John Durant's latest post on Before & Afters reminded me of this pair of photos:
Eating a bagel
It's funny because my skin was pretty clear in the bread photo, but overall I think I looked more bloated or chubby back then. But attached to that picture is memories of all the time I used to spend at the school medical clinic and all the classes I missed because I was sick. I was thinking about what degree I might like to peruse recently and while I'm immensely grateful for my current health, it's hard not to be bitter about what I missed out on. I remember dropping out of some advanced math and stats classes because I was just too sick to keep up. Even though I know they'd take over my life, I am sort of tempted to take them now just to prove I can.
I had a great New Year's. I had a rough year last year, as my regular readers know, which involved an eviction, job loss, and some possible health problems among other unpleasant complications. As I watched the fireworks in the park, I thought for a second "Wow, I feel great and it's wonderful to feel this way considering how the year started out."
Honestly, I have no idea what was going on earlier this year, but one of my main symptoms was very low blood pressure. My doctor told me if I couldn't fix this on my own, he was going to have to put me on medication.
I'm happy to say that my symptoms are gone! I could speculate on what caused them, but honestly I'm not sure. Stress, lack of sleep, and undereating were regular parts of my life back then. These are the things I think might have worked:
- Increased calorie consumption. I have heard of other long-term paleo dieters who have had diminished appetite. I think it's a normal appetite, it's just so different from the disorder hungry all the time one that we are used to. It's a blessing and a curse. I have to make sure to eat nutrient-dense foods because I just don't have the desire to eat lots of food all the time anymore.
- Increased sodium consumption. I now believe there is strong genetic variation in response to salt.
- Better sleep.
- More attention to improving my mind as well as my body. That means cultivating my social, spiritual, and intellectual capacities.
- Overall simplification of my diet.
The last part was facilitated by my purchase of large quantities of grass-fed lamb in bulk. I pretty much mostly eat that now. It means I don't worry very much about shopping which is nice. Some health complaints that have disappeared since have caused me to question some paleo paradigms. All plants have potentially problematic chemicals in them, no matter where they are from or how much of them your ancestors eat. Chris Masterjohn and I have talked extensively about this and he's writing a series about it.
Choosing plant foods because of their history without taking biochemistry into account is dogma, not science. I strongly believe that switching from yams to white potatoes as a carb source had an immensely positive effect on my health. There is something in yams(Ipomoea) that bothers me, which is absent in white potatoes. Not all domestication is bad. Many crops have been bred to be LESS toxic.
So I won't be avoiding nightshades for the paleo challenge. Avoiding grains mainly to see what happens and because I'm due for a dental checkup in Feb and Stephan's post on Dr. Mellanby intrigued me. I'll also avoid nuts, but I don't eat much of those anyway. I have some leftover grits from a wonderful New Year's brunch at Applewood and then I'll be grain-free for 30 days.
I'm more concerned about exercise this new year. I'm going to try to do that more systematically and get outside more. I also want to learn some new recipes...by actually following them. I think I've reached a plateau in making up recipes and need some wisdom.
My New Years wish for the paleo community is less reduxctivism. I would like to see fewer books saying that some parts of an animal are healthy and others are unhealthy based on fat content. I think the healthiest balance is found is eating ruminants nose to tail. No, drinking butter and eating lard are not paleo (though not paleo doesn't mean bad), they are more traditional nutrition(and can be a great part of a healthy diet), but lamb chops are.
Unrelated, but I'd also like to somehow figure out a way to clear my email backlog...sorry if I owe you an email!