A Quick Paleo Follow-up; Vegans/Vegetarians Take Note!

19 04 2013

which diet is right for me

Hey guys,

A buddy of mine just brought another blog post to my attention, and it is a very nice follow-up to this morning’s post on Paleo: My Vegan Diet Caused Health Problems. Would Primal, Paleo, Or “Real Food” Be Better? This is the story of a former hardcore vegan, what her life was like on a vegan diet, why she decided to make changes, and how her health and quality of life improved by removing low-quality vegan foods (grains, legumes, soy, etc.) and replacing them with high-quality animal foods. The post is very detailed, and is an absolute must-read for any vegans or vegetarians following my blog- especially any of you who are pregnant or plan to have children!

It also really hammers home one thing that I feel very strongly about: We all have our own codes of morals and ethics, but when it comes to nutrition, personal health should be priority #1 and ethics should be priority #2- and I also firmly believe that there are ethical ways to abide by any type of diet, as long as you seriously want to make it work.

I sincerely think that many people will be able to relate to this post, so give it a read and maybe it will open your eyes!

DW

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The Paleo Diet: Taking Things Personally

19 04 2013

Oh, the Paleo diet. Up until about a week ago, I never actually looked into what exactly “Paleo” was all about, mostly because the name is pretty self-explanatory: if paleolithic man could eat it, it’s part of the diet; if not, it’s out. In my head, it was basically a strict version of eating healthy foods, although I really didn’t know the stipulations. Additionally, Paleo has been developing a reputation for being a bit over-the-top, and is closely linked to the booming Crossfit trend, which again, is a bit over-the-top. Before I begin, I’ve got to point your attention to this:

What is the Paleo Diet?

From www.robbwolf.com (Robb Wolf is essentially the world’s Paleo guru): The Paleo diet is the healthiest way you can eat because it is the ONLY nutritional approach that works with your genetics to help you stay lean, strong and energetic! Research in biology, biochemistry, Ophthalmology, Dermatology and many other disciplines indicate it is our modern diet, full of refined foods, trans fats and sugar, that is at the root of degenerative diseases such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression and infertility. 

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For a detailed explanation, feel free to visit the What Is The Paleo Diet? page of Robb Wolf’s website, but the bottom line is that the Paleo diet is all about eating lean protein, fruits & vegetables for carbs, and getting healthy fats from nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, fish oil and grass-fed meat. No sugar, no processed food, no grains, etc. That’s it. It is extremely simple, and is essentially how I eat, and how I recommend others eat if they want to lose fat and get healthier. It’s an absolutely great concept, and I would recommend Paleo to nearly anyone.

So what’s the problem?

There is absolutely no problem the with diet itself. The “controversy” surrounding the Paleo movement (from my perspective), is the following:

1) The general attitude from the Paleo camp is extremely condescending. It’s Paleo, or you’re an idiot. Eating a piece of bread? You’re not worthy. Eating cheese? You must be trying to kill yourself. It’s an all-or-nothing attitude, and frankly, it makes the diet unappealing to people.

2) The name of the diet, Paleo, isn’t exactly spot on, and this was tackled in a recent TED Talk by Christina Warinner:

If you have the time, it’s worth a watch, but she clearly has her own biases, and she wasn’t debunking the Paleo diet, she was debunking the name of the Paleo diet. It’s straight-up cherry-picking, and you can imagine how it came across to the Paleo crowd (who as I mentioned, are a sensitive bunch). As a matter of fact, Robb Wolf submitted his own rebuttal, both in blog form, and via podcast. I recommend simply reading the blog, as it covers everything said in the podcast- although listening to the podcast will give you a very clear idea of how passionate/sensitive/over-the-top he is about Paleo. What it boils down to is a woman looking for 15 minutes of fame, and she does so by smashing the name of an extremely healthy and beneficial diet, just to prove a point that “Paleo” isn’t necessarily an accurate description. Robb Wolf then throws stones back in her direction. In fairness to him, he pretty much had to defend his turf, but it all seems very childish (although Robb, I agree, she started it. Baha).

The Bottom Line

I will never say anything bad about the Paleo diet. The general concept is fantastic- eat natural foods, don’t eat processed foods. Hmmmm… where have you read this before??? I do however, have an issue with someone looking down on me for eating beans, or low-fat dairy, or having the occasional, delicious, Belgian beer. In my opinion, life is about balance and everything has a place, in moderation. As things stand today, my diet is actually very close to being Paleo (I’ve stopped eating dairy, I eat very few legumes, hardly every eat grains, and drink only on special occasions), with the one big exception being post-workout. As a strength athlete, I need my sugar after workouts. Remove dextrose from my life, and I will be an unhappy creature. Should I ever stop strength training, I’ll drop the sugar and my diet will essentially be Paleo, although I can’t picture the words “I only eat Paleo” ever coming out of my mouth (again, because the name doesn’t exactly reflect the diet, and also, because I don’t want to be one of “those guys”).

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A healthy diet is a healthy diet, and eating crap is eating crap. If you abide by the Paleo diet, good for you- it’s an amazing lifestyle choice, and you’re way ahead of the general population… just please, don’t act like you’re better than everyone else because you eat very restricted, healthy diet. We need more people out there to embrace a healthy lifestyle, and being exclusionary and condescending helps nobody. Embrace the fact that you take strides to eat healthy, and help others do the same- even if they want to eat some ice cream every now and then. Or pizza. Mmmm…. pizza.

For more information on the Paleo diet or other healthy lifestyle alternatives, you know how to find me!

Happy Friday!

DW