As I sit curled up on my couch at home I can’t help but look back with amazement at my whirlwind weekend in Melbourne. Here Down Under we occasionally feel like a poor cousin to our American nutrition superstars. We are sometimes left to watch yet another Twitter feed of yet another spectacular Paleo/primal/ancestral event from the sidelines. Not this time! While they were living it up in Austin for PaleoFX we organised an event of our own, which while not huge still went quite well, thank you very much.
First up, a huge thank you to Dr Rod Tayler who was instrumental in organising the event, sending off invitations and even ensuring we had some snack choices which didn’t consist of soggy sandwiches or sausage rolls (I’m truly traumatised by hospital food by now). His involvement ensured we had a small but receptive audience of Paleo enthusiasts, general practitioners, allied health professionals, parents and patients looking for answers.
Rod started us off with a talk about sugar. He is a principal investigator of the current SWEET study conducted in Epworth hospital in Melbourne. He demonstrated how easily sugar sneaks into our modern diets sometimes in most unexpected disguises.
Dr Ken Sikaris gave a fantastic lecture on fructose metabolism. My dearest wish is that every medical school and every nutrition degree would have that lecture as part of their curriculum.
Next I gave a talk on making food choices and how to step away from the conventional paradigm. Here is a little preview:
Jamie Scott gave a great overview of what the Paleo diet is and what it isn’t (not the latest trend on how to lose 30lbs in 30 days for your wedding). He also had some hard hitting messages on how to optimise the rest of your life in regards to sleep, physical activity, sunlight exposure and other frequently overlooked and under appreciated aspects of the Paleo lifestyle.
It was a pleasure and an honour to hear David Gillespie. With three fantastic books under his belt, Sweet Poison and his latest, The Sweet Poison Quit Plan, Big Fat Lies, the guy sure can talk. He played to his strengths, in particular his law background and the skill to sift through evidence. Having a long chat together afterwards, we discovered lots in common in our approach to health and nutrition; I sincerely hope we will get a chance to work and share more ideas in the future.
Unfortunately I missed the last two talks of the day by Dr Ted Arnold on the history of nutritional science and the ever-evolving food pyramids and by Dr Michael Axtens on his own personal low carb experience but I heard great things about both.
The best thing about the day was the audience. They were inquisitive, asking lots of questions after each talk and approaching the presenters in the breaks to share stories and ask opinions. Some were seasonal Paleo buffs, some were just starting to experiment with getting sugar and processed food out of the diet. I answered questions about veganism, infant formula, my own diet, veganism again, diet for MS, which specialty I’m leaning towards, why vegans look so healthy (I must have looked really friendly and approachable), farmed vs wild caught fish and many others.
We descended on the nearby cafe, ordered a late lunch (while surreptitiously checking out each other’s order) and the discussion continued. I went back home exhausted but excited about the prospects of ancestral, primal and real food nutrition in Australia and New Zealand.
And this brings me to my next piece of news. A huge Paleo event is coming to Sydney on the second weekend of May. The first ever Australian Paleo Weekend will be held on 12-13 May, 2012 on the exclusive Cockatoo Island in Sydney. It’s a fully catered event with a very primal option of sleeping on the island in pre-erected tents. The price is not cheap but with the inclusions and the diversity of activities on offer, I know it will be worth it.
Here is a little preview of what the attendees will expect.
Learn about Paleo nutrition and health
Have the opportunity to quiz the experts
Learn through a demonstration session how to cook quick and healthy Paleo meals
Learn how to get on the fast track to peak sporting performance, by opening the door to their mind
Learn barefoot running techniques
Enjoy an early morning yoga session on the harbour shore to kick start the day
Enjoy a social Paleo feast on the Saturday night with like-minded new friends
Have the unique opportunity to sleep on the island
Enjoy fantastic Paleo meals prepared for them
Enjoy a life changing weekend in a unique venue like no other!
I am still deciding on the topic of my presentation and once I narrow down from a hundred ideas in my head to, say, 10 or so, I will let you know. For more information on the event please go to www.paleo.com.au or contact Suz directly through her website. I cannot wait to be a part of the first Antipodean Paleo event and I hope to see you all there.