“Modern day primal living.” That pretty much sums up my lifestyle. I like to get back to basics while continuing to operate in an advanced world.
In the last year I've adopted a (mostly) paleo way of living, which I get a lot of questions about. The paleo diet is based on the paleolithic era. The scientific argument in favor of this choice is that we as people operate best when existing on food that cavemen ate because that is what we are most genetically adapted to. The agricultural revolution that brought grains and, eventually, processed foods into our lives was a relatively new phenomenon and is arguably the cause of a lot of disease in modern-day society.
So I avoid wheat, grains, beans and soy, refined sugars and other non-ancestral food items and I limit my dairy intake.
I've gotten pretty used to taking flack for my lifestyle choices. Most vegetarians and some scientists are opposed to the paleo lifestyle because they're concerned about overconsumption of animals and the impact that might have on the world and on our bodies. I'll leave that up to you to investigate on your own. I highly recommend the book The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf for those who are interested. He and I share a very similar history with vegetarianism and subsequent illnesses.
The Paleo Line and Ongoing Debate within the Community
What might surprise some of you, though, is that there is still ongoing debate in the world of paleo living about what truly qualifies as paleo and how far this concept should be taken. There are some very hard lines: no gluten EVER. No soy or beans. And then there are some foods that are generally considered to be not great but not terribly harmful either. Then there are truly controversial items, drawn from nature but packaged by man to the extent that it begs the question: it may not be harmful, but why not eat something straight from the earth instead? Why not cook everything from scratch?
That's where my love of all-natural, palo lifestyle comes into conflict a little bit with my modern-day needs. There are certain luxuries I've gotten used to. Conveniences that I rely on for my life in this fast-paced world, and I like to find a happy medium. So sometimes I turn to things that are “on the fringe.”
These are my favorites of those things.
- Bacon – Highly-processed meat that often has nitrate additives, bacon is fatty and pretty unnatural.
- Sweet potatoes – These starchy, high-sugar vegetables tamper with the blood glucose in a way that is said to cause inflammation throughout the body. But they're natural. And downright delicious.
- Wine – Cavemen didn't drink alcohol. But I do, and so do many other paleo enthusiasts.
- Swerve – This one-to-one sugar substitute is extracted from fruits and vegetables using a non-chemical process and it doesn't affect blood glucose. Some say it's too good to be true. I say I deserve a little sweetness in my life, and this is hands-down the best option I've found (no yicky aftertaste like Stevia!).
- Fruit – Eaten in large quantities, the sugar in fruit causes lots of highs and lows in the way your body operates. It's generally regarded as a once-in-a-while snack, although there are some paleo enthusiasts who cut out fruit altogether for periods of “detox.”
- Dark chocolate – Low-sugar chocolate (or even pure ground cocoa beans) has many heart benefits and helps me stave off cravings for things like Oreos and cake. But cavemen sure as heck didn't eat it.
- Tomato sauce – Tomato sauce is usually bought in an aluminum can, a modern and arguably unhealthy convenience that people in the paleolithic era certainly didn't have access to. Tomatoes are also a nightshade, a type of vegetable that is known to be harmful to those with autoimmune disorders and digestive sensitivities.
- Seeds – Seeds have many benefits but are also chock full of phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors that limit the body's absorption of vitamins and minerals. I do munch on a Trio bar now and again because they're soooo delicious, and I haven't had any nutritional imbalance issues.
So there you have it. A little more insight into paleo living.
Is there anything else in particular you're wondering about it?