“The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.“ Don Williams Jr.
I’ve been thinking lately about all the twists and turns that I have made on my journey to the Paleo Lifestyle and way of eating. In retrospect, I’m surprised that the journey has been so long. Nutrition and biologically appropriate foods have been an ongoing interest of mine. However, the focus was on providing nutritious, quality foods for my pets. Apparently I cared more about their health and well-being than I did about my own.
My first foray into developing and feeding biologically appropriate foods for my pets began in the 1990s. I had a large reptile collection, including a Green Iguana. I was an active member of a number of email lists devoted to various reptile species. Prominent amongst these lists was the Iguana Mailing List (IML). At the time, this was my intellectual obsession.
Note: My loyal readers may have noticed that my current intellectual obsessions are the Ancestral diet and lifestyle. I have a tendency to become very focused on topics that capture my interest. I research and build my expertise in the area of interest. After a time, I either lose interest and move on, or incorporate the interest into my persona. The focus reduces somewhat, but I still follow the topic. I should also note here that I scored a 34 or 35 on that Austism Spectrum test that has beeen going around the Internet.
At that time, Melissa Kaplan was generally recognized as one of the foremost authorities on reptile care and husbandry. She built and maintained a website which is still a valuable resource on these topics. I absorbed the available studies and resources on reptile diet, and began implementing what I learned with my menagerie. They thrived. Here’s a photo of my baby boy, The Z-Man.
Dietary disagreements and warfare break out on a regular basis on the IML. It’s like any other Internet mailing list or forum. There are strong personalities there who like to “discuss” and create controversies. One of these skirmishes heated up, and I was asked to help write and edit a paper outlining the position of my faction in the fight. I was honored that people I considered very knowledgeable wanted my contribution. I am proud of our work. If you are interested, you can find it here: Iguana Diets: Setting the Record Straight
My interest in reptiles has waned. I currently have only one lizard left in my collection (it’s a C. similis for those who are interested). It’s 14 years old now and still going strong. When that lizard crosses the Rainbow Bridge TMOTH (The Man of the House) and I will be reptile-free for the first time. It’s difficult to travel when you have a lot of reptiles. Pet sitters that are qualified to care for them are few and far between.
After I got the reptile diet dialed in, I turned my focus on the dogs. TMOTH and I had four elderly dogs. We’re a blended family, and we both came into our relationship with a number of pets. I did research on biologically appropriate diets for canines. Out of all the models, I felt the whole prey model outlined by Tom Lonsdale, DVM made the most sense. You can find information regarding this diet here if you are interested.
I implemented the diet with our dogs. They appeared to feel like they had hit the mother lode. It was very well accepted and tolerated. We saw some health improvements, particularly with allergies and skin conditions. I feel like it gave several of them an extra year or two of quality life. The four of them remained on this diet until they crossed the Rainbow Bridge. They were 15, 16, and 13 (both labs).
The Airedale Terrierists have been eating according to the whole prey model since they came to live with us. I’ve been pleased with the results. They had slow, steady even growth. They are sturdy and well-muscled. Queen Barktifah is currently 7 years old. Muffie Stuffie Sucker is 5 years old. They have been quite healthy and all signs point to that continuing.
So, why did I never consider that I might benefit from following a biologically appropriate Ancestral Diet until a few months ago? I’ve certainly seen the benefits of this type of diet with the animals in my care. Why did I put more importance on caring for my animals than I did in caring for myself?
I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to answer these questions. I think part of the reason is that I believed I was feeding myself a healthy diet. I had nutrition courses in college. I followed all the guidelines (sporadically). I found it impossible to follow them all the time. I was always hungry. Even when I did everything CW (conventional wisdom) advised to me to do, the results were not there. I was carrying extra weight and always hungry. Every ounce I lost was a struggle. I was often tired and had low energy most afternoons.
My Ancestral Diet and lifestyle are a work in progress. The research I have read makes sense to me. I believe this is the best way for me to live for long-term health. As far as results go, I’m still a work in progress. I’m seeing health benefits beyond weight and body composition. I will admit that one of my goals is to LGN (Look Good Nekkid). I’m not there yet, but things are headed that way. Most importantly, I feel good. It’s not a struggle to eat this way. With every day that passes this way of life and way of eating is becoming an integral part of my life.