Friday, January 22, 2010

Paleolithic State of Mind

I have become fascinated with paleo eating. There are two main books that describe the metabolic science behind eating paleo. The first one published was The Paleo Diet. Then came The Primal Blueprint. There are plenty of blogs and websites devoted to the subject if you want to explore further.

Basically, the theory posited is that our bodies have not evolved to digest the bulk of foods that we eat today, mainly grains and dairy. 10,000 years ago, paleolithic humans lived by hunting and gathering. Their diet consisted of animals they could catch and plants, berries, seeds, and nuts they could pick. With the development of agriculture and domestication of animals, grains and dairy were introduced to our diet. However, our bodies have difficulty processing these foods. For many of us, the symptoms are mild. For some the symptoms are more pronounced i.e. lactose intolerance and celiac disease. In all of us, these foods are the cause of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, etc. etc. The leaders in paleo thinking claim that meat and natural fats are not the enemy. Grains, dairy, and processed foods are. Adopting a paleo diet means not eating anything that was created in the neolithic age.

I've been reading several blogs of people who have adopted this diet, as well as the scientific studies behind it. I gotta say, it's pretty compelling stuff. I have experienced the phenomenon of staying satisfied for longer by eating more protein and plants. Processed carbohydrates, bread, cereals, etc. just don't make me feel good. I'm currently attempting to eat paleo as much as possible. I would say I've managed to be successful 85-90% of the time. I won't give up soy milk even though it's a neolithic invention.

Last night I made a completely paleo dinner for my family: roast pork loin stuffed with fruit and nuts, topped with a cherry sauce, steamed broccoli, and roasted yams. No grains, no dairy, no processed foods. It was terrific. I've replaced my usual snack items like granola bars or fat free yogurt (with Splenda) with natural beef jerky, nuts, and fruit. I don't feel deprived at all. If anything, I feel like I'm getting more food. Whole food satisfies me so much more.

The Montessorian in me also feels the paleo diet is poetic. It makes sense to me in the Cosmic scheme of things. Learning the science of our biology, using our environment to our best advantage, and thinking about our primal ancestors, all could be lessons! :)

If you're interested in reading more, I would definitely say start here. Mark's Daily Apple is the best collection of information that I've found.