My path to a Paleo-style way of eating wasn’t perfectly straightforward. After years of health issues, in late 2010 I came upon an article describing a recently-published book called The Paleo Solution, written by a guy who obviously knows a thing or two about prehistory since his last name is Wolf. The book promised to demonstrate positive results for a number of health issues, including autoimmune diseases. Feeling like I was at a dead end with my own issues with autoimmunity, I bought the book at the very first opportunity, devoured it, and switched my diet within days.
While I’m very grateful to Robb Wolf and his Paleo Solution, it only gave me a glimpse of the journey I would need to take in order to restore my health. Much of the eating advice in the book was based on low-carb principles, which is understandable since the book is geared towards those who are looking to lose weight. But after losing an initial 30 pounds (likely due to discontinuing steroid therapy at that same time), I struggled with maintaining my weight, and had consistently low energy. It wasn’t until I reintroduced white rice and potatoes, foods promoted by The Perfect Health Diet, that I really started to feel like I had figured out an ideal way of eating for me (and one that I’ve maintained since). Dairy was also something I had to figure out on my own, as I found that I better tolerated certain types of dairy (mainly heavy cream, butter, and fermented products), and that my tolerance improved as my health improved. Dairy just didn’t warrant a blanket “avoid” stamp since individual tolerance was a better determining factor.
So over the years, I have had a hard time answering when people asked me where to start reading if they wanted to learn about the Paleo diet. The Paleo Solution is fairly inflexible, and was quickly becoming outdated as new voices entered the scene and brought new ideas with them. The Perfect Health Diet is a superior work, and provides an excellent template for sustained eating, but its lifelong approach to diet can be intimidating to those who aren’t ready for such a long commitment right out of the gate.
And in steps Your Personal Paleo Code by Chris Kresser.
It’s the book I’ve been waiting for: a definitive, approachable, and flexible approach to Paleo that’s perfect for beginners seeking drastic changes as well as experienced Paleo eaters who are looking to flex the Paleo template.
After some introductory chapters, Chris breaks down his program into three sections. The first is a 30-day reset similar to what you’d expect from The Paleo Solution or the Whole30, where you eliminate all problematic foods to reset eating habits and to give your system time to recover. The second section details certain gray-area foods like white rice and dairy, and how (and when) to reintroduce new foods until you find a pattern that works for you. The final section deals with macronutrient ratios and specific tweaks for certain goals (weight loss, autoimmune, etc). Like Paul Jaminet does in The Perfect Health Diet, Chris focuses on creating and sustaining an approach to eating that’s healthy, easy, and doable.
Along the way, he also discusses other aspects of regaining health (adequate sleep, physical contact, playing instead of training, and meditation, among others) and approaches some of my favorite food issues, like nutrient density, eating locally, offal, and eating on a budget. The book is written with the layman in mind, and doesn’t dive too deeply into specific topics; instead, Chris offers supplementary information on private webpages to supplement each chapter – over additional 200 pages in all.
So yeah, Robb Wolf and Paul Jaminet are my first loves, but Chris Kresser is really giving them a run for their money. Honestly, I’m happy to see another excellent book written on the topic, as it lends further credence to the idea that approaching health from an ancestral approach is ideal. I’ll continue to encourage people who were introduced to this whole crazy caveman thing through The Paleo Solution to check out the long-term approach found in The Perfect Health Diet, but for newcomers or those just coming off a Whole30 I’m going to start pointing them towards Your Personal Paleo Code.