Everybody knows paleo, right? It’s easy-just eat like our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Actually, there is quite a lot of misinformation about the Paleo lifestyle floating about, especially online. It is worth doing a little research to find out what is really involved and then you can make sure that you are getting it right. Here are 4 of the most common ‘paleo myths’.
This can be off-putting for quite a few people who think about switching to a Paleo diet. To be honest, it is easy to turn your nose up at the idea of giant steaks three times a day unless you are a really dedicated carnivore! However, many people actually reduce their meat intake when eating Paleo food, or at least their red meat intake. Personally, I find that seafood makes up the majority of my animal protein and really, meat is behind fish, healthy fats and even coconut products in terms of an important food source. So if you don’t fancy chewing on steaks all day, don’t worry. There are plenty of other Paleo food choices available.
This is an interesting one because there is some truth here. For example, buying free range meat is certainly more expensive than buying the cheapest cut of factory-farmed meat. Likewise, organic fruit and vegetables certainly have a higher ticket price than non-organic. Seems logical that your Paleo food bill will be higher, doesn’t it? Actually, in practice I have found that this simply isn’t the case and I have developed a theory as to why this is.
The average supermarket shopping trolley has a majority of packaged and processed products. Things like ready meals, cookies and boxed cereals for example. Whilst the meat and vegetables bought in a supermarket are cheaper, they aren’t actually responsible for the majority of the bill at the check out.
Compare this to paleo shopping. Sure, the meat and veggies are going to cost more if you buy quality (as you should). You will also be buying somewhat larger quantities. But you will save a small fortune on all the rest! Once you have a basic stock of ingredients like oils, herbs, spices, and maybe something like almond flour, the real cost might be in preparation time rather than money. It is always cheaper to make things from scratch using various Paleo recipes rather than buying ready-made rubbish. Try it for a week or two and see for yourself.
This one is certainly a little bit complicated. You may have read studies that say that a grain-based diet would mean that the planet easily has enough resources to feed the world’s population many times over. This is perhaps true and it is difficult to argue with that, but it isn’t the whole story. If you look at the resources that are used to produce the highly-refined western diet, rich in processed products and chemicals, the whole argument becomes skewed.
What if we all went back to following a Paleo lifestyle? Could the planet sustain everybody if we stopped pouring resources into refining, processing and transforming? And what about the reduced health cost? Surely a more healthy society would actually be more sustainable and be less of a burden on our resources?
Looking at a simple model of grains against meat doesn’t really tell the whole story. In fact, if we want to take things further, there are other models that have been proposed that fit in perfectly with the Paleo lifestyle and offer the possibility of feeding everybody too. Although it isn’t popular (for the moment at least), a diet based on eating insect protein is very sustainable for the world. In some countries, insects already form an important part of the food chain. So there are solutions that will help us to stay healthy and look after the planet.
This is currently getting a lot of press after a study was done on mice. Without getting into the technical details, in my opinion this is ridiculous. I understand perfectly that overly restrictive diets are dangerous and I actually agree that some people can get in trouble with very extreme paleo. But really, let’s take a step back here. Are we honestly saying that a hunter-gatherer diet based on high-quality fish and meat, organic fruit and vegetables and natural fats is bad? Are we saying that following a Paleo diet lifestyle is worse than following a Western diet heavy, in sugar, chemicals and trans-fat? Really?
Is following a Paleo lifestyle the perfect diet solution? I really don’t know! For me, it is certainly an easy and healthy way to eat. Shedding some of these misconceptions should help a few more people give it a go and enjoy the benefits.