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How much is Paleo vs. just eating real food?

by (5828)
Updated about 10 hours ago
Created May 27, 2012 at 2:22 PM

Every time there's a study that claims that meat will kill us and that a vegan diet will save us Denise Minger and others are quick to point out the fatal flaw that correlation and causality are two very different things. I.e. getting rid of meat wasn't the salvation, it was getting rid of the crap carbs, bad fats, and processed foods that restored people's health.

Are we in the Paleo world guilty of doing what we accuse others of doing? I no doubt do much better with real food and I eat plenty of meat and fat but I'm not so sure that, for many of us, it's about completely or mostly avoiding the grains and legumes. Sure, some of us don't do well with grains and other neolithic foods and really need to avoid them. But, I wonder how many of us are healthier because we found the religion of real food not because we went Paleo.

Your thoughts?

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140 · October 29, 2012 at 9:15 PM

Isn't that Mason's point? "I ATE lots of rice...," past tense.

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5828 · June 03, 2012 at 2:34 PM

@tylerf The point of the question is that we hopefully don't accept anything as dogma. If our personal experience tells us that grains are bad thats one thing but just to accept the dogma is another thing. I prefer to think for myself and have my own experience while considering PH and other sources of information and experience.

Da20058e445fa4c5ce328132379521b3
363 · May 29, 2012 at 5:05 PM

Vegetables seem to be my kryptonite, even now :) Trying though! I'm looking for a veggie dish that inspires the kind of craving usually reserved for rare bloody steak. But chomping my way through watery mush just never cuts it.

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9402 · May 29, 2012 at 1:18 PM

But... http://paleohacks.com/questions/122926/processed-food-is-sometimes-good-right

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1644 · May 29, 2012 at 12:04 PM

"Grains are fine..." Are we still on PaleoHacks?

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1644 · May 28, 2012 at 5:13 AM

As I said, though they can be prepared in a way that neutralizes anywhere between some and most of the toxins, that simply requires more effort than they're worth--for me, at least. Additionally, grains and legumes, as in all things, are on a scale. Some properly prepared lentils now and then are fine with me (and my stomach), but I don't plan on ever resuming the consumption of GMO wheat or soy.

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15976 · May 28, 2012 at 1:52 AM

I think the whole toxin thing is way out of proportion. The more research you do the more you see that cooking takes away most of them. Less nutrient dense versus more dense- yes you can argue that validly I believe

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14877 · May 28, 2012 at 1:05 AM

You forgot fuck a lot too.

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28 · May 28, 2012 at 1:04 AM

thanks for the precisions !

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15976 · May 28, 2012 at 12:49 AM

Right on the money. Years before paleo I found WAP and finding them did for me exactly what you mention. I think that's why finally going paleo didn't really improve anything for me, per se. It's fine and I enjoy eating paleo, but for me I was already coming from a whole foods type of perspective. Now, after 2.5 years paleo I've gone back to eating just unprocessed foods. I'm still fine. It's all good, just eat well, cook your food, lift heavy and smile a lot.

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15976 · May 28, 2012 at 12:46 AM

You're spot on. It's as simple as eating whole, unprocessed foods. Grains are fine, just eat them whole and cook them whole-ish - ie a bowl of oatmeal from steel cut oats is different from muffins made from oat flour, yknow? Eat whole real foods, like most of the globe has done pretty well on in the last couple thousand years.

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3772 · May 27, 2012 at 9:57 PM

I actually picked up a lot of my good cooking habits when I was a vegan. There weren't many easy vegan food options available way back then (early '90s), so I had to start cooking and carrying my own food. I got really good at cooking all kinds of vegetables, and learned to use spices. Through veganism I did develop a sincere interest in "real food." Alas, grains and soy counted as "real food," while meat and eggs didn't. But things are better now, LOL.

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3772 · May 27, 2012 at 9:49 PM

Grains are wheat, corn, rice, barley, oats, etc. (and anything made from them). Legumes are not only beans, but also soy, peas, lentils, and peanuts. None are paleo. As for green vegetables, they are fine for paleo, but individuals will have different tolerances for them (especially broccoli, cabbage, and others in the botanical family *cruciferae* you mentioned), so you will need to experiment to find out how much you can eat of what kind.

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6087 · May 27, 2012 at 5:32 PM

By some interpretations, oats and grains are decidedly crappy foods.

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6087 · May 27, 2012 at 5:31 PM

What makes a food real?

2d58c4968798bf56fe7509f254c68ce3
169 · May 27, 2012 at 4:58 PM

I'm in the same boat. I rarely eat crap food. I ate lots of rice, oats, whole grains, etc. That stuff screwed up my health bad.

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11 Answers

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2c2349bc7af0fedb59a5fe99dac9fae2
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2707 · May 27, 2012 at 2:50 PM

To me, just eating real food is the main key aspect of our diet that makes it work. Personally I think any diet that advocates that is going to make you healthier and therefore produce results over SAD.

That being said, eating real food means slightly different things to different folks. From the paleo world this does not include grains, diary, and legumes. For a vegan they would choose to include grains and legumes.

This is where it gets interesting. I think most of the people on Paleo are doing well because they are eating real food, and for the first time are providing their body with wide range of nutrients. For many the avoidance of grains, diary, and legumes can have immediate effects since they might have allergies/sensitivities to these foods. For others, it might more of a long term prevention. The point is Paleo stresses that foods that are toxic to our body should be avoided, eliminated, or limited. All food has toxic elements, but some more than others.

To me paleo provides a framework, blueprint, and long term solution for healthy diet. Some of these benefits we get right away, others, hopefully later in life. I don't think we are guilty of anything other than looking for the most optimal diet for humans.

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4029 · May 27, 2012 at 2:34 PM

To me, Paleo is a starting place framework, not an ideological hammer. Evolution makes an excellent foundation for biological processes. Other foods are then considered in light of that.

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14877 · May 27, 2012 at 2:30 PM

I think the vast majority of the benefits of paleo come from removing processed foods, seed oils, and gluten.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc
14877 · May 28, 2012 at 1:05 AM

You forgot fuck a lot too.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc
15976 · May 28, 2012 at 12:49 AM

Right on the money. Years before paleo I found WAP and finding them did for me exactly what you mention. I think that's why finally going paleo didn't really improve anything for me, per se. It's fine and I enjoy eating paleo, but for me I was already coming from a whole foods type of perspective. Now, after 2.5 years paleo I've gone back to eating just unprocessed foods. I'm still fine. It's all good, just eat well, cook your food, lift heavy and smile a lot.

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823
9402 · May 29, 2012 at 1:18 PM

But... http://paleohacks.com/questions/122926/processed-food-is-sometimes-good-right

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3661 · May 27, 2012 at 2:32 PM

I am coming from a position of personal experience and not science. For me personally, eliminating grains, legumes, and in my case dairy completely has made a significant difference. I was eating no processed or junk food of any other kind when I made the move to Paleo. So, from my perspective, Paleo makes a big difference when compared to "real food" alone.

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169 · May 27, 2012 at 4:58 PM

I'm in the same boat. I rarely eat crap food. I ate lots of rice, oats, whole grains, etc. That stuff screwed up my health bad.

5ef574d7893bc816ec52e04139e9bc09
6087 · May 27, 2012 at 5:32 PM

By some interpretations, oats and grains are decidedly crappy foods.

1d5dd4c93883ba18a130855830f4dadc
140 · October 29, 2012 at 9:15 PM

Isn't that Mason's point? "I ATE lots of rice...," past tense.

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4292 · May 28, 2012 at 1:10 AM

I totally agree. I think that a HUGE number of the health benefits of a Paleo diet could be obtained by eating plain "real foods." Obviously if you're celiac or something that's not the case, but personally, I can get 99% of the benefits with about 50% of the work/deprivation by just sticking to whole, unprocessed foods, without having a conniption about whether the vegetable soup has Lima beans in it.

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66 · May 27, 2012 at 5:27 PM

Both.

There are a ton of studies out there that will support anything you wan them to. Grains: Good or Bad? Pick a study! Same with legumes, dairy, meat and on and on.

What they all agree on is that crap food makes crap health and crap body composition.

Paleo, therefore, is guaranteed to make you healthier just by avoiding crap! I personally don't eat many legumes, but the only other lifestyle diet I've tried relied on them heavily (Tim Ferris' "Slow Carb Diet"), and both were great. I prefer paleo because there are only so many times in a week I can face down a plate of beans!

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363 · May 27, 2012 at 3:36 PM

I never bothered cooking at all before paleo. Now I even make my own mayonnaise... I think even if I stopped bothering about paleo, I'd still have a bunch of good habits.

Definitely the real food thing, as you say. I'm trying food I never have before too which is awesome. But wheat stinks. I definitely have trouble with it.

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3772 · May 27, 2012 at 9:57 PM

I actually picked up a lot of my good cooking habits when I was a vegan. There weren't many easy vegan food options available way back then (early '90s), so I had to start cooking and carrying my own food. I got really good at cooking all kinds of vegetables, and learned to use spices. Through veganism I did develop a sincere interest in "real food." Alas, grains and soy counted as "real food," while meat and eggs didn't. But things are better now, LOL.

Da20058e445fa4c5ce328132379521b3
363 · May 29, 2012 at 5:05 PM

Vegetables seem to be my kryptonite, even now :) Trying though! I'm looking for a veggie dish that inspires the kind of craving usually reserved for rare bloody steak. But chomping my way through watery mush just never cuts it.

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1644 · May 27, 2012 at 2:45 PM

Do you want to avoid toxins or just neutralize them? Yes, grains and legumes can be made mostly safe and harmless, but personally I would rather just not bother with them. Not with enough regularity to consider them a staple of my diet, at least.

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1644 · May 28, 2012 at 5:13 AM

As I said, though they can be prepared in a way that neutralizes anywhere between some and most of the toxins, that simply requires more effort than they're worth--for me, at least. Additionally, grains and legumes, as in all things, are on a scale. Some properly prepared lentils now and then are fine with me (and my stomach), but I don't plan on ever resuming the consumption of GMO wheat or soy.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc
15976 · May 28, 2012 at 1:52 AM

I think the whole toxin thing is way out of proportion. The more research you do the more you see that cooking takes away most of them. Less nutrient dense versus more dense- yes you can argue that validly I believe

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2029 · October 29, 2012 at 10:19 PM

All my health improvements came from simply eating real food and keeping an eye toward balancing all my carbs with protein. I experience negligible changes between that and wholly excluding grains and legumes. I naturally exclude them most the time because they're pretty carby and they don't satisfy like a good roast with potatoes do, but heck yes, I'll bake with some gluten free grains when the desire strikes. If I actually did experience any improvements, it'd be worth me eating grain/legume-free, but I don't believe in excluding real food for the sake of dogma. My personal health and sanity are more important than adhering to a label and pleasing the crowd. Especially since I do gain some nutritional balance from including them on a moderate basis.

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26182 · October 29, 2012 at 7:28 PM

Just to add to what has been said. A big benefit to me is the reduction of chronic inflammation. Before paleo I ate fairly healthy (just with grains) but my O6:O3 ratios were way off the charts. Since I switched I have been more focused on my O3s. I definitely have better joint health and seem to have better control over my asthma symptoms.

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28 · May 27, 2012 at 9:35 PM

hi there,

for non-english speakers and a tad noobs to paleo, what do you guys call grains ? and what do you vegetables do you exclude ? is it more veggies like beans, spills or even broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, Cauliflower should be lessened ?

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3772 · May 27, 2012 at 9:49 PM

Grains are wheat, corn, rice, barley, oats, etc. (and anything made from them). Legumes are not only beans, but also soy, peas, lentils, and peanuts. None are paleo. As for green vegetables, they are fine for paleo, but individuals will have different tolerances for them (especially broccoli, cabbage, and others in the botanical family *cruciferae* you mentioned), so you will need to experiment to find out how much you can eat of what kind.

1aa42ad69e7a5ea23d748879e0b533d7
28 · May 28, 2012 at 1:04 AM

thanks for the precisions !

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