Why I am not Paleo, among other things

Posted by on 16th Apr, 2015 in Basics, Blog | Comments Off on Why I am not Paleo, among other things

Why I am not Paleo, among other things

So why isn’t this blog “Paleo”, “low-carb”, “5-2”, or “no sugar” or any of the other buzzwords in the diet industry? To be honest, I don’t have a huge beef with the basic premise of a lot of the current diet plans, to the extent that their ultimate aim is to have people eat more unprocessed, whole, fresh foods. If you’re doing one of these plans, it’s making you feel good, and you’re not feeling the absence of whichever food group it’s telling you to avoid, then more power to you.

But I have two big issues with most of the diets being marketed at the moment.

The first is that, in order to get traction in a crowded market, the sellers of diet plans have to come up with a positive hook and a negative hook. The positive hook is whatever trick the spruiker has to make you lose weight in the first few weeks of the program. But the negative hook nearly always seems to be to make national dietary guidelines a punching bag. Diet spruikers will tell you that the guidelines are out of date, that they will force you to eat too much sugar, too many carbs, not enough fat, not enough vitamins. That they are created in consultation with agricultural industries that have too much at stake, and put their dollars ahead of your health. That if you follow them, you will become obese and afflicted with all the first world diseases.

“The guidelines aren’t working”, the diet spruikers will say. “Just look around at all the overweight people.” And that logic would work really well… except no-one actually follows the national guidelines. Approximately 8% of people get the recommended number of serves of vegetables each day. 8%. It’s not that the guidelines are wrong, it’s that governments haven’t spent enough time, effort and money putting those guidelines in front of people in a way that’s both comprehensible and appealing.

When you actually look at the national dietary guidelines, you might find them surprising. I’m going to use the ones we have here in Australia as an example. Consider the “pie” of food. Protein sources in one wedge. Calcium and protein in another (mainly dairy, with vegan options). Non-starchy vegetables. Fruit. And whole grains, with gluten-free options available. If you can look at that model and tell me with a straight face that it’s promoting overly processed, high-sugar foods, then you’re someone with whom I don’t want to play poker.

Look, following the guidelines isn’t that hard. Meat and three veg used to be a pretty good version of a “guidelines” meal – except somewhere along the way, “meat” turned into a colon-clogging 400g (16oz) steak, and “three veg” started to include a mound of mashed potato you could ski down. But if you have a piece of grilled meat or fish about the size of your palm, and a mix of three or four vegetables of different colour for dinner, that’s a pretty good meal. For lunch, a simple salad of tuna, chickpeas, fetta, tomato and lettuce, or a ham, cheese and salad sandwich on wholemeal bread. Breakfast a muesli of whole grains, nuts with a small amount of dried fruit, milk and yoghurt, with maybe a banana; or a poached or boiled egg with wholemeal toast and perhaps some wilted spinach, a glass of milk or small bowl of yoghurt. Grab a handful of nuts for morning tea and a small fruit salad or an apple for afternoon tea.

Related posts:

How to stock your pantry
Ways with salmon
468 ad