On Paleo – Ben’s Experience

I started at 240 pounds the summer before I found out about the paleodiet. That fall I began loosing weight by cutting out soda. All soda. I use to adore root-beer. I also reduced the amount of snacks I ate. By December I reached 220 pounds. Twenty pounds in 4 months is generally considered to be fairly impressive. But at the end of December I found out about the paleodiet, and decided to give it a try. It made sense to me: people evolved and spent 2 million years eating a certain way. When that diet changed most of our current health problems suddenly appeared. It seems too much to be a coincidence.

I went on the paleodiet late December. By February I was at 180 pounds. Many people worried about my health due to the severe weight loss. But, they all had to agree I was certainly eating enough and did not look sickly. In fact, even without a drastic increase in my physical activity I still noticed an increase in muscle mass. Over the next several months my weight dropped and leveled off to about 165 pounds. Since then I've taken up exercising. I do thirty minutes of aerobics and about thirty minutes of weights three times a week. Since then my weight has increased, although I would tend to think that a good amount of that is muscle rather than fat considering my pants still fit.

After two weeks on the diet I noticed two major things. First, that my energy level had increased dramatically. And, two, that I felt good. I had not noticed it's presence, but I certainly noticed it's absence: the general all-prevailing sense of ickiness was gone. It makes sense that I did not notice it before, I never knew that that was odd. I simply always felt that way.

Later on I noticed that I did not get sick as often, and when I did it was not as bad and I got better faster. I also found that my endurance and the quality of my sleep both improved. Even while my quantity of sleep decreased.

I once heard through the grapevine that a psychologist that lived near me, but is not known to me, recommended a change in diet as a treatment for a mental disorder. The mother was doubtful, but desperate. It worked. Granted this is a friend of a friend story, but that is where it ends. My mother's friend was the dubious mother.

When I tell people about the diet I say that it is very simple. You eat as much meat, fish, chicken, fruits, vegetables, and nuts as you want. You just avoid legumes, grains, dairy, sugar, and potatoes. Amazingly enough the nearly uniform response is "my god, what do you eat? That's so limiting." At this point I can only respond that I eat the other 200+ thousand edible plants and animals.

The hardest part of the diet is the beginning. There are massive physical withdrawal symptoms when you cut out bread. And the cravings can be difficult. Something that worked with me was retraining my body. Cravings occur when your body needs a certain nutrient that it associates with a certain food from long experience. So, to fight these cravings I gave my body what I thought it actually needed, rather than what it told me it needed. So when it asked for bread I realized that the only nutrient that bread really had were sugars. So I had fruit. The cravings went away, and now my body asks for fruit when it needs sugars. The only other part of the diet that gets really annoying is the constant need to buy new pants. I recommend two things. First, save up money ahead of time so you won't have to go without when your wardrobe changes every two weeks. And, buy a woven belt. The advantage of a woven belt is that it does not have holes, making it infinitely adjustable.

Ultimately I do cheat, I do go off the diet for some meals. (Reports of my perfection are greatly exaggerated.) But I do not do this as much anymore, if for no other reason then my body does not crave those foods anymore. Besides, when I do eat them, I am miserable beyond belief. Eating bread or milk is physically painful for me now. I do not even really like looking at it, especially not milk.

I've been on the diet for a year and a half now and never plan on going off. For another take on the Paleodiet see Urban Scout's video in the newly updated multimedia page.

-Benjamin Shender

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