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Any minute now, as I write, someone will bring the Friday afternoon snack into the office. Last week it was spring rolls (see above). Two weeks ago, McDonald’s hamburgers. The likelihood of a paleo-friendly snack being next to nil, I’ve gone ahead and peeled an orange for my cave-self.
Now, today is the last of my Caveman Month. In fact, I will end the fast a few hours early with a beer at my friend’s house in celebration of my birthday tomorrow. I’m sure I can be forgiven for that.
Oh, the snack is here. It’s muffins, coffee and apple pies from McDonald’s. I had a coffee.
I will have a lot of thoughts to share soon; apologies for being so distracted during my last cave-week. (Or is it?)
Monday night: Season opener at the Rogers Centre, home of the Toronto Blue Jays. I love baseball. I love beer. I love hot dogs. Ordinarily the three go together like a caveman, his club and some kind of animal bone to gnaw.
However, one cannot drink beer on a strict hunt-and-gather diet. Nor can processed meat in a grainy bun be considered compliant with eating like a pre-agricultural person, as I am attempting to do. So I restricted myself to sunflower seeds — which were salted; a minor cheat — and water.
At first this made me a little miserable, but I kept it to myself. By the third inning I was enjoying the game, particularly happy to boo that bum Alex Rios. It was enough to forget about all the expensive Budweiser being swilled all around me (you’d think Major League Baseball’s only Canadian team would serve good Canadian beer at the ballpark, but that’s an argument for another day).
Meanwhile, the concession lineups swelled. One friend had to wait 50 minutes for a beer. The walking turnips manning the beer pumps were IDing everyone, including people clearly in their thirties — the drinking age in Ontario, meanwhile, is 19. (Even vigilance ought to have its limits.)
Everyone in my large party gave up on the idea of more beer or snacks. My brother displayed his tension by sitting forward in his seat and complaining almost nonstop about the incompetence of the Rogers Centre. I’m sure he didn’t enjoy anything after the fourth inning.
I stayed quiet in my contentment, glad not to have had my appetite stoked Bud-stoked, but mindful not to gloat about it.
The Jays lost. The caveman, in a sense, won, by keeping to a diet that drives my cravings to extinction.
Mind you, even if I maintain some paleo practices in my lifestyle after the current trial month is through (two days to go!), there’s no way in hell I’ll be sticking to it at the ballpark.
Photo: With nosebleed seats like these, can you blame me for wanting a beer?
Me not gone! Me just busy.
This is just a quick post to reassure you that I have not given up on the paleo adventure — in fact, I find it easier to continue with, being just days away from being able to eat “normally” again — I have just been juggling a lot of activities. And I’ve been keeping my diet pretty cave-like all the while.
Some notes to chew on while I find the time to expand on them later:
• First, it’s barbecue weather at last in my home in Toronto, which makes eating mostly meat and vegetables more gratifying. Plus, I cook on a charcoal grill, which just makes the food taste authentically cavemanly. Just the smell has a primal appeal to it.
• Second, a friend asked me last week if it’s been hard not to drink alcohol. No: It’s been annoying.
• Third, not to sound like a diet book, but: I’m at the point where just about everyone is commenting on my weight loss. I will get to a scale as soon as I can. Best guess is I’ve lost 10 pounds in three and a half weeks by eating paleo.
• Fourth, I’m running out of time to do some paleo-ish things I planned to do: Walk the 19 kilometres (11.8 miles) from work to home; give blood; switch to all-natural grooming products.
• Fifth, I have to run right now to catch the Blue Jays home opener. Going to a baseball game and not pigging out on beer and hot dogs is going to suck.
In no particular order:
• beans — bean salads, refried beans, etc.
• most Italian food, including pasta and chicken/veal/eggplant parmagiana
• breaded spicy shrimp from the Chinese food place near my house
• just about anything else from the Chinese food place near my house
• pop (soft drinks)
• Tex-Mex food in general
• sandwiches in general
• booze: cocktails, spirits, beer
And a few things that a Toronto-raised kid in particular will find painful to lack: hot dogs from vendor carts (a.k.a. street meat); and curries both East and West Indian (especially oxtail curry with rice and peas, or a roti with either boneless goat or mixed channa and spinach). Also, while I guess I can still have pho, it won’t be the same without noodles or bean sprouts. Also on the subject of Vietnamese food, I’d step on your foot for a bánh mì. Hard.
Looking at the list, none of it is particularly healthy — except maybe the beans, or so I thought pre-paleo — but you’d better believe I’m counting down the days before I can have them again. (Ten more sleeps, baby.)
The shrinking of my appetite, from overpowering monster to soft-spoken weakling, has proved both remarkable and a little unbelievable. In three weeks of paleolithic eating I’ve gone from being an all-day grazer and craver to being the kind of person who can skip a meal and it’s no biggie. One of these days I might even forget to eat.
On Saturday I undertook an all-day fast, guided by my usual journalistic motivation: because other paleo lifestylers do. The thinking goes that hunter-gatherers must find food scarce at times, and will be subject to days without meals.
(However, based on a little research I’ve done, the reality for most hunter-gatherer groups seems the opposite: food is so abundant to them, the very concept of going hungry is alien; it’s those overpopulating agriculturalists who starve. Citation to come.)
I girded myself for a full 24 hours of water, tea and coffee only (the last item is a cheat; coffee is non-paleo — but can you blame me for indulging in a few free cups offered to me while doing volunteer work?). Ordinarily I would regard chewing gum as an aid to fasting, but I’ve foresworn my half-pack-a-day Excel habit at the moment for caveman reasons, too.
The reason for all this preamble is that the not eating was itself pretty easy; there’s not too much to say about it. Keeping busy helped: I worked at a Ten Thousand Villages fair trade store in my neighbourhood, as usual for a Saturday, then shopped with my fiancée for odds and ends for our upcoming wedding, then caught a screening of Crazy Heart at a local indie cinema — a film that was itself about craving, but for booze (which I’m doing fine without myself, by the way). It was a beautiful day until after the movie, and we walked for hours.
Oh, and watching a movie without snacks, for probably the first time ever, wasn’t so bad either. They had tea at the theatre, which was a relief.
The only moment of worry came at 4:26 p.m., when for a flash I felt a little light-headed while poking around a Pottery Barn. I didn’t tell my fiancée, who had been giving me unwarranted looks of pity and concern.
I’d considered allowing myself to eat at midnight, but in the end I went to bed with an empty belly (well, a belly full of herbal tea) and didn’t have anything until a banana the next morning at 10:30. It was my first bite to eat in about 34 hours. And yet my hunger was never any more powerful than the ordinary dinner-craving during my commute home — in the pre-paleolithic era, that is.