Day 3 of week 4

I find it very interesting that there are different stances on the Paleo diet, even among people who acknowledge each other as being helpful resources on nutrition and respected colleagues.

For example, I read “The Paleo Solution” by Robb Wolf and he discusses the huge merits of exercise along with eating healthy, and does not seem as stringent about the rules of eating, just as long as you don’t eat sugar, wheat-based products, dairy and legumes. He gives a few tips on things to avoid, but there’s not much outside of the original rules of the diet that he says to stay away from. I understand where he comes from. He had very negative reactions to living on a vegetarian diet and found that as soon as he stopped eating carbs altogether and gluten, sugar and legumes, and added meat, etc back into his diet he felt much better. He knows how much the diet helps for certain health issues. He is also a health-club owner and so for him it makes sense to promote exercise as just as important as the diet.

The other book I’m reading on Paleo is from Loren Cordain, called “The Paleo Diet.” He wrote his several years, maybe a decade, before Wolf’s. He really focusses on the diet itself and hardly goes into the exercise portion at all, although he does include the advice to exercise along with eating right, but in moderation.

He is much more strict on what to eat and what not to eat. Even for those things that you would think fall into the category of “paleo,” he excludes certain things, such as coconut oil, avocado oil, etc. Now, I think it’s hard to determine which oils Paleo man ate. Fish oils, likely, other oils from animals. But most likely, the only other way they ate oils was through eating nuts and things like avocado. Maybe even flax seeds if they were around. But certainly not olives or olive oils, canola or canola oils, etc. Yet Cordain says to use things like olive oil, walnut oil and canola oil and to avoid coconut oil and avocado oil. I’m not too sure why he makes that distinction. It seems contradictory to the strictness of what we’re assuming Paleo man ate. He says to eat lean meat, not fatty meat.

He says to avoid vinegar and to use lime or lemon juice instead. He says to stay away from potatoes. He says to not use salt or eat bacon.

Now, I suppose you could further restrict your intake of certain foods, but at some point you might feel so restricted that it doesn’t become practical anymore. For example, I haven’t restricted yogurt 100%, but have given it to myself as a treat once a week.

I couldn’t eat food if I didn’t add salt. I just would not enjoy it. I am using very healthy salt right now, Himalayan salt, which is pink in color and I just purchased unprocessed sea salt from the French coast. It’s gray in color and very expensive. I want my food to taste like something and it doesn’t make sense to me to deprive myself of flavor.

Perhaps salt is not the best thing in the world to have in your diet, but all animals need salt, that is what I’ve always heard. Even animals that live out in the wild look for ways to add it to their diet. As for bacon, sure, that’s likely something that Paleo man didn’t have, but they did eat wild pigs, I’m sure. It’s just that bacon has been salted quite a bit and Cordain has apparently reason to believe salt and salted products should be restricted.

Perhaps he is right, and we are consuming too much salt. It is likely a good idea for me to cut back on my salt intake, but for now, that isn’t really what I want to focus on. It is challenging enough not eating anything with sugar or wheat in it. It is difficult to not live on the beans and rice and heavy starches that I have been so used to and which I have always loved. I think we need to make the diet work for ourselves and if that means that for some ingredients you cut back but not entirely restrict intake, then I think you’re already a long way in the right direction.

I talked to some people at work about the Paleo diet, some of them call it the caveman diet. Whatever you call it, it is something people either show a genuine interest in or write it off almost right away. They could never take their kids off their milk, cereals or sweets, some say. Or they could never limit their intake of food to just 8 hours a day like I’m doing. I was interested to learn that my department’s head is on the diet and has been for over a year. She admits she cheats every now and then, but she’s super thin. Others I’ve spoken too are interested to hear how I do by the end of my eight weeks and whether I’ll keep it going. But they really don’t see themselves following it. I’m hoping to be an example for them, making a huge impression on them, even though I am only going for losing 10 pounds, which might not even be noticeable to anyone but me.

I include when talking to people that I feel so much better, less bloated, more clean inside and that the fasting portion of the diet is not as hard as they think it might be. For example, today I wasn’t able to sit down and eat until 1:45 and I was hungry, yes, but not moody or in pain from it, like I would be before if I hadn’t eaten for that long. Now it feels like my body can handle the extra time off food and I silently pat myself on the back that I am able to do so without it really affecting my mood or daily life. While I do have to be aware of what I eat and what a prepare before hand so that I don’t have to cheat out of necessity, I am not finding it a hardship.

To me it’s like a fun puzzle, figuring out how to make the most of the ingredients on the “allowed” list. As there are many types of meat, vegetable and fruits and all kinds of spices and flavors you can add to them, it’s not likely you will run out of ideas. But I copied down some of the meal ideas from the two books mentioned above, that I borrowed from the library. There are also plenty of websites and blogs out there of gluten-free recipes. So I am not too worried.