Many of us search for some guidance when it comes to getting our food intake right. We want a diet that suits our needs and will provide the framework for a healthier life and fitter, leaner body.
The Paleo Diet is one such solution. This grew in popularity steadily after the publication of Loren Cordain’s seminal book The Paleo Diet in 2001 and by 2013 it has become the most Googled diet in America. After reaching the mainstream in the US it caught the imagination of us Brits too.
So, what is the Paleo Diet?
While it is commonly called a ‘diet’, Paleo is actually about more than that. This is about embracing a ‘back to basics’ approach to our food, returning to a pre-historic, caveman ancestory. It goes along with the theory that it’s not necessarily natural for humans to consume the sort of foods that came into being after the invention of modern farming techniques, let alone our modern obsession with processed fast-foods. It shuns these and makes a lifestyle choice to turn back the clock to a simpler, healthier time.
What do people following the Paleo plan eat?
By returning to a simpler caveman diet that means lots of lean meat and fish, nuts, wild berries and vegetables and NOT grains, dairy, salt and sugar.
Advocates say this protein-heavy sugar-free diet gives people energy without hunger pangs and tiredness and is great for weight loss and helping people to stay free of disease.
The problem with Paleo
That said, there’s no hiding from the fact that Paleo does have its critics. From a practical perspective it can be pretty expensive.
Many people with a passion for Paleo also preach two pretty hotly contested contentions. Firstly, that our caveman ancestors had an ideal physique that we ought to aspire to and, secondly, that we aren’t genetically suited to farm-produced fodder.
It’s not the intention of this blog to wade into a potentially bitter dispute but it’s fair to say that there are critics who argue that the life expectancy of cavemen and developments in human beings in 10,000 years challenge those assertions. It’s also stressed that you wouldn’t revert to the clothes or culture of that chapter in our history, so why the food?
That, however, is a lifestyle question. Perhaps most pressing is the worry that a lack of dairy, legumes and grains isn’t particularly good for you and leaves you short of vitamins and minerals.
The best of both worlds
There is much to like about Paleo. Cutting out sugar and many of the fat-heavy processed foods from our diets is admirable and there’s nothing wrong with embracing a lifestyle choice if you would rather live your life in a different way.
For many people there’s clearly an opportunity to turn to a simpler diet but there’s nothing wrong with using this as a starting point, as inspiration for your own diet plan. After all, all successful diets need to meet your own individual needs – a one-size-fits-all approach is never likely to succeed entirely.
Why not add in healthy nutrients and vitamins to your Paleo plan in a limited form to ensure your body is fuelled by a balanced diet, one that is fit to cater for an active sporty lifestyle? Don’t be a slave to someone else’s idea. Weigh up your lifestyle and preferences and find your own path to success.