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There Is Another Level Above "I'm Doing Fine"
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February 12, 2013
4:26 am
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How many times have we all heard this, or its equivalent?

"Sure, everyone knows soda and candy aren't good for you...but why should I give up bread, pasta, muffins, and all that other wonderful stuff? I'm doing fine."

You can substitute any non-paleo foods of your choice, and you can phrase it a different way, but they're all variations of the same question: "Why should I go to all the trouble to avoid almost everything in the grocery store and at restaurants, when I'm healthy and I feel fine?"

The implication is clear: "Sure, I know you've got some health problems…

February 12, 2013
5:14 am

Great article, spot-on. Highlights the fallacy of "reforming" health care.

We do not have a health care system. We have a sick care system. Yes there is waste and fraud, and ACO's, digitization and what-not will help and Obama Care is a big step in the right directon. And to be fair some of the work that can be accomplished is near miraculous.

Nonetheless, the sick care system is being overwhelmed by a tsunami of illness. Too much carbs (especially sugar and HFCS) plus bad oils plus too little protein equals too much insulin, inlfamation and then chronic illness and obesity. (Obesity does not cause diabetes. It is a co-morbidity driven by insulin driven by...)

Like you, I feel great though I am still on my journey and still improving.

February 12, 2013
5:54 am
neal matheson

Nicely put, you are a class act J. Hopefully some of the other paleo people might notice. I personally find getting the starch balance very hard. My energy output is quite high but it is erratic and I really don't want to "tank" in a boxing session. I have recently upped my carbs with that in mind and put on a fair bit of weight, despite feeling driven to exercise far more than I usually do.
I have a fair bit of work to do reconciling "eating like a predator" with "training like a warrior"

February 12, 2013
6:25 am

Great article! There is definitely a level above "doing fine." I think it's sad that so many Americans are slogging through life with mild to moderate health problems that we think THAT is the baseline of health and that only the really sick have issues.

After two years of paleo-style eating, I love having more energy (I bounce off the walls most days), my acne is virtually non-existant (except for that pesky time of the month), my tendency for being mildly to moderately depressed/anxious has been reduced, and I can go 6+ hours without eating if I need to without experiencing an energy crash like I used to.

There are still things to optimize, though, so I haven't forgotten about steps 5 and 6 of "Eat Like a Predator." I know my sleep quality could be better, I'm working on incorporating more ancestral-like workouts inspired by MovNat, and my grandmother is always wondering what new, tasty recipe I'm trying out.

It's nice to know that life is about more than just making it from day to day. It's about living!

February 12, 2013
7:15 am

Hi JS,

50%???? I knew it was a lot, but had no idea it was actually half the population. But upon further looksies..... Take out the kids and the number gets even more frightening. Maybe now people understand why big pharma is truly big pharma.

I'm also very happy with "As for myself, I’m much more concerned with reaching the hundreds of millions of people who still think margarine and whole-grain bagels are healthy. "

That's very much inline with how I try and help family and good friends.
My sister who tries to keep her weight under control by "dieting" (she's a very smart and successful attorney and m here little brother (45) who doesn't know anything, eats soup very frequently for lunch. She loves those little cup thingies from Campbell's....
Take a look at the ingredients of their healthy tomato soup.
Tomato purée
Tomato paste
High fructose corn syrup
Wheat flour
Mixture of birdseed oils....cotton seed, soy, canola etc
Soy protein concentrate (this is really MSG)
Enzyme modified butter ( what the F is that?)
Butter flavor
Milk flavor

I'm not wonderful sister whom I love very much, truly doesn't believe these things are harmful (perhaps not eaten once.... But for years?).
She's a really smart cookie...

We can be sad and frustrated about it....or do something about it. I choose trying to help.
I don't mind the ridiculing and the name calling, I win every argument in this little courtroom and the response I finally get is usually child like...."ok mr. Meat eating smarty pants.....maybe you should have been a Doctor" or and one ofmy all time favorites...."you are SO WEIRD.....why do you read all this stuff? You need to find a hobby" hahahaha hahahaha

Anywho JS, as always fantastic stuff. Sorry about the long winded comment.
Thank you.


February 12, 2013
7:22 am
Madison, WI, USA
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September 24, 2012
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Yes, I'm also still working on balancing "eating like a predator" and "training like a warrior".  It is not easy, especially since I've got this pesky tennis elbow going on right nowFrown



"Often we forget . . . the sky reaches to the ground . . . with each step . . . we fly."  ~We Fly, The House Jacks

February 12, 2013
7:25 am
neal matheson

Healthy foods in the UK often contain added sugars even fairly benign stuff like tomatoes, I accidently ended up down the cereal aisle today. MY GOD nearly everyone of the cereals contained chocolate, sugar frosting or somesuch and all were marketed as healthy, in fact most screamed their health giving potential from the box.

February 12, 2013
7:30 am
neal matheson

Hi Jen,
Funnily enough my tennis or rather atlatl elbow cleared up alot after eliminating grains.
good luck,

February 12, 2013
7:30 am
Dan Brown

Hi J
I agree with the target audience you have identified and that they will be from "difficult" to "nearly impossible" to motivate. Your effort is a good one though.

Perhaps it would be useful to compare the benefits of "feel(ing) great," as I, a 71yo 27-year Type 2 (formerly morbidly, still obese diabetic who eats a VLCKD for weight loss and glucose control) wrote recently for an upcoming blog post: "If you eat in the way I will describe here, here’s what will “work”: 1) You will not be hungry, either before or between meals – breakfast, lunch or dinner, if you eat a small dinner that basically follows the same principles; 2) you will lose weight, typically 1 to 2 pounds a week, depending on how much you have to lose; 3) the weight you lose will include abdominal weight – the central obesity or omental adiposity that is so bad for your cardiovascular health; 4) you will “feel healthy,” have lots and lots of energy, and an elevated mood; 5) as you lose a lot of weight, any weight-related hypertension will improve; and 6) your lipid panel will definitely improve, perhaps not your Total Cholesterol and LDL lipoproteins but your HDL will increase (up to double) and your triglycerides will decrease (up to two-thirds)."

This "reads" a little coercive to me on rereading, but I am assuming my reader knows they have a problem(s) similar to mine, or what mine were, and is already motivated to change. I also assume that they "know" that their problems are food and diet related.

Perhaps the parallels or at least similarities will be usefull to you as you hone how to communicate your message. On balance, though, I think you have a much tougher target audience, as you already know.

February 12, 2013
8:43 am

The words i want to use, to describe the difference in how i feel, have been hijacked -- "amazing" is the best one, but i can put a twist on my sister's catch-word and settle for AWE-INSPIRING.... And i started out from low-carb! It was by going grain- and dairy-free that i found liberation from the stiffness and joint pain which other people of my age merely think due to the passage of time.

You understand the starch-wars well! In my own n=1 it turns out the more hours i walk per day, the more carbohydrate i can "afford" to eat -- i learned this while on vacation over the winter, trudging up and down Seattle's hills and having to generate a lot of personal heat on those damp chilly days. But who has time for that much exercise if they've also got a job and a life? And if one's mitochondrial situation is under-par, the exhaustion will set in long before the "excess" starch-sourced sugar is burnt off. A lot of people have to normalize their energy production long before they can increase their output.

So thank you yet again, J! I LOVE your blog!

February 12, 2013
8:57 am
Brian Beaven

I liked your article and enjoyed reading the other comments. I suffered from the same pains as you while eating like prey. The only pains I suffer from eating as a predator are the pains from over training. I feel so good I constantly want to be on the move.

Best of luck on the love and money. I don't have much hope for bureaucracy.

February 12, 2013
10:07 am

My improvements:
(1) In my first three years of eating healthy, I did not GET SICK ONCE. However, I also started exercising more and sleeping better, so the factors were convoluted. I have gotten sick a few times in the past few years, but it's been less frequent and less severe.
(2) Much less gas. Some veggies/fruit will still get me occasionally, but overall the problem has improved significantly.
(3) Stable energy levels. I can go a long time without feeling hunger, and even when I do feel it, it's easy to get past it. Note: This is not true for those at my gym doing "paleo" and crossfit. I eat a LOT, and a LOT of saturated fat when I do eat.
(4) Easy weight maintenance. Not ripped, but look decent naked.
(5) Definitely better dental health. I always had great checkups/no problems, but I love that my teeth don't FEEL dirty. And I can go a day without brushing without feeling like I have sweaters on my teeth. That used to drive me nuts. It's definitely the sugar.
(6) No acid reflux/heartburn. This only did and still does occur when eating out or eating processed foods.
(7) Went off the pill after being on it for about 10 years, expecting my system to be totally messed up. Perfect cycle in the first month and ever since!
(8) Not hungry all the time. I was also one of "those people" with major sugar crashes and resulting mood swings. This is a big deal.
(9) My nails are definitely much stronger (due presumably to the ingestion/absorption of more minerals - despite not drinking milk for calcium).
(10) I'd like to say that my skin is beautiful, etc, but I think I need to wait until I'm 40+ to really judge how eating well is affecting my aging.

Almost all of the above changes made a BIG difference to my daily life!

(1) Feeling like I'm living in a giant conspiracy theory all the time, where everyone around me has no clue that they're actually eating cardboard.

February 12, 2013
10:50 am
Tim Lundeen

@Jen W: check out Pete Egoscue's work, it has made an incredible difference for me. Also Esther Gokhale. Their techniques help the whole body get aligned and work the way we are meant to work. Gokhale describes where you want to be, Egoscue makes it easy to get there.

I took a course from Gokhale and worked on my posture/gait/sitting/etc for 3 years, and made progress. Then I went to an Egoscue clinic and in 6 weeks made more progress than in 3 years. They work very well together. Before Egoscure I couldn't run or walk smoothly, now it all feels great.

February 12, 2013
11:14 am

@Marc: "Soy protein concentrate (this is really MSG)"

Actually, MSG is derived from wheat. While chemically pure MSG (which is the only form ever actually tested) doesn't seem to be a (major) problem, any commercially-processed food with MSG in it also has gliadin, gluten, and amylopectin A in it. I found out about this after doing some research into why chicken bouillon gave me diarrhea (I wrote a blog post about that). Wheat is added to damned near *everything* because the gliadin is a powerful appetite stimulant that will make you want to eat more of something you don't even like.

MSG also hides under the name "Natural Flavors."

My general rule is that if it has to have a nutrition label on it, it probably isn't fit to eat.

February 12, 2013
2:01 pm

Thank you for a great post especially the "potato wars" section. I am so freaking tired of what I call "the spud studs" on MDA going on and on about how everyone in the paleo community is "carbophobic" and how not including starches in your diet is clearly a case of disordered eating.

Different macros work for different people. Live and let live.

February 12, 2013
2:48 pm
Forum Posts: 2045
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February 22, 2010
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I made the point in my AHS presentation that thirty-five more years of the same dietary advice that made us fat and diabetic will bankrupt us as a nation.  We can't afford to have nutrition policy dictated by an agricultural policy that rewards massive overproduction of GMO grains by unsustainable industrial farming techniques, and we can't afford a health policy that rewards being poor and sick.


"I have recently upped my carbs with that in mind and put on a fair bit of weight, despite feeling driven to exercise far more than I usually do."

Exactly!  The Potato People insist that people like you are both dysfunctional and very rare, and that you could lose weight if you just ate nothing but potatoes.  Frankly, they sound like the "30 Ban**as a Day" fruitarian zealots: "If you don't feel great, you're either doing it wrong or it's your fault."

In contrast, I try to create my hypotheses based on observed reality -- which says that many people find that increasing starch intake causes them to gain fat mass.

Ideas you might find worth trying: get your starch in a big bolus, via periodic refeeds (vs. continual consumption), and try to eat as little fat as practical during the starch refeeds.


Absolutely.  Life isn't just about looking good in a swimsuit.  It's about feeling good day to day, moment to moment...and much of that comes from living in a healthy, functional body.  It's fun to wake up in the morning and realize that I'm stronger and healthier than I've ever been.


The current mainstream approach (CICO, or "calories in, calories out") is seductively simple.  Just eat less, move more (ELMM), and you'll lose weight, right?  It's easy for a smart, analytical person with no background in biochemistry and metabolism to be seduced by this scientific-sounding dictum.

Unfortunately, the empirical evidence is clear: CICO is false.  Calories out is not independent of the number of calories in, the type of food containing the calories in, or the micronutrients contained in the calories in.  Jamie Scott wrote a couple of solid essays on the subject here: Part I, Part II.

More soon!


February 12, 2013
3:34 pm
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Jen W:

Lateral epicondylitis is no joke.  I've been battling my own for six months, and it's only now starting to improve...very slowly.  I still have to be careful how I lift things, I can't do pullups (I have to use matched grip), and power cleans are right out.  

In fact, power cleans are what caused it.  (Actually the "yank" of trying to let them down without dropping them, since our gym doesn't have a platform.  Hint: never do that.  Find or make a platform, or find another gym.)


One of the questions I asked in The Breakfast Myth was "How did breakfast become snacks and dessert?"  Most breakfast cereal is nutritionally indistinguishable from a sugar-glazed pastry.  

I'd love to say that paleo helped my tennis elbow, but I injured it well after going paleo.

Dan Brown:

Exactly.  It's easier to reach people who accept that they're sick...but it's still difficult when the medical profession 1. Insists that food has no effect on your problems, or 2. Gives advice that's actually wrong and injurious (advising diabetics to eat more carbohydrates).

I'm glad to hear of your substantial progress!


"the stiffness and joint pain which other people of my age merely think due to the passage of time"

That's a great one, and I've added it to the list.  For most people, arthritis isn't caused by "wear and tear": the wear and tear is being caused by an inflammatory reaction.  Eating an anti-inflammatory diet can absolutely improve it...or at least stop the deterioration.

"A lot of people have to normalize their energy production long before they can increase their output."

Oh, please.  Everyone knows you broke your hypothalamus by putting more than one spice on a potato.


I'm glad to hear it!  Once again: this is what being human is supposed to feel like.

More soon!


February 12, 2013
3:48 pm

J: "Oh, please. Everyone knows you broke your hypothalamus by putting more than one spice on a potato." 😀 i laughed so hard my dog was even looking at me funny!

February 12, 2013
3:58 pm
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That's a great list!  I've added "gas/bloating" to the article...many people think they're an inevitable consequence of eating food.  And the continuing popularity of antacids suggests that many more people suffer acid reflux than are taking PPIs for it.

"I can go a day without brushing without feeling like I have sweaters on my teeth."

HA!  Absolutely.  When I cheat and drink soda now, I feel like half of it sticks to my teeth in the process.

"Feeling like I'm living in a giant conspiracy theory all the time, where everyone around me has no clue that they're actually eating cardboard."

Eating out is the worst: I look at the entree description, then at the huge basket of bread on the table...I've found myself simply drinking a coffee, eating the little pats of butter, and fixing a real meal when I get home.


Esther Gokhale is great (I know little about Pete Egoscue) -- but lateral epicondylitis ("tennis elbow") isn't a postural problem.  It's an actual tear in a particular region of the tendon that is difficult to heal.


MSG can be derived from any protein high in glutamine.  Wheat and soy are generally used because they're cheap.  I wrote an entire article about the subject of "hydrolyzed vegetable proteins." 

You're correct that MSG derived in this way can possibly contain bioactive peptides, depending on the degree of hydrolysis.  Fortunately, the source of the hydrolyzed protein now has to be labeled, so you can at least find "hydrolyzed wheat protein" in the ingredients.  

Note that it also hides in protein powder, under the name "glutamine peptides".


The annoying thing is that there are only about four of them -- yet they feel compelled to comment in EVERY THREAD.  No matter what the problem is, their solution is "eat more potatoes".

Ironically, most of them aren't even paleo!  They're Peatarians, or followers of M*tt St*ne (the low-rent version of Ray Peat).  I have no idea why they feel compelled to plaster their propaganda all over seems that the more bizarrely restrictive the diet, the more evangelistic people get about it.


February 12, 2013
5:35 pm

I wonder if some of the increase in drug usage might be attributed to increasingly aggressive drug marketing, rather than declining health of the population. (Although the health of the population might be declining as a result of all those drugs. . .)

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