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The Paleo Identity Crisis: What Is The Paleo Diet, Anyway?
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November 1, 2011
4:42 pm
Best Paleo explanati

[...] The Paleo Identity Crisis: What Is The Paleo Diet, Anyway? - GNOLLS.ORG Saw this blog post which I'm sure most of you are probably familiar with. I thought it was an [...]

November 2, 2011
10:48 am
Mike Ellwood

I'm personally not a fan of the term "paleo diet" for the simple reason that (as you amply write about) we don't really have a lot of information about exactly what people in the palaeolithic period(s) ate, beyond meat (which seems obvious, especially given our short guts).

I came to low-carb-high-fat thanks mainly to Gary Taubes and Jimmy Moore. People who have read GC, BC may remember that one researcher way back that Taubes writes about asked experts he could find, what foods did people evolve to eat, and got the answer "fatty meat", and that's what he based his reducing diets on (with some optional green vegetables).

That is essentially the approach I took to "low-carbing", except that I allowed myself eggs, butter and cheese (raw if I could get it). I instantly gave up all grains and starchy vegetables (and didn't miss them!), and of course all forms of sugar (including most fruit except on rare occasions).

I figured that (c.f. Stefansson), although agriculture is relatively new, pastoralism is a lot older, and we probably had access to eggs and milk for longer than people may think (and there wasn't much to do with milk except to let it ferment, once you'd drunk as much of the fresh stuff as you could before it went off.). This was without having read anything about "paleo" diets. As far as I was concerned I was just "low-carbing" in the original way it was conceived, and that's how I still think of it. If it happens to (more or less) coincide with what people call "paleo", well that's all right but I'm not going to worry about definitions.

I must say that your description of your interpretation of "paleo" is about the best one I've read to date.

I must say that I'm glad the organisers of AHS used that term "Ancestral Health". It feels closer to what I think I'm sort of doing ... I'm approximating to the diet of my ancestors, although it's a bit of a guess, and the best I can do in the 21st century.

November 2, 2011
12:19 pm
Halifax, UK
Forum Posts: 364
Member Since:
June 5, 2011
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Eat like your grandparents!

I touched upon some of what you said in my little post here: musing that we benefit from a pastoral lifestyle and one in which some wild grains were eaten, certainly root vegetables, certainly dairy and an increasing tendency towards storage of food while persisting in a largely nomadic lifestyle with an emphasis upon hunting. There was some tendency towards preparing vegetables, cooking vegetables and using stoneware to cook with.

This is the epipaleolithic, or entering the mesolithic.

I think this best describes what "paleo" people actually eat.

Living in the Ice Age

November 2, 2011
10:16 pm
Mike Ellwood

@Paul Halliday: Thanks for that.

But what are you trying to say here? I may be getting on a bit, but even my grandparents weren't around in the palaeolithic period! 🙂 (Just kidding).

More seriously, grandparents - yes and no actually. They lived in a rural part of northern England, had 7 children, lived well into their 80s, Grandad worked in a shipyard till his 70s, both worked very very hard, and were pretty healthy until old age. He grew a load of vegetables, tomatoes and kept chickens. Even so, during the depression and the war, they went hungry. He was often out of work. And after the war, when things got a bit better, they'd be eating things like white bread spread with margarine and jam, and sugar in their tea (along with healthier things as well). Even so, Grandad remained lean all his life.

Thanks for the link. Very interesting.

However, I was never a big fan of potatoes, (and don't see how my longer term ancestors would have had access to them, and I'm not sure if anything resembling them grew here then), and I think fat in the amount I have it probably leaves me fairly mellow. I've always believed in real food, both before and after low-carbing, and I think I'd describe myself as a Real Food, High Fat, Low-Carber, with a nod back towards my ancestors, whom I follow in spirit, if not in the letter.

Best Wishes,

November 3, 2011
2:36 am
Forum Posts: 2045
Member Since:
February 22, 2010
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Mike, Paul:

As has been argued many times, "paleo" is more closely defined by what we avoid than what we eat.

When "paleo" first began, the "avoid" list was based on archaeology, and included or excluded foods based on "was it eaten in the Paleolithic?"  As we move toward a more nuanced understanding of exactly what components of food are bad for us, we can make finer distinctions.

However, we must be careful not to descend into the opposite of nutritionism, or "anti-nutritionism" as I like to call it.  Just because we've discovered some anti-nutrients (phytate, gluten/gliadin, phytoestrogens) doesn't mean we've discovered all of them -- and just because pressure-cooking decreases some of the known anti-nutrients in beans doesn't automatically mean pressure-cooked beans are good to eat. 

Frankly, we're at the stage that nutritionism was in the early 1900s, when the first vitamins were just being discovered.  I'm reluctant to make sweeping judgments like "legumes are OK" based on knowledge I know to be dramatically incomplete. 


December 6, 2011
8:23 pm
“The Paleo Identity

[...] Stanton, of recently published an absolute MUST read to get your mind around this discussion.  Great info, well written and cool VIDEOS too. He calls [...]

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