Mar 4, 2011

Comparing the Paleolithic Diet to My Diet

My family has been emailing back and forth about the Paleolithic Diet, and I thought I'd write a post about what I think of this concept, and about eating a healthy diet in general. 

So, the Paleo Diet is basically a low carb diet... looks like they don't want you to eat many grains (if any), and no sugar or salt. Pretty much a whole foods diet, minus grains. That's cool if that's what somebody wants to do, but there's nothing inherently wrong with eating grains. Paleolithic people didn't eat them only because they didn't know how to grow them in large enough quantities to sustain life. They didn't have agriculture. They saw grains as "starvation food" because they were thinking of them as tiny things you would pick off individually from a plant and pluck into your mouth, and you'd spend more calories picking them than you'd get out of them. 

I think the best thing you can do with your "diet" (meaning 'the stuff that you eat,' not 'the limitations that you put on what you eat in order to lose weight') is to eat a variety of whole foods. When you go to the produce section, find something you've never tried before--vegetables and fruits--and try them. Find out what people make with them, or come up with your own recipes. Make it a point to try every fruit and vegetable you can. For instance, check out this video of Roni and Ryan trying pummelos for the first time.
(this video is from Roni's Greenlightbites.com
Basically, shop "around the outside of the store," as they say. Veggies, fruits, grains, meats, yogurt, etc. When you go into the aisles of the store, stay away from things that come in a box, but buy lots of cans of beans (or dry beans), and varieties of frozen vegetables.

And when it comes to avoiding the stuff that you know isn't good for you--cookies, cakes, ice cream, chips, pop, etc... do it all with moderation. Treat those things as what they are: treats. If you're very hungry, don't grab cookies first, because you'll eat 10 of them. Have a cookie when you're only a little bit hungry. And check labels. Every calorie counts, and some things that you love have fewer calories than other things that you only kindof love. My favorite new dessert is Edy's Fruit Bars (the little ones). They are pure frozen fruit on a stick, and 45 calories each. 

I have a thing for homemade food though, because I know that it's special. We get together with family, we make food, and it's communal. It's a bonding experience, and it matters. And it's DAMN good food! Last night I ate way too much food at Tayan's birthday celebration. Just don't let meals like that get you down. They don't make or break you, and they don't have to affect future decisions. This morning I had 6 oz plain nonfat yogurt with 3oz grapes in it for breakfast, and it was damn delicious too. 

One problem that we have that Peleolithic People didn't have is that our lives are so easy here in the U.S. that we don't have to physically work to attain food. We have cars that drive us to food, and money that buys more calories than we could ever need... yet our paleolithic brains still tell us that if we can rest, we should rest. Our brain thinks that we'll need that energy later to outrun a bear, or to run down a bear for food this winter, but that doesn't happen anymore. The bottom line is, we have to move our bodies to be healthy, and our brains are telling us to stay put. When it comes time to go take a walk, or a run, or get on your bike, or do some yoga, and you don't feel like it... you just have to turn your brain off for 10 minutes, and let your body do the walking. Once you get into the exercise, turn your brain back on and it will say "Oh yeah, this is fun! We like this!" 


Brian said...

well said! I get so frustrated with new diet trends that come about and the rediculous reasoning behind them.

Articles state that we should follow what the cave men/women ate for a healthier life. One article states how they had a leaner more muscular build then we do today, also cancer and heart disease were non existant. When people read this their first reaction is Wow! that totaly makes sence. What people should realize is,
1 - The grains and carbs we intake have incredible mind fuel which has helped evolve us to become more intelegant than our prehistoric ancestors.

2 - Of course heart disease and cancer didn't exist back then and neither did pesticides, preservatives, cars, factories and the thousand other reasons for pollution. People didn't smoke, drink or take other drugs as we do now including prescription, radiation was'nt anywhere near as of predominate as it is today

3 - The reason why people were leaner and more muscular then than the majority of the people today is simplicity and laziness. We don't hunt and gather anymore instead most of society sits on their behinds for most of the day trying to wish away belly fat and reading about nonsence diet trends.

The fact of the caveman diet is that it's not a good choice for a healthy way of life unless you want to be as dumb as a caveman.

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