Paleo is a buzz word in nutrition. I first heard a concept of “eating like cavemen” a few years ago. I vividly remember a picture in my mind: scruffy lean Neanderthal (or is it Cromanian???) ripping apart an animal carcass with his teeth, digging in the dirt for edible plants and shivering in his cave. Why would i want THAT? (You can tell I know nothing about anthropology!)
If you punch the words “Paleo diet” into Google, you will be introduced to a whole community. You will see words like “hunter-gatherer”, “primal”, “animalistic”.
The basic idea is humans evolved for millions of years to eat a certain diet. The advent of agriculture and consequent introduction of grains and dairy approximately 10 thousand years ago is a very recent event in evolutionary terms. Our genes have not adapted to this radical change in our food supply. Humans had been eating a diet high in animal protein and meat for almost 2 million years prior to that.
As in every other nutritional community, confusion reigns. Some followers eschew grains only, some don’t consume dairy, others attempt to re-enact their own romantic idea of hunter-gatherer lifestyle. One concept that unites them all is the desire to return to natural nutritious food, free of additives, modifications, fads, chemicals, preservatives, enhancers and fortified ingredients.
I am not strictly Paleo. I enjoy full-fat dairy, like delicious thick cream in my coffee or aged cheddar in my omelette. I sometimes (gasp!) give in to a piece of sourdough bread. But I do believe that we lost our way with nutrition. Somehow our food turned into “stuff with stuff in it”. How many calories are in an average muffin? How much fat is in your favorite yoghurt? How much protein is added to your cereal? I bet you know the answers to these questions. If your highly processed chocolate-flavoured skim milk happens to lack vitamin D, never fear! The good manufacturer is going to improve their deficient product by adding extra vitamin D. Regardless of the fact that you need fat for vitamin D absorption. Oops! Looks like Mother Nature knew what she was doing after all!
I have a challenge for you today. Open your pantry. Don’t worry, I am not going to pick on you for a box of Tim Tams (in case of unexpected guests, of course) or a packet of crisps. You and I know that it’s junk. Instead, pick up a box of your cereal. The one with a Heart Foundation tick on it. Go down to ingredients. How many of these do you recognize? How many can you pronounce? Do you know what they are for? Finally, are any of these FOOD in their own right???
I didn’t think so.