Post-Ancestral Health Symposium 2011 Thoughts

Admin Events and Workshops, Paleo and Primal 14 Comments

Have you ever been to summer camp? You know, the kind where you all show up and gasp at the sight of one another with an “It’s YOU!” excited expression on your faces? Well, The Ancestral Health Symposium felt sort of like Paleo Summer Camp. As Melissa McEwan tweeted, it was like being IN the internet, seeing faces that had once only existed in a cropped, square-shaped avatar finally brought-to-life, often taller and more often in a shorter body than expected. (Why do people always expect me to be taller?!) And mostly in some pretty stellar-looking flesh at that. This was a congregation of a lot of people who looked very healthy, fit and, most importantly, VITAL AND HAPPY.

The Ancestral Health Symposium was a 2-day event filled with Paleo diet and lifestyle forefathers, supporters and bloggers held on the UCLA campus in Los Angeles, CA. For more details on the event logistics and speakers, check out the Ancestry Foundation website. There will be links to video coverage of all of the talks posted for viewing sometime in the near future once the editing is complete. The entire event was run with the support of tons of volunteers, and I wanted to say thank you to all of them, as well as to the Foundation, for making this event happen. It was, as many of us said over and over throughout the weekend, EPIC. 

An informal collection of my thoughts about the symposium and the weekend in general:

With Staffan Lindeberg.

  • It’s a ton of fun to be surrounded by like-minded people.
  • Even within like-minded people, there are VERY divergent viewpoints and opinions, which is refreshing and makes for interesting and educational conversation.
  • A lot of paleo “peeps” are former vegetarians or vegans. A LOT.
  • Robb Wolf is going to continue to bring the paleo message to mainstream media, whether anyone likes it or not. I like it.
  • Some of the “big names” in the community, even the forefathers of the movement (Eaton, Lindeberg, Cordain) are very approachable and very much appreciate what some of us little people/bloggers/educators are doing to bring this information to the masses. I specifically spoke to Staffan Lindeberg for several minutes about this, and he was not only adorable (pocket paleo?) in his plaid shirt and clam-digger pants, but he was completely personable, engaging and delightfully encouraging of my work.
  • Paleo people really do love meat. A lot. Thanks to US Wellness Meats for the snacks! I think a lot of us had an all-jerky lunch on Saturday.
  • There is not one perfect paleo diet.
  • With Tom Naughton.

    Fructose, dairy and carbs are very hot topics of debate amongst the community.

  • Tweeting live from an event feels like passing notes in class, but more nerdy and more public.
  • The Eades look like some really healthy parents who enjoy life. If my parents looked that vital I’d be thrilled. Oh, and they were super-cool to talk to about teaching the concepts of The Protein Power Lifeplan.
  • Mat Lalonde does not consider himself a part of “this movement.” Interestingly enough, however, he’s been a large enough influence that he was speaking in the main room of the symposium…
  • Stress is as big of a deal as I make it when I work with clients and teach seminars.
  • A nose-to-tail dining experience sounds ideal for the paleo crowd, but can be a gluten-fest when the restaurant won’t make substitutions or take special requests. (A group of us skipped dining at Animal to avoid a lot of pain and GI upset from reports we’d heard about the menu. Sigh.)
  • I can find any way imaginable to make eating candy seem okay. I tweeted live from the event “Cordain:First dairy consumed 9,000 years ago. Insulin response to dairy is high like to white bread or candy. Candy actually lower! #AHS11
  • This is how happy we were at dinner (Jar).

    Name tags with avatars might be useful when introducing internet-folks.

  • Some of the older gentlemen speakers had a bit of a pinkish cast to their complexions. Hmm…
  • Saying that anti-nutrients CAUSE anything is a misstatement. They may, however, promote, inhibit or contribute to a lot of ill health effects in humans to varying degrees.
  • I’m bummed that I  missed Stephen Guyenet’s talk.
  • It becomes obvious that more people should be speaking at or at least attending an event like this when their name and/or overarching concepts for packaging information (most notably Dr. Kurt Harris and Neolithic Agents of Disease or NADs) are coined repeatedly by presenters.
  • Bill & Hayley of The Primal Palate are just as adorable in person as they are on the internet. As are Fitbomb & Nom Nom Paleo (Henry & Michelle) and Melissa McEwen & Chris Masterjohn (though I already knew it of the latter two). Robust paleo babies, anyone?
  • Insulin control is still playing a pivotal role in the correction of metabolic derangement promoted by NADs.
  • I’m on the right track with the content that I teach and the approach I take to teaching it. Next year, I’ll be in the program somewhere for sure.
  • It’s actually quite easy to refute much of what a vegetarian might say about why or how their diet is healthier if you actually read the dietary recommendations made by leading vegetarian-oriented doctors. Most of the diets also eliminate NADs.
  • The Zone Diet is still crap.

And, some link love in the form of others reviews and recaps of the event in varying formats and levels of formality from a bunch of prominent speakers and bloggers. 

Melissa McEwen of Hunt.Gather.Love.
Chris Masterjohn of Cholesterol and Health
That Paleo Guy
The Food Lovers Primal Palate
Richard of Free the Animal
Stephan of Whole Health Source
John Durant of Hunter-Gatherer 

  • TurboKelly


  • Primal Toad

    You know how to make me jealous Diane! I’m beaming with excitement about this event and the effect it will have on this awesome movement. I can not wait to be there next year! And maybe speak too?! We will see…

  • Jamie

    Hi Diane

    We only managed to exchange a quick hello, but it was still great to see and meet you in person – I do follow and love your writing and the work you do, so it is always special to see one’s inspirations in person.

    Great thoughts, most of which I agree with. I really think next year will allow a lot more interaction amongst everyone, with (hopefully) a programme that allows this… perhaps a pre-conference gathering in the grand hall?? This year, it was hard meeting people for the first time, being unsure how approachable people might be, being a bit star-struck, and walking around with the head spinning thinking “I can’t believe I am here and part of this coolness!”.

    Roll on #ahs12!

  • Tressa


    It was fantastic meeting you in person! I love your recap of the event. This year was great for those first hugs and handshakes in person. With all this enthusiasm and more demand than available tickets, I suspect there will be plenty more “first hellos” next year too. I was impressed by the diversity of the topics. Great suggestion with the avatar/name tag idea! You are just as kind and friendly in person as you appear online. Yes, paleo people love meat and we were more than happy to share. Cheers to the AHS Class of 2011! We can’t wait for next year! Tressa with US Wellness Meats

    • admin

      Cheers!! Thanks for doing what you do, Tressa!

    • Eric Ullman

      Thanks for the report, Diane. I appreciate the bullet-point list. I’m absolutely going next year. Cheers!

      • Eric Ullman

        Oops. Looks like I replied instead of commented. And I work in high-tech? Really? 😉

  • Chloe Rose

    Why the pinkish hue to the older men? I saw Melissa at Hunt Gather Love mentioned this too…. Confused hahah

    • admin

      We don’t know! We found it strange…

    • Chloe Rose

      hmmmm maybe to much vino? paleo drinky drinky?

      • Alexandra

        For the first time in our marriage, I saw the same pinkness in the face of my husband just after he had a severe heart attack and subsequent triple bypass operation (at age 32.) At the time, I remember realizing that he had had a dull pallor, probably from poor circulation, for years, A look I have since called “the pallor of heart attack.”… I would say, these older men you encountered just have great circulation, probably due to their healthy Paleo diet and lifestyle. It is a shame that looking vital and rosy cheeked at an advanced age is so unusual that it stands out.

        You bloggers are doing a great job spreading the word..keep up the good work.

  • henry d

    It was great meeting you. Thanks for your prior tips and recommending Deep Nutrition.


  • Sam @ H.E.S.H.

    That was great! Are they going to have the same event next year?

    • admin

      I believe so.