Antipodean Paleo

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!

A Paleo event on the Sydney Harbour? Does it get any better than this?

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 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.


23 thoughts on “Antipodean Paleo

  1. I am still disappointed I missed this weekend in Melbourne! I thought I followed you guys well but obviously not.
    Next goal looks like a Sydney visit!

    Oh and I do enjoy the light hearted twitter war between Australia and NZ at the moment!!

  2. The Melbourne event sounds absolutely fantastic, I’m so glad that you had such a great time! It must have been so motivating and uplifting to be a part of it. 😀 Thank you for telling us all about it!

    I hope that this doesn’t sound inappropriate to ask, but are you planning to do any other lectures or anything while you’re in Sydney in May, or will you be there for the Paleo Weekend only? The event sounds fantastic, and I’d give a LOT to be able to take part and hear all the fantastic lecturers (yourself included) but the cost is just totally out of our budget. 😦 We already do Paleo on a budget, and we sacrifice other things we’d like to spend money on because we feel that eating right even if it costs more is the most important thing to do for our health… but the Paleo Weekend is just beyond what we can afford.

    I realise that you’re probably not planning any other events while in Sydney but I thought I’d ask just in case!! I guess I’m just sad most of all that I won’t get to hear you or Jamie speak, because I that’s what I was really looking forward to!

    All the same, I hope that it’s an absolutely fantastic event for those who can attend, and I hope you’ll share your experiences with us afterwards. 😀

    • Hi Cassiel,

      I totally understand where you are coming from. The event is far from cheap, being at Cockatoo island and having so many interactive activities and food. I was a student for 8 looong years so i know all about budgeting. At the moment there is no plan for lectures in Sydney. However, if there is demand maybe we could look into doing something similar to Melbourne: rent a lecture theatre and do a few talks. Not nearly as exciting as running barefoot on Cockatoo island but nevertheless :). Also let me find out from the organisers if any of the talks will be recorded.

  3. It was a great weekend meeting up with everyone there. And I’m especially thnakful that you took one for the team fielding the questions from the vegans! I’m not sure I have your ability to smile sweetly whilst answering their questions. I might just have offered them Daniel’s beef jerky.

    • And that’s exactly why they didn’t approach you: you looked like a hungry carnivore. Me, with my floral outfit and girly demeanour, always deceptively sweet. Thank you for coming out to support the down under crew. Looking forward to catching up in Sydney.

        • Hi David, the majority of vegans, very much like paleos, are very concerned with their health. As a population group they are more likely to be of a higher socio-economic status, have more self-awareness, more discipline and healthier lifestyle habits in general. Think of a typical person who goes vegan (of course, there are exceptions) compared, say, to your average truckie. Many vegans give up the same foods that we do: industrially processed rubbish, soft drinks, your average fast food. I would say that the benefits of that change last as long as their vitamin B12 stores, sometimes not even that long. Many of them feel fantastic to start with and then end up suffering from various nutrient deficiencies which forces a lot of them to reintroduce animal products into their diet.
          I absolutely believe that a GOOD vegan diet is better than SAD. It’s just far from optimal.

  4. The Good The Bad & The Ugly

    The Good…Kudos to Rod Tayler for organising the event.
    Ken Sikaris..a great catch and wonderful of him to donate his time and probably the best man to address pathology.
    Jamie…there is no rivalry across the Tasman. Although NZ prides itself on Dairy produce..sour cream is not deleterious (considering most food we ingest).
    Overall a good start to a movement on nutrition.

    The Bad….I understand the need for sponsorship.
    But seriously! Muesli and a ‘buffoon with no idea’ promoting ‘Junk science’ with a book launch..Pah-lease!
    Couldn’t find a Coconut oil or other to sponsor?

    The Ugly…..Opportunism
    The event in Sydney (cockatoo island) spoils the principle of health and access to all due to bullshit price structure for little quality.
    Perhaps it’s the ‘socialist in me’ that creates this critique.
    This sharing of information in Australia started with a bang and ended with a fizz due to your support for ‘yuppie’ nonsense.

    Just a hiccup….

    • Michael, when I throw my hands up in the air with desperation at the authorities, medical establishment and the people who just don’t want to be helped, I will think of you and this comment.
      If you want to round up some sponsorship I’d love it. I bet you could do an awesome job. I’m with you on sour cream, I reckon Jamie has no idea what he is missing out on.
      Also, you may or may not have noticed, I ALSO presented at the weekend. I don’t see my name in any of the three categories? :p

      • If I’m throwing dairy on my potatoes, then it will be the highest fat stuff I can get… NZ butter. You guys can keep you low-fat sour cream.

        • I am offended. How could you even think I was talking about a low fat sour cream? The Russian in me is insulted to the core. My mother used to test the sour cream by sticking a large spoon in it and turning the jar upside down.

          • You are talking 20% fat… 25 at the outside. Still far too light for me… I’ll go butter for all its fatty goodness. And if I’m going to cut loose on dairy with lesser amounts of fat, it is going to be ice cream all the way.

  5. Yo! Anastasia
    My roots are similar to yours (Siberia) although my brother claims we were landowners, I maintain we come through a line of pig farmers (peasants) which is honourable.

    I am starting to feel that this going to be a rant (sorry..So! Feel free to skip)

    Brief history;
    62 YO MALE
    Infarct at 38yoa…running on Lad only…treatment=medication
    Fucked in the head….smokes and drinks like a witch
    Practised Naturopathy for over 10 yrs…. then realised the answers where all Allopathic
    I am here as a patient, rather than advise…although I feel that my diet and supps. are well balanced

    But have read all your blogs and listened to your podcast with Moore.
    I admire that you got through Med School as a mature age student with child..Bravo!
    And BTW…who was that hot-chick in that gorgeous frock? I was too busy perving to even listen to what she said.

    And Jamie! The basic sour cream here is 35% fat. For me it’s confined to few foods like baked potato’s and chilli con carne..’delish’

    Would be useful to know what % of our livestock is free-range/grass fed. According to a few butchers I have quizzed..they all claim it to be grass fed..not grain fed…does anyone know?

    Ideal sponsorship would be:
    (1) Coconut Oil…..external and internal use (soap, body butter and oil)
    (2) Free range ‘chooky eggs’ and hens.
    (3) Butcher..with as many different meats possible (grass fed)
    (4) Maybe even Vibram 5 fingers and compression pants and magnesium sulphate (for bath)
    All these are affordable and useful.
    You can add to this sample list….just sayin.

    Anyway, lets hope there will be more talks similar to the last one in Port Melb.

    • Michael,

      Whilst I have issues with dairying in NZ from an ecological point of view (I really don’t like seeing rivers sucked dry in order to sell more baby formula in China), I’m reasonably relaxed about dairy from a nutrition standpoint – in context. I prefer people consume their dairy with the bias shifted toward fat over protein. And I always encourage an elimination-challenge to ensure there is no overt reactivity.out dairy causes me sinus issues.

      • Oops… weird things happend with posting that comment from my phone…

        Being Celtic in heritage, I most likely have lactase persistence and therefore no problems with lactose. But the elimination of dairy and several rechallenges shows it to cause sinus issues for me. Butter and occasional lower-fat dairy indulgences slip under the radar.

        There are a few other issues with dairy, though I really don’t think we have enough information for a firm resolution either way. Check out Pedro Bastos’ talk from the AHS last year –

        re: Your comment on perving… Just quietly… that was a very hard act to follow 😉

  6. Hey Jamie
    As you know! Allergies to food a rare (minuscule). However, intolerances exist among the majority of people..particularly GLUTEN and LACTOSE to the extent that you can live to 100yo and never feel quite right and die never knowing it was wheat that was the cause of discomfort and problems.
    A tiny amount of a certain macro-nutrient (pick any of many) has the potential to never allow you to live in optimum health. The tricky part is finding it and my way was to self experiment.

    I looked into wheat 5yrs ago. Evidence = Really bad shit.
    My taste buds and love of bread, pasta and noodles over-rode the science.
    It took another 2 yrs to try my own N=1 experiment.
    Just prior to the start…
    (1) weight = 100kg (about that range for decades)
    (2) blood sugars..fasting and post postprandial =pre diabetic
    (3) lipids were all sub-optimal (even with max dose statin…I am one of the few that actually needs this poison)
    (4) apple shaped body..typical slug.


    There were no other changes..smoking (yeah I know) wine or exercise etc. The status quo remained.

    After 5 months..and remains the same.
    (1) weight = 82-84 kg
    (2) blood sugars…ideal and out of harmful range
    (3) lipids = superb..HDL doubled and TG from 2 to 0-5
    (4) apple shape gone..not exactly an Adonis (but hey!)

    The surprising part was that I wasn’t even trying or feeling denied by my favourite fodder.
    Unless you have some type of rare metabolic, endocrinology or hormone derangement etc…there is no reason that the effect will be any different.

    Anyway! Back to SOUR CREAM
    I forgot to mention my 2 favourites that are delish smothered in sour cream.
    (a) Pierogi (dumpling) filled with cottage cheese and fried with onion.
    (b) Platski (latki..if a Yid) shredded potato and onion..fried like a pancake.

    Caution: Perhaps twice a year as a treat….it’s the flour you need to bind.
    It’s my ‘junk food’ indulgence.

  7. Hi, I am an Aussie living in Canada. Been here 10 years and started Quasi paleo I guess upon my arrival when atkins was the rage here. Immediately stopped the bread and pasta and used rice flour breads and pastas, (my skin immediately improved and not had an acne breakout since) when I got that craving. My hero in the last few years is Mark Sisson and I try to adhere to his philosophy 80 percent of the time. My question is my mum lives in Sydney and I would love her to see a doctor who can explain paleo nutrition to her. When I try to discuss this way of eating she thinks I’m from another planet and so does her doctor. Can you recommend any Greek speaking doctors that she can see. I hope this is an ethical request I don’t want to get you into trouble with any medical boards. Keep up the good work. Wish I could join you at cockatoo island


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