What The Heck Is Paleo Dieting?

If you’re anything like me, you eat all kinds of foods, for better or worse.  Still, as I am in my mid-30s,  I’ve reached that point where the “for worse” part is felt a little easier.  I have a gut (or a “paunch,” to use a slightly classier term).  Increasingly, I don’t have nearly the energy level I would like.  This is all despite the fact that I get exercise fairly often.  I don’t even have a vehicle and rarely take cabs or public transportation, so I walk pretty often.

So what’s the problem?  According to advocates of the paleolithic or “paleo” diet, the problem isn’t just that I’m naturally getting old, fat, lazy, etc.  No, the problem is that I’m too centered on a modern diet.  The specific culprits they cite?  Dairy products, grain-based foods, legumes, extra sugar, and processed foods in general.  In their place, paleo diet advocates stress the importance of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, eggs, and lean meats.  The kicker is, I like all of those things they emphasize  already!  Why don’t I emphasize them more in my diet?

Like anything, the paleo diet has its critics.  For example, it’s debated whether the food intake of cavemen is relevant to the modern world, and it’s argued that their digestive systems had to have been different.   But I wonder more if the diet of the modern world is relevant to me.  I hardly think eating those things would have me literally revert to some caveman self.  In fact, I assume I’d end up feeling more modern in some aspects, because I’d probably have more energy to possibly go out and see the world rather than sit around eating potato chips and watching it on a screen.

Now, I don’t want to sound like an utter Ted Kaczynski-style primitivist (I am using a laptop right now, after all), but modern technology and corporate food practices probably haven’t been 100% good for our food.  And if it’s not 100% good for our food, it’s not 100% good for us, obviously.  As the saying goes, we are what we eat.  If we want to improve ourselves it only makes sense to consider possible improvements to our diets.

Given how decent the paleolithic food selections sound, I pretty much don’t even care if it’s a “fad diet,” or whatever dismissive language one might use for it.  I would consider just about any corporate food to be more fad diet than that.  I mean, what is the average candy bar?  The cappuccino that I bought yesterday?  A frozen pizza?  A can of pop (or “soda” if you’re not from the Midwest)?  These all might taste good at times, but they sound more fad-like than vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds,  etc.  In short, I truly and honestly can’t find that much wrong with this diet suggestion.  I’ve even tried to.  In fact, even  if I were a vegetarian, I could certainly modify my diet to still reflect key aspects of the paleo thing.  And maybe it needn’t be an all or nothing thing, you know?  Maybe I could eat well 27 days of the month and dabble in junk food on the rest.

More generally, I find the idea of any diet solution to be interesting.  Is my problem really junk food or the fact that I eat too much of it?  Metabolism is surely another aspect.  If I had a different metabolic rate, I would have a different girth.  If I’d cut down on the sweets even marginally I might feel the difference.  If I pursued this paleo dieting thing, maybe I’d finally lose that flab that’s been annoying me for years.  And, of course, this isn’t just about looks, but about health.  Long story short, I eat too much nonsense right now.

If you’re interested in the pale diet, you can always check out this collection of paleo cookbooks.

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