I find that many people don't really grasp the essence of the Paleo (and Paleo-like) way. They approach it like they approach other diets, focus on what you can't have, and eventually go on in their endless quest for some silver bullet.
To my mind, the Paleo way is about two things, primarily.
1) To obtain not just sufficient or even good nutrition from food, but to obtain optimal nutrition from food. So, with respect to that piece of bread, pile of rice, dessert — or any of the other things we don't eat — we're eating, in its place, an additional piece of meat, fish, more vegies, fruit, or what have you. Over a week, or even a day, were you to compare your nutrient intake to any other average diet, you would blow it out of the water. Big time. It's not even close.
2) Hunger normalization. The problem with this one is that most people have no idea that their hunger it totally berserk. They consider the idea of fasting, for instance, and it's horrifying. Yet, people on the Paleo way embrace fasting naturally. Why? Because hunger is a hugely different experience for someone on the Paleo path.
Here's three testimonials that touch on one or both of these crucial elements.
Diana Hsieh emailed me back in Septamber to thank me for the blog. She'd been following it for some months, used the information, and benefited. And now look.
So after years of following various iterations of the low-fat, chubby face diet, look. She's taken a good 20 years off her appearance. You can read her whole story here.
I'm really thrilled with my weight loss. I've been battling my slowly-growing layer of fat since 2004. For four long years, I exercised daily: I did the standard regimen of 40 to 60 minutes of cardio. I attempted to eat "healthier," mostly meaning less fat, less calories. I was often ravenously hungry; I often felt deprived; I desperately craved sugar. Worst of all, despite some occasional success, my weight continued to creep upwards. I felt like I had no control.
And I'll bet Diana's former diet was about as healthy in terms of nutrition you can get on a low-fat regime. Her husband, Paul, is a physician and Diana is months away from obtaining her PhD in Philosophy. They live on a farm. I doubt she was eating junk food all day. Notice how she used to look pretty much like an average American, nowadays. Now, as with all Paleo people who've been on the diet a while, she looks lean and healthy. Far above average.
Now, of course, I love when someone documents success like that and it turns out I had a role in it. At first, it seemed unbelievable that people would actually take me seriously enough to try some of these methods, but you know what? I guess that sometimes people can recognize genuine when they see it. Dr. Dan of At Darwin's Table has only been blogging a short while, and like me, much of it is about his own path in losing weight and gaining health through optimal nutrition from food. Yet he already has an amazing reader success story and I'd highly encourage everyone to read that.
Confessions of a Carb Addict
I really, really used to think I had an eating disorder. Here I was at 30 years old – 108 kilo on a 5′2″ inch frame (that’s 238 pounds and 158 centimetres respectively) and massively unhappy with my body, my appearance and dieting like a fiend. I didn’t try the proverbial “everything” to lose weight, but I tried a great number of things, the Gillian McKeith “You Are What You Eat” diet, Weight Watchers, Intuitive Eating, food combining, vegetarianism, I even took part in a special addiction workshop because I was convinced I was addicted to food. […]
…I was never, ever full. Never. EVER. […]
…That of course meant I had blown the diet and so all food became fair game, but then no matter how much I ate I WAS NEVER FULL! NEVER. EVER. FULL! […]
I don’t remember how I found Dr Dan’s blog, but because of him I read Loren Cordain’s book, tried it out for about one month, cutting out dairy and grain and have never looked back since. I’ve lost about 4 kilo after about 6 weeks of practice and – although I can’t claim the Paleo way has saved my life, it has most definitely saved my sanity. All those feelings of fear, desperation, anger, and madness have disappeared. I’m calm for the first time in my adult life. I’m eating well and slowly but surely letting my disordered patterns go. I’m not totally free yet, I’m scared about the amount of food I can put away, I mean, dude. I can EAT. But I keep reminding myself that my body is playing catch-up and I am healing my body, NOT hurting it. My knees and hips have stopped hurting and you know what? I’m hungry right now but…it’s cool. This is the first time in my whole life that I have not felt like climbing the walls when I’ve been hungry. This is a different kind of hunger, it’s not sickening or acidic – this is a different way of living my life because after an eternity, I AM CALM.
Get it? She's getting optimal nutrition, losing weight, getting control of hunger, getting healthier. That's just a bit of her story excerpted. Go read the whole amazing thing.
And now, Keith Norris, already a well-established Paleo eater and experienced exerciser finds that last bit of success in intermittent fasting (with photos). I have blogged extensively about fasting myself, and can attest that Keith has it right on, and also with some of his own unique takes on the methodology. There's too much to do a good job of excerpting, so just go take a look at his photos and read his story.