Living in the Ice Age?
Living in the Ice
Age - Joy Division
Two weeks of paleo ... pure.
Continuing my personal journey into paleo from The
Logistics of Going Paleo which, when re-reading, seems so full of
compromise and concession that I feel I should put the record straight.
In a word, I was in a little panic about what exactly to cook - I was
quite set in my ways and to be absolutely frank, paleo food often did
not look appetising to me; I believe the first bite is with the eyes.
Potatoes, beans and pasta featured a few times in my weekly meals
prior to going paleo, as did flour-based sauces. Immediately after
writing that entry and with a good overnight sleep, I felt challenged
and energised to meet the task in hand - making tasty, nutritious and
good looking food.
How good does this look?
Belly pork over tenderstem broccoli with celeriac mash
Sugar and processed foods were never in, so they're still not in.
High carbohydrate vegetables are gone - potatoes and sweet potatoes. Oil
is out - I reserve cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil for a drizzle
over salads maybe once or twice a week and a gourmet cold-pressed extra
virgin rapeseed oil with a beautiful yellow colour for the same
purposes. Vegetable oils were never really in my diet anyway, but oils
have been and they're only in my diet as garnish and not for cooking
with; the exception being coconut oil and avocado oil.
Snacking is out - I didn't snack much prior to going paleo, but I
don't at all now. I go from good meal to good meal and savour any hunger
Inadvertently, I have also been engaged in intermittent
fasting, or IF, where my feeding times have been compressed into an
eight hour period from noon to evening. Maybe once a week, I surprise my
body and partake of breakfast - it all goes together to help with metabolic
flexibility, of MF, but IF and MF are a couple of things I am still
working through, understanding and will no doubt write about in due
Green vegetables have been boosted, as has meat from ruminating
animals; oily fish and wild fish, too. Tenderstem broccoli and asparagus
feature regularly. Avocado is featuring more. Pork and chicken are
limited to once or twice a week due to higher omega-6 and omega-3
initially boosted with a cod liver oil capsule which also gives me my
recommended daily allowance of vitamin A and D. As I work more oily fish
into my diet I will be able to drop that supplementation. Potatoes have
been supplanted with cubes of butternut squash, turnip and swede in
stews, and celeriac with a little coconut milk, mashed when it comes to
"Bangers & Mash". I may bring potatoes back in every so often once
my excess weight has dropped off. Dairy is still in - milk, with little consumption but sour cream,
full fat cream and probiotic yoghurt are the main areas of dairy that I
continue with. Alcohol is still in, but dramatically reduced ... read
In essence, my diet is not vastly different to pre-paleo (erm,
neolithic, if that makes sense?) but the edges have been refined. The
last parts of the neolithic diet which are not great for me have been
removed, while the paleo-friendly aspects have been boosted. That,
coupled with daily activity and fasting is giving me some amazing
rewards in terms of weight loss.
Activity is regular and daily with an irregular day of rest every so
often ... just to keep the body guessing; a few miles of outdoor walking
and running over all manner of terrain with occasional and impromtu
Other benefits are increased alertness, better sleep, improved taste
and smell senses, and most importantly, a general feeling of wellbeing
and happiness - I smile more!
Furthermore, I noticed that I had missed a couple of days of
medication for a lifelong gastric reflux condition - I decided to go
with it! Keeping myself level with an intake of cider vinegar shortly
before eating, I have managed over 10 days; prior to paleo, I might have
managed one or two days off the pills before violent and continued
vomiting after eating. The change in intake is most likely responsible -
increased greens, particularly, but the complete removal of heavy
carbohydrates coupled with an increase in probiotics will allow my
digestive system to recover in time. Alcohol intake has naturally
Meanwhile, I am coping without PPIs!
I have read a tremendous amount in the last month and must say, since
joining a couple of forums I am a little confuzzled ... what
exactly is paleo?
I sit back on my instincts from what I learned initially:
I started out with the notion that measuring, counting and recording
is not necessary, nor desireable (a notion which Harris holds central to
his approach) and that is something I have stuck to. I am interested in
the biochemical science behind the scenes and the following resources
have been really useful:
- Can the food be hunted or gathered in the wild?
- Can the food be eaten raw?
- Is the food for grazing prey?
My three principles have been drawn from these guys ... and as you
read through them, Wolf is quite a hardliner; uncompromising. Sisson, at
least, understands that life is to be lived and to be enjoyed and has a
notion of 80% - that is not a low bar or an intention to satisfy with a
less than optimal grade, but an understanding that things might slip,
circumstance might dictate, or for the sake of friendship, socialisation
and so on you may imbibe or ingest non-paleo food and drink. These two
guys are both from fitness backgrounds.
Harris meanwhile, a Medical Doctor, takes things a step further and
on the face of it seems so full of compromise and concession that you
wonder why the word paleo is attached to what he writes, but when really
reading what it is he has to say you realise that paleo might need some
modification, hence "Paleo 2.0":
I find more common ground with Harris and an affinity with what he
writes, not because I am most comfortable with it, but because I am most
challenged by his writing; challenged to think it through, fully. It is
all very well moving the anchor point that secures paleo, but there is
also much merit in taking time to consider why it was placed there
initially, and that is the key theme in the following essay from J
Stanton perfectly distills paleo as:
This definition strikes an accord with Harris' notion of "neolithic
agents of disease" (NADs) and so, Archevore puts a
little more meat on those bones, for people who enjoy the detail. Of
course, Wolf and Sisson make some, most or all of those points, too.
- Eating foods that best support the biochemistry of human animals
with a multi-million year history of hunting and foraging, primarily on
the African savanna.
- Avoiding foods, such as grains, grain oils, and refined
sweeteners, that actively disrupt the biochemistry of these human
Going paleo is not a diet - it is a change of lifestyle, encompassing
both how we feed and energise our bodies with how we exert them; how we
spend that energy.
... now with added blogginess: Living in the Ice Age.