Here's a new song I rather like - Whirring by The Joy Formidable (right click in new tab).
We went to Santa Fe, a lovely New Mexico mountain town and as far as I know, at 7200 feet or thereabouts, the highest state capital in the United States. Though it is not Disney World or anything, we were able to keep the kids well occupied with the Santa Fe Children's Museum, Grandparents, daily walks through old town to the plaza (they have live music there every day), and a couple of cool parks around town. These parks had lots of spiced up natural spaces to make it fun for the kids - large sandboxes housed next to tree trunk amphitheaters, stacks of rocks for climbing, slides built into a hillside, tunnels, etc.
So what happened? Well, it turns out that in my normal environment is is relatively easy for me to say no to temptation Who cares if I sip mineral water instead of wine at this backyard gathering or that one, or skip ice cream at the kid's birthday party? There will be another backyard gathering next month, and it's not as if the ice cream and cake and pizza at birthday parties are particularly good anyway. Even when I'm not doing a Whole30, I tend to skip that stuff.
But in Santa Fe, a couple of circumstances came up - food I'm not able to get well made where I live or within a 1000 miles of where I live, and eating at very good restaurants with the chef sort of standing over me. So a couple of banned foods slipped through - a Whole20 + a Whole10 do not make a Whole30, but I think I'll try to put together 30 days in September instead, when no vacations are planned. For the most part I stuck to the rules, however (2 meals in 24 over vacation had small infractions, not counting the vegetable oil the fajitas were probably cooked in) - though it was difficult finding safe starches when eating out so much (around here most restaurants have sweet potato as an option - not so popular in the Mexican food arena, I'm seeing). I ended up eating quite a few bananas over the week. And when I was out of my normal environment for such a long period of time, it became more clear just how different strict paleo is from what most people eat all the time.
Now onto something perhaps more interesting - an article online by Michael Ellsberg - How I Overcame Bipolar II and Saved My Own Life. This article was emailed to me and pointed out to me on twitter, and it is a detailed, heartfelt, and well-written account of how some dietary changes (mostly eliminating sugar, refined carbohydrates, coffee, and alcohol, and originally by adding a complete multivitamin/multimineral) dramatically reduced symptoms of bipolar disorder (you'll notice that when he added together bunches of serotonin-boosting supplements he ended up with similar side effects to being on an SSRI). It is a case study, of course, but I find case studies very intriguing and useful when they involve simple interventions that are unlikely to cause harm (such as eliminating sugar). Even I don't think even very strict dietary and lifestyle interventions will cure everyone of everything. I've always felt the major possibilities of nutritional interventions for something as complex as mental illness would be to possibly ameliorate some symptoms and in prevention of a lot of chronic Western disease in general. And when they are dietary and lifestyle interventions that would lead to better health overall, it seems to fit that "do no harm" bill very nicely indeed.
A huge pile of research papers and common sense tell us that maximizing "real food," minimizing food toxins, and eliminating micronutrient deficiencies are vital for the body to work well, including the brain. It does not surprise me that some people will have huge mental health benefits from following that sort of plan - and it shouldn't surprise doctors or neuroscientists either. To me the most striking thing about the article are the number of critical comments (despite his disclaimer) telling Mr. Ellsberg he is being irresponsible for telling his own story.
There are some things, it is fair to say, that we don't want to believe.