I've written about how I moved away from my vegetarian diet to effectively cure my diabetes in this post, and at the time I promised to write another post on how I ended up more as a paleo diet kind of guy than an Atkins Low Carb dieter.
Here is that post... As promised.
The funny thing about my transition to paleo is that I was almost already there during the same time that I was ruining my health and descending into T2 diabetes. I considered myself a whole food ovo-lacto-vegetarian and I grew a large part of my food myself, using organic methods.
A typical day for me was going out to the back yard for oranges, Indian River bananas, maybe some huckleberries or wild strawberries to make my morning smoothy with brewer's yeast and honey from my own bees, followed by a bowl of Grandma's homemade granola. Lunch was what I called a "salad sandwich", my own various greens, avocados from the neighbor's yard, maybe some egg salad and cheese on sprouted wheat bread and a glass of orange juice. Dinner would be steamed veggies, wild rice mixed with some of my favorite spicy black or red beans and some apple cider. Late night snack would be either Haagen Dazs or more of Grandma's granola. I really kept that poor woman busy.
So that sounds not so bad, from a whole foods angle, and... except for about 75% of the food, it was really good. But it nearly killed me.
Because I got at least 75% of my calories from sugar in that diet. Fruit, rice and honey, grains, seeds, beans, tubers, are all high carb foods, and carbs turn into sugar when you digest them. It was way too much sugar/carbs, as it turns out, for my particular metabolism, which comes from the most northern of all peoples, the circumpolar tribes, including the Saami and Nenets. Nomadic herds-people who eat mostly meat.
So, with that background in vegetarianism and whole foods, when I started Atkins I naturally gravitated towards whole foods. Fortunately, my introduction was through the first edition of Atkin's diet book, which was almost completely whole foods. Later he drifted more towards processed foods (because people asked for it) and even later the Atkins Corporation took it over and made it about snack foods and vitamin powders. Shameful.
Then I read "Neanderthin" which I partly disagree with, but which taught me one thing I hinted about above.
I am not a Middle Easterner whose ancestors have been eating grains for 10,000 years, I am not a South Asian who has been eating rice for about as long, and I am not a tropical islander who has had fruit available to them year round. I am from a long tradition of nomadic herdsmen, my ancestors might not see fruit their whole life, they may not have had greens in their diet but for a month or so each spring. I had to realize that my metabolism, which came mostly from my genetics, is the only metabolism that matters for my diet. Instead I damaged my metabolism by eating like a person from Sumatra.
I do best on meat, eggs, fermented milk, and a few greens. That's "Paleo" for me.
And here's the point. That may not be "Paleo " for you. Even if you know your familial lineage, you can't really count on it for your dietary needs. For instance, I do not have the epicanthic folds that my Grandmother on one side has, and my whole family on the other side has. Genetics are a little odd that way. You never really know what might show up. But, judging from almost 20 years of experience, I can say that I got a full load of the Reindeer and Yak herding genes.
So you might have to create your own paleo for it to be the best Paleo for you, but two standards are clear.
- Choose foods that humans have been eating for millions of years, not the last 10,000 years and certainly not the last 100 years.
- Eat those foods in their least processed form.
And really... that's not necessarily Paleo, that's just human.