but WOW am I surprised at how many tomatoes you have already! We have a couple of fruits growing on one plant and lots of flowers on the others, but it will still be a week or so before we get our first real tomato. (And let's not talk about what the beans and squash are up to. It's upsetting)

I absolutely hear you about real vs. grocery store produce. We have a CSA this summer and we still visit the farmer's market, so the only vegetables I buy at the grocery store now are onions and garlic (the cashiers must think I'm a horribly irresponsible adult, going through the line with nothing from the produce section but bananas and apples) -- it's AMAZING the difference in flavor. I thought I hated collards until I tasted young, just-harvested organic greens from a farm just 5 miles away.

So Zucchini is your favorite veggie? What do you... you know, DO with it? I really do not like summer squash at all, so I basically just "hide" it as a replacement in Italian pasta dishes. But if you know a really good grain-free zucchini bread recipe I am ALL ears!

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DESERTJULZ 6/14/2013 4:10PM

    I really love this line: "Now that I've had a taste of what 'real' produce should taste like, it's hard for me not to look at store bought produce as pretenders. "

Great blog! Best of luck with your newly green thumb.

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KAYOTIC 6/12/2013 9:11AM

    Your plants look so healthy! I have a problem with the squirrels too....have built cages around my planters for now, but my tomatoes aren't nearly as big as yours at the moment. I'll see how that goes. They have eaten the raspberries off the vine I planted already!

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DONEGIRL 6/11/2013 8:20AM

    I too am jealous of your tomatoes and even more of your sunshine. I can't believe they are this year's crop! It hasn't been warm enough here yet to plant tomatoes outside.
We don't get enough sunshine here in Ireland so our tomatoes can take months to grow and are often pathetic specimens! Then the rain brings out the slugs! Warm tomatoes from the garden -yum! with a little olive oil and basil- yum! yum!

Comment edited on: 6/11/2013 12:47:59 PM

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DRSUNSHINE1 6/11/2013 12:32AM

    Great post! Especially living in the Pacific NW, I know what you're talking about in terms of growing things here. I didn't see if any of your other commentor mentioned CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), but that might be another option for you. A good friend of mine lives in a suburb of Atlanta and loves the farm they have a share in. Local Harvest (http://www.localharvest.org/csa/) is a way to find a farm in your area - you can search by ZIP code or state, then narrow it down. I'm sure you could probably still find a farm with shares for this year. You could also try cages for your tomatoes (hard to tell from your photo if you have some or not). That might help keep the errant cherry tomatoes off the roma :) Happy gardening! emoticon

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WOUBBIE 6/10/2013 10:59PM

    As to the bugs, consider it a compliment from Mother Nature. My dad always said to be very suspicious of any plant that bugs DIDN'T want to eat. "If they won't eat it, you shouldn't either."

My grandmother was the real gardener in the family, and I still look back at the foods we had when I was growing up with a little bit of awe. I mean, we feed our kids better than most parents nowadays do, but, as you say, grocery store produce is like a cardboard mockup of the original.

Great blog! You should be the one getting the award though!

Comment edited on: 6/10/2013 11:00:33 PM

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GETSTRONGRRR 6/10/2013 8:51PM

    Cool blog (yeah, i got all the way through!)

i admire anyone with the patience to grow and tend a garden. My dad grew a vegetable garden in our back yard (he emigrated to the US in the 50s from a long tradition of home gardening). I spent hours every weekend watering, weeding, trimming and doing all the chores that young kids hate to do when there are better opportunities to play with friends.

To this day, I still pay someone to mow my lawn!

Enjoy the garden!

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GLC2009 6/10/2013 8:20PM

    emoticon here's my award, i read all the way through emoticon
i am hoping to get a raised garden bed going. i have no gardening skills either and will enjoy learning how to grow my own veggies. we have lots of fruit and berries growing, but, the birds and bears seem to get them before we do. i have no idea how to keep them away. the only thing i ever really get is the blueberries. either there's so many or the animals don't like them as much. i don't know.
anyway, i enjoyed your blog and congrats on your gardening success. emoticon

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_VALEO_ 6/10/2013 7:21PM

    Really enjoyed reading your blog!
It seems you gave your garden a lot of thoughts, and food for thoughts.
Black thumb could have been my middle name too; until I realized that it mainly applies to house plants in my case, and not garden. Maybe the pot plants that we are sold are not meant to survive.

As a 'crazy' linguist emoticon I wonder why the French 'ananas' is named 'pinapple' in English. Pinapple being translated as "pomme de pin" into French, and "une pomme de pin" is actually a "fir/pine cone."

I am jealous of your tomatoes. I haven't planted anything yet this year due to my poor weather conditions. One of the things I've learnt since I moved there 3 1/2 years ago and had my first garden ever is that you have to share with the animals, and they will help you back.

Happy harvesting!

Comment edited on: 6/10/2013 7:23:22 PM

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Would You Eat This?

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Most people are familiar with the concept of "Soylent Green" even if they haven't seen the movie. In a fictional dystopian world plagued with overpopulation, pollution, and food scarcity, Soylent Green is the main nutritional food stuff of the future. It's a renewable food source that is the solution to feeding a hungry world. The shocker is what Soylent Green is really made of, which I won't give away here for those who might not have seen it.

The movie was based on a book from science fiction writer Harry Harrison. The movie is drastically different than the book in theme and plot, but "Soylent Green" was originally called "Soylent Steak" in the book. "Soylent Steak" was not the shocker that it was in "Soylent Green", but it was an artificial replacement to real meat. That is exactly what I thought of when I read this article:


About eight years ago, I engaged in my one and only attempt at veganism. It didn't last long. I do not have the conviction of spirit to hold to it for a lifetime. I did not enjoy nor could I get used to the taste of meat substitutes. Rather quickly, I wondered if I was hungering for meat replacements, why not just eat real meat? I also noticed a contradiction in what I was attempting. It was my goal to eliminate processed and packaged food from my diet, and these meat substitutes were HIGHLY processed foods. Soy and corn are among the most genetically modified plants.

That was the end of my vegan experiment.

If meat substitutes tasted more like real meat, then would people be more receptive to vegetarianism or veganism?

Growing "meat" in a petri dish just shifts one ethical dilemma to another.

A long time ago, I reconciled that the very act of living means consuming something that dies. If we eat meat, an animal had to die. If we eat a plant, a plant had to die. Nutrient rich soil is full of organic compost from dead matter, which living plants thrive in. Soil with no bacteria, mold, bugs, worms, decaying plant/animal matter, etc, is dead soil. It cannot sustain life.

Many of my vegetarian friends reconcile this by saying they won't eat anything with a face. Fair enough. However, just because a plant doesn't have a face or a brain doesn't mean it wants to be eaten.

Some edible plants have evolved so that the animals who eat their fruit will spread their seed elsewhere. Some edible plants become inedible or bitter when they go to seed. Some plants developed toxins in order to avoid being eaten because they can't run away. Beans, for example. Beans are very tough and contain a toxin that will make animals very sick if they try to eat it. But as our ancestors discovered, boiling them in water for 10 minutes will neutralize the toxin rendering them safe to eat. If you ever got a case of mysterious food poisoning from a batch of crockpot chili made with dried beans, it was probably because the temperature didn't reach 100C/212F in order to destroy the toxin. Most people mistakenly blame the meat, but it was actually probably the beans.

It is true that the Amazon rain forest is being cut down to make room for cattle. However, it is also being deforested to make room for corn, soy, and wheat. The irrigation and chemical fertilizers used changes the ph balance of the soil through every ecosystem that they pass through. "The Dead Zone" in the Gulf of Mexico is due to the high nitrogen from fertilizer run off carried from farms down the Mississippi River. It causes algae to bloom to such high levels that it removes all the oxygen in the water, suffocating the coral reefs, fish and plants. The midwest grown corn in the corn flakes and the soy in the soy milk for breakfast may have massacred hundreds of thousands of shellfish and fish in what should be the most fertile delta in the United States.

I'm not trying to come up with a solution for this. I'm just framing the problem. Darned if we do, darned if we don't.

Petri dish grown food, though, is disturbing. This isn't hybridization of plants or animals; it is entirely manufactured. It isn't something nature made, and to me that is more offensive than eating bugs.

How exactly are the animal rights activists going to test that this is safe for consumption if they oppose animal testing?

Presumably they think this will be safer from food contamination than animal slaughter. Meat can be contaminated with e coli or salmonella. However, I wouldn't eat anything that bacteria or fungus can't eat. Food is supposed to go moldy. That is life breaking down organic matter. It is NATURAL and the way it is supposed to work.

The most disturbing aspect to me is that "Shmeat" was never alive. It doesn't have any parents. It doesn't have any children. It doesn't grow in the sun; it presumably grows under a heat lamp. Perhaps to some anti-meat advocates, maybe that is what is appealing. If so, then this is an irreconcilable difference, and no, a better tasting fake meat would not convince me it was somehow more healthy.

I am for the ethical raising of livestock and sustainable farms similar to the way my grandparents' generation did it. Cows ate grass in pastures, then were finished with corn in the last week before the slaughter - not raised on grain in feces covered holding cells their whole life. Produce was rotated seasonally on farms to promote healthy soil - not seeded with GMO plants that were bred to be dependent on the company that modified them.

For me, this is an absolute "No Way."

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DONEGIRL 6/12/2013 9:19AM

    Touchť! And she has bigger tomatoes than I do too!

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WOUBBIE 6/12/2013 8:55AM

    Hear, hear!

Of the two scientists, I'm more inclined to believe the one who gets results.

As to the original topic, two words: unintended consequences.

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VHALKYRIE 6/12/2013 8:35AM

    In that instance, no they are not inert as they are amplifying an existing state. They are not the causation. Every instance you are discussing addresses the symptom, not the causation. And thus is the state of our current situation as medicine attempts to patch up the symptoms, and not the root cause which is over consumption of glucose and over stimulation of insulin. The saturated fats in the form of triglycerides are damaging in a malfunctioning system. I have never denied this. I only deny that they in themselves are the causation, per se.

Know how I lowered my blood pressure, blood lipid profile, and lost weight? I stopped consuming non vegetable carbohydrates. Problem solved. I didn't need a doctor or medicine to do it. Once I understood the hormonal imbalance, I could fix my problem with diet and exercise alone. Not calorie counting.

Best wishes and good luck in your path, whatever that may be.

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DONEGIRL 6/12/2013 8:13AM

    So it's exactly as I said: fatty acids are NOT inert when it comes to insulin secretion and glucose homeostasis.

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VHALKYRIE 6/12/2013 7:21AM

    Free fatty acids do not cause insulin secretion. Excessive free fatty acids amplify secretion ONLY in the presence of glucose (when secretion is already occurring).

Comment edited on: 6/12/2013 7:45:19 AM

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DONEGIRL 6/12/2013 5:32AM

    It is simply incorrect to say that fat is inert in relation to insulin/glucagon. For example free fatty acids stimulate insulin secretion via the G-protein coupled receptor GPR40 which is present mainly in the beta cells of the pancreas. Agonists to this receptor are being developed at a rapid rate and some are at an advanced stage in clinical trials for the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes and the results are promising in terms of improved glycaemic control.

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BTVMADS 6/11/2013 6:30PM

    Wow, this is just... the anti-paleo! I wouldn't touch that with a 10-foot pole, and I sure as heck wouldn't subject my family's health to something so unnatural.

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VHALKYRIE 6/11/2013 6:08PM

    Here's what happen when you do a high cardio/low calorie diet. Your metabolism drops. Why? Because your body adjusts and reregulates hormones so you function on a fewer number of calories.

Here's what happens when you exercise and eat a lot of calories, particularly protein: you gain muscle.

You cannot gain fat without insulin. Type I diabetics cannot gain weight without insulin. Once they start taking insulin shots, they can put on weight. And yes, if they eat too much, they can gain a lot of weight. But again, that only happens in the presence of insulin.

The elephant in the room is how foods and exercise effects hormonal balance. Our bodies aren't an accounting math ledger, and no, it is not as simple as calorie in versus calorie out.

It is inert with regards to insulin/glucagon secretion. Insulin imbalance leads to excessive triglycerides. Excessive triglycerides leads to a number of different health issues. Again, it is a symptom, not a cause. Your two links do nothing but confirm that, yes, it is a problem. That is not in dispute.

Comment edited on: 6/11/2013 6:45:59 PM

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DONEGIRL 6/11/2013 5:45PM

    Fat is not inert, either as a nutrient or as adipose tissue. People DO say insulin is the enemy as in Peter Attia's ridiculous title for his campaign ' War on insulin" ( now changed). Even in the absence of carbs if you overeat you will get fat if you eat more than your caloric requirements. Problems arise when we overeat- not due to insulin but due to overeating. It just seems to me that the carbohydrate theory of obesity is based on a reading of undergraduate texts. It's just not that simple - that's why I referenced the two articles on free fatty acids. No single nutrient is responsible for obesity but the elephant in the room is overeating. As Dolly Parton said.' Get your head out of the slop bucket'. I address that comment to myself not to you! emoticon

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VHALKYRIE 6/11/2013 4:49PM

    Problem arise when we overeat, which is driven by excess insulin. Again, fat is inert, and protein has a small effect. Carbohydrate is the largest driver of insulin. Protein causes glucogon to be excreted. When there is an excess of insulin, fat cannot be used for energy. Neither the triglycerides, nor adipose. When glucagon is the dominant hormone, fat can be used for energy. No one said insulin is the enemy. Excess insulin is. Insulin is an absolutely vital hormone. Type I diabetics will die due to lack of it.

When there is an absence of carbohydrates, some protein is converted to glucose via gluconeogenesis. Stored fat is turned into ketones. Ketones are burned for fuel. Ketones are either used or discarded. They are not stored.

Insulin stimulates appetite. Glucagon suppresses it. Leptin also stimulates/suppresses appetite. When insulin+glucagon+leptin are in balance, it is very difficult to overeat. People who are overweight most likely have a problem with one or more of these being out of balance. Not calorie balance, but hormonal balance.

The snippet posted appears to be from Wikipedia. Read the rest of it. It says high carb/low fat diets leads to elevated triglycerides. Fructose is also responsible. For decades researchers have blamed the fat in the McDonald's burgers for obesity, but it is actually the bun+fat that is the mechanism. I agree with the conclusion fat+carb is a terrible combination.

Comment edited on: 6/11/2013 5:29:35 PM

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DONEGIRL 6/11/2013 4:12PM

    The exact mechanism of insulin resistance is not fully worked out and is multifactorial but it is certainly not as simple as damage to insulin receptors by sugar. Much recent research has shown that contrary to previous beliefs adipose tissue is metabolically active and that the inflammatory cytokines produced by adipose tissue are largely responsible for insulin resistance. Adipose tissue arises from overeating no matter whether it was from carbs, protein or fat. In the normal course of events insulin spikes in response to a meal - this is what it should do- and once energy requirements are met and glucose and fatty acids are taken up insulin levels return to a fasting state. Problems arise when we overeat -fat, carbs or proteins. It is not that insulin prevents triglyceride breakdown -it's that there was too much triglyceride present for energy requirements i.e. we overate. The main point is that there is no bad molecule- insulin is not the enemy -overeating is.

'Dietary fat has long been implicated as a driver of insulin resistance. Studies on animals observed significant insulin resistance in rats after just 3 weeks on a high-fat diet (59% fat, 20% carb.).[9] Large quantities of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated (omega-6) fats all appear to be harmful to rats to some degree, compared to large amounts of starch, but saturated fat appears to be the most effective at producing IR.[10] This is partly caused by direct effects of a high-fat diet on blood markers, but, more significantly, ad libitum high-fat diet has the tendency to result in caloric intake that's far in excess of animals' energy needs, resulting in rapid weight gain. In humans, statistical evidence is more equivocal. Being insensitive to insulin is still positively correlated with fat intake, and negatively correlated with dietary fiber intake,[11] but both these factors are also correlated with excess body weight.



Comment edited on: 6/11/2013 4:19:15 PM

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VHALKYRIE 6/11/2013 2:02PM

    Insulin is secreted by the pancreas in response to sugar. A small amount is also released on the presence of protein, but fat has zero effect on insulin secretion. Insulin resistance occurs when insulin receptors are damaged due to excessive blood sugar. This cannot happen with fat because fat is inert with regard to insulin. There are essential amino acids and essential fats, but there is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate.

The free fatty acids comes from triglycerides. Triglycerides come from fat, this is true. However, excessive triglyceride build up occurs when there is excessive insulin in the bloodstream. Insulin prevents triglycerides from being broken down. So if insulin resistances comes from triglyceride build up, it is still due to excessive insulin simulation from carbohydrates. The fatty acids are the symptom, not the cause.

Trans fats were shown to be damaging by Dr. Mary Enig, who flatly rejected the lipid hypothesis which said saturated fats caused heart damage. She was criticized heavily for her work, and many tried to discredit her, but she was proven correct.

Soylent Green - would I? No. I'd rather BBQ the squirrels first. I've got plenty of them. ;)

Comment edited on: 6/11/2013 2:19:29 PM

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DONEGIRL 6/11/2013 1:31PM

    True there is currently no drug cure for Diabetes but there are some really exciting potential cures for Type 1 in clinical trials at the moment. Your Dad's doctors are surely negligent in not advising lifestyle and dietary changes. I never believed that horrible margarine could be better for you than delicious butter! Eventually the evidence appeared. As children we ate margarine because it was cheaper but I never liked it. Trans fats have been shown to be the real baddies but, by the same research community that said saturated fats were the cause of atherosclerosis. From looking at the literature it seems that older research was misinterpreted but more recent work seems again to support some role for saturated fat in heart disease and other diseases. It is confusing to say the least. Moderation in all things seems to be the way to go.
Insulin resistance is strongly correlated with high levels of fat-derived free fatty acids. Diets composed entirely of carbohydrates do not result in insulin resistance so long as they do not exceed caloric requirements. Proteins are not the building blocks - amino acids which are common to all organisms, are. Proteins from the diet are not absorbed intact they are hydrolysed to their constituent amino acids which are then used as building blocks by the body.

Soylent Green - would you?! In an emergency? Did you see the film Alive!? emoticon

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VHALKYRIE 6/11/2013 7:26AM

    Where would be without them? That is a good question! There is some good paved with a lot of unintended consequences. Diabetes drugs aren't solving diabetes, but only prolonging life with the disease. For profit pharmaceuticals have little incentive to cure disease. My dad's doctor continue to pump him with drugs rather than addressing diet.

I must admit I'm a little surprised. It seems there is more support for this then I expected. To the people who think this is a good idea, do you still think margarines are healthier than butter? Trans fats have been causally linked to artery damage in hearts and cancer. How many people have died of heart attacks and cancer during the period when they were sold to us under the premise of being healthier than saturated fats? In over 30 years of study, there is zero causal link between saturated fats and heart disease - we're still operating under a faulty hypothesis. Saturated fats don't cause insulin resistance; glucose from sugar and grains do.

A man-made protein has the potential for far more devastation as protein is a direct building block in our tissues. We are what we eat, quite literally.

Comment edited on: 6/11/2013 7:45:38 AM

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DONEGIRL 6/11/2013 5:32AM

    Interesting blog. Yes I would eat this Ėbut only if it tastes good! I believe it is nature made- itís made by humans. However I donít think that this product will sell just because it is produced in a more ethical manner. People know that battery chickens and American cattle have miserable lives but it doesnít stop people buying them.
I have no objection to Ďunnatural thingsí be they GMOs, hair products, buildings, medicines, most foods- where would we be without them? I do object to foods whose flavours and textures are from additives rather than from delicious ingredients such as butter, sugar, herbs, spices, vegetables and fruit. I object to manufacturers making GMO seed infertile so that poor farmers have to buy seed every year but that is not an argument against GMOs per se.
We have evolved to exploit the opportunities provided to us to become the incredibly accomplished and flawed human race. If we had not intervened and changed our environment and had allowed 'nature' to take its course- where would we be? I donít think it would be a better place.
It's better than eating bugs- there I cannot go!

Comment edited on: 6/11/2013 7:14:06 AM

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4A-HEALTHY-BMI 6/10/2013 6:43PM

    I'm all about lean protein. And yes I think I would eat this petri-dish meat, and I would also eat bugs (I do already, if I consider crustaceans), and I'm happy to eat the venison, trout, duck, turkey, and goose that bf brings over. He's sort of like a cat, that way. LOL

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MYOWNHERO 6/10/2013 6:26PM

    Interesting blog! Lately I find my best choice is to seek out local farmers who raise their animals with healthy habits and buy my meat there.

But ultimately we all have a responsibility to do all the good we can in life to justify the resources it took to keep us here, breathing. Mr. Rogers said that (sort of).

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VHALKYRIE 6/10/2013 5:39PM

    I think some low-carb/paleo people fall in this trap, too. I don't think gluten-free bread is any better than wheat bread. I don't think most gluten-free substitutes taste very good either, so I don't eat them. Many people do eat them because they want a similar experience as some wheat product, but I personally have abandoned most low-carb recipes that are a type of wheat replacement. Flourless brownies might be the exception, but not really because it's not trading wheat flour for some non-wheat flour.

Vegan or vegetarianism doesn't work for me philosophically or physically. Could it work for some people? Sure.

The overtone of this article suggested that perhaps a more meat-like faux meat might convert more people. Maybe it would some people who are on the fence. For myself, it would not convert me as I have already concluded the diet is not for me, and it's not because the faux meat products weren't meaty enough. (Although they were pretty awful.)

Comment edited on: 6/10/2013 5:52:14 PM

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DDOORN 6/10/2013 1:22PM

    Interesting thought: "the very act of living means consuming something that dies"...never thought of it that way and appreciate the perspective-tweaking thoughts you've shared!


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KAYOTIC 6/10/2013 10:16AM

    I have never heard of this, but it sounds expensive from the start. Hard to imagine how they can commercialize it, but if they can, I'm not necessarily opposed.

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55WALKER 6/10/2013 8:51AM

    It's too bad so many people equate veganism with eating fake meats. Those things contain so many unhealthy ingredients and perpetuate the desire for animal products.

I don't apply the term vegan to myself since I am not an ethical vegan. I eat a whole foods plant based diet. I cook a lot and eat minimally processed foods (no fake foods and prepared dinners and processed grains) and use no animal products or added fats or sweeteners. I can eat as much as I want and not gain weight and the food tastes wonderful.

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KELPIE57 6/9/2013 4:50AM

    Interesting as always, and I am not happy with this engineering, and worry about how the big companies will then control (even more) our food sources. Yesterday we ate a rabbit reared by a neighbour, and veg mostly from the garden. Today, fish J caught himself, veg ditto. I'll stick with that whenever possible, thank you very much!
BTW, you might be interested to read this http://www.ndoherty.com/quit-vegan/

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WOUBBIE 6/8/2013 6:56PM

    Ugh. I suppose this could be helpful to the "future colonizers of Mars", but ugh, again. No.

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Whom Do I Believe?

Thursday, June 06, 2013

"There is so much conflicting information out there on what diet is best. Whom do I believe?"

"Is my diet really the best for me?"

"I think I am making an informed decision, but how do I know?"

I once believed that the low-fat diet was the tried and true healthy diet. It was scientifically sound (supposedly). However, on closer inspection, a few key principles fell apart. The United States has become fatter and unhealthier since the government began pushing it. Scientists began blaming compliance. "Obviously people aren't following our guidelines, so it's their fault, not ours."

The low-carb people say it's not the fat, but high sugar that is fueling obesity. The standard American diet is a high grain diet, and grain is broken down into sugar. This is the side that I currently lean.

However, I do not think it is necessarily the best diet for everyone.

I think a high-carb diet is more suitable for high performance athletes. If you're burning 5,000 calories per week, then you should be eating more carbs AND calories overall. The problem is most people combine high performance cardio with a low calorie diet thinking they will lose more weight.

Calorie in versus calorie out. Problem solved.

Well, wait a minute. Government stats show that more Americans ARE trying to get more exercise, but we have made zero progress on reversing the obesity crisis overall. A non scientific observation of Spark dieters shows people ARE exercising and reducing calories.

And yet, here we are. There shouldn't be a SparkPeople, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, or Nutrasystem. They should have been written out of existence a decade ago because we were supposed to all be successful.

Here's what happens on a high cardio/low cal diet. Your metabolism drops and you stop losing weight. Then you cut back more calories. The same thing happens. You start eating more calories, and you start gaining weight. In a panic, you start cutting calories again. Deathly afraid of gaining weight, you desperately cling to the low end of your calorie range.

Sound familiar? Yeah, I did that too.

I am not a high performance athlete, nor do I intend to be. I get a moderate amount of recreational exercise per week.

With each new study that comes out that proves this or proves that, whom do I believe?

I ask myself a simple question: "Is what I'm doing right now working for me and my goals?"

If Yes: Keep doing it.

If No: Do something else.

The tried and true thing I know is banging my head on brick walls only ever leads to a headache.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BILL60 6/8/2013 2:14PM

    It's much simpler than some would have you believe.

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KELPIE57 6/8/2013 2:38AM

    I think that it is complicated and as you have learned, you have to find your way to the top of that mountain, even if there are 100 paths up it!

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MYLADY4 6/7/2013 1:16PM

    Could not agree more. I was one who over exercised (became a dark addiction) and under ate (a great eating disorder) for years and am now trying to correct the damage that I did both physically and mentally and that was with eating clean and healthy foods. So for me, calories in versus calories out did NOT hold true. Everybody is different so no one plan will work for everyone.

I think that the biggest thing that people need to learn is to trust their body and feed it good food when it is hungry and stop when they are satisfied (which I know thatís you are doing). I have been working on this too. If I am only hungry 2X a day, thatís ok. Another day I could be truly hungry 4X. Truly listen to your body and trust it. I have a classmate that started listening to her bodyís needs has gone vegan and she is feeling great on it. Me, no way could I do that. My body is telling me it wants meat. I do have meals where all I want is veggies and I listen.

Genetics does play some part in it as in it may determine what body shape you may be able to achieve (I am going to blog about this). I will NEVER be a size 6 so that will never ever be my goal. It would just be so unrealistic and set me up for utter failure and misery. I think too many women are trying to reach that ďidealĒ goal that society has set and not really trying to be the best that THEIR body can be.

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VHALKYRIE 6/6/2013 11:36PM

    In my case, I don't think it was genetic variation as much as I caused damage to my insulin sensitivity by overloading on Big Gulps and sugary margaritas. All of our insulin receptors will eventually slow down and die out, but sadly, I accelerated it with my poor choices.

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WOUBBIE 6/6/2013 11:26PM

    I have come to believe that there is, indeed, one "template" that will work for virtually all people. That template would have to allow us to eat like healthy animals - eating "to hunger and satisfaction". It would need to be our natural diet, that nourishes us, gives us energy, satisfies hunger and keeps us at optimal weight without artificial constraints.

The real confusion is simply that due to genetic variation, some people can thrive on foods that are outside the template, while others cannot deviate by even an iota.

ALL people can eat like healthy animals inside the template.
SOME people can eat like healthy animals outside the template
MOST people will experience cravings and excessive hunger, weight gain, energy spikes and crashes, and less than optimal health and wellness if they eat outside the template.

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ARCHIMEDESII 6/6/2013 3:21PM

    As they say, one size does not fit all. And that is very true when it coming to losing weight. Everyone is looking for the ONE diet that will help everyone lose weight. The problem ? It doesn't exist. What works for one person isn't going to work for someone else.

There was a time when fat was the boogie man when it came to weight gain. Then it was refined sugar. Now, it's gluten. If a person is diabetic or has a gluten intolerance, then yes, those people do have to watch how many grains they eat. But that doesn't mean everyone should stop eating grains.

It really is confusing. In my own case, I knew I ate too much of everything. I also knew I wasn't eating enough healthy foods. I've been tweaking my nutrition for years and it's still evolving.

I will say what made a big difference for me was portion control. I really had no idea how much food I was eating. Who knew that a four piece chicken dinner was supposed to feed two people, not one. LOL !!

The point ? A person might have to experiment with their nutrition to find what works best for their body.

I agree, keep doing what works for you.

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A Diet By Any Other Name

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

I read this article from Scientific American discussing the flaws with the paleo diet this morning.


Though I disagree with the article's conclusions, I thought it was a good read. I regularly seek articles with viewpoints different than mine because past experience has shown me my beliefs haven't always been right.

At one time I irrefutably believed that margarine was healthier than butter. Hydrogenated vegetable oil was healthier because it was vegetable based, right? Butter clogged arteries - everybody knew that.

Except Dr. Mary Enig came along and irrefutably proved that transfats from the hydrogenation process clogged arteries, not saturated fat in butter. Whoops. Manufacturers changed the hydrogenation process to produce less transfats, but it's still there. Butter remains unfairly maligned.

There are problems with the low-fat diet, but it still the recommended dietary standard. My personal issues with the low-fat diet were it made me excessively hungry, caused muscle wasting, and I experienced minimal weight loss (horrifically, mostly from the muscle wasting). I may hear from someone who said it worked great for them, and I'll preemptively say - congratulations! However, this was not the case for me.

I'm not a paleo practitioner because I eat a number of fermented dairy products, primarily yogurt and cheese. However, I limit my grain and starch consumption. For me it is in moderation, not an essential plate component.

While I am not a devout follower, I take issue with a few premises in this article.

The author takes the tact that we are not identical to our Stone Age ancestors. We have evolved. Most European descendents have developed lactose tolerance and can drink milk without issue. Some Africans have an adaptation against malaria infection. Therefore, we have changed.

Yes, these are adaptations, but these examples clearly show it is not universal to our population. Asians make up 1/3 of the world's population, and 99% of them are lactose intolerant. Sickle cell disease provides malaria resistance, but is a deadly blood disease that greatly increases the likelihood of early death.

Let's say some populations have developed an adaptation to tolerant grains. I think it is moreso we have evolved these grasses to suit our purposes than we have changed biologically. For one, we cannot eat unmilled wheat. We have no enzymes or symbiotic bacteria to help us break it down to get at the nutrients. Our neolithic ancestors discovered if we mill then bake the grains, we can eat it. It is not correct to say that we have adapted to eating wheat; we have adapted wheat to be eaten.

We can evolve a plant very rapidly because of its short lifespan. We cross bred generations of hybrid plants with a few short years. With modern gene splicing, we can go even faster as we alter the genetic makeup directly.

I know people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Celiac disease was first recorded back in the 1800s, but it wasn't connected with gluten until the 1950s. It is an autoimmune disease. By necessity, these people have to follow a paleo-like diet.

What if a person is both lactose intolerant and has celiac disease? Are they inherently doomed because they can't eat healthy grains and dairy?

What if a person is not lactose intolerant nor gluten intolerant, but voluntarily chooses to eschew dairy and grains?

I do not have celiac disease, nor am I gluten intolerant. However, my personal experience suggests I may be gluten sensitive. When I used to follow the dietary guidelines of a grain serving with every meal, I experienced frequent sinus infections and IBS like stomach upset. I used to get bronchitis infections requiring antibiotics twice a year. Since cutting my grain consumption to a couple times a week, I haven't had a single sinus infection or stomach trouble in over two years. I suspect it also has something to do with not being forced to consume antibiotics, and my natural body chemistry has stabilized.

I am lactose intolerant, but I tolerate fermented dairy (yogurt, cheese) ok. I use real butter, but not in amounts that trigger stomach upset. Olive oil and coconut oil are my primary cooking oils.

Bastardizing the author's phrasing, there are a few things the low-fat diet gets right. I prefer to eat fish, shellfish, chicken, and lean beef/pork in that order. Animals that eat their natural diet and get exercise are healthier - not too unlike humans. Corn is not a natural diet for cows, and they become obese. It's not a stretch to suspect eating unhealthy animals might also make us unhealthy.

Ultimately, the reason I follow the diet that I do is because my body responds to it. I maintain my weight, have plenty of energy, and I'm never hungry. I no longer suffer chronic sinus infections or unexplained digestive upset, which was an unexpected bonus.

Call it paleo. Call it a fad. Call it anything you want. I call it living in a way that makes me happy and healthy.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

VHALKYRIE 6/5/2013 4:01PM

    The reason I found this article interesting is because it illustrates what skeptics are thinking about paleo. The author is addressing it as a type of roleplaying experiment - lol!

Personally, giving up grains wasn't difficult for me. My mom did most of the cooking when I was growing up, and I ate a mostly asian influenced diet with steamed veggies, grilled meats (fish, beef, chicken, pork), and rice. We ate very little wheat or baked goods. Every once in a while we might have a spaghetti dinner or my mom would bring home fried chicken, but it wasn't the norm. Once I stopped trying to follow the government guidelines and follow my 'ancestral' diet, weight management fell into place. In my case, my 'ancestral' diet was the way my mom used to cook. I still prefer a small amount of starch over grains when I choose to indulge.

Comment edited on: 6/5/2013 4:08:06 PM

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WOUBBIE 6/5/2013 3:33PM

    Another point in favor of following the "ancestral diet": in order to ensure that the widest range of people thrive on it, all the food on it should be ABLE to be eaten in its raw state, whether you choose to eat it that way or not. Yes, there are certainly advantages to cooking meat, but you don't actually HAVE to cook a steak or a piece of liver to eat it and get the full nutritional value from it. You donít have to soak it overnight. You donít need to pound it or roast it or dry it. You canít say the same for legumes and grains.

Dairy is a problem for many people precisely because there is not a universal ability to digest it.

We didn't have reliable access to fire for most of our evolution. That's probably why the foods that are indigestible without preparation are more likely to cause problems than foods that are OK raw.

Paleo is the base template which the vast majority of people can follow and experience normal weight, good health, and lack of hunger. Sure, many people can deviate from the template in one direction or another without harm, but many more will find that they gain weight or develop illness when they do. I could go back to eating the way I used to and probably live for 20 more years or more. But I would bet that my quality of life would suffer.

Comment edited on: 6/5/2013 3:45:34 PM

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VHALKYRIE 6/5/2013 2:47PM

    BEECHNUT13: Yep, we are omnivores! We are supposed to eat lots of things!

There are lots of cultures around the world that do eat bugs. My dad talks about hunting and eating squirrels when he was a little boy in rural New York. As a modern society, we do get to be picky about what we will or won't eat. In a zombie apocalypse, heck yeah I'd probably eat bugs and squirrels if I need to survive! I wouldn't eat mushrooms because I wouldn't know how to pick a safe one. We are so disconnected from our food source, most of us wouldn't know how to find something safe to eat. But...this is another topic!

I would agree that we did not evolve to eat a certain TYPE of food, and it is only modern transportation that allows us to enjoy produce not indigenous to our region. But people who ate them indigenously are the same biologically as people from another region. Thus, people from other places can most likely eat the same foods.

When I followed a low-cal diet, the suggestion was also to make the spaghetti squash, but I never did. If I want pasta, I go for a little bit of the real thing. It's just a lot less frequently than it used to be.

My issue with the standard American diet is the emphasis on grains. I grew up believing it was a necessary food group, and it's not. We require protein, and certain vitamins in fruits and veg. We do not require grains. If people enjoy eating it, fine. I occasionally enjoy dipping Italian bread slices in olive oil. However, it is not a necessary food group. At all.

Comment edited on: 6/5/2013 2:58:55 PM

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KAYOTIC 6/5/2013 10:35AM

    I'm still just trying to cook more and eat more primary source foods (some that I can then make into complex meals) this works best for me!

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BEECHNUT13 6/5/2013 10:23AM

    My personal biff with Paleo is that it makes assumptions about what our ancestors ate (and did not eat). What makes humans so adaptive is that we ate ALL SORTS OF STUFF. And we figured out how to eat stuff that may not have been palatable to us in the first place. Humans survived on all sorts of food, and if the fanatics really want to get technical, they should eat their meat and veggies raw, and they should start eating more bugs, squirrel meat, etc...

Additionally, most humans did not evolve eating the vast variety of food that we eat today (including the berries over apples that they love to push). If my ancestors did not evolve to eat pineapple, or oranges, can I eat them? There are a lot of foods that paleos consider OK that MOST humans, around the globe, did not eat.

(You are, of course, not a Paleo fanatic, so I'm not including you there)

Although - I do feel better cutting out a lot of bread. I have started eating it again to see how I would do. I have a slice or two of Ezekial sprouted grain bread per day, and I have some RyKrisp crackers. Last night - for the first time in forever - I had whole wheat spaghetti. The paleo suggestion is to make it with spaghetti squash or julienned zucchini, but it just isn't the same.

So, now I don't eat too many grains, and when I do, I make sure they're wholesome.

Comment edited on: 6/5/2013 10:25:48 AM

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VHALKYRIE 6/5/2013 8:15AM

    The reason why fans of paleo are so fanatic about it is because after years and years of failing to lose weight on a low-fat diet, they found something that worked. That tends to build enthusiasm. A Mediterranean Diet still has slightly too much emphasis on grains for my liking, but it could be a good choice for some people.

I agree with BTVMADS that a common misconception about paleo is the 'mass quantities' of meat. I eat about two servings of veggies and a 4oz serving of protein with my meals. It is essentially double the veggies and the same protein recommendation from a low-fat diet. However, I do not add a grain serving, nor do I limit my cooking oil to a teaspoon or whatever it is. I add an extra serving of vegetables in place of the grain. I treat wheat products as a once in a while moderation product instead of an essential one.

Comment edited on: 6/5/2013 8:15:53 AM

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HONOURIA 6/4/2013 11:16PM

    I agree with Jabr's first sentence, paragraph 5: "Almost equal numbers of advocates and critics seem to have gathered at the Paleo diet dinner table and both tribes have a few particularly vociferous members."

Comment edited on: 6/5/2013 10:28:01 PM

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BTVMADS 6/4/2013 10:02PM

    Evolution in a species as widespread as ours takes so much longer than a few thousand years. Most people on earth are lactose intolerant, especially as they reach adulthood. That doesn't quite sound like the human species has evolved to me. And yes, the bacteria in our guts probably HAVE evolved, but in a way that benefits THEM, not necessarily us. We're lucky that the bacteria in yogurt are good for us, but not all bacteria are so helpful -- after all, bacteria are responsible for the fact that eating too much sugar is a known cause of yeast overgrowth, and eating too many beans causes gas.

I also think that this author misses the point about the Paleo diet. The paleo diet doesn't actually include "large quantities" of meat. It includes HUGE quantities of veggies -- when I did my Whole 30, I averaged 7-8 servings per day, but my meat consumption stayed the same! Whether I'm following a Whole 30 or a moderate-carb diet, I'm usually eating about 6 ounces of meat a day -- about as much as someone gets when they eat a couple of fast food burgers (except I don't get a nasty white bun or dose of ammonia in mine).

Just like any method of limiting the range of food, it's all about how and why you do it. You can be an unhealthy vegetarian who eats Oreos and French Fries every day, or you can chow down on nuts, quiche, and sauteed greens. Same with Paleo. You can eat a hunk of steak at every meal (if you have the money!) and eat an almond flour dessert every night, or you can eat a stir-fry with four different veggies and a reasonable portion of meat and enjoy a cup of tea for dessert.

But I guess this author is too inflexible about his own idea of what's "right" too realize that.

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GETSTRONGRRR 6/4/2013 9:22PM

    I'm a firm believer in reducing our consumption of processed foods. I also know that from personal experience, that my body responds better to fewer carbs from starchy grains. But beyond that, I don't think there was a single Paleo Nirvana whereby our ancestors enjoyed robust health by living in an abundant Eden of wild game.

I think they went around hungry a lot....and they walked and moved in a nomadic lifestyle that kept them lean year round as they followed food sources, plant and animal. They ate a lot of variety.....and almost none of the plants that we find in any supermarket grew in the wild like we have today

Here's a link to a TED talk I listened to a while ago....very interesting pictures of what domesticated plants like broccoli and carrots looked like 10,000 years ago!


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MRS.CARLY 6/4/2013 7:09PM

    Good blog! I've only recently started to try incorporating some grains back in my diet...actually I haven't actually started yet! I had some beans today for the first time in months if not a couple of years. I was following the Paleo diet and even did the Whole 21 (did whole 30 for 21 days). I just feel so empty...and no amount of protein and fat seems to get rid of the feeling so I've thought about incorporating some brown rice here and there, maybe some beans and hummus...we will see how my body reacts! I still like avoiding sugar and avoiding processed foods...I'm just trying to find a way to help with the fullness feeling and continue losing weight!

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WOUBBIE 6/4/2013 6:06PM

    The kid who wrote it is fairly fresh out of college, which is absolutely no excuse for bad science and poor English. This is bleeping Scientific American, not USA Today, for goodness' sake!

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NAYPOOIE 6/4/2013 4:28PM

    Evolved a mutation? What!?!?! How do you do that, because I'd like to evolve a few mutations myself.

You know what? I'll bet some genetic mutations happened last week!

I couldn't read the whole thing. He's obviously writing to his prejudices, and seems unclear on the process of evolution. My time is too valuable.

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PRETTYPITHY 6/4/2013 4:04PM

    I'm right with you! I'm not paleo per se but I do not practice the standard American diet. The way I eat is influenced by paleo/primal but it is my own individualized plan that includes some dairy and omits most grains. We each have to do what's best for us personally.

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WOUBBIE 6/4/2013 4:04PM

    He lost me at this line right here:

"Before agriculture and industry, humans presumably lived as hunterĖgatherers:"

The single word "presumably" is the giveaway. How the bleep else WOULD they live before agriculture? There is no presuming required honey. The ancient ancestors were not fed manna by aliens, so they HAD to have been hunter-gatherers.

Here's another: "when dairy became prevalent, many people evolved a mutation that kept the gene turned on throughout life."

Dairy didn't BECOME prevalent. We cultivated it. People didn't EVOLVE a mutation, just like giraffes didn't EVOLVE a long neck. People who could eat dairy were preferentially selected for in that particular environment. It gave them a reproductive and longevity advantage. But woe to the many who didn't (and don't) share that trait.

I look at paleo-style eating as the great leveler. Sure, some people can eat all those non-paleo things and be fine. Some people can eat strict paleo and still develop heart disease. But which way of eating is closest to being UNIVERSALLY good for health?

My dad could put away a fifth of vodka daily and his liver was still in great shape at the age of 83. However, I wouldn't recommend that anyone else try following his example any time soon.

Comment edited on: 6/4/2013 4:08:38 PM

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