The word ‘paleo’ comes from ‘paleolithic’ which refers to the Paleolithic era – a period lasting around 2.5 million years that ended about 10,000 years ago with the advent of farming. It was characterized by the use of flint, stone, and bone tools, hunting, fishing, and the gathering of plant foods.
Many of the diseases and ailments we see today can be linked to sugar-laden, processed foods that we consume daily. Heart disease, cancer, obesity, autoimmune diseases, and diabetes to name just a few. Plus, where were migraines 100 years ago? ADHD? Excessive allergies? Because the major change in our diet over the last few generations has been the influx of processed food they absolutely cannot be discounted as reasons for all these new behavioural and biological conditions.
Therefore, the paleo diet aims to recreate the diet and nutritional habits of humans in the Paleolithic era. As a result, it has become a breeding ground for criticism and backlash – some of which are substantiated, and some of which are not. Here are a few of the things I’ve heard over time:
- “I doubt cavemen ate pancakes” You’re right, they didn’t. Hence why the Whole30 discourages you from eating food that imitates processed alternatives. But really, if making pancakes with just bananas and eggs is going to stop you from making pancakes with sugar and butter then surely it’s a good thing?
- “But cavemen did eat grains” This has been proved recently (source) but you should ultimately do what works for you and your body. I prefer to avoid grains when I’m eating paleo but that’s just me.
- “Cavemen didn’t eat what you’re eating” Also true. I’m sure the tropical island cavemen who ate bananas and mangoes weren’t the same cavemen who ate game meats and root vegetables, but again, eating an array of fruit, vege and meats is considerably better than filling up on pasta and pastries!
- “It’s so socially isolating” Yes and no. Meeting a friend for breakfast is probably the easiest thing to do while eating paleo. Going to a function filled with finger food might be the hardest, but it’s all about planning and committing.
We understand that the paleo diet is not for everyone. Hell, some days it’s not for me! The key thing I do when I’m not on a Whole30 is cook paleo for all my meals and just try my hardest in the between times. I feel like that’s what the cavemen would want me to do.