I've had a lot of folks asking about the eating plan I've been on for a while. When I try to explain it to them, it seems like, in order to describe it, I end up having to explain all the possible macronutrient variables and how you can fiddle with them.
Yesterday, I just gave up and told someone who asked that what it means to ME to be Paleo is that I try to respect my own nature as a human being. I source my food as locally as possible, from the same kinds of sources that might be available to someone before the advent of structured agriculture. That rules out processed foods like soy, seed oils, and commercial grains.
Does this sound accurate to you folk? I don't want to get into explaining in 2-5 minutes about trying to sort out macronutrient profiles, discuss whether this is a good "diet" for "weight loss" or anything like that -- I just want to give someone a quick overview of what I'm doing, since people have noticed the effect it's had on my overall health, even when I'm going through a rough patch with my genetic illness. Yet, I also want to let people know that it's possible to make these kinds of choices, even in a huge urban area--that they can choose better food and a way of eating more in line with the nature of the healthy human. (I intentionally avoid the word "evolution" -- it stirs up some downright -strange- arguments down here about evolution vs. creation -- again, don't want to go down that road, especially in what I need to be a BRIEF discussion so I can get back to what I'm doing! chuckles)
I like that; I think it does the job without having to throw in a lot of Scientific justification. The only issue would be having to explain why sourcing pre-agricultural foods are better than post-agricultural foods, which would inevitably lead back into the Science.
I sometimes feel that the desire to make best use of the science distracts people from the unifying principle of paleo (or whatever you choose to call it). People have science supporting pretty much any diet. We can argue that it was misused in the 1970's but all the nutritionism is still really really new and it's inevitable that we are still getting things wrong. There's still so many contradictions even within paleo and it's very difficult to nail down exactly what we mean by health before we even consider what to eat to achieve it. We have a lot of details available to counter specific arguments but Paleo isn't the sum of all these parts. For me it's the overarching hypothesis much as you describe it. The distinction is important because it informs our decisions when we aren't sure what to do.
It doesn't have to go back 10,000 years either, a lot of the principles we supposedly all adhere to were conventional wisdom within living memory. I find it's often helpful to illustrate how radically and completely we've embraced new food paradigms without question. Breakfast is the classic example, and the one which is most clearly falling down. Future historians will look on the tiny period of 50 years where humanity thought cereals were the natural, necessary and complete breakfast food as an aberration. Phrasing paleo as an anti-industry/mass-marketing driven lifestyle rather than bringing up evolution may be more productive.
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