Monday, February 25, 2013

Trying it out...

One of the "projects" that has been occupying my attention this year has been an attempt to eat better. I suppose I have known for a while that healthy eating should be more of a priority, but it actually surprised me how little it seemed to come up during my flurry of doctoring that lasted essentially from August through December. But, in January, I was finally in good enough shape that we could begin to talk about what was going to happen in the future. These conversations, which I had with each of my doctors, included some good, some bad, and some ugly.

Even so, when one of my doctors suggested that I consider modifying my eating habits and begin following the Paleo diet, I was kind of surprised. Though eating Paleo isn't going to make my aneurysms go away, he thought it would be worth a try. I trust him a lot - he's the doctor who "gets me" - so I thought seriously about it, though I was a bit skeptical. I had a follow up appointment with a different doctor just a couple of days later and mentioned this conversation. The second doctor chuckled and then told me about how the first doctor had used the Paleo diet himself because of health concerns and had lost a noticeable amount of weight. This conversation was super reassuring because its always good to hear a success story about a person you actually know. I also felt more better about myself knowing that even doctors sometimes need to reevaluate their path. That's the long version back story about how now I'm trying to eat Paleo. Thus, my book review of The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain:

I suppose I should start by giving a brief overview: the Paleo diet is so named because it is modeled on the foods eaten by our Paleolithic ancestors in pre-agricultural times. "Good" foods include meats, veggies, and fruits. "Bad" foods are grains, dairy, sugar, and processed foods. I think there is a TON of information out there, especially on the good ol' Internet, that will tell you much of what you might want to know about the Paleo diet, and really, none of it was earth-shattering. But, if you're seriously considering Paleo, I'd strongly recommend this book.

A short amount of internet research will show you that Loren Cordain was basically the first one to really write about this "diet" (a word I hesitate to use because the emphasis is on making changes for a lifetime, rather than restricting calories for short periods of time to focus on immediate weight loss) in the popular media. I think this book is awesome for its exploration of the scientific principles that underlie this approach. While the internet is a good resource, I think there's quite a bit of shrill commentary out there that is really not helpful to people trying to learn and do their best (i.e. me).

For example, you might read on a Paleo website something like "Cheetos are poison!" I suppose there are people out there who believe that, but I'm not one of them. I love Cheetos. In this book, however, the attitude is more like, "Cheetos are not healthful, and when you eat them, they take the place of food that's actually nutritious." I think just about anyone can agree with that statement, avoid buying Cheetos, and not melt into a puddle after enjoying a handful of Cheetos at a party. It was refreshing, after having spent some time reading extreme stuff on the internet, to read this book, which expressed a more sensible point of view.

The author answered one of the most important questions I had: is it worth it to make the effort to eat meat and veggies, avoiding processed stuff, even if you aren't 100% committed? I have definitely heard of people who were diligently following a diet, went off the program and immediately lost all the benefit they'd gained. The answer? This isn't like that. Every meal of good food is helpful.  I'm giving it my best shot!


  1. Matt read a book on the Paelo diet and has modified his (read: our) eating habits accordingly (mostly because he does all the cooking!). He doesn't follow it strictly (i.e. he loves, loves, loves pizza), but I feel we pay better attention to what we are eating and we eat better and that's what's important:-)

    1. Good for you guys! I've definitely been more thoughtful too, which is kind of a change, but in a good way!