When I was at school pictures of the Paleolithic period depicted ape-like creatures living in the dirt. So how did eating like an ape become the definitive answer to our health and happiness? If you've ever wondered if the Paleo diet is for you, read on as I address the four most commonly asked questions.
1. What does the Paleo diet actually mean?
It's a nutritional plan based on the eating habits of early humans in the Paleolithic period or over 10,000 years ago. Think of cavemen and women living off the land, hunter/gatherer style.
2. What does it involve?
No dairy, grains (that's bread, rice, pasta and cereal), sugar, processed food, legumes and alcohol. The Paleo diet instead consists of vegetables, fruits, lean meat, seafood, nuts, seeds and healthy fats.
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3. Why the big fuss?
Sounds pretty simple so far, doesn't it? Where it goes wrong is when self-titled experts start applying Paleo principles to non-food-related topics. The most controversial involved banning children from getting vaccinated against curable diseases such as measles because the vaccine didn't exist in the Paleolithic period.
4. Should I go Paleo?
Kind of. The main message of Paleo is to reduce the amount of processed food you consume. It's a principle I couldn't agree with more. That said, while I agree with 80 per cent of what Paleo teaches, I don't refer to myself as living the Paleo lifestyle and I recommend you do the same. Your food methodology shouldn't rule the rest of your life.
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Just stick with what works. The Paleo diet recommends you eat mostly fruits, vegetables and meat. This is quite similar to the three nutritional rules I've written about before. What's most important is to find the right combination and quantity of food that works for you. I eat dairy, a little bit of grains and some sugar. I know this works best for me because I've recorded my food intake and observed how I felt.
To think that one rule can be the deciding factor for your food and lifestyle is similar to thinking you can own one dress for all occasions. It's just not that simple. There are some basic rules that everybody (and every dress) needs to follow, but from there you need to find what works for you.