Through twitter last night I discovered a flawed and misleading post published by Ann Marie: Top 10 Reasons Why I’m Not Paleo.
I’m not here to hate on Ann Marie like Ann Marie seemed to hate on the Paleo way of life. But she immediately begins her post with hatred. With false statements. She is either uneducated about Paleo living or truly wants to hate on it.
I strongly recommend to read her post in full before you read mine. I quote her often so it’s not 100% necessary but please do read her post.
She starts off by saying:
The paleo diet is the hottest fad diet since vegetarianism. If you’re not familiar with the movement, paleo folks eat a “paleolithic” or “caveman” diet of meat, more meat, and pretty much anything they can forage (berries, nuts and so forth). The only foods that are allowed are ones that were available prior to the dawn of agriculture 10,000 years ago.
If you’re following a paleo diet and it is working for you, more power to you. We can agree to disagree.
Fad diet? I triple dog dare you to say this again in 5 years.
Paleo is NOT about meat and more meat. It’s about eating real foods. It’s about avoiding foods that damage the body. It’s about understanding a framework and then tweaking it to fit your own individual needs since we are all very different and tolerate foods differently.
Some folks may thrive on grains. Most do not. On the contrary, all humans can thrive on a diet that consists of mostly meat from a variety of species (including fish and seafood), veggies, fruits and tubers. Nuts and seeds are secondary. Properly prepared grains and legumes can work well for some individuals. Raw, grass-fed dairy can be optimal for many. Butter is a superfood for almost everyone.
The paleo community as a whole recognizes this. Some people who live this way tell you to be strict. Others tell you to let go a little. As a whole, it’s one hell of a movement. A movement that is not about re-enactment. Although Ann Marie wants to think so for whatever reason…
Below I re-state all of Ann Marie’s reasons exactly how she stated them inside her post as headlines. I then respond in my own words while quoting her post throughout.
Let’s work together. Let’s do what we can to improve the health of society? Why bash a huge movement that is about eating real food?
The point of my response is to tell the truth. To educate folks on what Paleo is really about. I would love for you to comment below!
Let’s get started…
1. I really like cheese
Cheese is NOT forbidden on the Paleo Diet. It’s recommended to not make it a large part of your diet because people do have problems with it.
I personally LOVE cheese. However, I noticeably get a little congested after consuming an ounce or 2 which is not a lot by any means. A little soreness in my throat sometimes follows. This tells me that I am probably sensitive to casein. This is why I personally limit my consumption. And when I do eat it I almost always go for grass-fed and raw when I can get it.
I don’t think we should re-enact anything. I think we should take a hard look at how we have evolved. How did we thrive through harsh conditions for tens of thousands of years? I think it’s smart to base a hypothesis around our past, then experiment to find out what is best for us individually.
It just so happens that dairy is a highly problematic food for many folks. And finding raw, grass-fed full fat dairy is a heavy challenge for ordinary folk like myself.
In short, there are more optimal foods available than cheese.
2. I really like bread
Ah, Ann Marie loves her bread. And she wonders…
And is bread really that bad for you? How can it be, when humans around the world have been thriving on it as a staple in their diet for over 10,000 years (and possibly up to 50,000 years)?
Really? They have been thriving on bread? Most humans?
If I was able to thrive on bread then I would eat it. No question about it. However, the bread available today is not real food. It’s highly processed and is far from healthy.
Also, gluten is a major problem today. It is hard to digest for a significant part of the world’s population. All plants have anti-nutrients but grains are heavier in them compared to most fruits and veggies which are more nutrient dense food groups.
Those who eat a WAPF type diet and eat grains will ferment, soak or whatever. Do they do this for veggies? Fruits? No. It’s not necessary for fruits and veggies but it is for grains and legumes.
I agree with Ann Marie here:
There is a theory that antibiotic drugs cause an imbalance of gut flora and cause prevent the digestive tract from secreting enzymes that enable us to break down complex proteins such as gluten. Sounds a lot more plausible than the idea that wheat suddenly started causing gluten intolerance out of nowhere.
Antibiotic drugs cause a lot of harm. I’ll trust that consuming them makes it more difficult for us to digest complex proteins like gluten.
But wait. You say that gluten intolerance started out of nowhere? Where did you learn this? I’d personally love to know. Do you realize that there are millions of folks who are intolerant to gluten who don’t take antibiotics?
Here is a true statement that I know Ann Marie will agree with me on: There are no essential food groups for optimal health. Only essential nutrients.
No individual needs grains for optimal health.
Eat your sourdough bread if you want. I’ll pass. I have zero desire for any type of bread.
3. I really like cookies. And cake. And pies.
(If you click on the photo you will be taken to the recipe. I can’t wait to make this. A freaking pie that’s healthy!)
Uh oh! I used to love cookies! Cake too! Pies not so much but they are still very yummy.
So, why don’t I consume them? Because they make me feel like shit and are highly addictive.
I want to feel awesome as much as freaking possible. I don’t want to just exist. I want to thrive. I want to be able to do the impossible. In order to do this I need to eat as healthy as possible while effectively managing my stress.
I just finished my second round of the 21 Day Sugar Detox. I dove in with a slight modification that allowed more fruits and potatoes. I have been feeling utterly amazing. Feeling like I am on top of the world.
Sure, a bite of a cookie won’t let that feeling slip away. But, um, just one bite? Right…
I’m not saying I will never eat un-optimal food ever again.
I plan on eating ice cream from a regular local ice cream parlor many times throughout my life. Ice cream doesn’t make me feel like shit unless it’s super high in refined sugar.
What I am saying is that I am crazy pumped to continue my feeling awesome adventure. It’s one hell of a ride because I feel like I can do anything. Like walk across America.
4. Paleo is low carb
Paleo is NOT low carb folks! Don’t you dare believe anyone who ever tells you this. Ann Marie says it’s low carb by default. What exactly is low carb? Less than 50 grams of carbs per day? Less than 100? 200? It’s all subjective.
Some people thrive eating low carb (again, whatever this number may be) while others will thrive consuming most of their calories from carbs. It all depends on a number of factors including food availability, climate, desires and activity.
Sure, it’s recommended that you don’t eat grains and legumes if you want to go Paleo. Root veggies such as all types of potatoes, taro, parsnips, carrots and even fruits are Paleo/Primal.
The Paleo movement is recognizing more and more that we need to take a step back and let the individual figure out what is best for him or her as far as macronutrient ratios go.
I don’t have any idea how many grams of carbs, fat or protein I eat. I just eat real food. And feel awesome.
5. The Paleo diet is too restrictive
It’s actually nearly unlimited. It recommends you avoid grains and legumes for legit reasons. For reasons that will allow people to thrive. Some can tolerate grains quite well. It does not mean that it’s the grains that are causing them to thrive. It’s the vitamins and minerals within the grains that their body is able to absorb and utilize that is causing them to thrive.
No single individual needs grains or legumes in order to thrive. Or to feel awesome.
On the contrary, millions of individuals have problems digesting grains and legumes. They ditch them and begin to thrive. This includes dairy products that are high in lactose and/or casein.
Nutrients are more bioavailable in animal foods compared to plant foods. Ann Marie will agree with me on this one.
Time to quote Ann Marie again…
I always tell my daughter she can’t have candy or cookies before dinner because they are foods that won’t make her grow big and strong. However, she’s allowed dessert after dinner. I try to serve nutrient-dense desserts like crème brûlée or ice cream made with grass-fed cream and egg yolks, chock-full of fat-soluble activators, vitamins A, D and K2.
I’d never tell her she can’t eat a cookie because “it’s not paleo”. That’s just bad logic.
And around here, we follow the 80/20 rule. A cookie here and there won’t kill you if you are eating a nutritious diet most of the time.
Children don’t need desserts. They will do perfectly fine without them. They will do better without them. Dessert after dinner? Why not just allow her to eat more of the real food that has more nutrition than that creme brûlée? She likes meat, butter, veggies, spices, herbs, potatoes, fruit, etc. right? She doesn’t force this food down her throat.
There is no reason to give your child non nutritious dessert after dinner.
I would hope that no mother would tell her daughter that she can’t eat a cookie because “it’s not paleo.” It is bad logic. No question about it. The simple fix is to replace “paleo” with “healthy.” You can elaborate and tell her that she can have optimal health and do impossible things if she avoids desserts outside of the rare occurrence.
The 80/20 rule. I’m glad you brought this up Ann Marie. I follow this rule too. I think every single individual should follow this rule unless they are severely ill or dying.
No food like substance, unless it’s literally deathly poisonous, will kill you. So a cookie here and there is fine. But, again, if your daughter ate less and less cookies and grew out of the desire to consume them then guess what? She would have better health. She would be able to do more impossible things as life goes on. She would feel better.
One should use the 80/20 rule how they want to. We all need to make decisions on our own. If you want to feed your daughter a cookie a day then by golly, go do that. If you are happy and your daughter is happy then great! I’m truly happy for the both of you.
I’m just trying to make a simple point, that it’s not difficult to avoid sweets like cookies if you have a desire to make this change. Give it time and it can be done. Even in today’s modern world.
6. Paleo is not scalable
Right off the bat Ann Marie states:
There’s a reason the hunters and gathers died out. Nothing against hunter-gatherers, but they were all almost completely wiped out by people who ate cheese and bread.
Funny. Hunters and gatherers were almost completely wiped out by people who ate cheese and bread. Now this sounds like a fantasy…
Hunters and gatherers did not die out. They never stopped learning and figured out that domesticating animals had vast advantages. They learned that becoming civilized would be safer and would enable the human species to reproduce at a vast rate. Thus, dominating all other living species.
Die out? Saying this is like saying modern humans are a different species than hunter-gatherers.
One can easily hunt, fish and gather in today’s world. All three are about to become extreme hobbies of mine and as a bonus I’ll get wholesome nutritious food as a bonus. How cool is that?
Or, why not eat the grass-fed beef? Pastured eggs? Wild caught or sustainably farmed seafood? Local produce?
Sure, the true definition of Paleo has us going back before the dawn of agriculture. Who f*&%ing cares!! Paleo in today’s world is a simple label. I sometimes hate labels but more often love them. It’s an identity just like the characteristic of honesty.
I’m honest. I’m Paleo (I prefer Primal). It does NOT mean I only eat foods before agriculture. Far from it. I don’t wish to literally go back that far. Neither does anyone else who chooses to eat and live this way. But if I learn that someone else is Paleo I immediately recognize that we eat in similar fashion. We both eat real food. We both avoid grains and legumes. We both probably love butter. We both utilize the 80/20 rule but in different ways.
So yes, Paleo – how I personally define the term and how everyone else should too (or at least avoid the true definition) – is scalable. It’s anything but.
Grains on the other hand? They just may not be sustainable. I know nothing about this but you do yield more calories from tubers than you do from grains in regards to total space taken up to grow said food.
7. Paleo is based on fantasy
I think this is where I knew I had to write a full blog post response. Ann Marie says…
The paleo diet is fundamentally flawed. It’s a diet based on misinformation about the past and the present. Paleo adherents believe that the hunter-gatherer lifestyle is somehow superior to that of the sedentary agriculturalist. It is a romantic ideal based on fantasy, not reality.
The reality is that living as a hunter-gatherer is not an easy life, and it was not a lifestyle people chose because they thought it was cool or better. Hunter-gatherers did/do not have access to domesticated animals and did not have the ability to grow crops. I find it very hard to believe that if they had cows or sheep that they would not have found a way to start milking them.
Why go forage for a meal or hunt for a wild animal when you can keep a cow who will give you milk every day with a lot less effort?
The fundamentals of a Paleo diet does not include living in the wild. If you are a true hunter-gatherer then you obviously won’t be domesticating any animals. I have yet to come across any single individual who claims he or she is Paleo who recommends living in the wild.
Far from it Ann Marie. Why say something that is complete bull shit? Why mis-inform a sick population? Why scare them away from eating a diet that all individuals can thrive on?
Instead, everyone recommends eating grass-fed, pastured animal foods. They understand that it would be a riot to hunt for you first Elk, gather berries, pick wild mushrooms, take a fishing trip and just chill outside in nature because it effectively manages stress. One can do this while having a blast and not to mention while saving a hell of a lot of money too.
Fantasy? Do you know what a fantasy is?
It might be a good idea to trust people who actually know a little something on this subject. I’ll quote Cody-Coyote Mercer who left a comment on my Facebook fan page:
Based on fantasy? As somebody who is working towards a Ph. D. in anthropology with an emphasis on paleolithic cultures, I can tell you right off hand that she’s incredibly wrong about that.
I haven’t asked him any specific questions but it’s flat out bullshit to claim that Paleo, what it means at this moment in today’s world, is a fantasy.
Ann Marie finished this point by saying:
And maybe grains and legumes aren’t so bad after all. Balance is a good thing.
Maybe is the keyword in that first sentence. It depends on the individual. Balance is a beautiful thing. A grand thing. A necessary thing. But both Ann Marie and I agree that grains and legumes are NOT essential for optimal health. So, if they are maybe causing harm to your body, why eat them when there are hundreds of other food choices?
8. Paleo is impractical
No. Paleo is practical. As practical as it gets in fact.
Ann Marie continues to say ridiculous statements like this one:
Is anyone really expecting people to get out and hunt for their breakfast? How about foraging? Are we expected to forage for our all of our meals? On top of working 9 hours per day plus taking care of the kids and getting them to soccer practice?
So how do we “do” paleo in the real world? Buy grass-fed beef and organic arugula from the upscale health food store? And is this really practical?
Ann Marie knows that no one is expecting this of anyone. That would be impractical. But that’s not what Paleo is.
Paleo is about understanding what is optimal, then doing the best you can within your own unique environment, without stressing about the small details.
If you can only afford regular meat then that is still better than regular bread. Much better. It’s way better than a typical Standard American Diet (SAD). I hardly eat any organic produce at this point. I fully understand that conventional veggies are better than no veggies within my own personal diet.
And stressing about these small details will override all your best efforts.
9. Paleo is expensive
Calorie for calorie, if you only put food into the equation, Paleo is more expensive than pure junk food. I won’t deny that. Calorie for calorie, if you only put food into the equation, Paleo is more expensive than the WAPF way of eating with legumes, whole grains and all dairy products.
On the contrary, if you add in all the costs of health care, Paleo is far from expensive. And if you learn to be frugal and place an importance on your health over anything else then Paleo is far from expensive. Our relationship with food continues to decline. Our relationship with technology is better than ever.
We love technology. And we love to eat junk food while utilizing this amazing technology.
We have lost touch with real food.
Let me ask you a question: Do you believe that a nutrient dense $2-$3 meal (assume 3 meals per day) for an individual who eats around 2,000 calories per day is expensive?
If you answered no then you agree that Paleo is not expensive. If you answered yes then you more than likely don’t have your priorities straight.
I understand that some reading this truly don’t have money for optimal food. Then eat some beans and rice. Be sure that 80% of your calories are Paleo foods, then add in some very cheap foods. This is better than dismissing Paleo completely.
10. The paleo diet is a waste of time and energy
Ann Marie has spilled another dozen cans of beans with this statement:
I often see Paleo people on Facebook or Paleo Hacks arguing over whether or not honey is paleo. They proudly pronounce their disdain for milk and other dairy products, as “neolithic foods”.
I ask you, why do people sit around arguing about whether or not honey is paleo? Why not just go buy some honey at the grocery store? Or, better yet, a farmer’s market?
Why not just feed yourself with what is available, and then get on to more important things, such as inventing alternative energy sources or curing cancer?
I don’t care what people say on Paleo hacks. Sometimes people say idiotic things. I include myself in this category. Why? Because I am a human being. We are all geniuses and we are all idiots.
Raw, wild, local honey is certainly a healthy food that has lots of benefits. But some people do much better avoiding the stuff. Ok?
I don’t feed myself with what is just available because my health is extremely important to me. I want to feel awesome and do impossible things. I need optimal health to cross things off my bucket list. I need to have that desire.
Why don’t I try to cure cancer? Because there will never be one single cure that works for every individual. This would mean perfection and it does not exist. This is why I strongly recommend folks care about their health.
Unhealthy human beings are more apt to get any type of cancer compared to folks who have optimal health.
Prevent. Prevent. Live life. Enjoy life. Go after your passion. Your hearts desires.
That dessert after Dinner may (I believe probably is more appropriate) contribute to one getting cancer. A little may not hurt but you never know for sure. If you learn to avoid junk food without stressing about it then you will have better health. Your chances of getting cancer or a disease of civilization will decline.
My very important closing thoughts
I love the Weston A Price Foundation. I love it so much and want to learn what they have to say that I decided to take the first class of the WAPF continuing education program from Hawthorne University. I’ll take the other 5 classes when I find the time and money. Guess what? I received an A for the first class.
Did I mention I love the WAPF?
I also love Paleo/Primal. The community is wonderful. Helpful. Caring. It continues to grow at a ginormous pace. It works. And it can work for everyone if they realize that it’s a framework. A framework that absolutely must be tweaked to ones own individual needs.
I love cheese. So I eat it. It also makes me congested. So I don’t eat it as much as I want. I want to feel awesome and do the impossible. I love a thousand other foods that aren’t cheese that make me feel better. And so I choose to eat these foods more frequently.