Did I ever tell you guys the story of how I invented the paleo diet? No? Well, have a seat and let ol' Colin here tell you a thing or two about the past. Wayyyy back in 2005 to be precise.
This was before Web 2.0 and social media had taken off. No Facebook, No Youtube - you know, the Dark Ages. I had been working on ways to improve my fitness and grappling game, while working a full time office job for the first time in my life. I was already a big believer in self-experimentation, having come off a 2 year vegetarian experiment with a new appreciation of meat and what has become a lifelong aversion to soy products. I had recently been playing with this new idea of "functional fitness" after my very standard weight training routine had ceased to provide performance gains. I was mixing jump roping with swimming, yoga, and some barbell work. There was this new thing called Crossfit that seemed pretty interesting.
So, there I was, thinking about how I could tweak my diet to perform better. I began to reflect on my childhood struggles with allergies and decided that maybe I should try to eat less wheat and less dairy. I'd also just read Ishmael and had seen some documentary about Native American life. It got me thinking about our days prior to agriculture and what we ate. Less wheat and dairy to be sure, and much less focus on avoiding fat... quite the opposite in fact. I bought my first jar of coconut oil and stopped eating pasta every night.
Needless to say, I started feeling great. I thought I was the smartest guy in the world. I went on the internet to see if anyone else was as clever as I was and, of course, immediately found the Weston A. Price foundation and a little book by Loren Cordain called "The Paleo Diet." Guess I wasn't so smart after all...
(The Permian diet is all mine though. My greatest achievment, and possibly the greatest achievement in all of Science, Medicine, and Gastronomy)
The Paleo Diet and I have always had a very casual relationship. As anyone who has ever seen me demolish a blueberry pie or a pint of haagen daaz knows, I'm not too concerned with "cheating." But, for the most part, I've been happily eating paleo for a good 6 years now. It's been extremely interesting to watch the community grow and develop. Interesting and at times a little (lot) maddening. There is now so much noise and contradictory information that it's getting hard to make sense of it all. A month or so ago, I was pretty sick of the whole community and decided it was time for another experiment. This time, the experiment would be "What would happen if I totally stopped caring about the paleo diet?"
This was fueled in large part by the fact that Julia had started a bread baking experiment and there was all this fresh, homemade bread everywhere. Here is the first thing I learned from the experiment: Homemade bread is F&%king delicious.
It's been about a month now and I'm ready to deliver some reports. How do I feel? Almost exactly the same. The only real difference is I'm a little bit more gassy on the nights I single handedly eat an entire loaf of bread. My athletic performance has neither suffered nor gone into overdrive. As for my weight... I have no idea. I don't own a scale. My weight has never really interested me. Whenever the subject comes up I tell people I weigh 1 Standard Colin. (A Standard Colin is whatever my current weight is, in kilograms) My sleep is the same, my skin looks the same... um... yeah... nothing's really changed at all.
I think the big lesson here is there are a ton of "diets" that will work, but the big underlying factor is how you relate to your food. I've said it before and I'll say it again: If you stress out about your diet, it will fail, no matter how diligent you are. If you relax and enjoy your relationship with food, from growing/foraging/shopping to cooking to eating, you will thrive... as long as what you're eating is actually food and not an edible foodlike substance.
Now, who wants a grilled cheese sandwich? I'm real good at them.