This is a simple question, right? It would appear not. Whenever, a dissident announces that he is no longer Paleo as in the article cited in this thread, some Paleohackers respond by saying that the author's definition is too narrow, "Paleo isn't low-carb, high fat" or something along those lines. The word "version" then appears and people agree that the dissident should try (or is trying) a different "version" of Paleo.
When I suggested my definition of Paleo as one in which one eat as near as possible to the way our H-G ancestors did, Bree (probably echoing many others) replied that, "this 'diet' was never about eating what an h-g ate, it was about eliminating processed crap".
Here's how Patrik defined it in this other thread: "The Paleo Diet is a meta-rule (a rule about rules) that only demands one thing; that we look at human nutrition through an evolutionary lens. End of story."
Patrik's definition would need further elaboration. What does it mean to "look at human nutrition through an evolutionary lens"? Do we consider that our diet might need to be different because of the environment we live under? What about climate..should someone in Newfoundland eat the same as someone in Ecuador? In any case, we can clearly see that it deviates from Bree's.
Well, we can all agree that Paleos place emphasis on eating meat and good fats, right? Not so fast. Here is a person asking if it is possible to be vegetarian and Paleo. Granted, I suspect that is an extreme minority. However, if we accept Bree's definition of Paleo and even allow that Paleo means to eat moderate protein and high fat, there is no reason why there couldn't be a vegetarian version of Paleo.
So, who's right? They all are. Here's my "working" definition of Paleo. Paleo is a general reference to a CLUSTER OF DIETS. A person may be considered Paleo by virtue of identifying himself as such. When the person no longer finds the term useful and does not consider himself Paleo, he should be considered as no longer following the Paleo diet. Hence, we should take Don Matesz at his word: he's not following a different version. He's not Paleo any more. Full stop.
So what do you think of that? What's your definition of Paleo? If my definition is true, then Paleo is at full-throttle nominalism. "Big deal", you say. "I don't care about debating the equivalent of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin." I would have to agree. However, it is important to pay attention to how your conception of Paleo helps or hinders your path towards greater health.
The Paleo diet (or lifestyle - as I don't really see it as a diet for me anymore) - through my lense:
Eat the best food possible when I'm hungry - don't eat when I'm not.
Best food: As much locally sourced meat, seafood, veggies and fruit as I can get my hands on. Dairy? - sometimes if that's what looks good and what my family feels like.
Worst food: refined sugar, grains, artificial flavours and colours!
I LOVE that different people can identify themselves as eating this way and be eating differently than me. It makes for good discussions and good sharing of information.
I am not a paleo cop, and I don't like that whole mentality. I think that the "that isn't paleo" attitude will turn people off - I know it turns me off when I read anything negative.
I want to include people and affect change for the better. Eating healthy is very important to me. I am constantly learning how to make healthy choices and this site helps me so much in that regard.
Call me Pollyanna - but I believe that we are all on here to make our lives a little better - and we are here to help each other acheive better health and in turn more happiness.
Cheers! Bree XO
My definition of paleo is eating what is healthy, and mostly avoiding what not healthy, based on critical appraisal of evidence.
Since foods typically thought to be eaten by our paleolithic ancestors provides a nice heuristic, might as well call the way humans eat "paleo"! I'd rather call it something more catchy, like The Optimus Prime Diet, but oh well. The key for me is not the paleo part, but the melding of nutrition science with epidemiology and evolutionary guessing.
If high-quality studies came out showing that a non-paleo diet fared better for health, without tasting gross, I'd totally shift my boundaries. As of now, I just work off the presumption that Stephan Guyenet is probably right about what to eat, for most people.
None of the questions you ask about Patrik's meta-rule would change the rule if answered. The only way the meta-rule can be invalidated would be to show that human evolution cannot inform nutrition science. Unless you're a creationist, this is a bedrock assumption of biology, so the meta-rule would stand.
I would argue that most "paleo" diets in the cluster are fundamentally flawed in that they boil down to attempts at re-enactment of specific behaviors, often random and speculative (ie made up) behaviors. In fact the only formulation of paleo which makes a lick of sense to me is Kurt Harris's exclusionary heuristic, so I tend not to think of other "paleo" diets as such. But now Kurt has gone and moved away from the paleo label (he lost the semantic battle by default, I guess) so maybe you're right: paleo is lost.
This is a shame because the exclusionary heuristic was quite strong philosophically speaking and could generate fairly well defined dietary frameworks for individual contexts. But now that's Archevore and Paleo is... something something.
It seems to me that, barring some rare individual anomalies, most dolphins are going to be healthy swimming in the sea and eating fish. Simliarly, most lions are going to be healthy roaming the savannas and eating prey animals; most spiders are going to be healthy trapping and eating insects; most horses are going to be healthy roaming the plains and munching wild grasses; most vultures are going to be healthy scavenging rotted carcasses, and most honey-badgers are going to be healthy eating snakes, mice, grubs and not giving a shit.
It also makes sense to me that if any of these animals was switched to a diet of mostly corn, processed foods, sugar, taco bell, or an all-mushroom diet - it wouldn't be long before you had a bunch of chronically unhealthy animals.
This is how paleo makes sense to me. It's not about cave-men or hunter-gatherers. It's about nature. Without the artificial changes that humans have made to our diet since the dawn of civilization/agriculture - how is the human animal most healthy in nature?
I don't give a rats ass about nutrient ratios. I don't count anything I eat. Some days I eat more meat, some days I eat more veggies. Some days have more carbs, some days have more food in general. I try to eat when I'm hungry and I try to limit what I eat to things that fit my "through the eyes of nature" lens. I also intentionally try to get the most variety of foods I can within this definition. I will often eat something simply on the basis that I haven't had that particular food item in a while, trusting in variety to ensure I get the nutrition I need.
My lens is not limited to food. I try to get sunlight, exercise, fresh air, and good, clean water as much as I can. I'm not trying to re-create any hunter-gatherer lifestyle. I'm trying to live by the lessons that nature taught to my ancestors who survived to reproduce and eventually became me.
It makes as much sense to me that humans would be chronically sick eating clean meat, vegetables, fruits, etc as the idea that a dolphin would be chronically sick from eating clean, healthy fish. Nature worked these things out a long time ago.
I also find the whole "my diet is better than your diet", "person X didn't do well on their definition of your diet, so your diet must be bunk", "how do we get more people into/out of X diet" line of thought to be kind of silly (and possibly largely motivated by people trying to drive web traffic to sites/blogs or sell books).
My advice to anyone getting overly worked up about this stuff is: Stop stressing. Stop counting. Stop compartmentalizing. Stop convincing. Find a simple definition that works FOR YOU.
as i mentioned in the other thread, i believe that the baseline of paleo for me is removing the toxic substances of industrial seed oils, gluten containing grains, and limiting fructose in your diet- and preferably if u did it with whole foods. full stop.
no macronutrient ratio can be called paleo. kitavans get 80% or more of their calories from starchy carbs; inuits get about the same from fat. both are their ancestral diets. both eat from what their ecosystems have historically provided. what is true of both cultures is that those aforementioned toxins are not in their diets so they have drastically fewer cases of modern diseases than those who consume a SAD.
this is what paleo means for me. the word paleo and the many diets that attach themselves to that word is another conversation. or maybe that is the conversation...
On the meal spectrum where one end is a 64oz Mountain Dew, PB&J sandwich and cheetos (with a Ding Dong for dessert) and the other end is freshly killed meat roasted over a fire and tubers cooked in the coals (with a handful of berries for dessert), it is probably better to consistently lean toward the latter end.
"Paleo" is just a good introductory thought exercise that jolts people into thinking about doing things that are consistent with evolutionary "design," such as it is. After they say, "you know, that makes sense" the "paleo" part becomes irrelevant.
People get so twisted up trying to label everything. My point of view is 'paleo' is not a diet, it is a way of life, a lifestyle that incorporates diet, exercise, philosophy, spirituality, everything about how humans live. There is no version 1 or version 2 or low carb or high fat, it just is and it changes as we as individuals and as a culture, experiment and learn about what makes us healthy emotionally, physically and spiritually. We cannot just look at the nutritional aspect of our lives, decide it needs fixing, then fix it and expect everything else to magically fall into place. Everything in this World is interconnected, all life. Small changes in one area of our lives can have great consequences in other, seemingly unrelated, parts. We as human beings are unique in that we can learn from the past and prepare for the future, but we cannot do that isolated or with closed minds. I use the term paleo on this site because people identify with it, but in reality who cares what it is called, or should it even have a label or rules. I try to follow life, based on my ancestor's ways (Native Americans), but applied to a modern world, I do what I consider is best for my little tribe and if I have some knowledge to offer others it is free for the taking. My view of life, health and food has slowly but constantly evolved over my life and will continue to do so until the day I die.
I was told a story by a native elder, when I was very young, he said when one looks at the sky, we see the clouds, the sun, the birds, all that is nature, when the white man stares at the sky he is imagining how he can put a fence around it and sell pieces of it. This is the same for paleo, it cannot be fenced in and packaged up but people will always try.
My definition is probably very broad, but following a Paleo lifestyle (yes, it is a lifestyle, not a diet) to me means eating meat, vegetables, nuts, seeds, some fruit and no grains, then add in an active lifestyle, enjoy the great outdoors and live a fulfilling life. In addition, having the occasional screw up day is completely fine, because again, we are just human and we all need to enjoy the finer things in life.
Paleo has achieved brand integrity. Like Kleenex, Duck Tape, etc. it has achieved name recognition. The problem is that unlike Atkins, South Beach, Zone, whatever, Paleo is not a mathematical formula type of "diet" and maybe that's why people refer to more as a lifestyle rather than a diet. Although for some reason it has sprouted growths like Low Carb, or lacto-Paleo the basic tenets are simple. Eliminate the foods that hurt you based on sound evidence.
The times we live in are filled with constant stimulus, stress is ubiquitous. Personally I try to consume things that mitigate those pressures. I try to read broadly and I incorporate things that I learn from "non-Paleo" (gasp!) arenas as well, but I still consider myself "Paleo" as my goal is to incorporate and eliminate the things that best serve me as a human.
I like your idea that Paleo is a "cluster of diets" - it is. Right now, though, I find it is a bit of a granfalloon.
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