Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Death of That Paleo Guy

Thoughts have changed.

Focuses are in new areas.

And when it comes to where Payleo™ is currently sitting, it is a case of “it isn’t me, it is you.”*

*The current paleofication of everything from chocolate fudge sundaes to celebrity chefs drives me completely mental.

I’m still rather fond of the framework and research in this area.

But Paleo, the name, has become a poisoned well now.

Every end has a new beginning… re|

Christchurch Ancestral Health Conference – June 29th

All the action is behind the scenes with getting the Ancestral Health Society of New Zealand (of which I somehow found myself elected as the president), up and running as a strong and viable society, and in achieving some of its core aims.  Hence the deathly silence on this blog.  If you haven’t already, head on over to the AHSNZ website to see what we have been up to.

In line with the Society’s aims of having more public discussions about what Ancestral Health means, we are running our first day-long conference, and rather excitingly, in my home town of Christchurch.  We have a stellar line-up of speakers covering a broad range of topics, including a panel discussion around some of the issues facing those people living in Christchurch during a period of rapid change.

For more details, see the AHSNZ news on the conference.

Tickets can be purchased here.

Whole9 South Pacific Good Food Workshop – Christchurch

It is awesome to be home and great to be able to kick off our NZ workshops for 2014 in Christchurch.  We are booked to run our day-long nutrition workshop, covering all the ins and outs of how to eat a whole food diet in a world that would rather see you do otherwise, the Whole9 Good Food Standards, some of the issues around foods and ingredients we are commonly faced with, and of course – how to set yourself up on the Whole30 nutrition reset plan.  We might even have some time in the day to cover off the basics of sleep and how to improve it, which always seems to be a topic of interest for everyone.

The workshop runs 9am – 5pm, on Sunday March 16th, at the Christchurch YMCA (cnr Cashel St and Rolleston Ave).  See our Eventbrite page for details and for booking your seat.  Please note – Eager Beaver pricing is limited to the first 20 places, with a few of those sold already.

CHC Workshop

Download our flyer here to put up in your workplace, local cafe, or gym.

Christchurch Paleo Primal Meetup Group

This group is now officially all go!  The aim is to have the occasional get-together throughout the year, be it for a coffee, a bite to eat, or something a bit more fun and physical.  There seems to be a good community out there, so this could be a good medium to allow everyone to get to know each other and to share ideas, pool resources, and so on.

Check out the group here: Christchurch Paleo Primal Meetup Group

Preaching to the Unconverted

It feels like a long time between drinks for this blogging carry on.  2014 is shaping up to be more of the same.  Sort of.  There have been some exciting developments – developments which won’t leave much time for updating this site.  Firstly, I am now resident in New Zealand again.  Living in another country (and yes, Australia very much is another country) is a great way for broadening the mind, seeing things a bit differently, and most of all, allowing one to see just how god-damn good we have it in this country.  Yes, we have problems.  Yes, we can do things much, much better than we currently do.  But we also have so much to be grateful for and so much good going on.  Coming home I can see how all too often, Kiwi’s look overseas and believe we need to have it as good as they do.  Interesting that we have so many immigrants to our fair shores – so many people from the very countries we seemingly desire to be like – who are loving life and living it to the fullest in a place they consider paradise.

With my return to NZ, I have managed to drag with me one Australian doctor (brain drain reversal), and very soon, we will be accompanied by one tree-climbing Canuck in the form of James Murphy.  It is an interesting experience seeing first-hand how excited both are about life in NZ, the readily accessible environment, and the good food available, all whilst hearing the constant groans from the locals about just how disastrous it is to live here.  I am really looking forward to sharing my country with these two and in developing groups of like-minds to hang out with.

On this note, one of our aims, particularly for Christchurch, is to develop a Paleo Meet-Up group.  Stay-tuned for details on this, but if you are in the Christchurch area and have an interest in good food and quality time in the outdoors with like-minds, by all means leave a comment and we’ll make time to meet up.

Dallas and Melissa, and their Whole9 family continue to go from strength to strength.  This year we have seen the launch of a dedicated Whole30 website, and the relaunch of the Whole9 site, with promises to focus much more on the wider 9 factors that make up Whole9, rather than be overly nutrition-focused (which is where Whole30 comes in).  As a part of the Whole9 team (both through Whole9 South Pacific and as a consultant on the team), I will be dedicating more of my time there rather than here.  So any writing time I have will likely go there first and foremost.  We are really looking forward to getting stuck into some different topics this year, such as sustainability and natural environments.

Closer to home, the development of the Ancestral Health Society of New Zealand continues on.  We are now a fully fledged society, built on the foundation of 15 very passionate people who believe we need to do things a bit differently to improve the health of our nation.  The “first-fifteen” are;

  • Dr Anastasia Boulais (CHC)
  • Dr Pam Olver (WLG)
  • Dr Greg Brown (WLG)
  • Dr Mikki Williden (AKL)
  • Brad Norris (CHC)
  • Adrian Buttimore, MNZM (CHC)
  • Julianne Taylor (AKL)
  • Phil Becker (WLG)
  • Rob Moran (AKL)
  • Matt Stewart (SYD)
  • Cliff Harvey (AKL)
  • Peter Tainui (AKL)
  • Colin Charan (AKL)
  • Professor Grant Schofield (AKL)
  • Myself (CHC)

We have a good mix of practitioners, academics, and passionate lay-persons all keen to make a difference.

We are close to launching the AHSNZ website – – which will become our main way of communicating news and views around our ancestral perspective on health, and will become a resource portal for those looking for how to live such a life, including where to source fresh food from, how to fine-tune other aspects of your health, and where to find additional guidance, be it medical, nutritional, movement, or corporate health education related.  So expect some of my writing to show up there too!

The bulk of the first XV are meeting for the first time in Wellington this coming March in order to plan some further strategies for communicating ancestral health information.  This will include the planing of presentation days, getting our views and stories into the mainstream media, the planning of a larger symposium (now most likely to be in 2015), and there is even early talk of a documentary being filmed!  I’ll let you know when the AHSNZ website is go-for-launch.

As always, if you would like to be a part of this exciting project and the fantastic team behind, please let me know.  We need people from all walks of life and with all skill sets to help us.

The 4th annual Ancestral Health Symposium in the US is already in the pipeline, scheduled for August in the San Francisco area.  We will be travelling up there once again to catch up with all the good friends we have made, to share our knowledge and views on health-related topics, and to promote what we are doing in our part of the world (suffice to say, NZ is ahead of the curve in terms of what we have available to us, even if the majority continue to take this for granted and make some poor choices).

All of this is happening in the background to my day job, working with a company who continues to grow and lead the way in delivering evolutionary/ancestrally-orientated health information direct to corporate clients.  We continue to test the boundaries with this information, providing solid, evidence-based information and practical strategies for people to put in place in their lives.  We get constant feedback from the thousands of people who are exposed to this information through the work the Synergy Health team is doing and there seems to be a real appetite for and positive vibe around this.

There have been all the usual criticisms aimed at the paleo framework, launched with the onset of the new year, with critics saying this framework can’t/doesn’t/won’t work.  Yet it continues to grow.  People are very fickle in this day and age, and if something was altogether too hard to do, they will move on very quickly.  This is exactly what we are finding in our corporate health world.  The growth of our business, not just from new clients, but from the renewals, and the feedback we are receiving about how simple and easy the basic strategies are, confirm our belief that we are on the right track.  In a small market such as NZ, if you are barking up the wrong tree and delivering the wrong message; if your strategies don’t work or are too hard, word gets out and you don’t last too long.

I’ll finish up this update with some observations from my latest tour of corporate presentations.  I have recently conducted 10 hours of talks around the fundamental inputs or signals we require for health – food, movement, sleep, sunlight, play, engagement, etc.  The attendees to this session were a good sample group – well-educated, ahead of the curve on income, predominantly Caucasian with a small number of Asians, spanning early Gen Y to late Baby Boomer in age.  They would be a group whom you might assume would have a better than average understanding of things, and be making the right choices.

Amongst this group I made a handful of interesting observations.  I won’t thresh any of them out here as I think each one would occupy several pages in its own right.  But I think you can take most of these observations at face value and see them as the types of obstacles we need to overcome in order to get people across the line in understanding their bodies and their health:

  • People cannot project into the future when it comes to their health
  • Not being acutely sick or unwell leads to the belief that one is very close to optimal health, especially if not overtly overweight
  • Gen Y’s are not native to a real food diet and thus have further to go understand their health
  • Gen Y’s are often unaware of where food comes from and how it is categorised – I had my first New Zealand “eggs are a dairy food” experience
  • Baby Boomers see the real food message as “just like the old days”
  • People want to inherently trust food companies, even when given examples of the dodgy marketing of ultra-processed food
  • People cannot transfer the concept of processing or problematic foods from one example to the next.

On the last point above, I had a couple of good examples across all the sessions.  There was the young Gen Y girl who, whilst we were discussing the sugar content of Coke and Up & Go’s, she was busy drinking a bottle of V (an energy drink).  When I drew her attention to it, she initially seemed unable to grasp that what she was drinking fell into the same category as what we were discussing.  In another session, a young Gen Y guy did the same thing by reaching for a handful of mints in a bowl whilst I talked about sugar, blissfully unaware of what he was doing.  In discussing cereals, and specifically Nutri-Grain and Special K as my examples, a Gen X man felt that my reasoning (that they are processed cereals) didn’t apply to Weetbix; that despite being a processed form of wheat and having a list of ingredients, it still couldn’t be considered processed.

  • When describing a ‘typical day’ of cereal for breakfast, a muffin mid-morning, sandwiches at lunch, crackers mid-afternoon, a naughty late afternoon sugary [daily] treat, a pasta dinner, and another evening treat, the most common reaction was “that nearly perfectly describes my day”.
  • Nearly all of the attendees are constantly hungry
  • All of them recognise the appetite suppressing effects of a large “full-English” breakfast, but none of them understood why
  • Few of them would consider eating such a large breakfast everyday for fear that it would be too much and they’d gain weight – even after explaining the metabolic processes behind it.
  • There were a significant number in this group who wouldn’t spend money on good food, not because of budget constraints, but because there were other priorities (e.g. saving for a deposit on a home, wanting to get married)
  • Based on the reaction to my suggestion that good health can be achieved via walking over jogging, a significant number of women jog out of the believe that it is what they need to do, even if they don’t enjoy it
  • Walking over jogging was the message that stuck the most
  • Almost everyone admitted to being sleep deprived
  • Gen Y’s are petrified of disconnecting from their phones and tablets in order to be able to get better sleep
  • Gen Y’s want to believe that sleep can be caught up on with a weekend sleep in
  • The concept of adult play is almost entirely foreign
  • I was looked at as if I were from out of space when I admitted I play on children’s playgrounds and climb trees
  • That it is common for people to opt out of movement at every opportunity (e.g travelators at airports, mass car parks next to malls) and that this is undermining our overall movement, came as a shock
  • The majority of these city-dwelling people (especially the Gen Y’s) don’t often leave the city limits and head into more natural environments.
  • There is poor self-awareness of their own values and passions.

Despite all of the above, the groups, discussions, and feedback were a success.  A seed has been planted with many.  There is no expectation that anyone will adopt any of the strategies we went through, lock, stock and barrel, at the first reading.  Very few of us did that when we dived down this rabbit hole.  But the aspects above do represent some of the individual, societal, and cultural barriers that restrict or limit people’s buy in at the start.  Being exposed to these thoughts and limitations, hearing the reactions first hand, reading the body language when concepts are delivered, is a good thing for someone in my position.  We don’t always get to preach to the converted.

Cereal Killers – The Movie Available Now

Cereal Killers” follows Donal – a lean, fit, seemingly healthy 41 year old man – on a quest to hack his genes and drop dead healthy by avoiding the heart disease and diabetes that has afflicted his family.

You can rent and watch this brilliant movie for around NZD $6-7 here –

It is a great watch.  The science, medicine, and history behind the story Donal tells is of no surprise to me – it is something I have been living and writing about for a few years now.  What I found most fascinating is the consistency in the reaction from general lay-people, no matter where in the world you go (Cereal Killers is set mostly in Cape Town, South Africa) to eating this “extreme” diet.  When quizzed on his diet and how he was eliminating entire food groups, Donal’s answer was the same each time – “I don’t eat sugar or grains.”

The reaction to this was priceless – the fear and anxiety people have of letting these their sugar and grain foods go.  There is the fear of fat (even just the word invoked looks of disgust from some people).  There is the fear of missing out on something (wheat and sugar – seriously? See the reaction from the Master Chef’s partner at the food markets – priceless).  And there is the fear of eating so many eggs.  Eggs!

Anastasia and I had this conversation just yesterday after a patient of hers was trying to pin her down on how many eggs might be too many.  The pateint needed a hard number in order to make eating any eggs at all a valid thing to do.  Almost like “I will eat eggs only if you can tell me, with science, exactly how many I can have so that I don’t go over that number.”

My answer, had I seen that patient, would be that there probably is a limit (there is with everything), but that the reality of eating such a self-limiting food is that you are unlikely to be able to reach it (unless you sugar-coat the eggs to allow you to bypass your natural satiety mechanisms).  But what if the limit, say, was 5 eggs, and you accidentally ate 6.  What might happen because you ate one more egg than the guidelines suggest?  As Anastasia and I discussed, these sorts of questions, fears, and anxieties, about food, come from people who go over limits all the time.

Nearly all of the people who would question the recommendation to eat more eggs are eating more sugar than the guidelines suggest.  Many also drink more alcohol than they should.  They are well under on the amount of vegetables, fruits, and fibre they should be getting, and they certainly don’t come close to the recommended guidelines for exercise.

I’m certain most travel over the posted speed limits on a regular basis too.  Yet all of this is done without fear or angst that the sky will fall in on them in the next 24 hours.  Yet suggest that 3 eggs might be a better breakfast, or tell someone that you eat more fat than most people, and these people start quoting at you risks and guidelines, questioning the balance of it all, tell you that you are being needlessly extreme, and even openly fear for your health (all the while ignoring that you are usually in better shape than they are).

Donal’s movie captures all of this so very well.  There is the quote from his Pilates instructor (who is also following his higher fat diet) that people can generally accept eating less carbohydrates, but they just can’t accept eating more fat.  Then there are the reactions from the medical team monitoring Donal.  They are at times truly flummoxed by the results he has achieved.  You can see the “does not compute” signs in their eyes.  I know that look because I have had it myself when I first went down this rabbit hole.

Overall, I highly recommend this 60 minute feature.  There are some gaps and I can see where critics are likely to have a go at it (they would likely suggest that Donal was very fit before he started this experiment, that he is not representative of the general population, they the plan he followed was only in the short-term [28 days], and that eating such a way isn’t feasible for most people – all the usual stuff).  It is also a story that is perhaps less about killing cereal and more about not fearing fat. My background and experience in this area allows me to see how those two concepts (no cereals/sugar and increasing fat) go together. For someone viewing this documentary in a nutritionally naive state, they might not be able to connect the dots so well and these people will need to be careful they don’t try Donal’s experiment in a half-way is good enough kind of way – like increasing the fat whilst only marginally decreasing the grains and sugars – that would be a sure-fire recipe for disaster.

If you are going to follow in Donal’s footsteps, I seriously suggest you do some solid homework (as Donal clearly did before making this film) and tap into the many resources that are now available to help you safely and effectively navigate this “new” nutritional frontier.

If nothing else, Donal and his fantastic “Cereal Killers” film encourages you to hold a degree of healthy scepticism for everything and to take the responsibility for your health into your own hands rather than to subcontract it out to other people (or worse – food companies) hoping they can magically fix a lifetime of poor/ignorant choices.  Watch it and learn.