4

votes

modern misinterpretation of paleo diets

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created October 30, 2011 at 4:12 AM

Possible Duplicate:
Should we take breaks from meat? Did cavemen eat it every day?
Intermittent no-animal-day?

i have a problem with the modern interpretation of the paleolithic diet. some of my friends who adhere to the paleo diet eat mostly meats and veggies. they say that fruits and grains should be minimized.

but i find it hard to believe that ancient man didn't eat tubers, starchy grains, honey and fruits in abundance when they could find them. yes, they weren't the hybridized huge fruits we enjoy today. but no doubt there were smaller versions of figs, dates, peaches, pineapples and mangoes. i also believe that, when the time came for the fruit to ripen, they probably gorged on them.

moreover, with the large mammals that roamed the earth in early days, i believe that meat wasn't a daily part of the paleo diet. it took a lot of time and resources to kill the large mammals, dress them and bring them home. and yet my paleo friends eat meat every day.

i am concerned about the amount of meat that is eaten in what i understand to be the typical modern paleo diet. i am concerned not only for the health of the person eating it, but (moreso) because of the potential environmental effect if the paleo diet goes global.

in my gut, i believe that a lot of the paleo diet makes sense. but i think that it makes sense not because this is how paleo man actually ate, but because i think that americans are addicted to high glycemic carbs and don't eat an wide enough variety of foods. i guess that takes some of the romance out of the paleo diet, but i worry that the romance factor is causing a lot of paleo fans to eat too much meat anyhow.

i have been meaning to write this post for a while. i respect your opinions and hope that you will chime in with your thoughts. thank you!

Medium avatar

(10601)

on October 30, 2011
at 02:48 PM

@kathy, I blundered in to paleo when I realized that my meat eating and high activity matched hunt-and-gather behavior. By this time I had already lost significant weight by restricting high glycemic carbs (the old ADA diet). I had also developed heavy skepticism about "diets" sold by the line of print, whether they involved cabbage, lemonade, macronutrient shifting, banned food lists or a renowned name. I already knew what worked for me, and I continue to be skeptical of sensationists trying to sell their wares. Paleo lit is full of paradoxes (fish oil capsules?) but also some core truths.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on October 30, 2011
at 02:42 PM

I'm closing this because you haven't edited it to make it a real single question that people can answer.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on October 30, 2011
at 02:31 PM

If you can't believe paleo man ate meat at every meal, you should ask that specific question.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on October 30, 2011
at 02:30 PM

so if you personally want to eat the diet that is most sustainable if you calculated for the entire world, you should eat millet gruel at every meal. But that will do nothing for the planet. Hunger is a local problem and we already produce enough food to feed everyone. Hunger is also an issue of delayed demographic transitions. No one here is prescribing the paleo diet to everyone. That would be ridiculous. Many poor people eat pretty paleo anyway- some wild meat or goat occasionally, cassava/yams/etc.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on October 30, 2011
at 11:21 AM

Paleo man ate meat at every meal when he had it.

43fc93341e50688992ebd7de8535da18

(35)

on October 30, 2011
at 07:46 AM

i am familiar with this research. i recently read the book Wheat Belly, and i read the bibliography and notes as well. but i have also read that many of man's oldest ancestors ate grasses and fruits for a much longer time in evolutionary history. therefore i don't entirely buy that we are not genetically predisposed to eating grains.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 30, 2011
at 06:22 AM

SEE SUSTAINABILITY THREAD ABOVE.....

43fc93341e50688992ebd7de8535da18

(35)

on October 30, 2011
at 04:55 AM

it doesn't bother me--i am healthy and happy--but i do worry about the environmental impact of the misinterpreted paleo diet going global. that is honestly what concerns me.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on October 30, 2011
at 04:48 AM

If you diet is working for you, don't let your friends bother you and why would you care whether it's paleo or not? Paleo is for people looking to improve their health by eating closer to our ancestral diet. I thought I was eating a really good diet too when I was vegan, but I was sick and overweight and eventually I wanted to give real paleo a try.

43fc93341e50688992ebd7de8535da18

(35)

on October 30, 2011
at 04:47 AM

sorry for the multiple replies. i am not saying that you all here on this site are misinterpreting the paleo diet. as a matter of fact, i have come here b/c i generally respect what you write here. i am asking about a general, broad misinterpretation of the paleo diet.

43fc93341e50688992ebd7de8535da18

(35)

on October 30, 2011
at 04:45 AM

also--as a bit of personal background, i am a 75% vegetarian, eating chicken when i really jones for meat. i shun high glycemic carbs, but i don't hesitate to eat brown rice and other non-wheat grains. i eat lots of fruits and veggies. i think my diet is really good for me, but my friends say it isn't paleo b/c i eat fruits and grains.

43fc93341e50688992ebd7de8535da18

(35)

on October 30, 2011
at 04:43 AM

i have not looked in detail at your site. i just see a lot of discussion on various nutrition/diet sites that i frequent about the paleo diet, and those conversations seem to focus on shunning fruit and grains and eating lots of meat. it's great that this site is advocating more variety.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on October 30, 2011
at 04:40 AM

yes, please ask one question at a time and use the subject line to get at the gist of the question. But you will find most of your questions have already been answered if you use the search box.

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on October 30, 2011
at 04:36 AM

Kathy - make this a *real* question or I will delete it.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 30, 2011
at 04:34 AM

You read it in the new york times? The article itself is probably worthless, but if you post the actual data/research I'm sure some people will look at it for you.

43fc93341e50688992ebd7de8535da18

(35)

on October 30, 2011
at 04:23 AM

i recently read an article in the new york times that said that the new, earliest skeleton of man that was found indicated that it primarily fed on fruits and grasses. plus, einkorn was found in Otzi's stomach. Otzi was later, of course. i will look for that article and provide a copy. if survival was that tough in paleo times, then why wouldn't paleo man gorge on fruits and dig starchy tubers? that is the part that i don't understand.

  • 43fc93341e50688992ebd7de8535da18

    asked by

    (35)
  • Views
    1.6K
  • Last Activity
    1552D AGO
Frontpage book

Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!

8 Answers

best answer

4
66974b2cb291799dcd661b7dec99a9e2

(11121)

on October 30, 2011
at 05:20 AM

You are free to believe what you want and eat / live as you so choose, we all are. No one knows anything 100% its just not possible. We all must do what we think is best for ourselves. Paleo is not a diet its a lifestyle and a very dynamic one at that. There is no religious dogma to follow, paleo embraces what it means to be 'human' as Nature designed us to be :) An open, mature exchange of thoughts & ideas is part of being Paleo. Articles in the NY Times or any other common publication always have an agenda we all must keep that in mind if we read such things.

Most of my family and my people in general rarely consume carbs in any great amount, its been this way for generations and I have relatives that are in their 80's that still hunt with the younger people.

6
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on October 30, 2011
at 04:36 AM

The problem here is you have multiple questions and if you searched for those questions they have been discussed here multiple times:

I can't find it, but there was a question about what paleolithic people did if they couldn't find big game, and there are many types of animal products that are not big game. There are turtles, rodents, shellfish, fish, bugs, lizards...all kinds of things. So even if there was no mammoth, they were still eating animal products.

The very title of this question shows me that you are posting here without really looking through this site. If you believe we are misinterpreting things, you should first figure out what we believe. You will find a variety of opinions, some that may surprise you. Some people eat lots of fruit, other people eat very little meat. The truth is that Paleolithic hominids ate a variety of things, so you can chose a paleo diet that works for you.

Beyondveg.com is quite excellent for discussion of hominid morphology and diet. Yes, Ardipithecus ramidus and many other ancestral hominids ate mostly plants, but the hominids we are interested in are the ones that have our uniquely large brain. The bulk of the evidence is that in order to evolve that brain, we had to adapt to a source of dense calories and that was either increased animal products or cooked starch. Australopithecines and other mostly plant-eating hominids were significantly different from us, their digestive systems were adapted for more plant-based bulk and their brains didn't need as many calories because they were smaller.

43fc93341e50688992ebd7de8535da18

(35)

on October 30, 2011
at 04:47 AM

sorry for the multiple replies. i am not saying that you all here on this site are misinterpreting the paleo diet. as a matter of fact, i have come here b/c i generally respect what you write here. i am asking about a general, broad misinterpretation of the paleo diet.

43fc93341e50688992ebd7de8535da18

(35)

on October 30, 2011
at 04:43 AM

i have not looked in detail at your site. i just see a lot of discussion on various nutrition/diet sites that i frequent about the paleo diet, and those conversations seem to focus on shunning fruit and grains and eating lots of meat. it's great that this site is advocating more variety.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 30, 2011
at 06:22 AM

SEE SUSTAINABILITY THREAD ABOVE.....

43fc93341e50688992ebd7de8535da18

(35)

on October 30, 2011
at 04:55 AM

it doesn't bother me--i am healthy and happy--but i do worry about the environmental impact of the misinterpreted paleo diet going global. that is honestly what concerns me.

43fc93341e50688992ebd7de8535da18

(35)

on October 30, 2011
at 04:45 AM

also--as a bit of personal background, i am a 75% vegetarian, eating chicken when i really jones for meat. i shun high glycemic carbs, but i don't hesitate to eat brown rice and other non-wheat grains. i eat lots of fruits and veggies. i think my diet is really good for me, but my friends say it isn't paleo b/c i eat fruits and grains.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on October 30, 2011
at 04:48 AM

If you diet is working for you, don't let your friends bother you and why would you care whether it's paleo or not? Paleo is for people looking to improve their health by eating closer to our ancestral diet. I thought I was eating a really good diet too when I was vegan, but I was sick and overweight and eventually I wanted to give real paleo a try.

2
13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on October 30, 2011
at 02:17 PM

I am also concerned about sustainability--that's why I choose pastured/grass fed meats and organic fruits and veggies from local farms. I do wonder if it will actually be sustainable for the whole world, because there are a lot of other factors feeding into that--like unchecked population growth.

However at the same time, I also know what is best for my body. I was a vegetarian for a long time (5 years) and followed that with a mostly vegetarian, low-fat whole food diet for even longer (about 10 years). While I was quite healthy by traditional markers (good blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar, rarely got sick, etc.), I was also quite overweight, suffered with depression and anxiety issues, and often lacked energy. My weight didn't begin to drop until I ditched the grains and upped the fat and meat in my diet. And I'm not particularly low carb since I still eat fruit (daily), starchy tubers and winter squash (2-3x/week), and traditionally prepared legumes (1x/week). My weight is still dropping steadily and my mental health and energy levels have improved dramatically.

I generally avoid describing my diet to friends and family as paleo since that word means so many different things to so many different people. Even in the paleo community I wouldn't really identify as paleo except in the most general sense of the term. I'm probably closer to primal/archevore. If I'm having a conversation about it (which is very, very rare anyway), I just say what I eat (fruits, veggies, meat, fish, healthy fats) and what I avoid (processed food, processed sugar, industrial seed oils, grains--especially gluten grains). That said, I am confused why your friends would consider your diet "not paleo" because of the fruit. I've read several paleo books and websites and have yet to see one say not to eat any fruit. Most just caution against too much fruit--especially non-berry fruits--if you are trying to lose weight.

2
E639bc85fd42430285596434a6515ad5

(2226)

on October 30, 2011
at 06:07 AM

I agree that it's kind of silly to minimize fruits, tubers, or honey (at least for people with good insulin sensitivity).

Grains give a lot of people problems for various reasons. But some people seem to be fine with eating a lot of grains. Grains were likely not consumed in large quantities by our paleolithic ancestors. See this paper for more on grains.

If you are concerned about the environment, don't worry about meat in general: worry about factory-farmed meat ??? as well as factory-farmed corn, soy, wheat, and rice. In other words, worry about all the stuff that paleo dieters tend to avoid. Save the environment: Go paleo!

43fc93341e50688992ebd7de8535da18

(35)

on October 30, 2011
at 07:46 AM

i am familiar with this research. i recently read the book Wheat Belly, and i read the bibliography and notes as well. but i have also read that many of man's oldest ancestors ate grasses and fruits for a much longer time in evolutionary history. therefore i don't entirely buy that we are not genetically predisposed to eating grains.

Medium avatar

(10601)

on October 30, 2011
at 02:48 PM

@kathy, I blundered in to paleo when I realized that my meat eating and high activity matched hunt-and-gather behavior. By this time I had already lost significant weight by restricting high glycemic carbs (the old ADA diet). I had also developed heavy skepticism about "diets" sold by the line of print, whether they involved cabbage, lemonade, macronutrient shifting, banned food lists or a renowned name. I already knew what worked for me, and I continue to be skeptical of sensationists trying to sell their wares. Paleo lit is full of paradoxes (fish oil capsules?) but also some core truths.

1
42f31d2df6a59f40845020e3ffd70394

on October 30, 2011
at 02:01 PM

Paleo is a framework for a simpler way of thinking about food, not a more complex one as your trying to make it. Most people use the evolutionary stance as a starting point and then tinker with foods on an individual basis to see what works for them.

The reason you see a lot of people in the Paleo community focus their diet on meat and vegetables is because thats what they have personally experienced the best results eating. I personally love to gorge on fruit, honey, and sweet potatoes but if I do it for more than a day, my energy and body composition will quickly remind me why I stick to meat and vegetables for the most part. Im sure your friends would love to do the same but experience similar issues with the health markers that they can see and feel on a daily basis.

From a sustainability standpoint, its impossible for us to try and control what the rest of the world is doing. As long as you personally buy the majority of your food from local, sustainable sources, then you are setting an example for others to do the same. Its hard enough getting my closest friends and family members to go Paleo and buy from sustainable sources, so I try not to concern myself with the other 9,999,999,990 of people that would probably not follow the perfect solution even if it existed.

1
93ae9f2d376e5426e891a9b58d8302fa

(2936)

on October 30, 2011
at 04:20 AM

No evidence that our post-australopithecine ancestors ate any carbs at all. The theory that best describes our unique physical features is purely carnivorous:

http://tinyurl.com/3jqbmuo

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 30, 2011
at 04:34 AM

You read it in the new york times? The article itself is probably worthless, but if you post the actual data/research I'm sure some people will look at it for you.

43fc93341e50688992ebd7de8535da18

(35)

on October 30, 2011
at 04:23 AM

i recently read an article in the new york times that said that the new, earliest skeleton of man that was found indicated that it primarily fed on fruits and grasses. plus, einkorn was found in Otzi's stomach. Otzi was later, of course. i will look for that article and provide a copy. if survival was that tough in paleo times, then why wouldn't paleo man gorge on fruits and dig starchy tubers? that is the part that i don't understand.

0
B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on October 30, 2011
at 01:26 PM

perhaps the real problem is over populating the planet.

i doubt paleo man ate meat at every meal, just as i doubt they ate fruit every day or tubers or grains. i bet some days they ate nothing and other days they ate bugs.

fruits and grains have a growing season naturally and so were not available daily; just seasonally. region to region i am sure there was a big difference in diet.

0
43fc93341e50688992ebd7de8535da18

on October 30, 2011
at 07:42 AM

hi--this is the OP, kathy, posting from another computer. a while ago i had read the sustainability thread mentioned above. it is that thread that got me interested in your site. i am still not convinced that the paleo diet can be made sustainable, especially as huge developing nations like china and india turn away from a plant based diet and move toward more meat.

just because a vegetarian diet based on soy, corn, wheat and dairy is NOT sustainable, that doesn't automatically mean that a pasture-raised meat-centric diet IS sustainable. this is especially true when one considers that in about 40 years we will be at 10 billion people worldwide. i find it hard to believe that, at that time, humans will be able to raise meat on the prairies and then process it and deliver it to the city centers in a sustainable manner. for 10 billion people, that is.

but getting back to my original question: do you really think that paleo man ate meat at every meal, like my paleo friends do? i guess i just find that very difficult to believe.

thank you again.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on October 30, 2011
at 02:30 PM

so if you personally want to eat the diet that is most sustainable if you calculated for the entire world, you should eat millet gruel at every meal. But that will do nothing for the planet. Hunger is a local problem and we already produce enough food to feed everyone. Hunger is also an issue of delayed demographic transitions. No one here is prescribing the paleo diet to everyone. That would be ridiculous. Many poor people eat pretty paleo anyway- some wild meat or goat occasionally, cassava/yams/etc.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on October 30, 2011
at 02:31 PM

If you can't believe paleo man ate meat at every meal, you should ask that specific question.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on October 30, 2011
at 11:21 AM

Paleo man ate meat at every meal when he had it.

Answer Question


Get FREE instant access to our
Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!