I am just a little confused about what "paleo" means, I guess. How is it any different than the Atkins diet if people use condiments and dairy products? As far as I know, paleo doesn't necessarily imply low carb. Personally, I don't fathom that I would hunt, dig, or forage for butter, cream, or cheese, so I don't consider dairy products paleo. What am I missing?
They aren't....But they are considered "primal", which is paleo plus dairy.
Turns out there has been sufficient selective pressure for certain populations/individuals to digest dairy without any problems, and they didn't want to:
a) be left out if they were otherwise paleo
b) miss out on a yummy and cost effective fat in their diet if they tolerate it
Well, dairy products aren't technically Paleo. A lot of us are just choosing to eat them, but you'll also find plenty of people who don't. I don't touch cheese for instance, and I use butter and heavy whipping cream mainly during bulking diets. There is a general trend in the Paleo community right now that is moving away from evolutionary foods ordained by the gods, towards an "eat real whole foods" methodology. Grass-fed butter, raw milk, etc. can all be hugely nutritious, so why not go for them? The main caveat about neolithic foods is to test tolerance. The way to test tolerance is to eliminate for 3-4 weeks, and then reintroduce one food group at a time to observe symptoms.
My opinion is that diet should not be a doctrine, and I think Paleo is largely trying to not let itself become one.
Again, we're confusing the entire premise of "eating paleo". We are not trying to literally eat the exact same foods as our ancestors, as this would be impossible. None of the animals, fruits, or vegetables that they consumed are around anymore. The point, and I cannot stress this enough, is to use their health and diet as a baseline to generate hypotheses to see what foods really are good for us nowadays. Olive oil is a neolithic food, but we still tolerate it just fine. Like others here have said, some do well on dairy, some do not. I use heavy cream in my coffee everyday and I eat some cheese when I'm at work (I'm a bartender) because it can be really hard to get any decent calories in me when I'm working behind a bar for 10 hours. Cheese is a bunch of good fats, and I can deal with the rest of it.
So don't get caught up in the whole "they didn't eat it, so I shouldn't". That's really not the point here.
Cheese, cream, and butter are not really paleo but I'm pretty sure that if paleo hunters killed a female animal that had milk, I'm sure that some of them would have tried some of the milk. Perhaps some of them would have tolerated it better than others?
I don't touch any dairy at all though.
Whey powder seems very non paleo to me. I can't see how powdered food is paleo? I remember when paleo used to be about not eating factory processed foods but that has all changed and not for the better.
I never really "got" this either. It appears that human-raised livestock, i.e. grass-fed beef, which would not have been around in the paleolithic, is embraced wholeheartedly, but dairy, which comes from the same beastie, is not. The argumentation from the "dairy is neolithic" position thus doesn't seem logical to me, because beef is too. I think the real reason for the dairy no-no more likely comes from the issue with milk sugars, which some people have a hard time digesting. IMHO fermenting the milk into kefir, yogurt and cheese takes care of most of the sugar for most people, and butter and cream have enough fat to offset their effect on blood sugar for those with blood sugar issues. I am happily "primal" because I have no lactose issues, and as another person said, it's a good source of healthy fats not to mention B-vitamins, calcium and K2.
Because anyone who's smart about paleo isn't doing it in some obsessive spirit of reenactment. If cheese, cream, and butter are not harmful to an individual -- as for many people they seem not to be -- there is no problem. They clearly provide a healthy source of saturated fat.
It depends on what you mean by paleo. If you mean trying to imitate the lifestyle of paleolithic man as closely as possible -- what people sometimes call reenactment -- then dairy certainly isn't paleo. Neither is your bed, your car, your computer, your treated water, or the grocery store.
But if you mean using our knowledge of the way most of our ancestors ate and lived to make smart choices about how we eat and live today, then some dairy may very well be paleo. If ancestral humans ate foods that had similar macro and micro nutrient profiles as butter and cream, then we may be well adapted to those foods.
To put it another way: just because something wasn't available in paleo times doesn't mean that if it had existed, paleo man couldn't have thrived on it. It's not like everything that paleo man didn't eat is automatically poison to us.
I got into a similar argument involving my love of avocados... as they were not available in the paleolithic and have been bred only over the past 500 years or so to even have enough flesh for human consumption.
My response? So what?
I do eat fairly copious amounts of kerrygold butter. On the other hand, as much as I love cheese I hardly eat it (mostly because good cheese is $$$, and a binge trigger for me). Some mornings (maybe twice a month) I might put heavy cream in my coffee. I purposely avoid lactose because I get ill from it. But I don't restrict Dairy because it isn't "paleo" - I restrict dairy because I don't how I feel when I eat foods I can't / don't digest well. I still consider my overall diet "paleo" - in fact a lot closer to 1.0 principles than most (I avoid starches), but in the grand scheme of things, the impact of dairy is much less severe than the impact of beans, grains, and tubers to my body.
If I did find a grain I could tolerate well (Oats are the only likely candidate thusfar, but I only eat tiny amounts in haggis) I might try those.
For myself, I use(d) Paleo as the base of the way I eat... and then evolved it to suit my specific needs.
Dr. Cate has two great blog posts about this topic:
is greek yogurt ok to eat on the paleo diet? 20 Answers
How much K2 is in grass fed butter? 6 Answers
Why high fat dairy? 11 Answers
Milk & Yogurt: Paleo or Nay? 3 Answers