8

votes

Do you think that examining the finer points of Paleo sometimes causes more harm than good?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 25, 2013 at 1:54 AM

Do you think that for some, over-examination of what constitutes a Paleo diet can result in more harm (obsessive calorie-counting, OCD, bingeing, etc), than good?

Should there be, a Paleo maxim, or a few defined rules of basic nutritional/dietary advice?

If so, what would be your five paleo/primal.perfect health diet/ principles? Maybe these could be combined and boiled down to five basics?

E253f8ac1d139bf4d0bfb44debd1db21

on January 26, 2013
at 01:17 AM

I have to nitpick about the "eat real food" point. It's just not that simple for people who don't know what real food _really_ is. For example, grain fed beef with abnormal omega6 to omega3 ratios cannot be considered real.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on January 25, 2013
at 04:58 PM

Great advice all around. I especially love #1 & 5. I have Eastern European Jewish ancestry...probably why I don't do so well with tropical fruits. Not much of those to be had in Poland hundreds of years ago! ;-) (Then again, I do great with coconut oil, so who knows...) And #5 is absolutely key. Diet is a huge part of all this, but still just one part. It's so easy to chalk everything up to micronutrient deficiencies or excesses. We forget about the importance of fresh air, daylight, natural sounds and scents, etc. I want to get Sisson's new book...as if I need it. Preaching to the choir.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on January 25, 2013
at 04:26 PM

"Do you think that for some, over-examination of what constitutes a Paleo diet can result in more harm than good?" YES. YES, I DO.

3f1f6d5d00e4a2078a99a07e0a6b2aea

(170)

on January 25, 2013
at 02:46 PM

Dude, you are wise!... I feel like you've expressed it perfectly.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on January 25, 2013
at 02:42 PM

And no offense to the raw vegan converts in our ranks, but it really is questionable when folks hop from one overly-restrictive diet to the next. An underlying problem is not being addressed.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on January 25, 2013
at 02:41 PM

Somebody disagrees. But as good as paleo should be for folks recovering from disordered eating, it does enable such folks to continue with disordered eating. The restrictive nature, the constant analysis... no surprise paleos often get labeled as orthorexics.

7b20db75b09540914bd0c852e868a9d6

(454)

on January 25, 2013
at 04:13 AM

my favorite saying: don't let perfect be the enemy of good.

26b0f1261d1a0d916825bd0deeb96a21

(5798)

on January 25, 2013
at 03:10 AM

I think you are correct. Top notch answer!

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on January 25, 2013
at 03:09 AM

Yeah...fives too many. You can boil it down to 3 and maybe even as low as 1 rule.

Bfd70bb38267fcc2d762063d691fa226

(723)

on January 25, 2013
at 02:15 AM

Thanks! :) I want to also add a note of emphasis to point number 3...I was VLC for a few months and after losing about 30 pounds, I started having uncontrollable urges to binge on nuts and nut butter. This continued for months until I added small portions of sweet potatoes. The binge desires eventually stopped. I was scared of those few extra carbs but they were nothing compared to the thousands of calories consumed in nut binges. I actually lost weight since I wasn't bingeing anymore. So....listen to your body! It knows what its doing!

26b0f1261d1a0d916825bd0deeb96a21

(5798)

on January 25, 2013
at 02:05 AM

This is an excellent answer. I love every bit of advice.

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7 Answers

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6
Bfd70bb38267fcc2d762063d691fa226

(723)

on January 25, 2013
at 02:01 AM

  1. Avoid processed junk. Processed stuff like artificial sweeteners cause bloating and digestive discomfort.
  2. Don't be scared of carbs, especially after you have reached your goal weight or thereabouts and especially if you are very active. Just make sure they are safe starches like sweet potatoes.
  3. Listen to your body. This is the best way to avoid binge disorder.
  4. Avoid grains, legumes, refined sugar. These will cause problems with regards to knowing when your body is satisfied.
  5. Experiment using paleo foods. Not everyone does well with fasting. Some find that multiple smaller meals work for them. Meal frequency is not one size fits all. Also, experiment with macro ratios. Again, not everyone will function on the same ratios because everyone has different sizes and activity levels.

Bfd70bb38267fcc2d762063d691fa226

(723)

on January 25, 2013
at 02:15 AM

Thanks! :) I want to also add a note of emphasis to point number 3...I was VLC for a few months and after losing about 30 pounds, I started having uncontrollable urges to binge on nuts and nut butter. This continued for months until I added small portions of sweet potatoes. The binge desires eventually stopped. I was scared of those few extra carbs but they were nothing compared to the thousands of calories consumed in nut binges. I actually lost weight since I wasn't bingeing anymore. So....listen to your body! It knows what its doing!

26b0f1261d1a0d916825bd0deeb96a21

(5798)

on January 25, 2013
at 02:05 AM

This is an excellent answer. I love every bit of advice.

7
510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20888)

on January 25, 2013
at 02:46 AM

It all depends on your approach and understanding of the science. Not everything counts equal. For example, you can get 95% of the benefit from cutting grains and industrial seed oils and cutting back on sugar. Everything else that we nitpick on PH is a very small effect compared to that. So of you're putting tons of energy and thought into the small stuff, I can see it doing more harm than good. But if its fun for you, doesn't cause you stress and you enjoy tweaking, then it's fine. Basically it comes down to understanding the cost and benefit of everything and you have to decide where you want to be.

Personally, I like tweaking here and there, but I know it doesn't make a big difference so I don't stress about it. And if I'm on vacation or something, I just stick to the big three (grains, oils, sugar) and let the other stuff go.

I do think that people start to get over insane about stuff. Especially when it gets to the point of nutrition reductionism (see the Brazil nuts on salads post from not too long ago). Keep it simple: eat real food.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on January 25, 2013
at 03:09 AM

Yeah...fives too many. You can boil it down to 3 and maybe even as low as 1 rule.

3f1f6d5d00e4a2078a99a07e0a6b2aea

(170)

on January 25, 2013
at 02:46 PM

Dude, you are wise!... I feel like you've expressed it perfectly.

E253f8ac1d139bf4d0bfb44debd1db21

on January 26, 2013
at 01:17 AM

I have to nitpick about the "eat real food" point. It's just not that simple for people who don't know what real food _really_ is. For example, grain fed beef with abnormal omega6 to omega3 ratios cannot be considered real.

2
E253f8ac1d139bf4d0bfb44debd1db21

on January 25, 2013
at 04:54 AM

I think its about having access to good quality information in order to make the best possible decisions. Over-examination can be considered to be a normal response to conflicting information. Ideally once one is confident about pursuing a particular strategy there should be very little anxiety about implementation and little fuel for compulsion about non-essential detail.

An observation during my time at the paleohacks microcosm is that it attracts a few folks who seem to be rather angry and take offence when their assumptions are challenged.

These same people have a tendency to swarm and blindly support their colleagues, which promotes an echo chamber effect. This can make the introduction of new ideas and information unnecessarily onerous.

Consequently, academic discourse and refinement of ideas rarely takes place and a number of sometimes irreconcilably conflicting positions are put forward.

Ultimately a n=1 approach is adopted, i.e. do what works best for you. Of course this not very helpful.

In my view the 5 principles are knowledge-based and should be:

  1. Ancestry: paleo is a genetic diet - based on the genes of your ancestors, which presumably have undergone very little change. Find out as much as you can about your genetic ancestry and the types of foods and activities your ancestors were habituated to.
  2. Yourself: gain an understanding of what works for you based on what you know about your response to food and activity in your history.
  3. Nutrition and exercise: understand the fundamental principles of the metabolism of macro and micronutrients and how various activities (exercise, rest, stress) modulate it.
  4. What makes you happy: this is related to the reward system in your brain and ultimately influences everything in your life
  5. Modern environment and how it impacts your paleo self: additives in food, noise pollution, watching television, using drugs, etc. The list goes on.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on January 25, 2013
at 04:58 PM

Great advice all around. I especially love #1 & 5. I have Eastern European Jewish ancestry...probably why I don't do so well with tropical fruits. Not much of those to be had in Poland hundreds of years ago! ;-) (Then again, I do great with coconut oil, so who knows...) And #5 is absolutely key. Diet is a huge part of all this, but still just one part. It's so easy to chalk everything up to micronutrient deficiencies or excesses. We forget about the importance of fresh air, daylight, natural sounds and scents, etc. I want to get Sisson's new book...as if I need it. Preaching to the choir.

1
532cfd279d793e8fcc23b9f6d91dde5c

(1981)

on January 25, 2013
at 02:22 AM

I think it depends on your motives for examining those points. Some of us were detail-obsessed geeks from way back, and really enjoy reading about the science of this or that supplement, food or intervention. I think that's okay, and not harmful.

For someone who's not interested in those details for their own sake, but is only interested in trying to optimize health, I do think all this information can leave one feeling stranded in a quagmire of disparate and conflicting statements, and would be best served by adopting an outlook like cocobean's.

1
32be195157f00ad15a933b8bb333dcc4

(379)

on January 25, 2013
at 02:01 AM

My understanding of paleo doesn't involve any calorie counting or bingeing, as opposed to previous (also successful) weight loss attempts.

I can see other issues such as how many supplements do I need to take, am I eating enough variety, etc.

I think paleo already is a few defined rules of basic dietary advice. When I distill it down for people, it comes to this:

Eat a variety of unprocessed food. Don't eat grains or beans or other things that you affect you personally.

26b0f1261d1a0d916825bd0deeb96a21

(5798)

on January 25, 2013
at 03:10 AM

I think you are correct. Top notch answer!

0
D87cf7bb07cfc85acf7203c17065d239

(268)

on January 25, 2013
at 05:25 AM

I do find myself overanalyzing ingredient labels for their paleo-ness, eg. if I'm shopping at a different store and the only coconut milk has some weird ingredients. Just this once? Is guar gum ok? how much? It gets really tiring and I do try to keep things simple. Its my personality type though. But no I don't think theres a danger of binging or anything

0
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on January 25, 2013
at 04:02 AM

Paleo does attract quite a few folks with disordered eating. Anorexics who replace one kind of disordeded eating with another, you'll see posts from there around here now and then. They don't stick around though, they're mostly passing through onto their next sad attempt at normalized eating. Also appears to happen in the raw vegan, fruititarian crowds too.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on January 25, 2013
at 02:42 PM

And no offense to the raw vegan converts in our ranks, but it really is questionable when folks hop from one overly-restrictive diet to the next. An underlying problem is not being addressed.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on January 25, 2013
at 02:41 PM

Somebody disagrees. But as good as paleo should be for folks recovering from disordered eating, it does enable such folks to continue with disordered eating. The restrictive nature, the constant analysis... no surprise paleos often get labeled as orthorexics.

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