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Why Are We Here, And What Are We Looking For? Food Associations And The Pitfalls Of The Search For Novelty
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June 14, 2012
12:44 pm
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First-Eater
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Paul:

Yes.  gnolls.org is far more than weekly science articles, and The Gnoll Credo is far more than a novel.

Jeffrey:

That wide-eyed period of discovery is both painful and wonderful.

JS

June 22, 2012
7:29 pm
Andrea
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Oh. My. Gawd. Thank you so much for the best navel-gazing anti-navel-gazing wake up call ever.

I'm going to take a walk.

June 23, 2012
2:38 pm
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Gnoll
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Andrea said:

I'm going to take a walk.

Good on you! Walking is pretty much the other foundation of humanity, eating being the other.

Walking is de-stressing. It doesn't matter whether you walk around the block or go out to the hills and walk. Walking is absolutely fundamental to the human frame.

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

June 23, 2012
4:58 pm
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Andrea:

Enjoy your walk!  Don't forget to climb a tree or two along the way.

JS

July 7, 2012
1:22 pm
Susan
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Oh, this article is so timely for me personally...I've been eating like a predator for about 6 months now and have been continually trawling and devouring so many sites. My initial motivation was to acquire basic information and guidelines; next, the scientific justification (Thanks, J.S.!), now, it is more for moral support. Speaking of which, I could use some right now because I'm beating myself up for once-a-week cheats, indulged in for purely emotional reasons. Also, I've given up once-a-week dates at a local micro-brewery with a good friend, which makes me a little sad. And finally to combat the continuing frustration I feel from the regular anti-paleo jibes from even good friends. (One of these said friends is well past obese, eats the SAD, has sky-high blood pressure, and gets no regular exercise.)
Lately I've taken to limiting my exploration to this most excellent site, mostly because I've gotten sick of the bickering and in-fighting elsewhere. Thanks for all your effort.

July 7, 2012
1:49 pm
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Halifax, UK
Gnoll
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You know, I've heard about this in-fighting (on paleo forums?) but not seen much. I keep to the recipes/cooking forums within, so maybe miss the "politics".

As a predatory eater, you're home.

What you may have seen and read on some other paleo forums - it's about personal responsibility. J goes to some length to show us how our good health can be maintained by keeping to a rigid paleo formula, but using simple carbs where we are fighting fit and active. Other paleo bloggers like Richard Nikoley over at 'Free the Animal' are running a close wind on actually living - being paleo and enjoying the ffff out of your life at the same time. It was fun to see J and Niko chatting recently.

Anyway, what Niko seems most keen about is enjoying those little privileges that neolithic living brings us. Beer and spirits, largely.

So many paleo forums seem so hung up on emulating neolithic food, paleolithically (if that is even a word) and that really is not the point of paleo. Change your habits and eat different!

Do enjoy a drink, thought ...

It saddens me to see you leave your local micro-brewery. Back up - paleo. Grain, fermented is fermented and so more acceptable. Distilled, better ... in the end, both are malted, too, so two or three processes to render them palatable.

I enjoy beer. I drink maybe 10 pints a week. I also enjoy cider, which would be some of that 10 pints. I do like spirits - whisky, where I may get through a bottle a week with friends. That does sound like a lot, but it's social. That is the key - is your life better without some things, or is it enriched by virtue of sharing with friends.

Paleo is very much about enriching life through things which might not, on the face of it, be paleo - Crossfit, mountain biking, climbing, marathon running, drinking. None of these are paleo, many strike against paleo in terms of chronic cardio, yet they enrich the lives of those doing it - life is better with some thing in.

Certainly, life is better without doubt or guilt.

Eat pure, drink water, enjoy life's little extras.

DO NOT make a habit of dipping into neolithic and modern foods as an indulgence - there are sensible indulgences, which include chocolate, spirits, cider, red wine and even beer. Be unsensible, but do savour the hangover - this tells you that you did something wrong.

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

July 8, 2012
4:19 pm
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Susan:

There's often a lot of jealousy behind the anti-paleo jibes.  Misery loves company -- and you're denying them the pleasure of commiserating.  

If the jibes don't stop, you might consider broadening your social circles.  When we change ourselves, we sometimes find we have little in common with the people we used to spend our time with.  (And junkies who go back and hang out with their old junkie friends usually end up using again.)  Look for social activities that depend on being physically active: for instance, I volunteer to build hiking/biking/horse trails (swinging an eight-pound doublejack all day will make you strong in short order), and I've joined the local community gym/rec center.  You might not find anyone who's paleo, but at least you'll find people who respect your efforts instead of denigrating them.

Does your local microbrewery serve hard cider?  Nutritionally it's still soda, but it's far preferable to the gluten in beer.  There's also the option of wine or a mixed drink, if they serve those.

Once-a-week cheats aren't such a big deal unless they turn into a binge.  The easiest way to avoid that is to make sure you cheat as dessert, after an otherwise complete meal.  Sure, I drink a can of Coke every once in a while...39g of HFCS for dessert once every couple weeks isn't going to kill me.  If you're going to cheat, enjoy it without guilt and move on.  You can't improve the past...you can only improve the present moment.

Paul:

The infighting has waned somewhat since I wrote this, but it comes and goes.  The latest salvo involves a few scientists trying to claim a monopoly for their pet hypotheses (dismissing most of biochemistry in the process, though they'll never admit to it.)  

You Englishmen do love a pint!  I've never been able to force myself to enjoy the taste of beer, and I've tried many times.  Even a fine Scotch is something I enjoy infrequently.  

JS

July 12, 2012
9:28 am
Susan
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J.S.,
Thank you for your support and encouragement. I have been trying to think of ways to expand my social circle. The difficulty lies in the fact that I am an almost 52 y.o., single, very-fit female. My spare time is spent on my bike, on the hiking trails with my dog, and, a few days a week, in the gym. I probably don't have to tell you that there are very few people in my peer group who take fitness and healthy eating seriously. Among my current friends, I can rarely find any one willing to leave their lawnchair long enough for a ride or even a walk around the block. My gym crowd seems to consist mostly of rehabbing seniors and the self-congratulatory mirror-gazing bodybuilders. The trail volunteer is a great one...We do have a nearby National Park, and I know they have teams of volunteers to maintain trails. Time for me to swallow my natural shyness and get out there.
And thanks for giving me permission to forgive the cheats...the self-flagellation is far worse than the passing metabolic consequences. I do confine them to desserts, and clearly recognize them as eating for comfort out of loneliness and feeling overwhelmed with so many lifestyle changes. I know they will be self-limiting if I can start to meet other people who are fitness and health minded. Now all you need is a gnolls:match site where we can find local friends/dates! Keep that in the back of your ever-fertile mind. Oh, and thanks for the science AND the kindness.

July 13, 2012
12:54 am
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Susan:

I recommend worrying less about your age and more about shared interests.  You're looking for new friends first: save the dating thoughts for later.  And young people often have infectious energy, as they still believe that their own life has possibilities beyond whatever routine they've fallen into due to circumstance.

JS

July 27, 2012
6:18 pm
Eva
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We are here because it's not all figured out yet. Not everyone who eats paleo gets completely healthy. It may be possible to eat paleo and still lack important nutrients, depending on what specific food choices you make. There are probably individual diffs on specific needs. HOw impt is calcium? How do you know? What about magnesium, vit E, etc? Many paleos assume that some nutrients are not needed as much if you eat healthier in general, but we don't KNOW that for sure. We don't know it's true for everyone. There may be islands of safety or maybe there is not. What about if you have metabolic derangement/damage already? There's been a lot of talk that makes it sound like you are basically kinda screwed if you are already damaged. But I bet there are ways to fix and heal that could be still figured out if we knew more about things like micronutrients and how it all exactly works. Paleo helps a lot of people but it doesn't help everyone and even those who it helps can still have probs that do not go away. We can stop looking once we have all the answers and everyone is healthy or knows exactly how to get healthy. Paleo does not yet have all the answers so keep looking!

July 30, 2012
8:43 am
Paul N
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@ Susan

I second J's suggestion about getting involved with the Nat Park or some trail building type thing - almost everyone who is involved is quite motivated about it. Also, a local hiking club/group is a good one - leave the gym to the gym rats - exercising in the real world is so much better.

All that said, I wouldn't discard your old social circles completely, the trick is to not let "being paleo" define all the discussions people have with you, there is more to life than that. When the discussion does come to food, I often talk of "just eating real foods" to avoid being labelled as a follower of a fad diet.

And if you eat real foods, and avoid the grains, you are pretty much at the Perfect Health Diet.

Agree totally with the comment about the energy of young people. Even if their energy is sometimes misdirected, the mere presence of youthful optimism is inspiring - I see it whenever I am out snowboarding, but that doesn;t mean I'm following them through the terrain park, I'll stick the real slopes!

Traditional communities really mixed people of all ages, that is something that modern communities have lost, to our detriment.

July 30, 2012
8:50 am
Paul N
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J,

I completely agree with your prediction about gut flora being the next big thing. It is actually one thing that applies across all "diets" - they are all better with healthy gut flora. some diets.of course, are better at maintaining that than others.

The popularity of the GAPS diet is illustrative, and I know someone who has managed their food allergies by "healing and sealing" their gut with this diet. Took them a year, but after a decade+ of food problems they are better than ever. They now see food as a pleasure rather than a potential minefield.

I think also the fact that a leaky gut is practically impossible to heal by any drug therapy, only by removal of the irritants and a healing period, lends itself to a dietary solution. It is becoming more obvious just how many "diseases" from allergies to skin conditions, are symptoms of leaky gut/poor gut flora.

It is just sad watching people buy no-fat "probiotic" sweetened yoghurt in their attempt to improve their digestion.

After discovering kefir, there is just no going back!

July 31, 2012
6:49 pm
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Eva:

You're correct: the basic dietary prescription for humans is relatively well-established, but it's much more difficult to fix someone who's already broken.

Paul N:

"Traditional communities really mixed people of all ages, that is something that modern communities have lost, to our detriment."

Absolutely true.  The first and worst example is "school", where we send our children away to be raised by...other children.  And this fixes in our minds the idea that we're only allowed to socialize with people our own age.

Re: gut flora, the problem isn't that we don't know it's a big deal.  The problem is that it's an incredibly complex microbiological community that we're just beginning to understand!  Compared to our knowledge of our own biochemistry, our knowledge of the gut microbiome is decades behind.

JS

August 1, 2012
1:12 am
Paul N
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JS,

We may indeed not know that much about our gut biome, but that didn;t stop many (not all) traditional peoples from having healthy gut flora.

My concern is that the more we learn, the more we try to tweak things, just look at where we are with drugs...

the important thing to understand, is that complexity is vital (as it is with any natural system) This makes it really hard for "industry sponsored" research, as they are always looking for a "single" thing that does the trick.

More (variety) is more (quality) when it comes to our gut flora, and that is probably a reflection of the variety/quality, or lack thereof, that most people eat.

We will see ever more probiotic pills and similar (highly processed) "nutritional supplements" coming out. The more of them I see, the more I just eat real food, and my own cultured/fermented creations - its not that hard!

Looking forward to your next post!

August 6, 2012
11:25 pm
Ric Aspen
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There can be many different reasons why people come to this web site time after time, even if nothing new seems to have been posted. I am not looking for food associations at all. I'm looking to make sure that I really understand the paleo diet. Because of it's simplicity, it's sometimes hard for me to believe I really "got it."

There must be something I missed, so I'll just go back to that website and see if I can find what I overlooked. It seems like something is missing, right? What's missing is all the confusion surrounding all those complicated diets concocted by folks who want to be worshipped for how smart they are, and want to be noticed for all the hard work they put in to get their medical degree or their degree in nutritional counseling.

And, they want to make back some of the money they spent on getting that education by selling you their diet book or their online diet program. The problem is that it's near impossible to understand those diet programs let alone conform to them.

I also like coming back to this website just to rub shoulders with my fellow cavemen.

September 7, 2012
12:21 pm
Diane
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I like to read paleo stuff because I like to feel a part of a community. I'm the only one I know eating this way. I can't get my partner to join me even though he suffers from so many ailments due to the SAD way of eating. I'm also still in a learning phase, finding new ways to improve my fitness and health. This site was one of the first ones that helped me. I lost 30lbs and feel young for the first time in my life and am embarking on a new level of fitness and health, plus I have learned to cook and to enjoy cooking.

September 9, 2012
11:12 am
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Paul:

Good points...and I'm glad to be back.

Ric Aspen:

You're right: it's sometimes difficult to accept that it's Not That Complicated.  As I've said before, if humans needed an entire book to learn how to eat, we'd have starved to death long ago!  And I say it directly in "Eat Like A Predator": "Anyone can write a diet book—and most of them make nutrition complicated so that you’ll keep buying books and going to meetings."

That being said, the books are important, because they can give us the reasons and the science, not just the instructions.

Stop by anytime.

Diane:

Yes, that's a big part of it: I have a great community here...but none of my close friends eat this way, and I don't know anyone locally who eats this way.  However, I've been an outlier for my entire life, so I'm used to it.

JS

September 11, 2012
9:17 pm
Walter
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I took a break from all Paleo and low carb sites in Feb. Took Dr. Eades posting to bring me back. Caught up to this post here. Not sure how many of the sites I used to visit I'll go back to.

September 13, 2012
12:33 am
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Walter:

It's been a slow summer...but Paul Jaminet is back, I'm back, and things are starting to pick up again.

JS

September 17, 2012
3:59 pm
Julie
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I loved this post, and I think you're absolutely right. Now off to explain to my family why I'm obsessed with reading about Paleo!

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