Friday, March 23, 2012

Paleo Ad Nausea

Dig the Latin?

There’s been a lot of binary thinking going on when it comes to my approach to eating – much of it mine. But not all.

First: Let’s do me

I can freely admit that I have been over-using the word Paleo to describe my diet approach. Especially considering the amount of milk I drink. There have been many occasions where my dietary choices have had less to do with anything you could specifically label ‘Paleo’ and a lot more to do with simply not eating crap.

But then there’s the whole debate on what is and isn’t crap. I stay the hell away from all grains, even though I can’t say I’ve ever had an issue with white rice, or rice noodles for that matter. But all breads, cereals etc are all ‘crap’ to me, and it doesn’t matter how much delicious meat you stuff in a bun, I know enough to know I shouldn’t eat the bun. Without grossing out anybody, it’s hard to make it clear to you. Just know that shit is off my menu for good.

I also love to binge once a week on ice cream. I’ll eat a litre (1 quart) by myself in an evening. Just like milk and cheese, that’s certainly not Paleo. But it’s explained right here as not being that bad.

Oh, and here it’s actually called the ‘Primal’ blueprint. WTF. Which brings me to definitions.

Second: Let’s try and define some easy shit

I don’t get much respect in certain circles for referring to what I do as Paleo. It’s beset with contradictions and grey areas, certainly. But so are most things, when you really try to pin them down, or define their parameters. I mean, unless you’ve done more than a little reading on any one concept (and I’ll keep it in the nutrition genre for simplicity’s sake), you’re likely to misunderstand the finer points. Assuming there are any. And if you've done a whole butt load of reading on a concept, you're bound to find some distinctions are blurred.

Please keep in mind, these perspectives I do not subscribe to.

What is a vegetarian, and exactly where is the line when it comes to eating fish and eggs? I’ve been informed that thanks to human intervention virtually none of the factory eggs sold in supermarkets for the last half century were ever going to hatch into chicks, so there’s no issue with eating them. Similarly, apparently fish do not possess central nervous systems and/or don’t feel pain, so it’s okay to kill them.

What does being vegan actually mean (and can you in fact eat things that cast a shadow)? Where and how does it fit in with the basic needs of any human who wants to survive and thrive? And are legitimate Hindus kinda pissed off about the hipsters misappropriating aspects of their culture?

And just what the hell is raw?! Here’s one not-so-convenient definition, provided by Breaking Muscle:
Eating mostly raw is usually related to being one hundred percent vegan, but there are many people who follow a raw foods diet and also consume raw, organic, unpasteurized milk, and raw meat and eggs.' SO whatever I'm doing, it isn't raw. Love me a greasy burger and chocolate milk now and then.

Third: let’s settle some stuff

There’s plenty more scientific inquiry and application behind the ‘Paleo’ approach than some people will give credence to.

It has been put to me recently that pretty much all high-protein and fatty-food style diets originated with the infamous Dr Atkins. And, as Dr Atkins died of high cholesterol and/or related heart disease, diets which borrow the basic principles of Atkins own (like the hip, happening new Paleo scene) are not to be trusted.

Actually, Atkins didn’t die from an illness directly related to his diet. This is a widely circulated untruth perpetuated by factions with vested interests in Big Agriculture (and according to this article, fringe vegan reactionaries… scary).

He lived to 75 before dying of Cardiomyopathy; a weakening and/or thickening of the heart muscle. Though the term is more broadly used to describe a variety of problems related to heart function, it is no indication as to his cholesterol levels or general health, and it was most likely congenital.

And Atkins was certainly not the originator of all diets in this vein. The general consensus is that the first recorded ‘high-protein/fat, low carbohydrate’ diet was that of William Banting in 1862, which is described as: “four meals per day, consisting of meat, greens, fruits, and dry wine. The emphasis was on avoiding sugar, saccharine matter, starch, beer, milk and butter. Banting’s pamphlet was popular for years to come, and would be used as a model for modern diets”.

…and I’m back to defending my milk consumption.

So, really, there is no nice, neat, clearly defined diet sitting on the high protein/fat OR high carb side of the fence. I cannot tell you that what I’m doing is 100% Paleo, 100% raw, or any other variant. I’m just paying attention to shit, and learning as I go.

And it’s working.

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