Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The inns and out of eating out

Eating out paleo is rough. If you do much paleo you have already figured that out.

I have run the gamut. From tossing 3/4 of my meal out to having to get a manager involved to get pan fried unbreaded fish on a bed of romaine with mayo.

Fast food is a joke,. While it is barely possible to get something not toxic in a fast food establishment, it really isn't very compatible with the reasons to eat out. (Paleo fast food is stupid easy to pack. Fast food chains serve no need when you can carry a bag of jerky and cheese and salami around with some fresh cucumber.)

Diners, while a bit easier, fare poorly for people on paleo or real food diets. For so called "market" reasons, the ingredient lists plainly suck. Corn, wheat, and soy products are in every sauce and dressing. And don't even try to find oilive oil and vinegar. I have worked in and operated restaurants. The market and cost issues are pretty bad, but I think there might be another answer. Let's forget paleo for a moment. Anywhere honest food is served, it is possible to eat paleo with a little explanation. Let's look at honest food. To keep food honest, you have to work with variable seasons and supplies. Which means set, plastic coated, everything the same across the country menus won't work. The answer, in case you missed the post title, is the Inn. The classic romanticized public house style inn. Big pots of chili or soup- not from a menu, but whatever is being made today. Cuts of meat from a locally butchered animal, possibly quarter steer roasts. The list can go on, with local produce, regional harvests like seafood. Fast food? Well, much of the daily menu is already ready already. Menu? Daily, on a chalkboard. Food costs? If you aren't reliant on the manufactured food industry to maintain a set menu, you can work you food costs using seasonal, local/revional, food. At lower cost.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

half of Americans to be obese?

according to an article in the washington post:

Based on trends, half of the adults in the United States will be obese by 2030 unless the government makes changing the food environment a policy priority, according to a report released Thursday on the international obesity crisis in the British medical journal the Lancet.

Those changes include making healthful foods cheaper and less-healthful foods more expensive largely through tax strategies, the report said. Changes in the way foods are marketed would also be called for, among many other measures.

Okay, dangerous ground- half of the US obese is a LOT of unhealth.

I won't argue in this case that paleo is the only way to go, there are several answers to the problem.

I don't believe taxing foods that the current medical prejudice thinks are unhealthful is the way to do it. That sort of top down approach won't get anywhere.

Banning advertising entirely? Yeah, I'd go for that.

Hiring Michael Pollan to write the food guide? Yeah, I'd go for that.

Once again, the problem is large corporations designing our health education, and what we get to see as food. Food isn't about health- it's about profit.

I'm not sure what the answer is to that- but I have children with no TV who haven't even eaten half the really nasty foods out there- and somehow, the advertising still gets them.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

going hot turkey

My wife and I were discussing a conversation on a forum about the best way to approach a paleo diet- gradually or cold turkey.

My initial response ins "cold turkey, of course!"

Talking to my wife, I realized that from her point of view, we've spent 6 years developing a paleo diet. (My point of view is a bit different, as by the time we met I had deprogrammed on a lot of diet issues through various diets, living in other countries, and adequate experience with MREs.)

When we moved to Davis in 2005, my first attempt at a family healthy diet was to get to "no processed foods" - including no bread. For a while, this was pretty rough. Even a 1600 calorie chef's salad with everything wasn't a meal to my wife because there wasn't one or more of the following:


So, there was a huge deprogramming stage for that. And we did, with fits and starts- well before looking at paleo specifically- go through several progressive iterations of ever more natural, less canned/bagged/processed, and raw diet changes.

So, okay, gradual.


If you aren't eating paleo yet, you are going to have to go through these adjustments. Is it easier to do it quickly? I think so, with some caveats.

One of the most often quoted passages in paleo literature for a step by step process is from Dr. Kurt Harris' Archevore (formerly paleonu) blog. The list is as follows:

Here is a 12- step list of what to do. Go as far down the list as you can in whatever time frame you can manage. The further along the list you stop, the healthier you are likely to be. There is no counting, measuring, or weighing. You are not required to purchase anything specific from me or anyone else. There are no special supplements, drugs or testing required.*

1. Eliminate sugar (including fruit juices and sports drinks that contain HFCS) and all foods that contain flour.

2. Start eating proper fats - Use healthy animal fats to substitute fat calories for calories that formerly came from sugar and flour.

3. Eliminate gluten grains. Limit grains like corn and rice, which are nutritionally poor.

4. Eliminate grain and seed derived oils (cooking oils) Cook with Ghee, butter, animal fats, or coconut oil. Use no temperate plant oils like corn, soy, canola, flax, walnut, etc.

5. Favor ruminants like beef, lamb and bison for your red meat. Eat eggs and fish.

6. Make sure you are Vitamin D replete. Get daily midday sun or consider supplementation.

7. 2 or 3 meals a day is best. Don't graze like a herbivore.

8. Attend to your 6s and 3s. Pastured (grass fed) dairy and grass fed beef or bison has a more optimal 6:3 ratio, more vitamins and CLA. If you can't eat enough pastured products, eat plenty of fish.

9. Get proper exercise - emphasizing resistance and interval training over long aerobic sessions.

10. Most modern fruit is just a candy bar from a tree. Go easy on bags of sugar like apples. Stick with berries and avoid watermelon which is pure fructose. Eat in moderation. If you are not trying to lose fat, a few pieces of fruit a day are fine.

11. Eliminate legumes

12. If you are allergic to milk protein or concerned about theoretical risks of casein, you can stick to butter and cream and avoid milk and soft cheeses.

Many of the individual items on the list are fairly easy- for example, 4, 5 and 11 are going to be fairly easy for many people.

But I do believe the list has a useful graduation. 1 through 6 form a unit that's really life changing. And while the biggest single difficulty is likely to be "eliminate sugar"- it's also the single biggest immediate benefit.

And it has a cascading effect on the rest of your diet and lifestyle. Industry sneaks sugar into EVERYTHING, and eliminating just that will make profound changes.

The reason I lump the rest into the group is that it pretty much eliminates most of the worst of the processed foods- since animal fats replacing vegetable fats means less shelf life and more need for actual- well- food.

And this bring up the last point my wife brought up to me. Can you cook?

Being able to cook is pretty essential! Let's assume you aren't a grillmaster, aren't too inventive, and basically can't cook that much. You're idea of cooking is adding chili to macaroni and cheese. or making a grilled cheese sandwich. Maybe even adding some fried onion and chicken to a canned soup and serving over rice.

And thus we get to:

Paleo Hot Turkey.

See Kurt's list up there? grab it, live it, love it. Empty the fridge and the cabinets. Go go go!

(assuming you need to shop and can't do this all yuppie farmer's market organic whoopdedoo)
Buy a mess of eggs, and a bulk bag of bacon. Grab a few stacks of meat in whatever portions you can deal with, and several bags of frozen fish. Go ahead and get some frozen berries.

You need cheese? it's optional and contested, but go ahead, get the extra sharp cheddar, a pound or so.

coconut milk (for your coffee and those frozen berries.)

Now, you are going to go totally retro early 20th century and hit the store every day or every other day, and visit the produce aisle and meat counter. All your frozen meat is for when there's nothing good at the meat or fish counter, okay?

lettuce. Any assorted fun thing you can handle in your salad- a small pear, cucumber, bell pepper, whatever.

Okay. Cook the meat, chill the salad. Done! Hot turkey semi raw paleo.

Assuming you can handle frying an egg and bacon, you are pretty much set from here on out and can happily visit the paleo recipe sites and work your way up to my wife's status of master chef.

She could cook- from a cookbook- when we met, while I had never used a cookbook for more than ideas. In some sense, I definitely helped her leanr to cook in the sense of recognizing food synergies and interactions without a cookbook. She's much more creative than I am with paleo recipes- I'm a grill and salad guy- she can make paleo ZUCCHINI FRAPUCCINOS that taste like ... frappucinos!

At some point, you really will do better if you learn to cook- not just to follow a recipe.

There's really not much more to it than that- the easiest way to go paleo is to get stuff you don't have to cook much, right?

(And, in the end, the faster you do it, the faster you will feel the effects. doing 5% a week for 20 weeks you may not notice ANYTHING)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

WARNING, action ahead. (and it's political, ew)

First, this post is particularly for Americans. nothing against any of
y'all, but this is particular to American politics. And I have a firm
belief that our internal politics should remain internal.

that being said:

The timing of this post may seem odd to you- we have a huge amount of
time before the next set of elections (except for district 2
Nevadans!) - yet the races are starting and this is the most important
time for the individual citizen to get involved.

I'd like to recommend a book. It is, I believe, out of print in paper,
but Baen publishing has an ebook version available- without DRM as is
the policy of Baen publishing.

The book was originally written in 1946, and re issued in 1992. It was
re issued specifically to generate more impetus to a particular third
party candidate- but the book itself isn't written along any party
lines. Just about the only American political stance you will see it
stand *against* is classic political communism- which was and is
dictatorial and repressive.

I would like urge everyone to get, to read, and to enact in some small
way, this book. It's an easy read, written by someone who managed to
make a nearly obscene living off of writing well. So it's easy to get
through. It's also thought provoking- it demonstrates in many ways how
the culture and mechanisms of politics have changed over the decades
since WW2, and offers some pictures of what reforms could look like.

Quoted from the book, the author has 7 beliefs he has listed that are
a result of his working in politics on local through national levels:

"(1) Most people are basically honest, kind, and decent"

I'd like to point out that if you do NOT believe this, if you firmly
believe that people MUST be controlled to force them into decency
(what my childhood religion calls the Luciferian Error)- I will
probably stand against you in every poll. But don't let that stop you,
get this book!

"(2) The American people are wise enough to run their own affairs.
They do not need Fuehrers, Strong Men, Technocrats, Commissars, Silver
Shirts, Theocrats, or any form of dictator."

For reference, a Silver Shirt is a member of the defunct Silver Legion
of America, an openly fascist group founded by William Dudley Pelley,
who hoped to install himself as dictator in the 1930s.

A dictator in reference to the time period when this was written was
anyone who had anything approaching an absolute, or overly
influential, amount of power - "One who dictates". If a president
tries to assume congressional powers, he is attempting to be a
dictator. (I could point to several on both sides of aisle, I'm not
targeting a specific individual here)

The main point of this belief is that American citizens are wise
enough to run their own affairs. There are two aspects to that. One,
which I believe may be key in this election cycle- is that Americans
are wise enough to vote how they vote. We have had far too many
managed elections- and managed ballot lists- over the past several
cycles. Maybe we oughtta take that back.

The other aspect to this is a classically liberal belief that the
individual is wise enough to run his own affairs and governmental
intrusion into such should be limited. In fact, the structure of the
Bill of Rights to the Constitution is a prime example of Classic
Liberal thought.

"(3) Americans have a compatible community of ambitions. Most of them
don't want to be rich but do want enough economic security to permit
them to raise families in decent comfort without fear of the future.
They want the least government necessary to this purpose and don't
greatly mind what the other fellow does as long as it does not
interfere with them living their own lives. As a people we are neither
money mad nor prying; we are easy-going and anarchistic. we may want
to keep up with the Joneses -- but not with the Vanderbilts. We don't
like cops."

Greed is something that appears to me to be attempted to be instilled
in our children and selves by marketing campaigns- both commercial and
scholastic. I could not state absolutely that I agree with the author
at this point, but I can let it slide because most of the people I
know who are honest and decent do not want wealth for the purpose of
removing power from others. Good enough for me.

"The least government necessary to this purpose." - I know that a fair
percentage of the people I'm trying to reach will at this point
disagree with that phrase. The belief that we need government to
ensure fairness, elevate the oppressed, mandate rules and regulations
to prevent people from doing what another believes is harmful- Well,
I'll admit I don't *totally* disagree with that view. But, to me, the
least government necessary to the purpose of guaranteeing my children
access to healthy food is still the "least government necessary to the
purpose". Think on it.

Cops. It is almost a requirement in my line of work to idolize
policemen on a level equivalent to military veterans. (Since I hold
close to my heart a separation of civilian government and the
military, I have to disagree with this on some levels.) While I
appreciate the risks and service of the job, the point here is that
Americans don't want cops sniffing around everything they do. It has
become institutionalized to the point where I know a LOT of Americans
who won't allow their children to have a conversation with a uniformed
police officer or badged government representative because the
possibility of fishing for a crime is too great- and it is almost
impossible to be guilty of nothing in our current legal landscape. You
can end up being investigated for deprivation if your kid complains
about not ever getting candy, or investigated for neglect f he says he
eats candy all the time! What the author meant, I believe, is that
Americans don't like authoritarian busybodies.

"(4) Democracy is not an automatic condition resulting from laws and
constitutions. It is a living, dynamic process which must be worked at
by you yourself -- or it ceases to be democracy, even if the shell and
form remains."

Any of us, on any side of debate, could point to infringements of the
first, second, fourth, fifth, eighth, and fifteenth amendments in the
past decade once the amendments were pointed out to us. I won't go
talking about vigilant defence- but involvement. Your cell phone
camera may be the democratic sunshine tool of choice for youtube- but
voting and being involved in your party(ies) is much more effective in
the long term. just a letter, a phone call, 4 hours of volunteer work
make a difference.

"(5) One way or another, any government which remains in power is a
representative government. If your city is a crooked machine, then it
is because you and your neighbors prefer it that way -- prefer it to
the effort of running your own affairs...."

(the ellipsis refers to some notes on Hitler which were timely then
but I can safely leave out for the moment.)

I hear an argument from many persons- right and left and center- that
it's pointless to get involved because it doesn't matter. As long as
enough people believe that, it is to some extent true. If you abdicate
your franchise because "all politicians are bad"- you still abdicate
your franchise. Don't do it.

"(6) Democracy is the most efficient form of government ever invented
by the human race. One the record, it has worked better in peace and
war than fascism, communism, or any other form of dictatorship. As for
the mythical yardstick of "benevolent" monarchy or dictatorship --
there ain't no such animal"

Well, look. If you really don't believe this and think that there's
some justification for taking over the government on a NON
representative basis, then elections aren't your game anyway.

"(7) A single citizen, with no political connections and no money, can
be extremely effective in politics."

And that last point is where the book takes off. It's a manual of how
to apply number 7.

Here's what I want you to do, here's why I'm writing this. I want you
to get involved. I don't care if your politics agree with mine- I have
several major disagreements with the platforms of the Republicans, the
Democrats, and at least half the amazing hodge-podge of contradictions
that is the Tea Party (Bachman and Ron Paul in the same bed?!?!?!? how
on Earth?)

Disagree with me. or agree with me. Just do it in a more personal,
more active, more individual political manner.


The book: Take Back Your Government, 1946, 1992 by Robert A Heinlein

Published currently as an e-book by Baen, available here:

No, I have nothing to do with Baen except for some friendships with a
few authors who have published through them.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Working in the economy

Hey guys, guess what?

The US economy is sucking for those of us in the bottom 80% right now. It's causing a lot of concern, angst- oh, and a lot of joblessness. While Congress, The President, Wall Street and the Corporate interests are making out dandy, thanks- we're not.

So here's a few notes, from someone who hasn't had a job in long enough that he's self-employed.

One thing you might want to look at is whether you want a job, or you want income.

Think on that one for a moment, and realize that the two aren't inseparable.

There's a lot of advantages to jobs as such- health benefits, retirement plans, managers directing and controlling your work. I can see flat out stating that it's gotta be a job you want- That's cool, but the rest of this post is aimed at someone who wants income in the meantime. Or someone who doesn't care about the job aspect as much as the income aspect.

Why am I writing this? Because, I honestly think it's up to us to build the economy, or at least keep some levels of it functioning- underneath, orthogonal to, and in spite of DC and Wall Street. I'm not going to get into any details, but my view is expressed here:

Okay, back to work. Income. Income means producing wealth- whether it's trade, production, reselling- doesn't matter. In some way, you need to add something to the mix, then collect some cash for it. (Or barter, but that's all up to you.)

The absolute basic rules are pretty simple. The first one is Do Stuff. Very simply, you need to move around, and make changes in your local universe. Weaving baskets out of pine needle bundles may sound silly, but it sure beats couch potato lard.

It really doesn't matter, at most levels, what it is you are doing all the time, as long as you are Doing Stuff. If you want a job coding remotely for a company, that's great- your Doing Stuff should probably include lots of software in the OSS and PDA fields. But sharpening all your friends' axes and whittling a chain necklace are cool, too.

Do. Stuff.

Second rule: Finish something every day. Some projects take an hour, some take a month, but you need to make sure that every single day you have something you can point to and say "Complete!"

This is crucial stuff. Without going way deep into psychology, if you do this you'll build up some momentum, horsepower, and your time management skills will soar (trust me)

Third rule: eliminate all "can't", "not allowed to", "don't have the materials", and "need to buy this first" talk.

As I said before, pine needle baskets are cool if that's where you are at. With what's around you, you can do something. Do it. "all the jobs are near this rail line I live far away from." "The landlord won't let me run a forge on a balcony." "I need a CNC mill before I can make this model to sell."

Balls. Do Stuff. No can't, just Do Stuff.

Okay, here's the magic part- as long as you follow these three rules (intelligently- starting a $25,000 homebuilt airplane while on unemployment is not intelligent), good stuff will happen to you. Money will come in, however slowly, people will give you stuff, trade you stuff, come over and share experience. Stuff Happens when you Do Stuff.

You can target this, you can focus on an area, build a career, aim for a job in a specific industry, whatever you want. Just don't break the three simple rules.

Let's say you are following the rules. What's next? Well, don't expect $2,500 a month off of etsy selling pine needle coasters that you learned how to make a week ago.

This one is really hard for people. You can't master anything that's going to make you a lot of money and generate life quality in a day, a week, or a month. You may get no more than 10% over your materials cost for stuff at first. A set of pine needle coasters (6) might sell for $10. And that's going to take you half a day of work to do. Sucks, huh?

Well, here's the thing- every hour you spend, attentively, doing stuff, is an investment in skill and ability.

I have met a model maker- guy makes little plastic models. He sells them for over $250 each. (A couple a week.) Believe me, he's not slapping together a Revell kit and spraypainting it! He's got years into this, he's developed skill, an artistic style (even accurate modelling has it), and a customer base.

Making chainmail jewelry? great. It's not magic, but it's sellable if you choose materials right. But you have to produce detail oriented work (smooth closures, even rings), and you have to put enough time in to have something to sell. 5 days for a $20 bracelet ain't it. 5 days should net you a sleeveless shirt. 10 days should net you a full knee length hauberk and coif. Work means WORK.

Don't expect that anything you do is perfectly unique- no cottage industry is completely new (okay, very damned few) and you do have to deal with the fact that there's someone out there been doing it longer. that's okay.

There's a saying in the knife world that anything you develop in your custom shop has been done before sometime in history. You may put a twist into it, or be using a new steel, but it's almost certainly been done. That's fine by me, I'm selling my knives as my knives. I don't need to try and force people to believe I invented knifemaking.

Fortunately, you don't have to saturate a market, nor even necessarily compete with anyone else. There's lots of room. Whatever you are doing, you can do it well and generate some life out of it.

I have to append a pretty important note to the second rule. Extending this rule is crucial.

I'm not talking solely about refusing to "I can't" on whatever you are doing. This needs to be extended to life.

A lot of people, I find, have an excuse for everything. It's as if there's a programmed avoidance technique in operation where if anything new, active, or solution oriented is proposed, the first thing to do is find a reason why it can't be done.

This is absolutely critical. ERASE this attitude, response, and habit from yourself.

You may find you have to stop accepting it from others. Spending 5 hours of your Doing Stuff time listening to someone else chant "I can't" in all the various forms will not help you. And they are just as likely to put that onto you- "You can't."

I'm not saying you have to divorce yourself from these people, but some tactic will need to be employed to protect yourself from ... well, not Doing Stuff.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Politics of working

This is a side note, a reference for another post.

For purposes of working with how I am treating the subject of working and income, consider thbese views.....or don't! This isn't crucial, but points out some difficulties.

First, the government of the US isn't here to get anyone a job, nor to ensure employment. Not even to fix the economy. The federal government is primarily to prevent "bad actions" in the economy.

What this means is that, left unchecked, "capitalism" will end up taken over by monopolistic and protectionist machines. Adam Smith saw this one, as did many of our Founding Fathers. In fact, if you look at corporate law in our first couple decades as a nation, you see a very different picture.


and (bit leftist for me, but read it)

Secondly, large corporations in general are not here to benefit you. Further than that, their power structures are set up to control wealth and power over and of others. The independent businessman, cottage industry, and entrepreneur are threats.

So don't be looking at corporate loyalty, benefits, or anything else to save you.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

defining a diet and therapies.

Yknow, I need to put the disclaimer up for this post.

I'm not a doctor, I'm not a doctor, I'm not a doctor. This particular post has no goal of advocating a specific diet. This post is intended to explain some issues with alternative diets such as VLC, LC, and PN (Paleo Nutrition) with some references to individual desires to use them as a therapy.

Generally a question will come along such as:

"How will a gluten free diet help my child with ADHD?"

"How will a paleo diet help with my mild Asperger's?"

"What do I do about a specific diet for autism (classical -actual- autism, not Asperger's, nor PDD-NOS, Rett's, nor CDD) ?"

"How about my metabolism, or thyroid conditon?"

The list of questions is endless in minor variations. The primary problem is in defining what, exactly, is meant by the "X diet" - and the search for the all important extensive studies.

I'm going to be blunt. While there are several specific studies of certain aspects of various diets, and research supporting some of the theories, there is not and probably won't be (anytime soon), an extensive, 500 person 3 year study of whatever you think you mean by "X diet."

There *are* enough studies, from the classic WW2 famine study onward, to support various forms of the low carbohydrate, paleolithic foods influenced diet in general.

But what is this diet? What are the relevant factors?

Let's take a basic example, of a person using a paleo diet as a springboard for a gluten-free lifestyle because there's some evidence/suspicion that the gluten is making a condition (suspected celiac, ADHD, minor non specific IBS) worse.

After 3 months, this diet which went so WELL at first, is having issues and behavior or health is going down.

Well, eating local produce, it turns out that this three months has gotten you into the middle of apple season where you live, and your apple intake has quintupled, or septupled. The fructose load has skyrocketed!

Perhaps it's something else, where the carbohydrate level has tripled. Or the lactose or casein levels.

Some of this stuff can even effect your eggs to the point where you end up with different reactions to commercial eggs at different times of year.

And you can't tell why- it could be the vitamin D! NO ONE knows, though there are some theories with merit. No one knows because it's chaotic, and the math for network systems hasn't been applied to all the studies. I'm not sure it can be without much more in depth multivariable studies.

What you can do is look at the basic thrusts and tracks of many of the low carb, autism, and paelo family of diets.

1: No gluten. This gets into- no grains. And thus no grain enzymes, no gluten, no storage molds, no rancidity, no conversions of starches into other sugars (such as happens through cooking or malting)

2: Controlled levels of carbohydrates in a generally raw or unprocessed, balanced, inclusive food. Meaning you get carbohydrates from a carrot, a raspberry, or some other source where the carbohydrate is part of a whole food.

3: low and controlled levels of glucose and fructose. Fructose especially is dangerous as it bypasses some of the control mechanisms in the body that other carbohydrate types like glucose and proteins have to go through. (go to the paNu blog and search fructose, and read what the Doctor has to say)

4: extremely limited or no dairy- losing the lactose and casein that can also cause problems, individually or systemically, with several types of disorder.

5: exercise. at a minimum, some 15 minute sweat inducing power interval type of workout (like 100 kettlebell swings and some situps) that increases the overall metabolic rate.

You need all 5. You can't - just can't- isolate to gluten, or fructose, or bean enzymes, or lactose. The reason is we don't know which specific control items in which combinations are damaging.

It's far better to focus on a broader sense of the map than to narrow to one specific item- replacing gluten with 6 apples a day. replacing all dairy with high processed fakery. (fakery is bad. Fakery is processing, processing is bad. minimize it)

There's nothing unhealthy about leaving the high sugars, grains, beans, and dairy products behind. No one can prove that- if you eat the right foods- axing these will harm you. Every argument relies on "if you don't eat enough plant fiber in salad greens, if you eat too much of X fat, if if if- iuf something, you will be less healthy"

All you have to do- all you have to do- is not "if" yourself.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

that diet report thing.

The paleo blogs blew up this week about the US News report on best diets:

As amusing as the user stacking on the "did this work for you" is, I need to write just a little bit more on the topic.

USnews states: "Experts took issue with the Paleo diet on every measure. Regardless of what a dieter's goal is—weight loss, heart health, or finding a diet that's easy to follow—most experts concluded he or she is better off looking elsewhere."

Well, let's take a quick look. A fair amount of analysis has been done on the methodology and suspected .... industry bias... of this report. So I'm just going
to hit a few high points:

How's the paleo diet for your heart?

USnews: "While some studies have linked Paleo diets with reducing blood pressure, bad “LDL” cholesterol, and triglycerides (a fatty substance that can raise heart disease risk), they have been few, small, and short. And all that fat would worry most experts."

Okay. Let's parse this. The studies there ARE show the paleo diet can be linked to lowering blood pressure, ldl cholesterol, and triglycerides.

So the experts worry that it's unsafe because it's got too much fat.


USnews on health risks:

"By shunning dairy and grains, you’re at risk of missing out on a lot of nutrients. Also, if you’re not careful about making lean meat choices, you’ll quickly ratchet up your risk for heart problems."

Which nutrients exactly? If you look into the vegan diet (same review) and poke around a bit, you find piles and piles of sources for replacements or improvements on every nutrient class. Leaving out the beans, soymilk, and tofu that form the basis of the vegan Way, we have complete animal sources of protein, vitamin D, and other nutrients.

Lean meat choices? See the first point. "all that fat" has been proven in the existing studies to NOT be a problem.

In the section "analyzing" how well the Paleo diet conforms to accepted guidelines, note the first thing is the fat:

"Fat. At about 39 percent of daily calories from fat, a sample Paleo menu exceeds the government’s 35 percent cap by a bit."

All this scare about fat, over 4%? 4%!?!?.

Okay, note that the report couldn't find a way to come down on salt. Paleo wins on balancing the sodium intake.

Fiber- well, veggies. fiber. Got it.

The potassium intake on the paleo diet is high enough to actually be used as a reason for the paleo diet to work. Not the only reason, but it's tops on many nutrients like potassium without supplements.

USnews on Vitamin B12:

"Vitamin B-12. Adults should shoot for 2.4 micrograms of this nutrient, which is critical for proper cell metabolism. You’ll have no trouble meeting the recommendation—fish and meat are B-12 powerhouses."

USnews on Vitamin D:

"Vitamin D. You’ll get very little or none, so you’ll either have to supplement (the non-caveman way) or just make sure you spend enough time in the sun to get the 15 micrograms recommended. Some experts suggest five to 30 minutes of sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., twice a week and without sunscreen, to meet the recommendation, according to the National Institutes of Health."

Supplementing vitamin D the caveman way is pretty easy. Lard. The non hydrogenated, natural kind. (from pigs that see sunlight.) We're talking tablespoons per week here- the ONLY thing that beats it in vitamin D is cod liver oil.

Though, for a paleo man or woman, a couple hours of sunlight a week isn't at all difficult. Because paleo is more than a diet and involves getting outside and moving mass in space (exercise)

And last, on the nutrient list- calcium


"Calcium. It’s essential not only to build and maintain bones but to make blood vessels and muscles function properly. Many Americans don’t get enough. Women and anyone older than 50 should try especially hard to meet the government’s recommendation of 1,000 to 1,300 mg. Because you’re not allowed dairy or fortified cereals, you’ll likely only get about 700 mg. from a Paleo menu."

Balls. That's it, just balls.

First, the 1300mg is based on the lower bioavailability of calcium from milk sources. You get something like one and a half to double the amount of bioavailable calcium from non dairy sources. Which means 700mg might not be low, even if it's true.

It's not.

Calcium is available in a wide range of natural sources, once you exclude dairy and those ever-so-healthy "fortified" cereal chem lab experiments. Sardines, salmon, trout- not exotic fish, but inexpensive sources. Kale, spinach, collards- essentially every dark green leafy vegetable will have some significant calcium source.

Not. A. Problem.

Diabetes is often a big issue with dieters these days. I'll leave it to you- look at one of the top rated diets- DASH, and read (carefully) the diabetes section (read more link int he page).

Then read the paleo section.

While the facts are nearly identical, the wording, tone, and phrasing are rather heavily slanted.

For a final comment, I'd like to point out the USnews sees a major issue with the paleo diet in that it requires you to shop in the produce section, and at the meat counter.

you know, where the food is....fresh?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Real food, fake food, and the natural paleo

Real Paleo, what is it?

How I define real and fake foods.

This is a fuzzy area in parts. If you check my wife's blog for the homestead at Lemurs in the Homestead , you can see that she can get pretty creative with paleo ingredients. I wouldn't classify zucchini mint chocolate chip ice cream as anything but fake. Her coffee smoothies utilizing it are (except for the coffee) raw, whole, and complete. Can't fault that. Naturally, the most excellent and amazingly low carb Mock Split Pea Soup made with zucchini instead of peas is totally fine. And it's FINE, too!

More on this in a moment, first we need to look at what makes a food fake:

Processing versus conversion.

Processing is a fundamental change in the nature or purpose of a food. Processing in the commercial sense generally means mechanical, chemical, and heat changes to the food itself- along with additives.

When you take something that should be healthy- like pork fat (lard) and you hydrogenate it for shelf life, you destroy many of the benefits of the natural product.

Some processing is done by most of us- from grilling to canning to making jerky. But the difference in this realm of "fake paleo" is when processing is used for two purposes:

1: To convince someone they are eating something that wouldn't be considered paleo in any other context (cookies, crackers, the godsawful mess that is an atkins shake, etc)

2: To eliminate the whole and fresh aspects of the paleo diet. (healthy food has to be food, if your diet is 80% prepackaged and premade, it's just NOT going to work.)

Conversion, by contrast, is when a food is changed into a different food by a natural- most often living- process. Yogurt is an example, as is sauerkraut, kimchee, or real soy sauce. Or many types of cheese.

I have found that many converted food that would generally not be acceptable become so with conversion. In many to most cases, the specific issues a archevore or paleovore would have with a given food source become moot as the food is converted. (lactose, for example.) Many converted foods are living foods, as well.

Back to fake and real.

I've seen several reports of paleo not working for a specific individual- and atkins as well. In most of these cases where I've talked to people, there is a preponderance of fakery. If you eat 15 servings of "paleo cake" or "grok cookies" every week, things aren't going to go well.

It's best to keep it real, keep it simple as you grow into your lifestyle, and minimize the incidence of fakery.

Grok got fat, now what?

Ah, an actual weight loss post. Finally!

A few cautions before we go in. This is a "ketosis" or "induction" style weight loss program. Ketoacidosis isn't ketosis isn't ketonuria. Go look it up, know what's what! If Dr. Atkins had done that to begin with, a lot of arguments about the dangers of ketosis that were made by people thinking about ketoacidosis would have never come up.

I am not a doctor, nor a nutritionist, nor a guru. This is what I am doing, and solutions to sticking points that I have used and will be using.

Dr. Atkins forms the basis for the very first levels. In his 1973 book, the original "Diet Revolution", he lays out a very workable first phase system for weight loss.

It's not that the current book is...bad. But the original book tends to follow a more "natural" or even "paleo" approach (except for the creams and cheeses) with less fakery. Fakery is bad.

Okay, look. Any of the paleo/very low carb/atkins type approaches are going to work. All you need is to get into ketosis for a few weeks, adjust the habits of eating, not cheat.

Also, while I've tried the fast and feast type of thing- it really does work better if you eat 3 or 4 meals a day. It just does. No idea why.

If you really want to blast the weight off, get a good power interval before each eat. Not food without a sweat right before. Simple!

I topped out at 248 after my wife's last pregnancy, with the move and the diet issues, and I'm looking at 195 now- 5 months of dieting and off and on exercise. Getting down to 215 or so was easy- ketosis. I got stuck, and the two things that seem to have gotten me past it are:

- eating lunch instead of just breakfast and dinner.

- EVERY DAY exercise.

I'm doing 100 kettlebell swings every morning, with various add ons. pushups, pullups, hot potatoes, snatches. Just anything- no real plan, except I always do some kettlebell presses.

I'm not even close to there yet- still 39" at the beer belly, but my neck has popped from 16 to 18 inches, body fat is calculating down at 21%. Another 6% to go and I'll be in "good" shape.

LC and paleo may be the key, but the lock is exercise.

Our ancestors didn't exercise 3 times a week for an hour, either. Makes games of it, change it up constantly, but make sure it's hard and you do it- a couple times a day.

Paleo isn't a weight loss regimen - part three

Mass in Space. I want to get my Muppet on and say it dramatically- MASSSSSSS IN SPAAAAAACE.

Specifically, moving mass in space - or exercise.

In a paleo-lifestyle, exercise is often a key component, but it's divorced from paleo-nutrition. There are exception, like the previously referenced 12 steps of Dr. Harris. Even there, though, it remains a very short statement.

To say that going paleo doesn't work as a weight loss system because it lacks exercise is untrue. Exercise is crucial, and often recognized by the paleo-life crowd. What the paleo lifestyle most often lacks in this regard is a progression or evolution of exercise from "couch potato" to "Grok."

Everything I write here applies to the guy who needs to drop 15 pounds and bump the energy levels nearly as much as it does to the girl who needs to shed 40 pounds, the guy looking at 50, 80, even 100 or more pounds of weight loss. But for illustrative purposes, I'm going to stick with the "middle major" area of needing to drop 40-90 pounds by the BMI index.

Being overweight like this has effects. You can't move the same way you can when lean. You will be moving an automatic extra 40-90 pounds of weight with each squat, each swing, each pushup, each dreaded attempt at a pull up.

Your heart is also feeding a lot more blood to a lot more flesh. And your lungs, more oxygen. There's a fair amount of taxation involved here.

In short, you need a workout plan that you can do, that won't put you in the doctor's office, and that can grow with your rapidly expanding capabilities (and they will expand rapidly!)

I'm not using this short post to get into any exercise programs, just to talk about what we need.

For research, I'm going to leave you with two words: kettlebells and bodyweight.

I'd highly recommend picking up a decent kettlebell book like Enter The Kettlebell, and my bodyweight book of choice for this stage is Convict Conditioning.

What's going to be key here is that you need a solid regimen that

* ignores the high science of specific training,

*boosts fat burning and overall metabolic function,

*and that you can push yourself further with as you succeed.

Paleo isn't a weight loss regimen - part two

Paleo nutrition involves eating a suite of healthy foods, avoiding neolithic dietary - well, poisons- and achieving a natural (even instinctive) balance of intake coupled with exercise to maintain your genetically and environmentally programmed ideal weight and optimal health.

There's a huge danger here for people with a weight problem.

Side note on defining weight problems:
The BMI (Body Mass Index) measurement system is both the easiest and the least accurate method of determining an overweight condition. Easiest because it works on 2 data points, least accurate for... the same reason. However, it is an easy one to use at the higher levels. If your BMI is over 25 and you aren't a professional athlete throwing off the numbers (in which case you already have better tracking systems!), it's usable as a needs and progress measurement. Use it. If your BMI is over 30 and you are looking at weight loss- knowing you have a problem- you can get away with using it until you drop to the 25-27 stage safely.

The Rope&Choke system is the tradition system used in the US Navy to measure body fat. While it has the potential to be inaccurate, the conditions under which it becomes inaccurate involve a heavy powerlifting, weight training, or other situation well beyond the weight loss phase of our journey. Far more accurate than the BMI, you can use a calculator such as this one to calculate body fat. I'd suggest looking at other metrics once you get down to a place where you are feeling fit and balanced. Generally, if you are looking at over a 18% (male) or 22% (female) calculation, you still have some path to travel.

End digression.

The danger here is that if you have a weight problem, your programming is wrong. It's out of balance. Note that it's not just a genetic program, but an environmental program as well. Odds are, if you are in an overweight condition, the programming is awry.

There are any number of ways for the programming to be wrong. From broken satiety, to emotional dependence, to accidental or deliberate physical addictions to high GI carbs (sugar), flavors, and fructose. Insulin spikes necessitating constant grazing on sugary foods, what have you.

Since the programming is gone wonky, you need to institute an artificial program. Which means measuring, weighing, controlling, and recording results. None of this is a natural part of paleo-health, but we're not healthy yet.

You can't just cut calories down, you have to detox. Oh, sure, detox the body, but you have to detox the brain and the programs, too. This is why you need to do more than just eat one donut instead of 3 at the office in the morning.

Some of the major programming elements to change include:

What is and isn't food

What is and isn't a meal

How often to eat

All three of these are covered in many paleo-lifestyle systems or regimens.

In "natural paleo nutrition", a term I have coined to eliminate the fakery of using paleo acceptable ingredients processed into fake foods, the list is very easy and sustainable.

Now, nothing wrong with the very occasional coconut flour tortilla, but these types of fakery have a tendency- especially with persons having or having had eight issues- to become staples.

So, in NPN, you have a basic list of as-nature-provided meats, vegetables, and fruits. If you add dairy, there's unprocessed dairy products. With the dairy and the other areas, there are types of conversions that aren't processing in the normal sense. Fermentations, pickling, cheeses- I'll get a post out about those sometime.

What is and isn't a meal requires deprogramming. I remember my wife having issues years ago with salad as a meal. I could put a thousand calories of meat, salami, cheeses, artichoke hearts and such onto a salad and because it was a
salad, to her it wasn't a meal. (We got over this.)

There's a similar aspect with paleo nutrition, where many people have to deprogram the presence of bread, dessert, pasta, taters, or something else. All I can say is, you have to do it. The Atkins plan for a short term reprogramming has some benefits here as there are no restrictions on quantities in the induction phase.

How often to eat. Man, this is tough. It runs the gamut from athletic training involving steady, 6 or 8 times daily inuts to balance the needs of training, to Warrior Diet style single daily meals. Most paleo lifestyle diets seem to involve 1 to 2 main meals and occasional snacks. We'll see later how this works with weight loss needs.

Measurement. Numbers. We need them. First, they are a concrete tracking system for reprogramming. Second, when dealing with weight loss, they are necessary for controlling the input levels to achieve the reduction in mass.

With a weight loss program, there are a few main areas for measurement. The first is carbohydrates, and psuedo carbohydrates (such as splenda or sweet and low type sweeteners). Second is eating times- I haven't posted about the exercise component yet, but the ideal situation is to never eat without some exercise immediately beforehand. You also have controls on pure number of times to eat per day. Third is input quantities, which becomes important when getting stuck at a certain phase or body fat level. Fourth, is measuring results.

So, the above is another part of your list of matters to convert a paleo lifestyle into a weight loss program. After the exercise portion is covered, I'll try and post about what a paleo weight loss program that works for ME is, in more detail.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Paleo isn't a weight loss regimen - part one

Possibly the most dangerous aspect to the "paleo movement" insofar as it's a single thing is the notion that it's an ideal no- effort weight loss system.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Paleonutrition is an aspect of the paleo-lifestyle. Not the sum total, and not necessarily the most important aspect.

We evolved not just to eat, but to Do Stuff. Exercise is crucial, critical important, and unavoidable. Which is something I'll have to get to in another post....

Paleonutrition, again, is not a weight loss plan, and on the higher levels of instinctual eating, isn't very good for weight loss at all.

Weight loss, at its most basic, is fixing a problem. Eating a healthy diet in a healthy body is ideal, but if the body isn't healthy yet, the "regular" paleo diet doesn't get you reasonable wins in weight loss by itself.

Which brings us to the dieting part of my life.

The two times I have needed to and successfully lost weight, and kept it off for extended periods, I used the same initial method.

Minor digression: the first time I was looking at trimming about 4% body fat and getting down the a reasonable "Navy trim" of 15% (measured via rope and choke). The second time was a decade later, and required closer to a full 12-15% reduction. A decade of living...dangerously. That one worked until we moved and between shop issues, family, and budget issues, we got caught in a carb spiral and I started exhibiting addictive behaviors.

Neither of these cases is a failure of diet, but a failure of lifestyle.

Back from our digression, I'll give you the answer to the first phases of weight loss: Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution. The original, old school, 1970s Diet Revolution- sans Atkins bars, minus the "New", without the fakery.

The original meat, eggs, butter, cream, coffee, mayo and salad version.

This is all very critical. Fakery is bad. How bad? I've seen diet bars for the New Revolution with ingredients lists over a dozen and a half, and with carb levels of 14 grams!!!!! Fakery is bad.

I've known, dated, lived with, and cooked for vegetarians over the course of my life. I'm not one, and I doubt I ever will be. But cooking for and living with vegetarians has taught me a lot about food.

Michael Pollan and I may not agree on everything, but one of his Food Rules stands out supreme, among paleos as well as natural vegetarians and agricultural natural eaters:

Eat Food.

Pretty simple on the surface, and incredibly simple once you wrap your head around it.

The vegetarians I've known with the lowest health indexes- they eat regular quantities of tofu burgers, vegetarian hot dogs, tofurkeys, soy or TVP jerky, TVP chili, and.. well, Doritos.

The vegetarians I've known with the highest health indexes eat FOOD. Salads, stews, rice dishes, edamame, vegetables.

The difference is that- while legumes are out for those of us who grok Grok, the healthy vegetarian is eating soy as a natural food- edamame. She is eating rice as a natural product- rice. Not rice tortured into "milk", and not beans tortured into some sort of replacement for turkey!!

Back to those of us who like blood dripping out of our steaks, The original Atkins plan involved primarily eating real food, real fats, real meat, and real meals. No shakes, no fake candy bars. There were some sugar free gelatin desserts and other things to get the psyche past the hump of getting over sugars and desserts, but even these were rel recipes involving basic ingredients.

All this comes down to a couple central points on why "eating paleo" isn't a magical no-effort weight loss magic.

First- a lot of paleo cooking, as I browse the Web, is getting increasingly involved in fakery. faking tortillas, faking cake, even faking sandwich bread! Fakery isn't food.

I'm reminded of a recent conversation I heard involving some questions about getting family members "into" eating paleo. A spouse who doesn't like cooked and boiled veggies, a child who wants peanut butter and jelly every day. Birthday cake. Donuts.

The suggestions mostly involved ways to fake food!

Regarding the spouse who doesn't like cooked veggies- don't try making cauliflower rice, try NOT COOKING the vegetables! Or even just not having many.

I have no comment on the peanut butter and jelly except to say that anything faking a PB&J is going to be worse than the PB&J in it's regular form, guaranteed.

Fakery almost never helps with weight loss.

Second, "Paleo" has too many meanings. You can eat "almost pure" paleo and still load yourself with so much fruit, added to piles of milk and cheese, mixed with the "occasional" bowl of rice or slice of bread as a treat and... get fat.

You have to get a set view of what paleo means (while not the classic hardcore view, Dr. Harris' list of Twelve Step List - taken as a whole and not a step by step approach- is a good rulebook. Or any other reasonable paleo rulebook, but don't switch daily because this or that treat is available. No diet coke paleo? stay off the DC! Diet coke okay, but no dairy? Don't mess with it.

Many of these plans have plusses and minusses. There's something wrong with all of them, if you listen to that person or this study. (I'd argue that the excellent PaNu list of 12 steps is flawed for weight loss and family/group diets primarily by being a progressive list instead of a set of rules you follow in totality.)

Or, in short- there's too much allowed in general paleo diets, with too little control, for a weight loss regimen.

Next up, talking measurements and planning, and why paleo by itself isn't a weight loss plan.

Third, hopefully, The all important movement of mass in space issues.


Boy, what a fall/winter.

By last January I had managed to pull way down to 190, was in possibly the best shape of my life, and had just started adding the convict conditioning into my workouts.

By July, we were in a hectic last minute stress situation moving the family, pregnancy, and knife shop to our new home in Nevada. Coupled with ensuing budget issues, the actual birth of Eira, and my regular tendency to gain all the fat my wife loses during pregnancy, things have gotten back to....

square one.

Well, I've done it before, I will do it again.

Fortunately, in the past 18 months the Low Carb, Very Low Carb, and Paleo Nutrition movements have generated enough social acceptance and research data that my wife is all for it. A fantastic example is the excellent PaNu blog/info site.Added to that is that it's become obvious how my kids behave with various bad ingredients. And our new daughter has the typical issues our kids have while nursing necessitatin my wife go dairy free and bean free.

So, now I've got the ability to eat well without fighting the rest of the household!

Of course, this leads to the fact that a paleo-nutrition lifestyle is NOT A WEIGHT LOSS PLAN. I'll get to that soon.....