Napoleon’s reign ended with the Battle of Waterloo. I am vanquished again and again in my own Battle of the Bulge by Field Marshal Bread and his second-in-command, General Cheese. These two are strategists par excellence. They normally strike at night in a combined onslaught from two flanks: the Bread Bin and the Fridge.
They are out to slay all my good intentions and preferably in my stomach. I have mobilized countless diets against their coalition, all in vain. Now I am considering a new, undercover and very covert approach: The Paleo Diet, also known as the Caveman Diet, the Stone Age Diet, the Primal Diet and the Neanderthal Diet – all in an attempt to stop my devolution into total pig.
This popular lifestyle aims to return us to our Paleolithic roots (grunt… me want woman… grunt… grunt…). It is based upon two premises:
- Our hunter-gatherer ancestors were generally physically fit, healthy, lean and muscular.
- They ate varying proportions of leafy vegetables, fruit, nuts and insects, meat, fish, and shellfish. They also ate them raw or cooked over a fire, after they had discovered how to control fire. Sugar, refined foods, dairy, gluten or grains, were not known to them.
They were also very active people. They lifted heavy rocks and clubs, dug in the soil, thumped their chests, chased after or ran away from prey and swung from trees. “Ooo-wa-ooo-aaooaaooaa-ooo!” Oh, no, sorry – that was Tarzan…
So, if they were thin, fit, healthy and ate and exercised in a particular way and I adopt the eating habits of these half-ape-half-humans, I must just don my loincloth, eat like them and I too will be thin, fit and healthy, right? Logic 101. I must just re-enact their historic lifestyle.
Not quite. Those Cave people also had a very low life expectancy (about 30 years) because of malnutrition, if they had not become food to cave lions or were trampled to death by woolly mammoths.
Archaeological scientists and evolutionary biologists have pointed out that the diet has little grounding in prehistoric reality. Through evolution, modern day humans are biologically different to our Paleolithic ancestors and we could not eat the same foods as our ancestors, even if we wanted to. Natural and artificial selection has since then transformed the animals and plants we eat beyond all recognition.
So what CAN I eat? I get it that cutting processed food (white bread, alcohol, cereals) out of my diet in favour of whole, nutritious foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, is part of the lifestyle. But I ‘m confused about what meat, eggs and dairy I may eat, if at all.
There’s a lot of contradictory information about this on the web. One site mentions, “In the strict Paleo sense, dairy of any form was not consumed in the Paleolithic era, other than human milk in infancy of course. It just wasn’t very practical to milk wild game. We are the only mammals who drink the milk from other animals.” This has put a very upsetting mental image in my mind, but I digress… Butter, though, can be consumed. Egg yolks are fine, but not the whites.
Apparently plants (including grains and legumes) develop toxins and anti-nutrients to prevent animals (including the upright, two-legged one) from eating too much of it. Grains and legumes are more toxic, because they are in their most vulnerable state as the baby of the future plant and are responsible for the survival of the species. Damn, I’ve been eating babies all along? Aarh!
Hmm. Seems like I will have to research my meat before I eat. It even rhymes. This site lists 7 ways in which to determine whether meat is Paleo or not. Seems like I still have a lot to learn about Paleo.
If I should go the Paleo way, I am so glad it isn’t a re-enactment of the Stone Age. Hunting mammoths or donning loincloths just isn’t my style. I have no inclination to kill my food with my bare hands (looking into to those defenseless eyes – no!!!!)
And their dating consisted of clubbing a woman over the head and dragging her by the hair back to the cave to … um … never mind. B would kill me if I tried to club her over the head and drag her anywhere by her hair!
So I guess it’s a case of finding what best works for me individually. Given B’s daily Great Escape from anything culinary, it is bound to include lots and lots of raw fruit and veggies.
Begone, Bread! Begone, Cheese! Get ye out of my stomach… um.. life!
Wait… am I ready to take the plunge? Will I not mess up my health (some more)?
What are your experience with Paleo? Does it work? Does it have health benefits besides losing weight?