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Thread: "Paleo is an overreaction with good intentions"?

  1. #1

    "Paleo is an overreaction with good intentions"?

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    This is an interesting comment I found on this blog item: I feel people like Mark, and Richard Nikoley are not reeneacment (mark eats cheese, Nikoley eats potatoes), and I think the Primal lifestyle is basically Paleo readapted for modern times. Primal even allows for carbs, no? Most of us are not about ZERO carb. Anyway read the comment, he does have some fair observations:

    Sorry for the long post…
    I certainly agree that paleo is a bad term for a diet. What began with a belief in what paleo man ate being what’s best for us to eat has evolved, ironically, into a diet that should be “as close to natural as possible, while living within the modern world.” That’s on one hand, on the other there are goofballs who don’t wear deodorant and pretend to hunt mastodons, barefoot, with fake spears, down at the beach.

    For me, it’s a fine way to eat, but I don’t feel any difference when I do eat grains (or beans or milk). I choose not to eat a lot of grain, despite overwhelming evidence that we should eat whole grains vs refined grains. I’ve not seen much evidence that we are healthier WITH grains vs without. If this has been studied, please let me know. I hear that I’m missing out on vital micronutrients, but when I ask which ones and where that’s been studied, somehow the other guy has to go do something else and never comes back with the answer.

    I’ll say that, without any actual evidence, I think it’s likely that many people eventually develop autoimmune conditions after repeated and constant exposure to a lot of things that our bods can’t really take well. Likely the things in wheat (and other grains), seeds, and legumes. 50 years of leaky gut that we don’t actually feel might lead to bad stuff.
    On the fitcast, Jon said that we are now better able to diagnose ADD, ADHD, autism, etc. I agree with him. I’ll add dementia, alzheimer’s, crohn’s disease, Celiac, and things like these. We are diagnosing them better, but maybe our bad eating habits drive the numbers higher, too.

    Yes, they have a genetic component, which can mean that some people are more genetically disposed to getting something. That doesn’t mean that you won’t go 60 years and suddenly end up with one. If you avoided certain foods, maybe you’d have never gotten it (or developed it far enough to show the bad effects).

    I’ll give my opinion of evolving to better handle grains… We evolve because we survive long enough to make kids. Grains don’t kill us or make us sterile, at least not early in life, so we have kids and so do the guys who don’t eat grains. Nowadays, doctors make evolution work even more poorly. They save kids that would have died from diseases, allergies, stupidity, and intolerances. We have not evolved in our ability to eat anything in a long, long time.
    In the early man stages, it’s certainly possibly that a lot of us died young from eating _____ or not having enough ____, leading to what we are now.

    Adaptation is different, but I haven’t worked that out. I can adapt up to a point, but I don’t pass that adaptation down to my kids and my kids don’t adapt to the same thing any better than I do.

    I’ll also say that paleo people give paleo a bad name. Their books are full of accidental misstatements that are just plain sloppy. I read one where he goes off on the ubiquity of HFCS, then soon brings up fructose as another item of concern. All good, so far. Then he slips and starts calling HFCS fructose, which it’s not. He knows better because I’ve heard him say it better, but it’s sloppy editing, and it implies that HFCS is more dangerous than sugar. It’s now low hanging fruit for the ‘everything in moderation” crowd to use as ammo against them. Because if they are wrong ON THAT how can they be right on anything else?

    Their books have plenty of references, but there are huge leaps from a reference to a conclusion, if the conclusion is even supported by a reference. Fine if you believe something because you’ve personally worked out what seems to be a logical reason BASED on studies and anecdote, but it’s not fact. Saying inflammation or insulin is the cause of virtually everything without saying how you came up with that is frustrating. Especially when I can almost hear the squeals of delight across the non-paleo universe as they find another chink in the armor.

    They make mistakes by confusing concepts like eating for fat loss or health. You can be healthier by losing weight or by eating the right number of calories for your body and activity level, so it might not be just “the paleo.” Likewise, you might eat fewer calories by eating healthier and harder to overeat foods, therefore losing weight. But you can do that with other diets. Then, they go on the internet and use health studies to defend paleo for fat loss and vice versa. They often throw a carb jab in the mix, when the study was really on grain, not “carbs.” It’s too easy to refute, then they’ve got nothing and now they’ve lost another paleo convert forum lurker. Shame.

    On the other hand, the non-paleo crowd makes all sorts of leaps, too. The statement “I’m doing fine,” preceded by typist’s statement that he eats grains, legumes, and dairy, is common all across the internet, yet people also feel fine without fish oil and vitamins and whole grains. I also know people eating Pop-Tarts, Oreos, Crisco, soybean oil based mayonnaise, and Big Gulps full of Dr Pepper. They feel fine and I’m sure if you ask them they’d say they’re doing fine, too. Also, just because Asians eat a ton of rice A, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t do better without rice, and B, doesn’t mean that all grains are A-ok. At best, it means rice is okay. …and maybe just for Asians who don’t overeat their calories and are active enough.

    I’ll wrap up my rant by saying that I believe in sort of a tipping point effect. Our body is resilient enough to handle a lot of crap, but as soon as it gets “too full,” the cup tips over and we’re in for problems. Maybe we could handle eating high Omega-6, low protein, no veggies, too many grains, lots of sugar for a while, but then one day we start to move less because we got a new video game, and get fat. Now we are adding stress to the body. Then more food or less moving, and we have diabetes, fatter, slower, sicker, fatter, slower, etc.

    For thousands of years, we’ve lived well below the tipping point, working “hard” and eating the “right” amount of foods, super healthy foods or not. Recently (evolutionarily speaking), we came up with ways to ass sit and spoon feed ourselves mass quanities of cheap, easy, and “delicious” foods. Many of us are near or above the tipping point. What will spill and when are what’s in question. IMO, since I have no reference.

    Paleo is an overreaction with good intentions. There are cultish aspects to some of the people, just like some vegans, vegetarians, Crossfitters, kettlebellers, and people who learn to speak Klingon, but on the non-believing-in-paleo side there’s a shit load of wishful thinking based on “it’s not fair” feelings. Just because a food exists doesn’t mean it’s ok and that you can eat it in moderation (and stay healthy for the long term). Maybe you can, like many of our ancestors have… That doesn’t mean you wouldn’t do better or live longer or do better AND live longer.

  2. #2
    I just eat food good.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    New York, NY
    Talk about long-winded. While the author makes some good points, I wish he/she'd picked one or two instead of throwing a bunch of them at the wall with caveats like "I don't actually have any evidence..." Plus, I don't really see the logical leap from this collection of observations to "paleo is an overreaction with good intentions." Guess it just strikes me as the sort of diatribe that's so broad and hedged that it's impossible to formulate any sort of response or use it as a launch point for a substantive conversation on any of the topics he/she raises...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    I think you should read the book. Not that every thought should be twitter-short or haiku, but there were a lot of points in there, and I wasn't really sure where you stood on them.

  5. #5
    I read it as a personal opinion, and personally it does resonate with me.
    I've no references though

  6. #6
    I went to the blog (the link provided) and read some more of his thoughts. I found it interesting and he makes some good points. I see that people lean very much to one side or the other and that causes some to become defensive. I remain pretty agnostic in all of this diet stuff so I sort of look down on all of it from above just taking it all in objectively. It at times becomes like watching a tennis match for me....arguments from both sides back and forth, back and forth

    I remember years ago the battles between wearing helmets or not while riding motorcycles here in the U.S. The battle over helmet laws. For every argument presented by those for, complete with studies and "proof" to support the safety of wearing helmets, there were just as many against, complete with studies and "proof" of the danger of wearing helmets.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    The cultish aspects referenced above rings very true to me, at least from what I've read on these forums.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Northern NJ
    I haven't read the article, but fuck it:

    People want to belong. We are social beings. We wanted to be picked for the team, that kind of shit. Being part of the Paleo community is an extension of that desire to belong, and along with it may come some feelings of superiority ("look at those SAD eaters! I have seen the Paleo light!") etc etc. Some people do get carried away with it, but at the end of the day I'm VERY happy I came across MDA, this board, and the countless of blogs/sites I read about Paleo eating and living. It has without a shadow of a doubt, improved and contributed to my life in more ways than I ever though a simple "eating philosophy" could do. For that alone, I will always be on the Paleo bandwagon.

    That being said, now I look at food/life as it is IN THE NOW. I fully acknowledge and realize that I'm living in the year 2010 but I make food and life choices with that in mind. However, I would be a blatant liar to say that looking at it from an evolutionary "paleo" stand point doesn't make it all much easier. Meaning, knowing that hundreds of thousands of years ago a species of man very much like me ate a certain way gives me peace of mind even though I'm fully conscious that I'm simply doing my best at trying to imitate that diet.

    If ever I talk to people about food, I have also changed that approach, I used to give them the evolution bit, now I just say "I see nothing wrong with trying to eat good food, food that is nutritious and delicious, and not eating shit that doesn't meet BOTH criteria... most of the time!"

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2010
    I went full paleo for the challenge. About 1 small cheat a week. I lost a slight bit of bodyfat, but no real change from eating about a 50% paleo with cheats that I know don't effect me. Only a week ago I went back to my normal 50% paleo, paleo with rice, potatoes, non-liquid dairy with no real difference. I believe that paleo should be treated as a remembrance that modern food is mostly crap and that the real fermented grains and raw milk that used to be eaten are impossible to find, leaving meat and vegetables as the only good staples of any diet, but if these can be found, there is no problem with them.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikebike View Post
    The cultish aspects referenced above rings very true to me, at least from what I've read on these forums.
    Well you should really come to the meetups. We sacrifice virgins and dance around naked while coating each other with coconut oil.

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