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What Was Your Wakeup Call? And A Review Of Jeff O'Connell's "Sugar Nation"
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September 27, 2011
9:49 pm
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Robbo:

Absolutely.  Wheat is addictive.  And it's strange how eating a modern carb-laden "breakfast" makes me hungrier than not eating at all!  

I'm glad you find "Why Are We Hungry?" helpful...it's important to remember that our tastes exist for a very important reason.  They exist because for millions of years, humans (and pre-humans) with those tastes survived, whereas people with different tastes died out!  So it shouldn't take monumental efforts of willpower to eat a healthy diet...and if it does, we're doing it wrong.  (See: the food pyramid.)

JS

September 28, 2011
4:38 pm
Becky
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Wake-up call. Christmas 2010. Traditional rolls made by me with fresh-ground wheat. Mashed potatoes with gravy thickened with cornstarch. Stuffing. Pumpkin pie.

These were the weapons, wielded by Colonel Insulin, in the Dining Room, that literally laid us out flat (me on the floor, husband on couch), groggy and heavy-limbed. As consciousness slowly returned, we saw the enemy literally for the first time, and fired back.

January 1, 2011 we started Paleo and evolved into Perfect Health Diet. While we could cheat, we don't ... simply because we don't want to slip back into the grip of the Carb Borg and be assimilated again.

My stepson (one of the few people on earth who actually read Good Calorie Bad Calorie in its entirety) gave us a copy of The Perfect Health Diet for Christmas. I guess we have him to thank for our new lease on middle age.

While I do at times miss certain foods, I do NOT miss the 2/3 of my thyroid medication dose that was cut, nor the joint aches and pains that went away. Nor do I miss the 20 pounds that came off. And I certainly don't miss staggering to a couch, bed or floor after meals for a mandatory recovery period.

September 28, 2011
4:49 pm
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Becky:

It's amazing what sort of misery we define as "normal".  Somehow I doubt the natural state of humans was to feel sleepy and drugged after meals.  There were LIONS!  And HYENAS!  And saber-toothed cats, and dire wolves, and ...  Not to mention other members of the herd who were most likely somewhat grumpy about one of their number being killed.

I'm glad you found Perfect Health Diet.  The Jaminets are wonderful people, and theirs is the book I currently recommend to people who want more information than I've provided here.

JS

October 5, 2011
11:27 am
Diane
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I don't know that I've had a "wake up call" exactly. I ate fairly well, prefering natural food to artificial stuff in plastic packaging. I've heard of low carb before and have eaten that way, usually more heavy on vegetables than meat because vegetables are easier to store and cook and cheaper. Wheat (not every day) and candy daily were my bigger downfalls. I didn't consume a lot of fat but wasn't low fat either. My doctor harrangues me about cholesterol and I just ignore him. I think it was 268 last time I was tested.

I am very active. I spent some time long distance hiking (3000 miles in about a year's time) and during this hiking I developed a raging hunger. I called it "the beast". It took many months of avoiding strenuous exercise (and also avoiding giving in to the hunger) to have it subside to a level where I felt almost normal again.

I was gaining weight but I blamed myself because I was fairly sedentary (I didn't think walking 4 miles a day was much exercise) and ate a lot of chocolate and often overate on regular food. It was really hard to balance "the beast" and the desire to be thin.

I started jogging every day at lunch hoping to kick-start my obviously slow metabolism and lose some weight. It reduced my love handles a little after a month or so. I was feeing really good about it. Then suddenly "the beast" woke up again. I tried to quiet it by eating enormous meals that I hoped weren't too calorie laden but big enough to fill my stomach and keep "the beast" away. Huge breakfasts of homemade plain full-fat yogurt, fruit and nuts, using half a mango to hopefully fill out the volume in my stomach. Huge salads for lunch, even choosing the salads that had meat in them and adding eggs on top of that hoping that the protein would keep the hunger at bay. But the hunger raged on. I wish I could adequately describe this beast inside me, but it was making me desperate and scared and there is absolutely no information anywhere about the effects of long distance hiking on people to help me find an answer. I felt broken, basically.

One day I just couldn't eat another enormous salad for lunch but the beast was making me feel frantic. Then I saw this video of a handsome doctor in Sweden. He had a kindness and calmness about him. He showed his dinner of steak, vegetables and a big dollop of cream sauce. A dinner like that is close to something I normally eat, but not the cream sauce. I don't even know how to make cream sauce. He showed a breakfast too of yogurt mixed with cream, nuts and fruit. It looked just like my breakfast, only with cream in it. My Swedish grandmother put cream in everything. Of course, she was fat, but she lived longest of all my grandparents. The thing that sealed the deal for me was he said eating this way would give you a calmer stomach.

I figured that maybe I should try it. The worst that will happen is I won't lose weight and I can try something else. I bought some cream, some kefir cheese (which is like cream cheese), and some creme fraiche. I started preparing creme sauces for my dinner and adding cream to my yogurt and coffee. The beast has been quieted greatly in only a few days. It's still there, but yesterday for the first time I went jogging at lunch and then skipped lunch.

I am quite turned off by all the "man the hunter" noble-savage reenactment fantasy that goes with the whole paleo thing. A lot of paleo people strike me as being quite angry, superior, hypermasculine and generally don't emulate anything I want to gravitate toward. Even much of your website turns me off. I have no desire to become a "predator" and see people as profit centers. I am attracted to conspiracy theories, however, and the one here makes me quite angry enough to give it a really good go and to spread the word.

October 7, 2011
9:18 pm
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Diane:

3000 miles?  Wow!  The PCT is only about 2700...what was your route?  And as far as the video, was it Andreas Eenfeldt? (dietdoctor.com) 

Yes, saturated fat has a very potent satiating effect.  It slows the speed of digestion, which makes us feel "full" for longer; slows nutrient absorption, which keeps us from feeling hungry for longer; and provides a delivery system for critical fat-soluble vitamins.

As far as predators and "man the hunter" -- in nature, it's usually "woman the hunter".  Lionesses do most of the hunting, while the male lions lay around and steal the food; and spotted hyenas are entirely matriarchal, with the females being even bigger and more aggressive than the males.  What we see as "hypermasculine" traits are, as far as I can tell, much more strongly associated with agriculture and the war, slavery, and domination which are its inevitable consequences.   

However, you're free to take the dietary concepts and discard the packaging.  If I demanded all my readers agree with me in every respect, I'd have very few left.

I think you'll find, like many of my readers, that the more you eat natural animal foods with their normal complement of fat (eggs, untrimmed meat, butter), the better you'll feel.  I wish you success in your continued efforts to tame the beast!

JS

 

 

October 11, 2011
3:13 am
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[This comment is actually from "mm", whose comment somehow got stuck in the system.]

I nearly died from a massive infected fistula connecting my gut to – I’m guessing by the massive pain that made me visit the hospital – one of my kidneys, as a complication of undiagnosed Crohn’s Disease when I was 17 years old. (The emergency surgeon described it as a “baseball-sized” abscess).

I had no idea about nutrition but when I got discharged they gave me a sheet recommending low-GI, low fiber foods during flare-ups and high fiber foods during remissions.

(Anyone that’s had inflammatory bowel disease for a while will tell you fiber is not your friend, and neither are carbs or FODMAPS or plant chemical toxins I would later learn, but I’m surprised that the hospital even dared to suggest a low-fiber, implicitly low-carb diet at all)

I went on antibiotics. No one suggested I take medical-grade probiotic bacteria & yeast…

Two years later I had another emergency surgery while my gastroenterologist and I tried to figure out the right types of meds/dosage to use (we settled on off-label leukemia chemo drugs that made cellular division in immune cells impossible).

Having a diseased gut, I would get “feedback” from the foods I would eat telling me whether or not I could tolerate them. But my doc told me food had nothing to do with it and stress was a bigger factor.

Sadly, that was not my wakeup moment.

As I got to University I slowly got fatter until I was technically obese (BMI of 31) at 60 lbs overweight. It crept slowly after my first emergency surgery, and I actually believed that my body would regulate itself since I read a flawed study where they made prisoners gain or lose a bunch of weight and after a year they were back to normal weight, which convinced me obesity was 100% genetics and since I was skinny I was immune.

Even that wasn’t quite my wakeup – I tried dieting but followed the granola-food-pyramid view of weight loss. After immersing myself into their world I even became a very serious vegan for a week (and then my Crohn’s knocked some sense into me after I ate a day’s worth of food in the form of fiber-filled almonds that my intestines simply refused to digest… with painful consequences)

I felt flawed for not being able to go vegan but my interpretation of veganism was that it was a modern lifestyle and not everyone could be a vegan (i.e. I didn’t blame the poor, and those without access to good vegan foods or quality multivitamin supplements for eating meat), so I went back to eating meat since I was too unhealthy for veganism (and yes, for the record there are a lot of vegans and vegetarians that understand that not eating meat is like Eating on Hard Mode – you have to be much more careful about nutrient deficiencies. The “veganism/vegetarianism is sooooo healthy! Plants will provide everything! You don’t even need to look at your nutrient intake!” crowd pissed people like me off as a vegan since that attitude set people up for automatic failure).

I did a little more research with ex-vegan blogs, Meat: A Benign Extravagance and Lierre Keith’s book and learned the flaws in veganism.

It’s only shortly after this that I stumbled upon a T Nation forum post about women weightlifters and how everyone from the media to female celebs to even female trainers discourage women who lift heavy… then I found a post on The Anabolic Diet which was low carb with carb refeeds. Someone posted a link to Mark’s Daily Apple and from there I read the Ultimate Guides To… and I was hooked! It just made so much sense.

Initially I wanted to to primal/paleo to lose weight and for general self-improvement (i.e. ketogenic diet to increase brain capacity), but as I read more, and as I read Gary Taubes’ Good Calories, Bad Calories it dawned on me that my Crohn’s Disease, incurable disease with an unknown cause, was in all likelihood either caused by wayward FODMAP & carb-fed bacteria that my immune system deemed enough of a threat to damage my own intestines from inflammation, or was caused by an overreaction to plant toxins and other chemicals, most notable gluten which is basically designed to trick your body into attacking itself.

Throw in bad genes and too much Omega-6 from spending my childhood and teens eating (sugar-added) peanut butter sandwiches on white bread and “heart-healthy” olive oil margarine (7% olive oil, 90% canola) and there you go. Crohn’s Disease!

I stopped taking meds cold turkey without informing my specialist after going paleo (not recommended unless you’re a huge geek like me, are dedicated and willing to take risks). So far I’m improving on my own but it’s still a bit early. My doc was impressed with my bloodwork, even after he realized I stopped taking meds, he even asked me for more details on what was I doing after he’d previously been skeptical of all those MDA/paleo printouts I gave sent him… Last Xmas I bought him a copy of Gary Taubes’ Good Calories, Bad Calories…

October 11, 2011
5:29 am
mm
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My original comment has found a way to time travel and got stuck on page one, first comment.

October 11, 2011
6:49 pm
Diane
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I hiked the PCT in two sections and overlapped about 350 miles plus added another 100 miles where I hiked out my front door and walked to the nearest place the trail was to my house. I ate cookies, candy, crackers and pasta the whole way. I hiked 20-35 miles a day, usually about 28. I was gaining weight toward the end. I have not been able to find any information about what this level of exercise does to a person. The explanations about metabolic flexibility and the role of fat in the human diet seem to make the most sense to explain what happened to me. I'm just so grateful to have found a cure. I wonder how long it takes before you can slip and eat something bad for you and not wake up the next day a raving hungry lunatic. My husband refuses to believe any of this stuff so I have to suffer his refusal to eat high fat food and his tendency to serve crappy stuff when it's his turn to cook. I do my best.

October 12, 2011
1:22 am
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Gnoll
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All guys like steak, surely. Mould your husband to being the 'Steak Guy' - when he cooks, you have steak.

Living in the Ice Age
http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk

October 14, 2011
1:01 am
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Diane:

I've found that I gradually became more and more independent of food and hunger over 6-9 months.  Your metabolism didn't get screwed up in a week -- and though some benefits are obvious right away, it'll take more than a week for it to normalize.

The process is often speeded up by making sure you get plenty of magnesium (oxide is worthless: get malate, or citrate if it doesn't give you the runs), selenium, copper, iodine, etc.  The Perfect Health Diet supplement recommendations are pretty solid.

While I've done quite a few long hikes, I've never done that sort of sustained daily effort you've done.

JS

October 23, 2011
7:36 pm
anon
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I went on the macrobiotic diet in the mid 90s. I started doing the vegan diet in 1990 then decided a few years in to it that macrobiotics was "cooler" thanks to a local macrobiotic center in the hippie dip town where I chose to attend college. A little less than a year in to it I decided I needed to break away from the area/people and go to the NW so I did. Although I got an apartment, a job and met people I was unstable and threatened frequently to kill myself. My mother insisted I come home so I did. After I got home I continued to eat macro but felt I was out of control in terms of my eating/bingeing/life problems. I attracted well meaning souls in to my life who tried to "help" me. I chanted many hours while attending yet another university by the sea; Gilligan's Island we called it. I went to therapy, ate brown rice along with ice cream and Mexican food, developed a skin fungus on my stomach and even for a while tried to sell blue green algae. Anything to get well. My weight gain was not terribly substantial due to good genetics but I did need to lose a few pounds. My mother bought me a picture of a whale at Ross which I cluelessly hung in the house which she bought for me. One day I dropped a book on my toe and the toe nail fell off. I called someone I met in multi level marketing and asked her what I should do. She said I needed to "get in the Zone." I went and bought the book and did it to the letter for a few months. I ate eggs and dairy but no meat or fish. A few months in to it I went on Zoloft due to depression which led to a bipolar flip which caused me to move out of the house and put me on the road for a year. Later in the 90s I found the blood type diet which suggested I eat meat. Naturally I did not do so for another 6-7 years. Now, 15 years later I no longer do the Zone and have genotyped myself as a true Hunter. I eat red meat, fast during the day and feast many nights a week. It is not as easy to push me around as it used to be.

October 24, 2011
12:16 pm
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anon:

That's a long and painful journey.  I'm glad you've finally found a way to get and keep your health.  And it's absolutely true that health makes us mentally strong, as well as physically strong.

JS

October 29, 2011
2:48 pm
Rachel
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Ugh, where to start? There are too many factors here. Childhood issues with food brought on by weird parenting, mother obsessed with weight, meeting a guy when I was 16 and basically copying his cola and chocolate diet, discovering Animal Rights as a teenager, 15 years as an obese vegetarian including 3 years as B12 deficient vegan....

....I broke down. About 18 months ago. Precipitated by a horrendous emotional upheaval I shall only refer to as The Mistake. I was over 300lbs and suicidal. A non-smoker, I developed a 20 a day habit (now gone, thankfully), and bit my nails till they bled. A bad, bad time. It took me a year to really get over that, and I finally felt ready to tackle my weight problem in about June this year. I didn't feel I wanted or needed to be that fat woman anymore. I started counting calories and exercising.

Being the obsessive that I am, I had to research everything to the nth degree. I identify as a skeptic, a rationalist. As an outraged ex-believer in all things new age and woo (I dropped all that in my late twenties), I like to make sure what I think and do is as scientifically sound as possible, because I was a dumbass, and I'm not doing that again.

My random Googlings on the topic of optimal diet and weightloss kept throwing up Mark's Daily Apple. I dismissed it at first- I wanted hard scientific evidence, not some crank with a fad diet book to sell- more woo. I can't remember where, it might have been MDA, but I read a comment which mentioned the documentary Fat Head. So I watched it. Waaay too chock-full of, for this Brit irrelevant, American politics. The health stuff was great, the government-bashing spoiled it. Too easy to dismiss Naughton as an anti-government crank with an axe to grind. (Not that I mind his politics, it was just ladled on to the point of irritation)

But I persevered, bewildered and incredulous at all these people online who didn't believe in calorie counting. Well how else does one lose weight? As for eating meat, I hadn't done that for years, I am an animal lover, I think it's wrong to take a sentient life, particularly if you've captured and maltreated it first. I'd read all the vegetarian books years ago, I knew what the science said: animal fat is bad for you. It gives you cancer and heart disease and stroke and cooties.

Well. I don't remember how I found out about Gary Taubes. But I watched a talk of his on YouTube, and it blew my mind. I had to watch it about 4 times to really take on board what he was saying, and it just amazed me (I bought WWGF shortly afterwards). Then, in the comments to that video (I think) someone mentioned the Stanford AtoZ study. I found a talk on it, and watched Chris Gardner, a vegetarian, stand up and say that people eating low carb, high fat diets lost more weight and their health markers improved. That was the final push I needed- hearing it from a vegetarian.

There's so much bogus science out there, so much to doubt, that it wasn't until I heard a lifelong vegetarian, someone with a interest in promoting a plant based diet, telling me that meat eaters are healthier, that I would believe it. I could no longer hold on to my old established world view where humans are natural vegetarians and animal fats make you die in terrible pain. It just isn't true. I had been a dumbass again.

So, end of September, I did a one-eighty. Out with the pasta and potatoes, in with streaky bacon and goose fat. Meat tastes weird, I tell you.

I've been bouncing all over the internet with my brain wide open- I told a more emotional version of my story on Michael Eades' blog, I've skimmed through Guyenet's, ran like hell from Mercola, and I just found this blog today, via Hyperlipid. Wonderfully clear writing, thank you. Please, rest assured, people are listening. People like me. I don't know how many ex-woo, skeptic vegetarians who are willing to do a one-eighty are out there, but we do exist! Oh, and this one is 45lbs lighter than she was in June. 🙂

October 31, 2011
2:52 am
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Rachel:

First, congratulations on your turnaround!  I'm glad your health is now becoming better, not worse.

Second, wow.  You've been in some tough places, and you have a long journey ahead of you...but you're on the right path now. 

Most people who end up in the land of ancestral health are skeptics and rationalists.  We're not selling a sexy myth or a guarantee to Shed Pounds The Easy Way: the "caveman diet" concept is entirely a creation of our detractors.  What we have to offer is a rational framework for understanding our own past experiences ("I'm eating low-fat and whole grains, why am I so hungry and tired all the time?") and for taking charge of our own health instead of relying on disconnected snippets of mutually contradictory advice.

JS

December 13, 2011
7:19 am
Octavian
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I know I'm coming in late on this discussion, but my wake up call was on Jan 1 2010 (not a New Year's resolution) when I weighed close to 275lbs at 6'. I then started moving more and eating less, but I still ate some of the usual suspects. Eventually, I stumbled upon "Eat to live" by Joel Fuhrman which inspired me to eat more veggies and less meat. Eventually (2 weeks after I started this) I realized I really like meat, so I increased the meat and kept the veggies at the same level. I lost 10lbs. This summer, I stumbled upon CrossFit and paleo and it's been a love story so far. I'm blogging about my experience (link in my name) and I've learned so much more than I expected. Eventually, I stumbled upon this site, and ordered the book yesterday. I can't wait to read it. Keep it up J.

December 13, 2011
7:36 pm
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Octavian:

I can point the way to better health, but everyone must walk the path on their own. Congratulations on your progress -- and thank you very much for the support!  (These articles are entirely financed by sales of The Gnoll Credo and Amazon referrals.)

JS

PS: Your name doesn't become a link unless you sign up for the forums and post comments as a member.  Meanwhile, Octavian's blog is at fullfat.ca.)

March 8, 2012
9:33 am
Kassandra
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I know this is pretty late - almost 4 months since the last comment! - but it's the first article I've really really wanted to comment on.
It has been a very long journey for me, since finding out I had Celiac disease over a year ago. I struggled A LOT with cutting out gluten. I would be fine for a few months, or weeks, or maybe days... you see where that's going! I recently read another article on this site about how any successful diet must de-emphasize the need for willpower and restriction to succeed, and that was like getting hit with a bolt of lightning. "Restrained eating requires the exercise of willpower to override likes, wants, and the lack of satiation or satiety; the exercise of willpower uses energy and causes stress; and stress makes you eat more. Therefore, a successful diet must minimize the role of willpower." (From the amazing series on what hunger is and why we eat.) My biggest problem had always been that the cravings got so bad I would always justify giving in, then I would feel terrible physically and lash myself with guilt for not having stronger will, which just produced more stress... which BELIEVE ME I do not need in my life! I already work two jobs, am in the process of building a house, and recently lost a family member, so making good diet decisions was taking less and less priority space.
I have tried every sort of diet... counting calories (I can probably recite the formula for basal metabolic rate in my sleep!), limiting carbs, limiting fat, of course removing gluten and learning to cook andbake with all different grains. Some things would work for a while, as long as I had the willpower not to eat when I was hungry, but I always gained the weight back and usually more. I was depressed (I believe due to damage in the small intestine causing low serotonin) and generally angry all the time, struggling to find a way to accept that apparently my body wanted to be 40 pounds overweight.
Then I started reading paleo blogs and bought The Gnoll Credo... and this is easy. I'm still working on kicking the addiction to carbs, but it doesn't worry me anymore. I know I'll succeed. No grains? No problem! No need to count calories or restrict myself from eating the delicious and satisfying meat I've always wanted? Awesome! And the BUTTER! Ohhh the buttered veggies. 🙂 I have tons of energy, eat way less than I used to, and am inspired to actively find sources for local produce and meats - wonderfully easy, since I live in a rural part of the American southeast. Which, I might note, made it extremely HARD to find so-called "health foods" that didn't contain gluten. But eating naturally, I encounter none of those problems.
So basically, what I take from this experience is this: don't fight your nature. Revel in the expression of all those predatory instincts, and most importantly do not try to use "paleo" food to imitate your old diet! Making "pizza" with almond flour and various substitute ingredients to stay technically paleo is not eating like a predator... it's cheating yourself of the wonderful experience of real primal pleasure in food. It won't taste like the pizza you crave, and will only remind you that you aren't eating what you think you want. It's a waste of time. Be joyful in what is healthy, and find a way to distract yourself from what you think you want!

March 8, 2012
9:37 am
Kassandra
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Oh, and a comment to PrimalNut above: I was diagnosed with arthritis at 23!! How's that for young? 🙂 And I totally commiserate with chronic constipation - had it since I was a tiny little girl... my family even has a running joke about my giant poops!

March 8, 2012
4:50 pm
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Kassandra:

Don't worry: I'm still reading the comments!  (They're stored as threads in the forums, so it's easy to see what people have commented on recently.)

You make several excellent points.  "Do not try to use "paleo" food to imitate your old diet" is an important step.  Food simulations like "paleo pancakes" are absolutely still junk food even if they're made with almond flour.  They're high in n-6, extremely calorie-dense, and still just a pale imitation of the real thing.  My opinion: if you're going to cheat, cheat proudly -- and accept the consequences.

We're predators, and we eat different food now -- delicious food that doesn't need a side of empty carbs or sweetened junk to be satisfying.  As you've discovered, that's the key to this entire way of life...once you discover the pleasure you get from eating what your body needs, the transient thrill of junk food just doesn't compare.

Welcome home.

JS

March 14, 2012
1:58 pm
pam
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wakeup call?

colon cancer + complications of Lord Hubby despite of decades of (mostly) "healthy lifestyle" (including statins)

my ND is also very against dairy except raw A2. so i tried dairy free for a while & the only tangible effect is stomach cramp every day from coconut (100%, no other additives). so that did not work for me.

i've been following archevore/PHD diet for almost 2 years now. i don't know why so many are so dogmatic re. dairy. dairy seems to me more in line w/ our evolutionary philosophy than coconut (this is of course, for those who have no problems w/ lactose or casein).

i do like coconut a great deal. but it disagrees with me.

regards,

(ah, i even started to read the intelligent dialog of your readers)

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