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 and cabbage

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 in between.

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 course.

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 on.

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 outright sprint.

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 reduced.

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:
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":
http://www.archevore.com/panu-weblog/2011/3/30/paleo-20-a-diet-manifesto.html

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:
http://www.gnolls.org/2226/the-paleo-identity-crisis-what-is-the-paleo-diet-anyway/

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.

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.