Eating a Paleo Diet
If you have read the Rules and My Story pages on this site, by now you will understand that I am a big fan of the primal/paleo movement, but I want to be clear about what this all means to me.
I broadly agree with all the fundamental principles of the paleo movement, but I think there are a lot of people out there who have jumped on the paleo bandwagon as ‘the new Atkins’ diet and they are using this as an excuse to feast daily on bacon and steak and all-you-can-eat meat, but they are paying little attention to the health aspects of living a life more in sync with our bodies natural biological origins.
True paleo means a deep respect and connection with Mother Nature
In the book I am writing, as much as I am highly supportive of paleo/primal principles, I am also highly critical of some elements of the current paleo following. For example, I was reading one of the many paleo blogs recently, and I noticed someone promoting a site that was boasting “963 Paleo/Primal recipes for free!” so I took a look and there they all are, lifted from a dozen or so books covering Paleo/Primal lifestyle. This is crazy, primitive man didn’t have 963 ways to cook a meal, he had one! Catch it, kill it, cook over open fire, eat! That was IT!
Seriously, here would be primitive man’s cookery book, the whole thing:
Caveman’s Cook Book
- Cook deer over fire.
- Cook rabbit over fire.
- Cook mammoth over fire.
- Eat fish raw.
- Cook reindeer over fire.
- Cook fish (quickly) over fire or on hot stones, or in pit of sand/mud/leaves and hot stones.
- Cook fox over fire.
- Cook hog over fire.
- Cook bird over fire.
- Cook sheep over fire.
- Cook bison over fire.
- Pick fruit from tree, eat.
- Pick mushrooms, eat.
- Pick roots and shoots, eat.
- Find birds eggs, in trees, bushes, undergrowth…eat raw.
- Find lizard and snake eggs under rocks, in sand…eat raw.
- Find nuts, shell by smashing with stones, eat.
- Find seeds, eat.
- Dig veggies and roots up, eat.
- Dig veggies, cook/steam in water, eat.
- Dig veggies, cook over fire lightly to soften, eat.
- Eat insects, bugs. Raw.
- Stab insects and bugs on stick and cook quickly over fire.
That’s about it…not 963 recipes.
You see, once again we modern humans have taken something good, and then screwed it up by modernising it. People like Loren Cordain, Robb Wolf and Mark Sisson, all of them heroes of mine and pioneering leaders in this movement, have taught us how our ancient ancestors ate for two million years, before agriculture and the industrialisation of farming messed everything up, but now too many people are applying ‘modern ways of thinking’ to these basic ancient principles.
We live in an age of ‘food as a leisure activity’ and celebrity chefs and entire TV channels of cookery shows, and we seem to think every meal should have a dozen or more ingredients and require a page-long recipe to prepare it. Let’s talk common sense now, caveman would NOT have eaten this way. Meals would have been basic, and rarely would have included multiple foods in a single sitting. The majority of meals would have been of JUST ONE FOOD at a time.
My ethos to paleo nutrition, indeed my intention with MND, is NOT to move out of my home, live in a mud hut and eat slugs all day. I do not state anywhere that I intend to “live LIKE caveman”. My intention has always been to LEARN how our ancient ancestors ate and used their bodies during the 4 million year period between climbing down out of the trees and learning to stand on two feet, and the dawn of agriculture ten thousand years ago.
During those 4 million years, our brains grew rapidly and we became the dominant species on the planet, and we evolved immensely in terms of physical and mental abilities. We developed through a number of iterations of our earlier ancestors, to become homo sapiens as we are today, and I want to learn from this natural heritage, and then apply the lessons learned to find the best way for a MODERN human to live in the PRESENT world. I simply want to understand how to live today, that is best for my health, best for the planet, best for animal welfare, and best for a sustainable future.
Spoilt for choice, or spoilt BY choice?
Caveman did not have 963 recipes, he didn’t own pots and pans, he didn’t have a thousand ways to make his food taste nicer, to add endless choice and variety to his meal times. He didn’t overeat because he was rarely spoilt for choice.
By contrast, modern humans are spoilt BY choice…we have so much available that we frequently overeat, often on a daily basis. I enjoy a dinner party as much as anyone else. I enjoy preparing delicious dishes and a variety of courses when I have guests…but such feasting needs to be the exception, not the norm. It is great to gather friends a couple of times each month and celebrate sharing time together over a delicious meal as the focal point of our gathering, but EVERY day is not a dinner party day. Every-day-food is just fuel, fuel for living, it should not be the highlight of the week.
In developing MotherNaturesDiet, I have been trying to understand the best foods to eat for my HEALTH. I want to eat in a way that reduces my negative impact on the environment. I will only eat animal products that come from animals which have been treated with respect and treated humanely, and raised naturally. Food is NOT my pastime. Most days, food is just something I need to fuel me to do all the other things I want to do with my life.
I will post plenty of recipes on this site, but don’t expect 963 of them, and don’t expect them to be complex involving many ingredients. When caveman killed an antelope, he and his family ate antelope, and little else, for a couple of days. When caveman found a profusion of fruit trees, he would have eaten a lot of fruit, and little else for a few days.
I’m all for keeping it simple. Modern life needs simplifying.