Weird diets in the quest for health



Our kids are used to our weird diets. As far as they’re concerned, we’re always on one.

I guess they’re right…

Weird diets we’ve tried in our quest for health…

Petra’s health issues:

Borderline obesity (back & forth across the border!) + depression & anxiety

Matthew’s health issues:

Psoriatic arthritis, chronic pain, psoriasis + associated crappy complications


Vegetarianism (in Matthew’s case, with an occasional stealthy steak)

Ongoing decades-long struggle with weight, depression & anxiety

Worsening of all symptoms


4 months on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet

No change

No change


Standard American Diet (or in Petra’s case, back to vegetarianism)

No change

Worsening of all symptoms


Raw vegan

No change

Worsening of all symptoms



Alleviation of 9 health issues including obesity depression & anxiety

Worsening of all symptoms

Summer 2013:

30-day Auto-Immune Protocol (AIP)

I have no health issues that I am aware of since going paleo, but both times on the AIP I have experienced a dramatic increase in energy* & mental health: I feel buoyant & fantastic!

No change during, but  afterwards: A sustained alleviation of Psoriasis symptoms

Late 2013-ongoing:

Auto-Immune Protocol (including a low-FODMAP variation we’re doing now)

No change (so far)…

…but given that most other weird diets have resulted in worsening of all his symptoms, no change is an improvement!

*During a 25-day experiment with a super low-carb version of the AIP my energy tanked. Interestingly, I gained weight during that time even with the reduction in carbs, because my energy was so low that I couldn’t exercise as much. After a few days back on a higher-carb (relatively speaking) version of the AIP my energy soared again.


Recovering Vegetarian

I love short ribs!

I love short ribs!

For the 1st year of paleo I ate only poultry & seafood. No mammals.

My first mammal was last April 14th. I know because it was Matthew’s 45th birthday dinner. We went out and I ordered the halibut. He ordered the best local grass-fed steak. And gave me a tiny bite.

I had to eat it. I knew that I was eating way too much poultry and, besides, it was his birthday wish.

I didn’t gag or explode into flames. And it didn’t taste like I thought it would. Like blood.

It was actually really good. And surprisingly not a big deal.

But my recovery from vegetarianism started before that. When I was pregnant the first time I had an irresistible yearning for salmon. The second time, roast chicken & turkey.

That should have been a clue! When I was pregnant I reverted to eating animals, but afterwards always returned to a pattern somewhere along the vegan-vegetarian continuum.

I would have told you that I was a skinny pregnant person but a fat breastfeeding person, without ever making the connection.

Of course, along the way, I did the whole early 21st century raw-vegan thing. Bought the Excalibur dehydrator & the Champion juicer. Dehydrated vast quantities of high omega-6 nuts & seeds making raw-vegan bread, crackers & cookies. Juiced cornucopias of sugar-iffic fruit.

Wondered why I still wasn’t losing weight. Or feeling any better…

When I went Paleo in 2012, I ate exclusively fish & poultry for the first year.

But I could tell that the volume of poultry was problematic & knew I needed to find a way to eat mammals.

After my first bite of steak, I advanced steadily.

First, I had 1/3 of a small steak. Of my own. It left a pool of liquid at the bottom of my plate that I tried not to associate with blood.

Then I tried bacon. I started out with the best quality charcuterie bacon and it did not take long to learn to love it.

  • Ground beef.
  • Ham.
  • At first I found lamb repellent, but I started mixing ground lamb with ground chicken and came to appreciate it.
  • Bison. Easy. I started to carry bison jerky in my purse all the time.
  • Elk. Bring it on!
  • Lamb Kidney. Not a fan. But I tried it.

Hard to believe. In 9 months. I’m a fully adapted meat-eater.

The thing that amazed me as a new carnivore was how easy it is to prepare most meat. Short ribs in the slow cooker. They’re divine. Ham in the oven. So simple.

But if someone had tried to tell me how uncomplicated it was over here, when I was grudgingly assembling all those intricate tofu lasagnas, I wouldn’t have listened.


Emerald City Soup (AIP-friendly)

Emerald Soup

You know you need to eat your greens to get to the Emerald City. This soup gets you onto the yellow brick expressway… and it’s Autoimmune Protocol friendly!

Yield: 3 bowls full

  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, including stems
  • 2 bunches spinach (or ½ of a 1lb bin of prewashed baby spinach)
  • 1 ½ cups chopped honeydew or watermelon
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • ½ cup lime juice
  • ½ cup coconut aminos

Whirl all ingredients in a food processor.

Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Feel great!

Emerald City Soup

Making salad is time consuming. But you know you need to get to the city of greens if you are going to be paleo-awesome.

Eating salad is also time consuming. Really. In my early paleo days I was all about the rapid weight loss and I didn’t really know what I was doing so here was my protocol:

  • Three salads a day. Each salad accompanied by one of those infuriatingly small deck-of-cards-sized portions of meat. Each salad consisted of infinite lettuce and just one cup of low carb veg. Like cucumber, celery & radishes. I was buying lettuce like a madwoman and consuming massive party-sized salads three times a day. I lost 75lbs in 5 months and I will not lie, I spent all of my discretionary time during those months making & eating salad.

I still think it was a good strategy for me at the time, but I want to do other things with my discretionary time now. Like run, do hot yoga, read, write, have fun with Matthew, go for walks with my girlfriends, and try to get my teenagers to hang out with me. That’s my yellow brick road.

I still make salads, a couple of times a week, but I’ve streamlined. Now I’m as likely to make a raw soup, like this one:

Emerald City Soup

  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 handfuls spinach leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 green onions
  • Juice of 2-3 lemons
  • ¼ cup coconut aminos
  • 1 litre (4 cups/1 large mason jarful) water
  • A shake of Himalayan salt
  • A generous shake of Chinese 5 spice
  • A pinch of cayenne
  • 1 cup watermelon cubes (optional)

Put all ingredients in a food processor or blender and hit play. Taste and adjust seasonings. Eat now or chill for later.

If you are on a dramatic weight loss kick, you might want to omit the watermelon temporarily.

Gazpacho variation

Use a good amount of tomatoes & some bell pepper rather than avocado and spinach.

Eliminate the water & coconut aminos. Add a splash of olive oil.

Your variation

Remove what you don’t like or what you don’t have.

Add what you do like and do have.

Get fancy

 Chop parsley or cilantro or watercress finely with a clove of garlic and some (organic) lemon, lime or orange peel. Sprinkle generously on each bowl before serving.

Get going

Fill a mason canning jar, screw the lid on tight, toss it in your purse (or similar) and get started on your adventure.

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