What is the authentic Paleo Diet? Myriad interpretations, diverse rules, and disagreements surround the oldest diet on the planet. Other “Paleo experts” relax the rules to the point where we lose the benefits altogether. Perhaps the whole point of Paleo is to be inspired by our ancestral diet, to take the positive points as wisdom and leave the rest. Many people ask me questions: What kind of flour should I use? Are sweeteners that raise blood sugar Paleo-approved? Why aren’t grains and legumes Paleo? Can I be Paleo-vegetarian? Are CAFO or GMO-fed meats considered Paleo?
Sometimes we grab ahold of an idea and run around in circles with it – spending lots of time and money, but maybe we don’t get any healthier. Instead, I suggest we study the past in a simple way and use what works in the moment. Our Paleo forebears lived in completely different times. They were very likely to starve during the winter – that was perhaps their greatest danger. Or freeze to death. However, they did NOT suffer from modern chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, obesity, or Alzheimer’s. They lived shorter lives, I assume because of the challenges. But they did NOT endure toxic, processed foods or suffer chronic disease. These are difference we can learn from.
Our ancestors had to eat their food immediately when it was alive and fresh, likely the same day it was harvested. They had no Tupperware, no refrigerators, no ovens, no stoves. They couldn’t grind very well on rough stones. They couldn’t cultivate a monocrop and just live on one food. They couldn’t ship foods from far away.
With a grin, I’ll answer my most common questions about Paleo:
- Yes, you can be a Paleo-vegetarian. Meat is not necessary on a Paleo diet. Meat is a personal choice. Life is all about balance. I am “almost” vegetarian.
- No, GMO-fed and CAFO meats are not Paleo. Paleo is wild and unadulterated.
- Sorry, Paleo sweeteners are addictive. In fact, most so-called “Natural sweeteners” are loaded with fructose, which is equally harmful as table sugar. Please read my article “Myth-busting Natural Sweeteners”. Sugar is addictive and unhealthy in all forms. Both glucose and fructose will destroy your metabolism. That includes honey, maple syrup, coconut syrup, agave, date sugar, etc, etc
- GMO foods are not Paleo. Farming chemicals destroy the human microbiome. We NEED our friendly bacteria. Industrial farming chemicals destroy the soil and deplete nutrients, so why use them at all?
- Yes, our Paleo ancestors ate any kind of wild food they could get their hands on, depending on the climate in which they lived. Of course they ate legumes, grains, beans, corn, rice, wheat, barley, buckwheat, etc. However, if they did not cultivate foods until about 10,000 years ago, these foods had to be picked in the wild.
- No, flour is NOT Paleo. Our ancestors could not grind flour like we do today. Flour is a modern food finely ground, known to become stale and rancid within a few weeks. Flour coats the intestinal wall with gooey mucus, leading to stuck villi, chronic build-up, disease, and poor absorption. However, you can soak organic grain and grind it into delicious high-fiber bread. See any of my recipes for blender bread. BTW, it took me a few years to discover that flour was toxic, and that’s why there are still a few flour recipes on my blog. Apologies.
- No, our Paleo ancestors did not take supplements. They didn’t need them. We consume them because we hope to combat the poor soil and lower nutrient quality (lower minerals) in modern foods. A better solution would be to halt all farming chemicals so the soil can recover, and watch our health improve.
Just for fun, I made you a Paleo Pyramid
Do you like it? Let’s be inspired by HER diet!
Paleo means you have to go out and gather everything one at a time. So you eat simpler – one or two foods at a time. Not such complicated meals. And each meal was unique.
Regarding meat consumption, I believe one can live and survive on a single food, be it vegetable, or meat. However dietary variety is vastly preferable. The only cultures that ate primarily meat were in extreme Northern climates, such as the Eskimos, an unusually resilient tribe! As a humorous aside, researchers say that insects made up an important source of protein in the prehistoric human diet, and that our ancestors possibly consumed more insects than meat!
When I observe the beautiful animal paintings in the Lascaux caves of Montignac, France, I wonder – what did they do in those caves? Did they use torch light and hold ceremonies as they painted? I wonder if our ancestors offered sacred prayers to ask permission for their meats, much like the American Indians did before a buffalo hunt? A single meat harvest could feed a tribe for many days.
Animals are difficult to catch. People need to work together. Perhaps they wanted the blessing of the Gods and the permission of the animal world, to stay in harmony with the unseen world. For this reason, I have come to believe that meat was not the main diet during the Paleolithic period. Perhaps meat is an obvious assumption, as our primary evidence is their beautiful ceremonial paintings. I’m guessing they ate what was available and appropriate for their climate and season. Perhaps THAT is the AUTHENTIC PALEO DIET. What are your thoughts?
Thanks for joining me! Best wishes for your delicious health!