Saturday, February 16, 2013

Realities behind eating "Paleo"

Associating the Paleo Diet with what is known about the archaeological past and actual scientific knowledge about our ancestors and their eating habits is.... pointless. They are only tangentially related.

When the Paleo Diet came out and got its name, it was based on a fad and general bad, "TV" type science. Here's an article about archaeologists and other academics being overall displeased with the diet and its hype: Archaeologists Officially Declare Collective Sigh Over “Paleo Diet”

These two paragraphs of the article sum up my feelings about the Paleo Diet as well:

"The Paleo Diet is a nutritional framework based on the assumption that the human species has not yet adapted to the dietary changes engendered by the development of agriculture over the past ten thousand years. Proponents of the diet emphasize in particular the negative effects of eating large quantities of grain and its numerous by-products, which can lead to hypertension, obesity, and various other health problems. Instead, the Paleo Diet posits that a reliance on lean meats, fresh fruits, and vegetables while minimizing processed food is the key to health and longevity.

The nutritional benefits of the diet are not what the grievance is about, said Dr. Britta Hoyes, who organized the event. She agreed that a high-carbohydrate diet can have a detrimental effect on long-term health, as many studies have demonstrated. Instead, the group’s protest is a reaction to the biological and historical pediments of the diet, in particular the contention that pre-agricultural societies were only adapted to eat those foods existing before the Neolithic Revolution."

I started to really like this diet when the next wave happened. Where people were not following a fad of "Hey, let's eat like Homo erectus or Neanderthals!!" but looking more purely at the nutrition and its effects on the body. On grains and dairy and legumes and resulting inflammation in the human body. (Not to say some people aren't still buying into the fad of eating like a hunter-gatherer... but to me and many others, the diet is now about how awesome eating whole, clean foods and no grains/dairy make us feel).

So, it irks me a little when people who haven't done the research start making comments like "Well, a "caveman" wouldn't be able to use a food processor to grind up almonds, so you can't eat almond flour!" ... that's not the point. Why would I, a woman in the modern era, want to eat like they did 10,000 years ago? Everything is much more convenient now! I buy things to make my life easier. I don't devote all day to subsistence.

The point is that there are a lot of studies that say a lot of things, positive and negative, about eating grain-based diets (just use Google Scholar and you can find articles for or against any argument!).

For me, eating Paleo (and we will continue to use that term since people know what the diet includes, even with all the misconceptions of WHY) means getting OUT of the Standard American Diet. Americans and the Western world eat way too many grains, way too many super processed grains at that, and lots of processed, chemically foods.

Yes, eating Paleo follows food guidelines that mimic what pre-agricultural people would have eaten. But that's not the reason everyone eats paleo today. Especially for me, following this diet (with a few tweaks of my own since I am not a lemming and can make educated decisions) means being less inflamed... and to be less inflamed, I personally have had to eliminate grains, dairy and legumes from my daily life.

Everyone thrives in different ways and with different foods. This post is not meant to try to sway anyone over to my way of eating! It is meant to dispel myths about the paleo diet. As an archaeologist, I dislike being associated with the bad science associated with the paleo diet. So I am doing what I can :)

So there's my little two cents. I had some time this morning and felt like getting this post out!

Namaste and enjoy your weekend!


  1. 100%. I just made a comment on another blog about not necessarily calling or considering myself paleo only because then people make judgements about what I SHOULD be eating. I eat some dairy, but it doesn't cause me problems, so I'm okay with it. Whole foods are my base, but occasionally I eat "non approved" paleo foods. I think we all have to find our own path. Paleo-esque maybe? Lol

  2. Love this post!
    That is all. :)

  3. I agree with you and love how you phrased things. Thanks for the link to that article too! Very interesting.

  4. Thanks for the info! Great post , girl. :-)