My son-in-law is a girl’s soccer coach. Unlike my family members, he has stayed the same size the entire time I’ve known him and from what he tells me, he has never had a weight problem even though he is only 5 ft. 8 inches tall. You might think that it’s because he is a coach, but that’s not really the reason. Although he played soccer from kindergarten to college, he hasn’t played a game of soccer since I’ve known him. He may show his team how to kick the ball or do different soccer plays, but mostly he is just on the sidelines. He doesn’t work out at a gym or jog or do marathons. However, his weight is normal and even though he is now 43, he is pretty much the same weight he’s been throughout his adult life. I have had a weight problem for quite awhile however and have tried multiple diets. I lost some weight on all of them, but then I reached a point where I could not lose anymore and was well short of the goal weight I set for myself. I also gained a lot of weight back.
So I thought to myself, what is my son-in-law doing to keep his weight in the normal range? Part of it might be genetics—his sister and parents are not fat, but I also noticed that my son-in-law ate differently than my family. He prefers to drink water–no milk, coffee, tea or soft drinks and he rarely snacks. He can go for hours without eating anything, then when he does eat, he really chows down. He is a great cook and does all the cooking for his family. They eat mainly fresh vegetables, fruit, fish, seafood, poultry and occasionally beef steak or brisket. Since he is Jewish he doesn’t eat pork. While he doesn’t eat desserts often, he loves ice cream and will have it as an occasional treat. Otherwise he mainly eats simple, unprocessed foods. I have long suspected his eating style is what kept him slim.
I on the other hand had ventured into vegan-land and began eating a low fat plant-based diet. I found a diet that encouraged eating a lot of starchy foods like rice and potatoes and thought that even though it was a plant-based or vegan style diet, it would keep me full. But just a couple of hours after each meal I felt like I was starving. So I was eating all day long. I did lose a lot of weight initially. Then about a year into it, my weight loss stopped and I stayed the same weight for another six months. Then I had to have a hysterectomy. I couldn’t exercise for three months afterwards and I started to gain weight again. Also I noticed that I was getting really flabby and my legs ached so bad every night that I had to take night time aspirin to get to sleep. My doctor told me I was not getting enough protein and that I should eat more meat. I balked at that suggestion. I didn’t want to eat meat. I was convinced that it was bad for my health and bad for the environment, not to speak of how cruel factory farms treat cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys. However, I kept gaining weight and feeling bad.
I had heard about the ancestral or paleo/primal style eating and began to read books about it and search the Internet to find our more. I realized that it was quite a bit like my son-in-law’s eating style. Coincidentally my son-in-law has a master’s degree in Anthropology as well as a master’s in Exercise Physiology. I have also taken some anthropology courses in college and it seemed to make sense that people should include animal protein in their diets like our earliest ancestors did.
Early humans may not have not lived long lives due to the inherent dangers of living in primitive conditions and being at the mercy of the climate and weather and the dangers of wild animals, but they nevertheless flourished and spread throughout the earth and eventually became the dominant species on the planet. If the diet they ate was good enough for them, then it must be the diet we should eat. So I decided to switch from a totally plant-based (vegan) diet to one that contained not only lots of vegetables and fruit, but also one that included animal products. Also, I have Celiac Disease and cannot eat anything with gluten, nor can I eat beans everyday so this way of eating suits me to a tee. I have begun to lose weight again and also feel better. I have more strength and my legs have quit aching at night. Even though a lot of people who follow this way of eating are athletes and fitness buffs, it is good for anyone at any age and provides people with all the nutrition they need to be healthy.