26 Jun

Hi everyone. I wanted to write this to you as if I was writing a letter to a friend. But I am writing to many. I wanted to thank you all for you great comments and insights. I really really appreciate all your opinions, ideas and encouragement. It really has helped to change my whole perspective on food and health. One of the reasons I shut down Darwin’s Table in the first place was because I honestly felt I was a fake. That I had no right to be writing or giving advice about an evolutionary diet. After all I had failed and was fat again right? So who would want to listen to that!!! Well YOU did!!! And it amazes me even now.

I came along through that process and thanks to your help my opinions have changed. I no longer see weight loss as the ultimate goal. I see been healthy as been the ultimate goal. If that means I remain overweight then so be it. I want to eat based on evolutionary principles. A Darwinian Diet so to speak. How can that be wrong no matter what you weigh. As a result I have tended (once again) to drift away from focusing specifically on addiction. I have been thinking this a little while now, but then I was invited to join a health network (more later). I thought that if I was going to do this I need to change my medium back to Darwin’s Table. Its bigger and has more depth to it I feel. I want that freedom to explore whatever I want (i.e recipes, science, personal posts, addiction, paleo etc etc).

BUT what I have learned is to be absolutely honest, and the payback will be huge. So I am really hoping all of you will change your RSS feeds, or whatever you have when you read this, and come back and join me at Darwin’s Table. Furthermore, I really really hope you all still comment!!!! The one thing I really look forward to is your comments. Now I know Darwin’s Table is less cozy. This blog is more intimate like Im sitting around talking with a bunch of friends at a cafe. Darwin’s Table feels a little like Im giving a presentation to a room full of people. Im hoping to bring this friendly feel back to Darwin’s Table. Less preaching, more honesty and hopefully more interaction with you all.

See you there?

(Darwins Table Link)

PS – OH and I have added all your links to Darwin’s Table. If I have missed anyone who has been commenting please let me know. But I don’t think I have. If you could also add Darwin’s Table to your lists rather than Pavlov’s Ape I would appreciate it.


Addicted to Dieting

26 Jun

I think I have stumbled upon another of my ‘issues’. Im addicted to dieting! Yes dieting! When I am dieting, and eating what I should, I feel like my life is in control. I feel like I am going to be thin and when I get to be thin my shitty life will be magically replaced by a life with pink elephants swimming in lemonade. Yes thats right its obviously a dream. But just the idea that I am going to be thin allows me to not worry about things in my life right now. Its a way of coping. And this way of coping is highly addictive. When I think to myself I no longer want to diet its like taking away my only coping strategy. My way of dealing with life and bringing happiness to myself. So giving up dieting is not simply giving up dieting. Its huge. At the moment its giving up hope.

However, things are going well not dieting. I am eating what I want (non-processed) and when I want. I lost another kilogram today and so I sit at 118kg. Back down. It absolutely blows my mind that I am still dropping weight. I expect, hope, that I am going to lose weight very slowly and not maintain. I read over at free the animal that he lost weight at about 1/2 pound a month. Thats incredible but also impossible to monitor if you are weighing yourself everyday. But he really must have been confident he was going along the right path in terms of his eating. This would be hard for someone like me who needs instant gratification and needs to see results immediately.

What I have also noticed is something that I have brought back into my diet is definitely not agreeing with me. Lets just say my gut flora have been busy! Now there are two obvious choices that in the past have caused this. I have narrowed the culprit items down to either chickpeas or milk. They are not mutually exclusive. They both could be causing my issues and they both are non-paleo. But since I like milk better I will eliminate the chick peas (or legumes etc altogether) and see if this stops. It has lasted for two days in a row so no coincidence.

Obviously I don’t want to do dietary breakdowns as then I am counting calories. What I can do is start taking pics of my food.


24 Jun

All crazy ramblings from yesterday aside I also discovered something else that could be potentially interesting over the last few days. During one of my misery days I decided that I was going to just eat whenever I was hungry, and stop worrying about weight. I seriously didn’t care if I was fat or thin I figured as long as I exercised, and ate good paleo food, I would be healthy regardless of my weight. So for that day I literally pigged out. I didn’t feel guilty about eating too much. I didn’t feel guilty if I ate 30 mins after I had already eaten. I just ate when I felt like it and didn’t distinguish between what those cravings were for. I just ate.

I can tell you it was extremely refreshing. It was also a big fuck you to the man (diet pressure), as well as been a very novel way of thinking about food for me. What I just eat…..whenever??? It felt great. But sure enough the old thoughts slowly crept back in. The ones telling me that I need to lose weight. I won’t feel good about myself unless I do. Now the jury is still out on this for me. I often wonder if I am losing weight for aesthetic reasons or for health. I mean is fat bad in and of itself, or is it the food we eat. Could it be possible to be overweight and be healthy. Certainly, many long term mortality studies seem to suggest so. In some of these studies overweight people were found to live longer than normal weight people (based off BMI). Fat people lived longer!!!

Man Im going way off track here. So, in short, I woke up with lots of energy and my mood was very elated from all the good food I had. It’s nice to have energy and not feel hungry. I even happily exercised because I had so much energy. But before I exercised I hopped on the scales. WTF!!! I had dropped a kilogram. I was down to 120kg (from 121kg). How can that be I had literally stuffed myself. But I went off to work and I decided that for that day I might just try eating when I am hungry again, making sure its healthy, and include some exercise. I checked out how much I ate and it was 3500 calories and my nutrients were higher than they had ever been. I was guessing somewhat as I had not counted my food.

Today I woke up, and to my absolute surprise I lost another kilogram. Down to 119 kg. Also my energy levels were skyrocketing. I woke up at 5:30am and started cleaning the house. This is NOT me. I looked forward to walking to work. I felt really really happy!!! My whole mood was so much more positive. Then my work colleague says to me today that she couldn’t put her finger on it but I looked noticeably better. I asked her to be more specific. She said she didn’t know but I just looked good, more healthy and happy.

Well today I started my new lab rat diet. I didn’t want to get off this buzz. So I decided why not just keep my calorie intake around 3500 calories. I just want to see whats going to happen. Still following the same rules I set – balanced carbs/fats, unprocessed and low density food. But I eat more. I did this and I didn’t feel too hungry, but I was more conscious of food. I was thinking about it a lot. Not real gonna die hunger but still a craving. Then I did a little mind trick. I said to myself ok just eat what you want for the rest of the day. Just eat if your hungry and eat until your full. This worked. My hunger vanished. Im sure that a lot of my hunger stems from the diet mentality and restriction. Yes this is an obvious one. But I always thought  that if I took the brakes off, my weight would maintain not drop. This seems to have been the case before. But then before taking the brakes off mean’t cheat foods.

There are so many questions that have come out of this experience. Should I just eat well, exercise, and be fat and healthy (and happy)? Should I increase my calories? Should I no longer count calories (yikes) and eat whenever I damn well please and perhaps my weight will drop, albeit, very slowly? Thoughts anyone. Come on you know you want too.

Lab Rat

23 Jun

So its been an interesting last couple of days. I really hit a low yesterday, but today I woke up with a new sense of vigor. Everyones comments were really helpful. No really they were very very helpful!!! I really am quite chuffed with the people who read this blog, and if there are any more lurkers wanting to join in make yourself known. As soon as I let loose to the world yesterday I immediately and noticeably felt better so your comments are always welcome. Unless its someone laughing at my failure like what just happened at Darwins Table about an hour ago. I don’t know why they think Im gonna post their comments??? Some angry vegetarians.

So back to the point. My main problem lately is I have become incredibly frustrated with the loads of different opinions out there in the paleosphere, and beyond, and just how conflicting it can be. Also it can often lead to cat fights, which drives me nuts. Sometimes you feel you are doing the right thing, but yet you here from someone else your rubbish. All I know is this.

Everybody thinks they are right + everybody disagrees = ice cream.

Now thats an equation any dieter can understand. As a scientist I am absolutely useless at not knowing. I have to have concrete answers, and in nutrition this is horribly difficult. Now obviously Im exaggerating somewhat and their are plenty of good bloggers out there who know loads of information. But no one is perfect and no one is absolutely right. Someone can only do what is best, or seems best, for them. Which leads me to my conclusion that I came too after my intense mind battle of what I should do. I just need to read the research and make my own decisions based off that.

Then I read a paper which I will post about shortly. But basically it shows that the researchers were able to get rats addicted to food by putting them on either a high sugar diet or a high fat diet. But rats fed chow were unable to become addicted (low density food, neither fatty nor sugary). They argued that it was calorie rich foods that caused the reward centers to fire, and become addicted to that food. Now normally I would have poo poo’d the high fat part, but this is what was found right? So I wondered two things. Firstly, as long as the rats didn’t go too far in one direction (ie lots of carbs or lots of fats) then they tended to remain non-addicted rats. Secondly, high calorie, or highly dense foods were obviously bad for them.

So again this got me thinking. I have lost weight in the past. When I started the paleo diet I lost almost 20 kg or 45 pounds. If I have done that before surly I can do it again. But what did I do then as opposed to later when I fell off the wagon. Looking back I find I ate only lean meats, and had more starchy carbs. For some reason when I started having less carbs and more fatty meat my weight loss declined significantly.  Perhaps the unprocessed carbs I was eating were helping my diet to be less energy dense, and stopped me from swinging too much in one direction. In this case my diet became too high fat, which in the rats was shown to cause addiction. The same would have happened if I had eliminated fat, and went all out on carbs such as in a low fat diet.

Thus, as humans it would pay for us to eat low density or unprocessed foods. Perhaps as long as you are getting good protein, and unprocessed carbs or fat then you are fine. We already agree that processed fats are bad. Do you eat vegetable oils? Perhaps what we need to be avoiding is processed carbs like refined flour, rice, pasta etc. Perhaps there is such a thing as good carbs, bad carbs. It wasn’t that long ago that we thought all fat was bad, now we know thats not true. Butter is fine, vegetable oil is not. Isn’t it logical this may be true for carbs too? A potato is going to be less energy dense and processed than ice cream or bread. Perhaps it is these refined foods (fat or carbs) that cause addiction rather than carbs per se.

If I am addicted, and I believe I am, I need to start taking lessons from these studies and apply them to myself. I need to be one of those lab rats. So I will be. For the next week I will be eating unprocessed carbs more often and lowering down the fat intake. My overall goal is to make my food less energy dense, have it unprocessed, and stop it swinging in either a carby or fatty direction. I would like to state that I am NOT anti fat. But I am wanting to base my eating patterns off the addiction literature, and this is what I am doing. I may fail, in fact if history is anything to go by I will fail, but imagine if I DONT!!!!

On a side note this is not completely unpaleolithic. There is certainly evidence that hunter gatherers ate starchy tubers (read post here), and there are many HG tribes that have a diet very high in carbohydrates. Also, their is evidence that many hunter gatherer societies ate very lean meat with fatty meat becoming copious seasonally. So what if most HG’s only had limited time to acquire fatty meat or it was a limited resource. Then it would make sense for their brains to reward them BIG TIME when they did capture and consume that fatty food. Something that may lead to addiction in todays society. Fat may itself not be bad for you, but if it drives your brain to crave more and more of it, and continue eating non-stop, then it may end up that way for some addicted types. Same would go for high sugar foods that were probably seasonally abundant or limited. Im not trying to start a paleo war here of who is wrong or right. I am trying to say that there is some evidence for this opinion.

So thats my idea……oh hang on I think I can hear people unsubscribing:)

Mind Battles

22 Jun

I am feeling so despondent about the whole weight loss thing at the moment. Hence the lack of posts. I celebrated a lot this weekend. Hell its only a few times in your life that you get to celebrate the success that I had last week. But to get back into my old eating patterns just seems impossible. It just seems like a mountain. The major part is I just don’t believe I can do it. At least a major part of me feels that way. The other part is desperate for me to try. I just feel so trapped between wanting to just accept myself as I am, and wanting to keep trying. Im sick of the mind battles most of all. The constant obsessing about my weight, and what I am eating. Thats why I couldn’t face this blog. I just needed space to think.

One of the things I keep coming up with is that when I do try to lose weight I actually succeed. But then I go out and drink, or I go out for dinner, and I revert back and then I find it very hard to get back on that horse. I think that I could do it if I was more consistent. But when Im doing it I get tired, my energy is drained, I find it hard to concentrate. I need to be focusing on my career as well, and I don’t want my weight obsession to interfere with that. But I also don’t want to be unhealthy. In other words Im stuck! With that said I will pull my ass out of the chair for the millionth time and try to get that consistency back into my life.

Are You A Food Addict?

19 Jun

Here is a short video on food addiction from the CNN.

What I find most interesting is the comments from the guy at the end who is obviously brought on to dispute the idea of food addiction. Fair enough. But, I  thought his comments were rather redundant. Firstly, he indicates that  food addiction is found in some people by stating that often when people undergo bariatric surgery they will simply switch from eating food to drinking lots of alcohol. This suggests to me that they are simply swapping one form of addiction for another. Secondly, he says that not all people who are obese are addicted to food. Well, um, no shit sherlock. Who is saying that addiction is the root of ALL obesity? Also, who is saying that all thin people are not addicted to food? Someone who responds well to insulin may not get obese, but still be addicted to food. Like I said…..redundant comments.

Which leads me to my next comment. Here are two polls. I would like you to decide whether you think you have food addiction problems. Obviously this might be a bit biased since your reading this blog, but lets do it anyway. It will be nice to know the type of people who are reading this blog. There are two polls – one for people with weight issues, and those for people without. Don’t do both please!

The Best Day Of My Life

16 Jun

Sorry I havn’t posted in the last couple of days. But there is a reason. Last night I found out that I got a huge research grant that will fund my salary and research costs for the next three years. This is huge. Because my academic life up until now has been either as a poor postgraduate student or living from short grant to short grant – never knowing any certainty about my future. Now I can actually plan what I need to do for the next three years. So huge relief!!!!

The other good thing that I did yesterday was succeed in avoiding crappy foods. I went to a fellow kiwis house to watch the soccer. They provided dinner – pasta. Followed by lots of iceblocks that were actually like jelly because they infused gelatin into them. Im not going to lie. I really really wanted one. But I resisted. What was funny was that this guy made a comment about how he has a lot of these things at his house and can eat 10 in one day. Well that sounded fairly reasonable to me on a good binge day. Hell I could (and have) eaten a lot more than 10. But when questioned if this was the case he said that he couldn’t possibly imagine having ten and his record was six. Everyone else was really impressed. Except me. Because I have eaten way more than that before.

Im also feeling a little frustrated because my weight is not going anywhere. Today it climbed back up. This is infuriating because I have been pretty good up until now except for the weekend. What I do know is that my body tends to bloat a few days after drinking alcohol. So I guess I will see what I weigh tomorrow. But the last couple of days (ever since the binge) I feel really unmotivated. Im really struggling. Could the set point theory be right? Could I simply get hungry every time my body drops below it. I have been feeling really good lately but my weight has been stable. Should I be focusing on been healthy and not worry about been fat. These are some of the thoughts running through my mind.


Breakfast – Almonds

Lunch – Roast Chicken, Spinach, Olive Oil.

Late Snack – Ground Beef, Canned Tomatoes

Late Dinner – Roast Pork, Spinach


Fat 64% (sat 20%, poly 9%, mono 35%)

Carbohydrates 7% (50g)

Protein 29%

Getting My Nutrients

14 Jun

So it was hard to mentally get back into the swing of things. But nothing helps more with that than by eating well. So today I ate all the right foods. I am feeling more motivated now. I am also glad to learn that my weight wasn’t effected at all.

I have been on this diet for almost two weeks now. Some days I find my nutrient levels are below the RDA but generally they are over. I thought I would check how my nutrient levels are looking averaged out over the last week to see if I am deficient in anything. Here are the results. The number is the percentage of the recommended daily allowance (RDA). So 500% would mean I am five times over.

Vitamin A: 541

Vitamin B6: 350

Vitamin B12: 471

Vitamin C: 188

Vitamin D: 702

Vitamin E: 242

Calcium: 97

Copper: 353

Iron: 354

Magnesium: 154

Manganese: 218

Niacin: 320

Pant. Acid: 179

Phosphorus: 355

Potassium: 127

Riboflav: 264

Selenium: 434

Sodium: 234

Thiamin: 244

Zinc: 264

So as you can see Im pretty much kicking ass in terms of getting enough nutrients. The only one that was slightly below 100% was calcium. But as Dr Loren Cordain says it is not that we need a lot of calcium it is more to do with the potassium/sodium ratio. Too much sodium and the calcium gets leached from your bones. Im sure thats the theory. However, just in case, I will start drinking milk (yes its not paleo I know).

Anyway this just goes to show that a balanced paleo diet really does give you a whole heap of nutrients. This is great for addiction also. Im sure that what my brain needs right now is plenty of nutrients to help get it past the withdrawal process. To feed it something good. But I guess I probably don’t need to focus on my nutrient intake so much now.


Lunch: Almonds

Afternoon Snack: Mixed Berries

Dinner: Beef, Liver and Cabbage Soup + Cod Liver Oil

Calories: 2600


Fat 58% (sat 15%, poly 8%, mono 35%)

Carbohydrates 11% (75g)

Protein 31%

Calories 2600

The Cookie Monster – The Biggest Food Addict

13 Jun

Our beloved friend the cookie monster. Probably the biggest food addict of them all.

Back Up On The Horse

13 Jun

So I started this blog because I felt that I was not been completely honest in the last one. Well, at the very least, I wouldn’t confess all my sins. So I started this blog because I wanted to be completely transparent, and always admit when I stuff up so that I am held accountable. Not by you, but by me. It is not a nice feeling to admit when you have stuffed up. So here I am writing to you about to confess.

Yesterday, I was invited to go watch a game of soccer. England vs USA. I thought I had been so good lately that I deserved to go. That it was time to take the next step and put on the training wheels. I honestly believed I could go and not eat junk food. I was confident that I now had the ability to resist. While I was there all went well and I didn’t eat or drink anything except for diet cokes. I had to have something and thought this was the lesser of all evils. At this stage I was on a high. I felt that nothing was going to stand in my way, and how easy it was for me to not drink or eat anything I shouldn’t. Yes I was feeling confident and optimistic. Proud of myself even.

And here comes the big BUT. But, then someone invited me out for a drink. I knew this wasn’t a good idea. I knew where it would lead. But I guess a part of me didn’t care. I didn’t want to go home and be alone. I was enjoying the company. I also managed to fool myself that my new resolve would be strong enough to have only a few beers and then go home. So I did. I went and I drank a few beers. Then I drank some more. And then I drank some more. Next thing I know I am walking in the door in the early hours of the morning having consumed many beers and pizza.

Not impressed. The binge fest didn’t end there either. This morning I went and had some more pizza and a slushy. So there you have it. I have managed to reign it in now. Im back up on the horse. Overall Im not convinced it is going to have a large impact on my weight loss. But I can’t let this become a habit. I am making sure I don’t do that by admitting my mistakes. The lesson learned is I cannot go out into situations where there is drink or junk food…….yet. I must be on the ball at all times, and not get cocky. I must not ever believe I have things under control. Because thats when I stuff up.

For the record no I don’t have a drinking problem. But I am also a big escapist. I like to escape reality. Hell thats a part of the addictive nature of things. To escape life! Its especially hard now because I don’t know anyone and I sit at home in this apartment. It can get lonely. So when I do have fun I never want it to end.  So when I start drinking I don’t let it end. Not until very late. Also beer = calories. Non-paleo calories, and I consider this as junk food. So at the moment I feel very let down as I have been doing so well. But I know I have to stay motivated and surge on with the fight. I can’t get too down or I will cave. Thats not an option. .