2

votes

With out taking the word of the writers and bloggers, how can I determine for my self what foods are Paleo?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 13, 2012 at 5:01 PM

I am very new to Paleo, and I'm having a tough time understanding what makes a food paleo and what makes a food something to not eat at all. I'm trying to understand the fundamental ideology of what makes a food Paleo.

I'm not so oblivious as to not understand the "Eat what our Paleolithic Forbears Ate" but what I'm confused on is how do we determine the "What".

I'm not doubting everything, but only a few prohibitions are self evident, like no refined sugar.

So maybe lets start with an example, how does the paleo community know that legumes were not consumed by Paleo man?

I have seen the following reasons to not eat legumes: 1. It has lectins and anti-nutrients. 2. They need extensive cooking to be edible. 3. First evidence of farming is 6k years ago.

Unfortunately I don't find these arguments to fit the axiom of eat like a paleo man.

Number 1 is based on health benefits, not a bad criterion, but not exactly an ideological reason.

Number 2 The most current evidence is that cooking is 1.8 million years old, which puts it squarely in the paleo time frame, so i find the need for cooking unconvincing.

Number 3 is the most compelling, but just because legume farming started 6k years ago, does not mean they were not eaten before. I think it implies that they were at least eaten sparingly shortly before farming, but then again 6k and paleo are rather disparate.

So how can I independently verify for my self, the paleoness of food, with out taking the word of the writers and bloggers? What's the criterion that you use? what am I missing about legumes that convinces you they are not paleo?

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on September 14, 2012
at 12:52 AM

Your questions may be genuine, but you don't seem to genuinely want answers.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on September 14, 2012
at 12:40 AM

And I appreciated it!

61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on September 14, 2012
at 12:05 AM

That was my first thought, too, but I already went off on him on another post, so it was someone else's turn.

Ce2968ab71119c736ba9d83841c5718a

on September 13, 2012
at 11:33 PM

@mascot I am as confused as you. My questions are genuine and I get called a troll and made fun of.

Ce2968ab71119c736ba9d83841c5718a

on September 13, 2012
at 11:29 PM

@luckie well if you wanted to you could take a map and try and see if Texas is there. Or use a particle collider to test the atom theory. You could try to murder someone with your poison. Why does asking for help figuring out the equivalent for paleo get you so upset?

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on September 13, 2012
at 10:16 PM

Without taking the word of writers (and bloggers, I guess) how can I determine if atoms are real? How do I know that JFK was assassinated? How do I know that arsenic is poisonous? I've never seen an atom, never been to Texas, or drank arsenic. I accept these things, however, because other people have experienced/seen them and because they make sense. Obviously opinions will differ on some things but you cannot just figure everything out on your own. At some point, you will just have to apply your own brain power to the experiences and thoughts of other humans.

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on September 13, 2012
at 08:24 PM

http://paleohacks.com/questions/111837/does-being-paleo-come-down-to-faith#axzz26IJyoTb7

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on September 13, 2012
at 07:46 PM

You seem to have quite the propensity for acquiring downvotes on what seem like honest questions. I don't get it. Maybe there are some Ron Paul haterz on the p-hacks?

Ce2968ab71119c736ba9d83841c5718a

on September 13, 2012
at 06:23 PM

@greymouser, that's a very good point!

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on September 13, 2012
at 06:04 PM

FWIW, "the Paleolithic Era" isn't defined by a strict time period, so much as a categorical definition of what was going on then. For example, if we discover use of iron in an area from a time period previously thought to be Bronze Age, we don't say "Look! They were using iron in the Bronze Age!", rather we say "Look! In this area the Iron Age started earlier than previously thought."

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on September 13, 2012
at 06:01 PM

If you are expecting Paleo/Primal to be "1 size fits all" and everyone to completely agree on the details and reasons for them, then you will continue to be confused. That's why I mentioned learning the different approaches and taking from them what works best for you.

Ce2968ab71119c736ba9d83841c5718a

on September 13, 2012
at 05:52 PM

@luckie, right I did look at a few and what i found was confusing, as i outlined in my example.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on September 13, 2012
at 05:37 PM

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=paleo+primal+writers

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 13, 2012
at 05:36 PM

^ Already answered if you can make some inferences based upon bold-faced adjective(s) that precede the word "paleo"

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 13, 2012
at 05:35 PM

^ Already answered if you can make some inferences based upon bold-faced adjective(s) that proceed the word "paleo"

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on September 13, 2012
at 05:32 PM

If all you are getting from these resources are the fish, you are doing it wrong. They are letting you watch them fish (when they explain why they make the recommendations they do). If you pay attention to several fisherman, you will learn to do it yourself, in your own style, by seeing their different approaches and taking from each what works best for you.

Ce2968ab71119c736ba9d83841c5718a

on September 13, 2012
at 05:32 PM

Also, thinks for explaining the reasoning of the "no need to cook" criterion.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on September 13, 2012
at 05:30 PM

It seems like you already do, with your 3 points. You don't have to accept any 1 of those points as the be-all end-all, it's more about putting all the points together and seeing it as a whole. I think that these writers and bloggers that you don't want to listen to give plenty of reasons for their advice and do not just provide "food lists."

Ce2968ab71119c736ba9d83841c5718a

on September 13, 2012
at 05:28 PM

Right, and i don't know who they those highly esteemed scientist are, well one comment told me Cordain and Eaton, any others?

Ce2968ab71119c736ba9d83841c5718a

on September 13, 2012
at 05:26 PM

on the writes and bloggers bit. Just sayin' Let me try to clarify my self. I'm trying to learn how to do the identification of paleo foods myself, with out the need to rely on reference sources to do it for me. Its the teach a man to fish / give a man a fish problem. The books and blogs i feel have given me the fish, i want to lean how to fish.

Ce2968ab71119c736ba9d83841c5718a

on September 13, 2012
at 05:25 PM

Also, ... So how can I independently verify for my self, the paleoness of food, with out taking the word of the writers and bloggers? ... this is impossible to answer on a forum where people are writing to you. Just sayin' Let me try to clarify my self. I'm trying to learn how to do the identification of paleo foods myself, with out the need to rely on reference sources to do it for me. Its the teach a man to fish / give a man a fish problem. The books and blogs i feel have given me the fish, i want to lean how to fish.

Ce2968ab71119c736ba9d83841c5718a

on September 13, 2012
at 05:21 PM

I want to understand the diet deeper than "look at this guy's food list". I'm not saying to not reference written works.

Ce2968ab71119c736ba9d83841c5718a

on September 13, 2012
at 05:20 PM

Maybe I wasn't clear. let me rephrase. How did those people who wrote the books determine what the good list and bad list is? Or how do you determine what the good list and bad list is? I'm trying to understand the concepts, not memorize what one or many authors wrote.

Ce2968ab71119c736ba9d83841c5718a

on September 13, 2012
at 05:18 PM

but why the eat it raw rule? If paleo man could cook?

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on September 13, 2012
at 05:17 PM

So... you want us to tell you about a diet/eating style that has been written about without referencing written works? Ooooo-kay. You are a special little snowflake, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Ce2968ab71119c736ba9d83841c5718a

on September 13, 2012
at 05:17 PM

Not to be nitpicky, but what i understand you to be saying is "Eat Whole Foods". +1 for the nice answer tho.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on September 13, 2012
at 05:07 PM

Search Cordain and Eaton...they've done a lot of the research.

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11 Answers

best answer

6
Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on September 13, 2012
at 05:20 PM

You are very focused on lectins, so let me just drop this in here: the actual lectin molecule type vary from legume to legume. Eat 10 dry kidney beans, and the specific lectins in the red kidney bean will kill you (cooking denatures most of them). Fresh green beans or sugar snap peas? Almost undetectable levels of lectins, and what little there is seems innocuous.

My very first metric for paleo-ness is answering "Can it be eaten raw?" No, that doesn't read "EAT RAW FOOD!" nor does it state that food must not be cooked. However, if the food is safe raw, it is likely safe cooked, even though it's nutrition profile may change. Non-paleo cooked wheat becomes less nutritious when cooked (even though it then becomes actually edible!), whereas many meats become more nutritional dense (often a result of fat mass lost from cooking).

So, those sugar snap peas and green beans? I eat 'em. Jicama? The plant is a legume, but I eat the tuberous root.

What about foods that weren't in the human diet until well into the neolithic and even the modern era? Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, carrots, jicama, or ... pluots? Eat 'em. They often cause more concern that a food that has more history (blackberries, figs), but many people handle them very, very well even though some have allergies.

Also, ... So how can I independently verify for my self, the paleoness of food, with out taking the word of the writers and bloggers? ... this is impossible to answer on a forum where people are writing to you. Just sayin'.

Paleo isn't about actual reenactment - it's about firm stances on certain neolithic foods (eg. grains), and openness to traditional foods: meat(and fish), eggs, veggies, fruits, and nuts.

Dairy is an outlier, as it is clearly and animal product, but is most often eaten in highly processed forms -- many paleo-types have varying opinions on dairy. I haven't hunted a mammal down and eaten the entire thing, so my experience eating udders is nonexistent. I am however, lactose intolerant, so I am not compelled to eat dairy. Butter and ghee on the other hand ...

Ce2968ab71119c736ba9d83841c5718a

on September 13, 2012
at 05:32 PM

Also, thinks for explaining the reasoning of the "no need to cook" criterion.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on September 13, 2012
at 05:32 PM

If all you are getting from these resources are the fish, you are doing it wrong. They are letting you watch them fish (when they explain why they make the recommendations they do). If you pay attention to several fisherman, you will learn to do it yourself, in your own style, by seeing their different approaches and taking from each what works best for you.

Ce2968ab71119c736ba9d83841c5718a

on September 13, 2012
at 05:25 PM

Also, ... So how can I independently verify for my self, the paleoness of food, with out taking the word of the writers and bloggers? ... this is impossible to answer on a forum where people are writing to you. Just sayin' Let me try to clarify my self. I'm trying to learn how to do the identification of paleo foods myself, with out the need to rely on reference sources to do it for me. Its the teach a man to fish / give a man a fish problem. The books and blogs i feel have given me the fish, i want to lean how to fish.

Ce2968ab71119c736ba9d83841c5718a

on September 13, 2012
at 05:52 PM

@luckie, right I did look at a few and what i found was confusing, as i outlined in my example.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on September 13, 2012
at 06:01 PM

If you are expecting Paleo/Primal to be "1 size fits all" and everyone to completely agree on the details and reasons for them, then you will continue to be confused. That's why I mentioned learning the different approaches and taking from them what works best for you.

Ce2968ab71119c736ba9d83841c5718a

on September 13, 2012
at 05:26 PM

on the writes and bloggers bit. Just sayin' Let me try to clarify my self. I'm trying to learn how to do the identification of paleo foods myself, with out the need to rely on reference sources to do it for me. Its the teach a man to fish / give a man a fish problem. The books and blogs i feel have given me the fish, i want to lean how to fish.

best answer

7
3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on September 13, 2012
at 07:32 PM

In my opinion, Paleo is not "Eat what our Paleolithic Forbears Ate"

Paleo is -- Our bodies have evolved to eat a certain way. Since the dawn of agriculture, we began to eat (and act, paleo is about the lifestyle, not just the food)) in a way that is not sustainable to our body's physical health. Evolution did not stop, we've continued to evolve. Further, different people have evolved divergently due to when and how foods were available to them (Perfect example, Indigenous North Americans are almost 100% lactose intolerant whereas most Scandinavian people are not.). So we cannot just rely on what people of a certain time period ate. We need to understand the current state of our physical evolution.

The paleo template of eating and living is to eliminate things that may be toxic to your health. Once you are certain you eliminated the toxins, then you can slowly add back food groups that may or may not be a problem to you. If they do not cause problems, then great. If they do, then you know to avoid in the future. You don't need bloggers or a Q&A site to guide you. Listen to your body.

4
E791387b2829c660292308092dc3ca9b

(831)

on September 13, 2012
at 06:00 PM

I am actually with you on this question. As more research comes out we find people storing, eating and cultivating grains and legumes earlier and earlier. I find it impossible to believe that Grok refused any available foods he ran across including wild grains and peas. Just because he didn't cultivate them doesn't mean he didn't eat them. If he ate the seeds off most everything else it is impossible to believe he chose to pass up the seeds of others. And they don't have to be cooked you can eat beans, peas and grains before they dry out on the plant.

There are plenty of dichotomies in this diet. Wine, coffee, chocolate and dairy are fine even though we know for a fact Paleo man did not eat/drink any of them. The biggest problem with it in my opinion is that the people who came up with it are not hunters or foragers. There isn't even any real emphasis on eating mainly wild and foraged foods. They throw a bone that direction but that's about it. Everything at the grocery store today is a modern invention. All the fruits and vegetables and fats and meats are the products of 10,000 years of agriculture. If you really wanted to eat like Grok you would be eating dandelions out of your front yard and killing and eating the squirrels in your bird feeders.

I am not saying the diet is bad at all though. I think it is good and I am following it pretty strictly. But I am working in the occasional ancient grain or chickpea here and there because I have no doubt Grok ate them. And I am putting my emphasis on wild game and foraged greens because they have far more nutritional value and I also know it is the closest thing to what our ancestors ate.

Ce2968ab71119c736ba9d83841c5718a

on September 13, 2012
at 06:23 PM

@greymouser, that's a very good point!

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on September 13, 2012
at 06:04 PM

FWIW, "the Paleolithic Era" isn't defined by a strict time period, so much as a categorical definition of what was going on then. For example, if we discover use of iron in an area from a time period previously thought to be Bronze Age, we don't say "Look! They were using iron in the Bronze Age!", rather we say "Look! In this area the Iron Age started earlier than previously thought."

3
F92e4ca55291c3f3096a3d4d3d854986

(11698)

on September 13, 2012
at 05:21 PM

I wouldn't call the forefathers (and mothers) of Paleo merely "writers and bloggers". More like, really smart scientists. Read them.

Ce2968ab71119c736ba9d83841c5718a

on September 13, 2012
at 05:28 PM

Right, and i don't know who they those highly esteemed scientist are, well one comment told me Cordain and Eaton, any others?

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on September 13, 2012
at 05:37 PM

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=paleo+primal+writers

3
5fbdb4d1266cfbd9dd36b4c219bbdb96

on September 13, 2012
at 05:10 PM

Stick with basic animal products and vegetables for most of your meals. Cut out anything refined, processed, or having ingredients you can not pronounce. Add in small amounts of other things like fruit, nuts, dairy (if you are eating that), etc. At times, try removing something from your diet to see how it makes you feel when you readd it. If you feel good - eat it. If it makes you feel bad - don't eat it.

In my opinion, paleo is a conceptual ideal - how you implement it is totally up to you.

(that may not be the overwhelming view, but it is working for me)

Ce2968ab71119c736ba9d83841c5718a

on September 13, 2012
at 05:17 PM

Not to be nitpicky, but what i understand you to be saying is "Eat Whole Foods". +1 for the nice answer tho.

2
F9638b939a6f85d67f60065677193cad

(4266)

on September 13, 2012
at 09:51 PM

I have seen the following reasons to not eat legumes: 1. It has lectins and anti-nutrients. 2. They need extensive cooking to be edible. 3. First evidence of farming is 6k years ago.

Unfortunately I don't find these arguments to fit the axiom of eat like a paleo man.

Number 1 is based on health benefits, not a bad criterion, but not exactly an ideological reason.

Number 2 The most current evidence is that cooking is 1.8 million years old, which puts it squarely in the paleo time frame, so i find the need for cooking unconvincing.

Number 3 is the most compelling, but just because legume farming started 6k years ago, does not mean they were not eaten before. I think it implies that they were at least eaten sparingly shortly before farming, but then again 6k and paleo are rather disparate.

For more Paleo Diet hacks: With out taking the word of the writers and bloggers, how can I determine for my self what foods are Paleo?

Paleo is sort of a lens to look at something with.

So for legumes, sure, they probably did eat them way back when. But did they base their entire diet on them? Would they have selected legumes over meat? Why or why not?

Perhaps one reason why not is that the preparation of them is time-consuming and the reward is a food that doesn't produce optimal health and vitality nor a good calorie to work ratio. Legumes are not a complete food. Most vegetarians know this.

Perhaps another reason is that meat is always available no matter what the season and it contains fat and a greater concentration of vitamins, minerals and protein than legumes. It can be eaten raw, cooked or dried. Beans take relatively more processing.

Perhaps a reason why they might choose legumes over meat is that meat wasn't available. If it promoted better health, they'd probably choose legumes over meat and you wouldn't be wondering why legumes are not at the top of some blogger's list of healthy paleo foods. You'd be asking why not meat.

Of course, they would not have known about protein or lectins or anything like that back then. That's what our science tells us now. They would have just noticed that it's good to eat foods that make you healthy, promote having healthy offspring and are easy to get at.

If you see paleo as a lens these things are a little easier to see.

I recommend reading Weston A. Price's book. He went out to investigate pre-modern cultures back in the 1930s. You can see some of the wisdom of these pre-modern people that is now pretty much lost to us moderns. You can read the whole thing online here: http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks02/0200251h.html

2
0e687980cc3aaa0464ecc64b16add194

on September 13, 2012
at 05:23 PM

Don't feed the trolls.

1
6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on September 13, 2012
at 08:18 PM

Time machine is the only surefire way to know.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on September 14, 2012
at 12:40 AM

And I appreciated it!

61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on September 14, 2012
at 12:05 AM

That was my first thought, too, but I already went off on him on another post, so it was someone else's turn.

0
A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on September 13, 2012
at 06:50 PM

Who cares what was eaten 5, 10, 20 thousand years ago? Honey was, but I am not touching it. Insects also, blech!

I keep asking my butcher if he has any wooly mammoth and he just looks at me funny.

I mean, seriously, whether or not a bean was eaten by my forebears, really says very little about whether I should.

Consider all the evidence and test things for yourself. The only things I'm more or less convinced of are that refined flours, sugars and veg oils are pretty bad. Some beans, like soy, kidney and peanuts are not so good (for me anyways).

I like things like cod liver oil, coconut oil, and pastured butter. None of that is "paleo". Again, who cares. If it works and makes sense, that's what matters.

0
B6400137b7a50279de74a24a2e08ae7f

on September 13, 2012
at 06:44 PM

I think the most convincing argument I've heard is Paleo's emphasis on optimal, non-inflammatory digestion. From a sci. literature standpoint, there are many conflicting studies, including those that show preparing soy both lowers antinutrients and keeps them the same.

Until there is conclusive evidence on whether preparing grains/legumes/nuts lowers the antinutrients to zilch, we only have our own bodies to listen to. As a healthy person, you're not necessarily going to detect inflammatory reactions to food (even low-grade inflammation) but you might want to consider trying a 30-day elimination diet by eating the paleo staples during that time and then reintroducing one grain/legume/nut at a time to see if it causes a reaction.

If you're interested in this (and the reason you might be is because autoimmune patients have much more pronounced immune reactions to everything, including food so they might serve as a canary in the coalmine), I wrote a blog with some statistics with doctors' reports on how patients with a wide range autoimmune illnesses do with paleo and primal diets. You can read it here: blog.healclick.com/paleo-primal-scd-gaps/

From a personal standpoint, as a patient actively involved in the autoimmune illness community for over 6 years, the two helpful changes I hear most about from other patients are 1) going to a paleo/primal diet and 2) low-dose naltrexone. You can take that FWIW of course.

0
1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

on September 13, 2012
at 05:15 PM

Here is how I see it.

Hardcore paleo vegetation 1. can be eaten raw without adverse affects (taste is a good guide) 2. found wild or grown without the use the herbicides/pesticides and is not GMO

mainstream paleo vegetation 3. must be cooked prior to being eaten and is not a grain, bean, or legume

watered-down paleo vegetation 4. is an "ancient grain" (like aikorn wheat) or "pseudo-grain" like quinoa

healthy, whole/traditional foods "paleo" vegetation 5. is a traditional grain, bean, or legume food that is prepared using ancient techniques to minimize anti-nutriten load and ease digestion


hardcore paleo animal products 1. can be eaten raw and is wild or game meat

mainstream paleo animal products 2. can be eaten raw or cooked and is raised on its natural diet

less-strict paleo (primal if in context of a low carb diet) 3. grass fed dairy

*dirty paleo * 4. animal foods that are fed diets at odds with what they eat in the wild

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 13, 2012
at 05:36 PM

^ Already answered if you can make some inferences based upon bold-faced adjective(s) that precede the word "paleo"

Ce2968ab71119c736ba9d83841c5718a

on September 13, 2012
at 05:18 PM

but why the eat it raw rule? If paleo man could cook?

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 13, 2012
at 05:35 PM

^ Already answered if you can make some inferences based upon bold-faced adjective(s) that proceed the word "paleo"

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