On our quest for better health, most of us will try many diet plans, recommended by convincing and good looking advocates. We follow their advice to a T and are genuinely surprised when we don’t see stunning results. We ask ourselves “Why haven’t I lost weight? What’s wrong with my digestion? Why hasn’t my skin cleared up? Why am I still depressed?”
You read all of these blogs written by people who seem to have pulled it together by the prescription of some diet or other and it just doesn’t make any sense that you’re not also experiencing vibrant health.
You flip through another book or web page, on to the next diet, planning your meals around specific foods and quantities. You’re so excited you can feel it working already. You just know this one’s going to be different. Right? Wrong! You still feel like crap.
This was my experience for years. I believed I was a hopeless case. I tried everything but nothing worked. No diet, including Paleo, would save me.
Things changed when I realized that fixing a broken body is not as straight forward as a filling a cookie-cutter prescription.
There are things I have learned which are important for good health, such as avoiding processed vegetable oils, excessive carbohydrates, food chemicals and colorings, dead packaged foods, foods we’re sensitive to, and high fiber (yes this is generally a bad idea), and including things like saturated fat, grassfed meats and eggs, organ meats, fresh pressed juices, and other special foods.
But the minutia of these recommendations is where it gets tricky. How careful one needs to be, what amounts of foods one needs to eat, and which specific foods are good or bad depends on that individual’s immune system, intestinal damage, level of depleted minerals, and so on. For anyone with big problems you can expect that recovery will take time, and it may take constant adjusting for a while.
Living in a world of polluted air, polluted water, polluted toys and other things we handle, and food polluted with commerce and science, renders each and every one of us very different from each other. If we were all eating the same things and in the same amounts, from the same ponds and hills, we’d be much more similar and a Paleolithic Diet Plan would be just fine. But this is obviously not reality.
If we want to get healthy, meaning we want to have relatively few symptoms and feel good throughout most days and after all meals, we need to discover our own bodies first.
Self-Experimentation is the Best Prescription
I got an email from a woman yesterday asking me for the exact number of grams of protein I eat and exactly how much fat I consume. I cannot answer this. First of all I have no idea how many grams of protein I consume in a day and I guarantee it is not the same every day.
I do sympathize with the question, however. I think anyone trying to restore health does.
The problem is that we are not the same. We all have our specific sensitivities, allergies, conditions, background, tolerance levels, brain chemicals, etc. What works for me probably isn’t going to work for you. The only way she or anyone else is going to get to the bottom of what ails them is by working it out on their own. Just like I had to do.
In general I think those of us who have managed to get our shit together have stopped doing diets according to the book and have started feeling our own body’s responses.
Richard Nikoley of Free the Animal did a talk all about this at the Ancestral Health Symposium.
In this talk Richard said, “No matter how convincing, no matter what the conclusion is [of scientific studies], there’s no way that you can tell whether you are an outlier on one end, the other, fall in the middle, or whether it’s completely irrelevant to you whatsoever. You still have to test it on yourself.”
You will be a really lucky person to hear about a diet, try it, and have complete success. In reality experimentation is mandatory.
How to Start Your Self-Experimentation Project
There are a couple of ways you can approach a Paleo elimination diet. If you haven’t already, try the standard Paleo type of diet which consists of meats, fats, veggies, including starchy veggies, and a little fruit.
- Don’t eat grains or legumes
- Don’t eat dairy
- Don’t eat processed oils
- Don’t eat packaged foods, including juices
If that’s not enough – and it wasn’t for me – go a little further with elimination.
Things like drugs, alcohol, high fiber, and antibiotics, can leave a person’s gut in disrepair. Eating a diet of veggies, fruits, and meats won’t always fix it.
The rest of the Paleo community won’t tell you that. While I think their books and suggestions are great, they aren’t writing for hyper-sensitive people. They are writing for people who need some nutritional support, who want to lose weight, who need to lower blood pressure and triglycerides, and who need to learn about real food and real exercise. For those of us who’ve tried it and still aren’t quite happy with the results, getting a little more restrictive might help.
- Cut out veggies and try fresh green juices instead
- Don’t eat fruit but try juicing a little instead
- Stop eating nuts
- Quit drinking alcohol
- Stop taking the pill and other drugs
Restriction probably won’t be enough. You will want to give your body the nutrition, fitness, and it needs to heal.
Add in fresh pressed juices, oysters and other shellfish, bone broth, fish, weight lifting, yoga, herbs, and supplements.
Whatever you try, just remember that you’re trying this out on your own body, and not on the 1,628 bodies in the study you read about last week, and not on my body or the body of any other blogger that you like reading.
Your body is unique and so must be your approach to healing.
Once you’ve got the diet down to a place where you are feeling better, try adding things in ONE BY ONE. Don’t ruin your experiment by adding in a whole bunch of things all at once!
So, tell me then, what are you going to tweak in your diet this week?