A few years ago, I was spurred by the book Good Calories, Bad Calories to worry less about fat and to cut down on some of my carb excesses. And, in general, I was happy enough with the results, but it hadn’t had a huge impact on my life after the first year or so. (Especially since I stopped packing lunches once I rejoined startup life…)
A few months ago, though, some people on a mailing list that I participate in (including the author of the gnolls.org blog) started sharing their experiences with paleo diets, and in particular a few people reported somewhat remarkable results from cutting down on non-rice grain consumption. The author of that blog recommended the book Perfect Health Diet (and its companion blog), so I gave that a read.
Which was quite interesting. A lot of it meshed nicely with what I’d been trying a few years back: in particular, they agree that many fats are just fine, and that many carbohydrates are bad. A lot of the details differ, however: the Perfect Health folks don’t think that it’s good to avoid all carbohydrates, they focus more on specific ones (non-rice grains, fructose, probably others that I’m forgetting) but not all. (In particular, they don’t have much truck with glycemic index, and prefer white rice to brown rice, claiming that the latter can leach nutrients.) Also, there are some other details: they don’t like a lot of standard vegetable oils (though they’re fine with olive oil), but quite like some less common ones, most notably coconut oil.
Spurred by that, I decided to cut down a bit more on my wheat consumption. (Though I’m certainly not going to give up bread entirely, I like it too much!) Which raised the question: what to do about breakfast, if my previous habit of oatmeal wasn’t recommended? At first, I alternated between eggs and bacon or salmon (if I had time), plain yoghurt and fruit (if I had less time), and reheating leftovers. But then a funny thing happened (which other people had predicted): I found myself feeling a lot less hungry in general in the mornings! Before, I would eat a full breakfast and feel like I wanted to start snacking again at around 11am; these days, though, I’m fine not eating anything until lunch time, and in fact on two days at Defcon I didn’t eat anything until around 2pm and felt great. (Which was convenient, there weren’t great food options and the mediocre ones were crowded.)
Also, I’m finding myself feeling full more often. Which is one of the big points of gnolls.org: your body has a feeling for what nutrients you need, and if you feed it the right stuff, you just won’t feel as hungry. The idea of paying attention to signals your body is sending makes a lot of sense to me; and if those signals mean that I’m not eating as much because I’m not feeling as hungry, I’m willing to take that as a sign that I’m doing something right!
I’m not planning to go all-out paleo—like I said, I like (good) bread too much! But it’s also great to not have to worry about eating breakfast, and to not feel hungry as often, so I do think I’ll stick with these changes, and possibly go further with them than I have been.
This post has not been revised since publication.