My personalized paleo diet: ‘Caveman no have chicken’

Nor did they have eggs, say I. Although I don’t know which they didn’t have first.

Hey, if it was good enough for Fred and Barney...

Hey, if it was good enough for Fred and Barney…

I have now sorta, kinda, in fits and starts, embarked on my first diet aimed (at least in part) at losing weight in my life.

I’ve always been on a rather restrictive diet, because of my allergies. And that diet has probably protected me from a lot of the ills that beset modern Americans. Thanks to my allergy to wheat (and, more severely, to dairy products and eggs), I can’t eat anything from a bakery, and that eliminates a lot of trouble right there.

It also cuts out most complex recipes, particular those involving some form of stuffing or sauce. Mostly, I eat very plain meat (except chicken), vegetables and fruit, with rice being my main starch, along with corn (grits) at breakfast.

And over the years, whatever health problems may arise, my basic vitals have been good — good pulse, low blood pressure, acceptable cholesterol levels, and so forth.

But several things happened recently:

  • Four members of my family — children and grandchildren — were diagnosed. with celiac disease. Others suspect they have it. Their new diets caused me to realize something I hadn’t known: that a gluten-free diet involves a LOT more than not eating wheat. It casts a pretty broad net. A gluten-free kitchen takes at least as much thought and effort as a kosher kitchen, seemingly. Probably more.
  • My first cousin, out in Montana, told me on Facebook that she had given up ALL grains, and never felt better. She said, “When I stopped grains altogether, my thoughts cleared, memory improved, bloating I didn’t realize I had went away.”
  • I myself had been experiencing increasing abdominal problems, including the aforementioned bloating, pretty much daily. (Sorry, but I think this is the only gross part.)
  • There was more going on to my increased waist size than the aforementioned. There was added mass that was more permanent, nothing that could be dismissed as “bloating.”
  • For the first time in my life, my weight — fully clothed, with coat wallet and cell phone and keys, mind you — was topping 180. One awful night in the last few weeks, it was 183.8 pounds. Not bad for a lot of guys my height, but bad for me. When I’m really working out a lot and in shape (which I really haven’t done since I left the paper and its basement gym), I’m more like 160. So this was bad.
  • My loosest pants and shirt collars were getting tight, the others I couldn’t wear at all — or couldn’t wear with a tie, in the case of the shirts.
  • I was really, really uncomfortable, with my belly pressing against my sternum every time I sat down. (This was with what most would regard as a quite modest paunch. I don’t see how people who are much, much bigger even breathe…)
  • I read a little about the paleolithic diet, and it made sense. Or at least, the rationale did. I’ve long known that men stopped being hunter-gatherers once they figured out that agriculture would enable them to make beer, but that that happened relatively recently, in evolutionary terms. So it makes sense that our bodies haven’t adapted to a diet of Big Macs, fries and giant Slurpees.
  • I realized that a paleo diet would make me gluten-free for the most part, eliminate grains altogether, and probably make me lose weight — or girth, which is the main point. (I wouldn’t mind weighing 184 if the extra 24 pounds were muscle, but that seems unlikely).

That is, a modified paleo diet. Indeed, more hardcore paleo diet, if I may say so without bragging. No eggs, because they would kill me. And frankly, I seriously doubt that eggs could have formed any significant part of cavemen’s diets. Sure, they’d find one now and then, but they couldn’t have relied on them every morning for breakfast. Anyway, even if I weren’t allergic, better off without eggs on account of my slightly elevated cholesterol levels (which my doctor is thus far unconcerned about).

And do you think they even had chickens as we know them? I don’t think so. So when folks at ADCO said they were going out for chicken soup for lunch today, I grunted self-righteously, “Cavemen didn’t have chicken.” (As the diet progresses, that will probably come out more like, “Caveman no have chicken.”) Some paleo “authorities” may disagree, but what do they know, really? They weren’t around back then.

So, as the holidays wound down, so did my menu. At home, I’m eating meat and vegetables. At the Cap City Club each morning, I’ve cut out the grits and/or oatmeal. Just meat (which this morning, delightfully, included salmon) and fruit. And coffee — unsweetened, of course, but I was already there.

And no beer. Unless I find myself in a social situation in which it would just be plain rude to turn one down. (This has happened once since I started on Wednesday. It could happen again any time without warning — I’m very polite.)

No great loss in girth yet. But then, I’m sort of easing into this as I continue to eat some stuff left from the holidays, such as this wonderful bread that my daughter made, just for me, that includes nothing I’m allergic too. I’ll probably run out of that tomorrow.

I share all this because it’s what I’m thinking about. And the only news so far today seems to be that Liz Cheney isn’t running for the U.S. Senate, and frankly, I didn’t care about it when she was running…

28 thoughts on “My personalized paleo diet: ‘Caveman no have chicken’

    1. Karen Pearson

      Doncha hate those ads? BTW the last time I looked archeological science was seeming to suggest that the bulk of the paleontological diet was provided by the gatherers (the women). While it certainly included bugs, it also included roots and other veggies, including grain. That’s how we got the idea to farm to start with–those grains were collected along with everything else until someone got the idea that it would be much easier to collect them if you had them all in one place. But that doesn’t make your idea of a diet a bad idea.

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        Yeah, the “science” behind the paleo diet has been debunked, but it is a pretty healthy way to eat, based on current science. Of course, most nutrition experts say to avoid unnecessary elimination of food groups, grits and white rice provide little more than calories. Other grains and complex carbohydrates can cause GI issues as they are digested (or not).
        Make sure you drink plenty of water on this regimen, since it does tax the kidneys.

        I am currently about fifty pounds down from my all time (hormonally induced) high, and while I seem to be able to eat bread in Germany without adverse effects, back here, it seems to lead to weight gain.

        Gluten free is hard because so many things may be contaminated, but unless you have celiac disease, you don’t have to stress over gluten free lip balm, say. And fwiw, if you suspect it, get checked before going gluten free.

        1. Silence

          Ogg follow up dinner with a sauterne, Ogg like Chateau d’Yquem vintage 300,000 BC. It have good bouquet and isweetness well balanced with acidty. It age well. Ogg like botryitis.

          Sometime Capital City club not properly stock wine cellar. Ogg get mad! OGG SMASH! Club send bill to Ogg. Ogg take club to club!

          Ogg reduced to drinking vintage Fonseca Port or Tokaji.

  1. Norm Ivey

    I read your symptoms with interest and feel empathy. I admire and mildly resent your resolve. I wish you success and happiness.

    And then you said No beer. And I weep for you, for I know happiness will forever elude you.

  2. Kathryn Fenner

    And eggs came first. All chickens come from eggs, but all eggs don’t come from chickens….

  3. Kiki

    One cool thing about that bread is the main ingredient is garbanzo bean flour. Not sure what paleo says about legumes, but at least it’s not a grain. The second ingredient is potato starch. So you’re not getting a very high concentration of grains (even if it is still very carby)

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      Paleo tends to like legumes, but depends on which version you are doing. There’s a meat, fruit, nuts and leafy greens one, and ones that somewhat more accurately reflect that early humans ate whatever they could find, including tubers, acorns and, shock, grains!

  4. Kiki

    (And I believe the protein/carb ratio is much better in garbanzo/gram flour/besan than grain flours)

  5. Brad Warthen

    Caveman’s fave red wines so far:
    — Little Penguin Pinot noir
    — Three Wishes Cabernet Sauvignon (VERY inexpensive at Whole Foods)
    — Don Luciano Merlot

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      Lucky Duck Tempranillo at Walmart. Wine snobs raved about it, not knowing it’s provenance.

  6. Allison Thompson

    Hi Brad

    You speak about not being able to enjoy beer when following the Paleo diet, but this isn’t the case. There are some types of beer you can drink along with a number of other alcoholic drinks that are acceptable. What is important is when following a Paleo diet you don’t drink anything that is made with grains.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      But I’m talking about REAL beer, liquid bread…

      Rum is OK on paleo, and I prefer it to wine. But I tend to drink it with ginger ale, which probably isn’t paleo…

      1. Allison Thompson

        After writing this comment I was in my local bar and they now sell a cider that I can enjoy as it isn’t only gluten free but also has no added sugar. I was skeptical, to say the least, but it really does taste great. Even I still tend to fall a little when it comes to alcohol. But usually, stick to wine.

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