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Reader Questions

Reader Auti emails in:

You look 30 years younger and absolutely amazing! I am impressed with your results…

I am a 31 year old nurse. I follow Marksdaily apple as well as Arthur De Vany. I have dabbled in low carb only to go on a splurge by the end of the night when my cranky mind is driving me toward that oh so yummy and deadly cookie.

Not that I am over weight, because I am not but I followed a low fat calorie counting diet for a long time and it made me very food obsessed. I want to find the joy again and I definately found that once I stopped dieting.

However, now I want that energy, clear thinking, drive, reduced risk of cancer, no risk of diabetes, and youthful aging. I am sure it is a low carb diet but I have yet to perfect it.

Can you offer any advice as to what you have learned and how you have stopped cheating…

OH my goodness, you eat so much fat. I am not a fat free person (I used to be) but I would be scared my ass would grow bigger if I did that. Do you think that this diet is ok for women as well as men or are we different in some way?

First of all, notice how you recognize the food obsession. This is key. Hunger (see here too). The truth is, the paleo way is the only way I know to cure the obsession and get control of hunger. I think this is why many low-carbers fail. Low carb is a fine approach, but not fundamental. A true paleo diet can vary widely in terms of carbohydrate, because that's not fundamental or essential. Eating foods we evolved to eat is essential, and for most people (obese and/or diabetic would be an exception), that in itself will be enough to utterly transform them.

And it's not just on the outside, but also on the inside where these obsessions live. I have found personally that I not only look younger, but I feel far younger and my attitude is far closer to the way it was when I was back in college. To some extent, I have become somewhat carefree in the sense that I no longer obsess about much of anything. I think modernity has set us up in such a way that we grossly overestimate the quality of our own knowledge; and worse, we put far too much effort into trying to predict and control future outcomes. You simply have to adopt and take care of sound principles, and then see what the future brings.

So, though I still do cheat, it is truly becoming less frequent because I'm not hungry and I'm not obsessed. When I do eat, I replace the normal low-nutrition foods like bread, pasta, rice, legumes, and sweets with more meat, more fat, more veggies, or some fruits or nuts, or a combination of all. So, just my very exercise of eating, in itself, gives me 100 – 300% more nutrition for the same calories as what most other people eat. Could it be that's why paleo eaters experience a wild taming of hunger and other obsessive behaviors? That would be my speculation. Having a fully nourished body would naturally balance hormones. I'd have to say that my guess would be that food obsession is rooted in hunger, and hunger in malnourishment. Even if one is getting sufficient energy on an average diet, they are most likely malnourished in a number of important nutrients. When that happens, I would speculate that it sets off cascades of hormones that result in a person becoming ravenous and obsessive about food.

I think this diet is perfect for both men and women. It's nature's diet. How else can it be? And besides, you're only 31. There are disputes about fat content and saturated fat. I uniformly think they are all wet and I think Loren Cordain is dead wrong, both about protein and fat proportions, and about saturated fat. Fat is king. If someone thinks they are going to get 35% of energy from protein so they can watch the fat, I think they are fooling themselves. Fat is king. Fat is what makes this work. We simply must get over the notion that natural fats are anything but very healthful and nutritious.

Americans are so fat for one primary reason: fear of fat. That is the dammed truth.

Later: A friend just emailed this article about the differences in hunger between men and women. What I take from that is it's even more crucial for a woman to be on a Paleo-like diet.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

9 Comments

  1. Diana Hsieh on January 19, 2009 at 13:48

    Auti — I had a pretty serious sweet tooth all my life, and it took a few weeks for that to change, then a few months for it to disappear entirely. However, I found that eating more fat — particularly rich, saturated animal fats — was the key. I felt so satisfied by them that I didn't crave the sugar.

    Now my whole relationship to food is different. I'm not food obsessed. I can eat or not — and I don't crave foods that I know are unhealthy for me.

    In the process, I've lost 15 pounds with basically no effort, no sense of deprivation, and no counting of calories. You really do have to reprogram your mind: that cookie is poison and the (uncured) bacon is diet food.

    BTW, I'm 34 — and I'm the person pictured in the post below this one. And I'm eating almost exactly the same diet as Richard.

  2. Diana Hsieh on January 19, 2009 at 14:04

    Whoops, that would be two posts below this one. I am not ribeye and crablegs. 😉

  3. Richard Nikoley on January 19, 2009 at 16:04

    Yea, but you look damn good nonetheless. What a great "gift" to Paul (not to mention to yourself). Imagine that. He's got his original "hot chick" back, & getting better day by day.

    Congratulations, Diana. Isn't it hard to imagine being on the old path? To me, it seems surreal, like I was in Alice in Wonderland, or something.

  4. Rachel on January 20, 2009 at 06:56

    I agree that getting all of your nutrients really helps with cravings. Because I track my nutrition I know reliably what I am getting and when, and I can also trace cravings to clear deficiencies.

    I also agree with the statement that Paleo involves some mental reprogramming (e.g. meat at every meal is not bad, whole grains are NOT good for you). But once you've crossed the divide, you never go back. I literally cannot imagine having pancakes for breakfast ever again. And that thought makes me smile 🙂

  5. Diana Hsieh on January 20, 2009 at 07:01

    Interestingly, Paul isn't the man I married: he lost 30 pounds of mostly belly fat about four years ago — mostly just by lots of 3-4 mile runs and limiting his food intake. It was awesome to see him shed the pounds, but frustrating that I couldn't get similar results by similar methods.

    He's not as sensitive to carbs as I am, he wasn't ever so beholden to them, and he didn't eat as much of them as I did. (He's naturally more of an egg and nut guy.) So it's not too surprising that his regime modest diet and vigorous exercise worked for him, but not for me.

    Now he's very happy to be eating basically the same diet as me. (He has a "cheat" of bread or a cookie on occasion, but that's it.) As we know, it's highly satisfying!

  6. Jessica on January 20, 2009 at 11:48

    Hi, Auti,

    As a woman who has made the transition to a Paleo way of eating, and has thrived on it for a year now, I wanted to respond to a couple of your concerns. (And THANKS Richard, for your part in all of this…Free The Animal – HonestyLog when I got started – has been the hub for all the research I've done, and is the first place I send folks when they ask how and why!)

    “Can you offer any advice as to what you have learned and how you have stopped cheating…”

    There were cravings at first…until I started fasting regularly. After the second fast, I saw and felt hunger in a completely different way. What used to control me 3 to 5 times a day, suddenly became no more noticeable than a sneeze. Now I eat when I’m HUNGRY, which is about once or twice a day. Sometimes I eat all day long, sometimes, not a bit. It really has become fairly random, based on what my body tells me.

    Also, the nature of my cravings have changed…when I crave at all, it’s for something natural, like berries or cheese.

    “Do you think that this diet is ok for women as well as men or are we different in some way?”

    I don’t know how much of a role gender plays in cravings or dietary needs, but I think every human is different in regards to what works best for them. The body is a complex chemical processor, and there are just too many random factors to be able to prescribe an exact diet for everyone.

    That being said, I think that a general “prescription” of natural, unprocessed foods is a really good start for everyone. Chuck the sugars, flour and fake foods that are EVERYWHERE, and I believe any person will see an improvement.

    In addition to all the typical improvements you may have seen described on this blog – improved energy, fewer allergies, weight loss, etc. – I have experienced a drastic improvement in something VERY particular to women: one of the biggest and most pleasant surprises for me was how going Paleo changed my menstrual cycle. I used to have PMDD and I was never satisfied with the “treatments” offered by the medical establishment…About 3 months after I started this new lifeway, (and now that I think about it, right after I started the intermittent fasting!) I noticed that my cycle was very mild…hardly any cramping, and minimal PMS. Each month it has gotten better and better – it literally sneaks up on me these days! Yet another illness that no doctor understands, let alone cure, and it has been totally resolved!

    When I analyze all the changes I’ve made and their direct results in my health, I have to narrow it down to the following things:
    1. Intermittent Fasting. It triggers the system and sort of acts like wiping and re-installing the software on a hard-drive. I am convinced that intermittent fasting is the major trigger that reset my metabolism so that my body could really take advantage of the new diet. (I lost 25 lbs in 8 weeks.)
    2. Animal fats, particularly leaf lard. Every meal I make is the best meal ever, because of the fat.
    3. Vitamin D supplementation. Especially in winter, or for people like me who don’t spend a lot of time outside, this is crucial to keeping the immune system strong. Best cold remedy you can take!
    4. Bone Stock. Not a gourmet ingredient, anymore. Bone broths give you key nutrients from the bone marrow, and have a ton of flavor! Add organ meats too, if, like me, you don’t like their flavor and texture. I call this stuff Amber Gold, because it tastes so phenomenally good. I make a batch at least every other week and use it as a base for cooking. Also, it makes a lovely, fortifying hot drink when one is feeling under the weather.
    5. FAKE IS POISON. If I don’t know what an ingredient is, or if I know it’s highly processed, I don’t eat it. If you read the labels, you will probably end up throwing out the majority of what’s in your pantry. I certainly did.

  7. Richard Nikoley on January 20, 2009 at 12:42

    Great comment, Jessica.

  8. JMC on January 29, 2009 at 05:36

    Good post, but as usual you seem to love to hit on Cordain, which puzzles me, since this Paleo community is very small and has minimal influence on nutrition guidelines and if we start attacking each others, WE WILL NEVER MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE IN THE HEALTH SYSTEM.
    So, instead of attacking those who research this stuff and are attacked by their pears for that, I say we form a tight community and start discussing scientific issues like civilized people (since you will never make any difference, by being ofensive).

    By the way, Cordain was actually the only guy who has published a paper (very criticized by the conventional nutritionists BTW), estimating the macronutrient intake of Hunter-gatherers and found that their fat intake was 28–58% of energy, so I don't think his papers ay H/G diet's were low fat.

    http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/71/3/682

    And regarding saturated fat intake, he used this mathematical model to estimate its intake by H/G and found that it varied between 10 and 18% of total calories, and as you know the ADA, AHA and others recommend < 10%,so again he is not following the conventional party line, as many people on the web claim.

    Also, it should be remembered that now everybody talks about grains, gluten and lectins, but if you take a look at his earlier papers, you will see that he was one of the first to ever published scientific papers on the subject and now everyone seems to forget that (although have read and use his stuff to make opinions)

    I know I'm defending the guy, but I do it because I've read every paper he has published and found it very useful and very good and also because I had RA, and thanks to his papers, I'm 100% symptoms free.

    Hope you do not get offended by my words and I THANK YOU AND encourage you to keep posting those great and important comments and articles.

    JMC

    http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/71/3/682

  9. Richard Nikoley on January 30, 2009 at 07:39

    JMC:

    Fair enough. I actually have great respect for Cordain, consider him heroic like a number of others, and as you may note, I very often reference his good prescriptions in the general, especially the fact that a paleo or paleo-like diet offers such higher nutrition than anything else (regardless of fat / saturated fat). I just think he's wrong about saturated fat.

    I don't think one has to have high sat fat intake, I just don't think it matters much, if at all if one does.

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