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What is “PALEO”?

A lot of people get turned off when you say “paleo” or “caveman” diet. Rightly so. It sounds awful. Here is my breakdown of what Paleo means.

The Quick and Dirty:

  • The actual numbers and dates of anthropological studies are changing and will continue to change as more data is found.  But it won’t change much. These numbers still don’t make grains and soy healthy.
  • Paleo provides a path to leave the diseases behind and live with more energy and vitality.
  • Paleo helps direct you to the foods we should be consuming and those we should not.
  • Paleo provides an understanding of WHY.
  • It is much more than hunter-gatherers do this and that and so should you…..
  • If you eat a diet free of grain, dairy, legume, and sugar you will be on the right road. Don’t worry about labeling it paleo or caring what happened 200,000 years ago. Eat and understand why you get fat and why you get sick (its in the food).

More Detail:

The Theory:

The thought process is – every science, whether physics, math, or chemistry, has a fundamental theory (Newton, Einstein, etc) to be followed and measured against and challenged. However, nutrition has no such thing. That is the biggest hole in Nutrition “science” or Nutritionism, as Michael Pollan has made famous. Nutritionists use the scientific method yet don’t have anything to gauge their findings on. Instead, their studies’ findings transform into new buzz words like anti-oxidants, “healthy-fats”, or reservatol.  And Voila!  A new market is born!  Nutrition in America is about profit, not health. Don’t believe me? Mrs Barid’s bread now has anti-oxidants in it…boom there it is. Unlike other sciences, Nutritionism was built on the roads of profit(not reasoning), experimentation, and evaluation. The History of our food culture is based off money, neglecting age old wisdom like most true cultures. It started with Earl Butz, The McGovern Report and a windfall of regulations, government agencies, and has evolved into a wealth of profit-seeking scientists. The USDA Theory certaintly hasn’t worked. We keep getting more sick and find new diseases each year while taking more and new pills each year. What about Vegetarians or Vegans? They don’t have it right either, their theory is void of science and reasoning and more of a belief or religion than a theory.

The Paleo Theory: Since our Ancestors thrived in a much harsher environment and without many of the Western Diseases and ailments we have today, can we learn from them and use their knowledge as a base?

Yes, I think so. Take out the new processed high carbohydrate inflammatory foods and you will feel and look better.

Use the Paleo Theory to help you understand why you may be sick or fat and then what to do about it. It is the starting point.

Think like this: 100,000 years from today a scientist won’t look at an average Americans bone and teeth saying “wow, look how healthy he is. Look at his weak bones, mineral deficiencies, short stature, diseases, obesity, etc” He would likely say, “wow, what ever this human did we should use as an example of what not to do.” We marvel at the health of our nature fighting ancestors. While we marvel at the disease of our technology fighting peers.

So Paleo provides this base theory we can start to build on, thanks to the hard work by Dr. Loren Cordain and others. Whether something is or is not from the PALEOlithic time period doesn’t matter. No one is eating the same things they ate. However, we understand, through paleoanthropology and biochemistry, that a diet containing animal products, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, some roots/tubers, and spices creates a base that provides long term health.This Theory can be built upon and taken away. Though I don’t see anything in the world of Nutrition that is as solid as the Paleo-Theory. Clearly the USDA Food Pyramid Theory is not working out too well…Now what do you do with the THEORY:

The Practice:

How do we put the Theory to Practice? Easy. Eat and move. I know it sounds contrary to what everyone is doing and it will take a change of lifestyle to really stick to it but it will be worth it. If you want to stay sick and overweight hang around people that help you do that. If you don’t, then you will need to change the environment 🙂

The Food – It is about finding what works for you. The base will consist of animal products, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, some roots/tubers, and spices, but you will get to build on that.  It will not incorporate and be free of legume, dairy, grain, sugar. Some people like more nightshades and some don’t. Athletes will add more tubers and roots. You may find yourself loving seafood and coconut milk as a staple meal. Just eat and find what you like.  If you eat a low-carbohydrate paleo diet you don’t have to worry about portion sizes or getting fat. Just eat those veggies and animal products (try to get some organs).

The Body – Move around. If you don’t use it – You loose it. Find something you like to do with your body and mind and do it regularly, (yoga, movnat, rock climbing, martial arts, olympic lifting) not simply doing curls or lat pull downs. Spend more time active instead of sitting or laying down in the “comfort zone”. Take walks with your lover or friends, go to playgrounds WITH your kids, ride bikes, etc. You don’t have to break a sweat all the time. Explore your neighborhood or city on foot. If walking 5 blocks makes you sore or tired that should be a big enough wake-up call…


So don’t call it Paleo. Call it eating. Just understand what it is you are eating. There is no suggestion or evidence to ingest soy, dairy (not talking about raw), wheat and all grains, legumes, and sugar for long term health. No meal can compete with grassfed meat, veggies, and some lemon water. Starch is not a complete enemy like grains. yams and yucca are fine in moderation especially for athletic people. It is white potatoes you want to stay away from.

So don’t call it exercise or working-out. Call it movement. “I am going to move”. And know why you should be moving. If you forgot – We live BETTER when our bodies are under certain stresses like sitting in a chair.

What does Paleo mean to you? Read what it means to a busy but fit and healthy mom HERE

References:

Nestle, Marion. Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health. Berkeley: University of California, 2002. Print.
Manning, Richard. Against the Grain: How Agriculture Has Hijacked Civilization. New York: North Point, 2004. Print.
Pollan, Michael. In Defense of Food: an Eater’s Manifesto. New York: Penguin, 2008. Print.
Taubes, Gary. Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health. New York: Anchor, 2008. Print.
Wrangham, Richard W. Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human. New York: Basic, 2009. Print.
Wiley, T. S., and Bent Formby. Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival. New York: Pocket, 2000. Print.
Gedgaudas, Nora T. Primal Body — Primal Mind: Empower Your Total Health the Way Evolution Intended (…and Didn’t). Portland, OR: Primal Body–Primal Mind, 2009. Print.
Cordain, Loren. The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Food You Were Designed to Eat. New York: J. Wiley, 2002. Print.
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