5 Reasons Why Your Paleo Diet Is Pathetic

I can’t get away from it. The Paleo. It’s everywhere. My natural grocery store has a display devoted to Paleo cookbooks and reference texts. The blogosphere is all but saturated with titles like Paleo Hacks, Paleo on a Budget, Everyday Paleo, and The Paleo Plan. My damn Pinterest feed is littered with Paleo affirmations. Hell, I’ve even tried to cash in on the fad, labeling some of my recipes as “paleo/primal friendly.” But no matter how often I see the “benefits” of the Paleo diet spewed about from various sources, frankly, it seems like a crock. And as far as I can tell, it is:HealthfulMama_PaleoDietIsPathetic

5 Reasons Why Your Paleo Diet is Pathetic

1. It’s not the be-all, end-all of eating styles. One could probably notice the same benefits with any change of diet. “There’s this tendency to want to find the normal human diet,” said Randolph Nesse, professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Michigan, who might be called a father of evolutionary medicine, in a recent interview on NPR.org. “But every single diet you pick has an advantage of some sort. Humans have lived in all kinds of places and we have adapted to all kinds of diets.” Basically, there is no one perfect solution to all of your eating dilemmas.
HealthfulMama_PaleoDietIsPathetic
2. Paleo could very well be harmful to your body in the long-term. A strict Paleo diet can be labeled as a “ketogenic diet,” meaning it is high in fat, low in carbs, and contains an adequate amount of protein. However, this type of eating could be robbing your body of essential nutrients and taxing your organs. Additionally, those who are prone to eating disorders could suffer even more. Scott Abel, a prominent online health and fitness coach, posted this warning on Facebook in response to the popularity of keto diets: “Let’s be clear here. I’ve been coaching clients with eating disorders for well over a decade now. And while all diets and long-term attempts at calorie deprivation run the risks of begetting eating disorders, certain diet “styles” are riskiest. Far and away the riskiest diet styles for turning into eating disorders are diets that severely restrict carbohydrate – keto-type diets in particular. Of my experience with eating disorders, I’d say over 80% of clients with eating disorders or suffering metabolic consequences were triggered by “keto” type diets and associated carb-restricting attempts. For people who already have the psychological traits associated with eating disorders, these types of diets are like putting a lit match to a gasoline tank. Do with that information what you will–but at least consider it! That “diet” may feel to you like its working “for now,” but there may be serious and long-term consequences ahead.”

On top of that, it is now common knowledge that consuming too much red meat can lead to health problems, namely, heart disease. NPR reported on this downfall of the Paleo diet in June 2012.

3. Paleo was founded on a myth, and cutting out entire food groups just doesn’t make evolutionary nor scientific sense. Paleo-philes seem to operate on the notion that our ancestors were a particular type of person, hunting and gathering a specific type of diet, and that our bodies are “designed” to process only certain types of foods. Barbara J. King, a biological anthropologist at the College of William and Mary, reported on NPR in October 2011: “Here’s where science most forcefully speaks back. First, ancient hunter-gatherer groups adapted to local environments that were regionally and seasonally variable — for instance, coastal or inland, game-saturated or grain-abundant (eating grains was not necessarily incompatible with hunter-gatherer living). Second, genes were not in control. People learned what worked in local context for survival and reproduction, and surely, just as in other primates, cultural traditions began to play a role in who ate what. In short, there was no single hunter-gatherer foraging strategy, and genes no more “designed” our eating behavior than they designed our language or our ways of relating between the genders.”HealthfulMama_5ReasonsWhyPaleoIsPathetic

To further this point, Jane Lear, in her article, “If You Believe in Science, Don’t Go Paleo,” contends, “As far as I’m concerned, the idea that there is essentially one Paleo Diet is up there with the equally ill-founded notion that there is one cuisine that defines India, say, or China. Proponents [of the Paleo diet] may put forth clear and logical—thus easy to understand—arguments, but that doesn’t necessarily make them correct. (Before you get your knickers in a twist, think about the Flat Earth Society. And the Tea Party.).” Ha!

4. It’s expensive. And exclusionary. Paleo isn’t for everyone; it’s for the upper-class. I couldn’t find any good demographics for the typical Paleo eater, though this survey came close. Essentially, the typical Paleo is an American, between the ages of 21-40, who is college-educated, and married without children. The survey linked above didn’t ask about race nor income, but I can assure you, as a person who tried to adhere to this diet, it’s freakin’ expensive. When you’re buying nothing but grass-fed, local meats, substituting tons of produce for your formerly-found-in-grains fiber, relying on nuts to fuel you, and investing in expensive ingredients like coconut flour and the like, the grocery bill adds up. Restrictive diets like veganism and Paleo exist only where they CAN exist. People who can’t afford to make distinctive choices about which food groups they eat simply don’t consider these diets an option at all–in the U.S. nor anywhere else.

HealthfulMama_5ReasonsPaleoIsPathetic5. Individual bodies have individual needs at any given time. One of my favorite nutrition gurus, Annemarie Colbin, writes in Food and Healing, “…there is no one diet that is right for everyone all the time. It is crucial that each person contemplating a change in diet monitor his or her body’s feedback, the feelings it emits of “okay” or “not okay”(10). I felt a bit hypocritical in typing this piece, since I have test-driven many diet styles from veganism to even Paleo. Friends will tell you that I’m borderline insane in my efforts to stop people from imbibing so much dairy. Yet, when my son was born and we began breastfeeding, and my body was taxed of calories and fat, I knew I had to give up on being vegan. I allowed meat back into my diet. Then some dairy. And now, you could call me a regular omnivore. I listened to what my body needed, and this should always be the case.

In an excerpt from Diet Recovery 2, author and creator of 180DegreeHealth.com, Matt Stone, asserts that we can never be positive about what is “healthy” and “unhealthy” for us:

It’s extremely hard to figure out whether or not something is good or bad for you based on purely intellectual reasoning. … even with things that we can all intellectually agree is unhealthy, such as a meal at McDonald’s, there will be literally thousands of people that read this book who are freezing cold, or haven’t slept through the night in years, or who are suffering from anxiety, yada yada. And most of those health-conscious people wouldn’t DARE eat at McDonald’s. But, to their surprise, they might find almost immediate relief from their health condition(s) if they were to go pig out on 2-3 double Cheeseburgers, an apple pie or two, and an ice cold Coke from none other than the infamous Mickey D’s. Why? Because the calorie-density, digestibility, and salt and sugar-heavy load of a McDonald’s meal is unparalleled. And for someone in a really low metabolic state, this can literally be the most therapeutic of all combinations. You might heal faster eating at McDonald’s than trying to do it on organic, unrefined, wholesome, and nutritious food because such food is not as calorie-dense, has a higher water content, has more fiber, and is just too damn filling and unexciting to foster the same level of calorie consumption. So the unknowns about what is and isn’t healthy for an individual at any given moment are so vast that they are beyond our ability to neatly file into categories of “good” and “bad.” … You need to move on from this overly analytical way of thinking. For health reasons.”

So, ultimately, is the Paleo diet bad? No, not if that’s what you feel your body needs to be doing at this time. I can attest that a vegan diet introduced me to the idea that my body functions best without too much dairy. I learned how to cook new foods in different ways. I got educated about the horrors of factory farming and our food supply. But when my body needed a change, I listened, and I was informed, and I broke the rules. That is how a health journey begins, by breaking a prescribed doctrine and doing what is right for YOU.

Want another great resource? I glean so much info, inspiration, and insight from Amber the personal trainer behind GoKaleo.com. A couple of my sources in this post were found originally via Go Kaleo’s Facebook page. If you’re looking for a simple philosophy about health, “eat well, move, get enough sleep,” and powerful motivation to boot, I urge you to follow Go Kaleo. She’s pretty badass and one of my internet heroes.

Do you adhere to a Paleo diet? Have you tried it?
What are your thoughts on the Paleo fad?

photo credit: TheBusyBrain via photopin cc
photo credit: Lord Jim via photopin cc
photo credit: Ack Ook via photopin cc

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113 Responses to 5 Reasons Why Your Paleo Diet Is Pathetic

  1. Sarah Jane March 4, 2013 at 9:43 am #

    Thank you for this!! I have several friends who are on the Paleo diet, and my biggest concern is they completely cut out food groups. As you say, it’s not for everyone and everyone’s needs differ greatly.

    • HealthfulMama March 4, 2013 at 9:48 am #

      Exactly. I know I function much better when I have some grains. I couldn’t function without rice & quinoa!

    • Ernie October 21, 2014 at 2:46 pm #

      I am trying to eat Paleo but in moderation more of a Modified Paleo Diet. I will eat Whole Grain Breads and an occasional Pizza or Ice Cream!

  2. julianne March 4, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

    Sadly – there are many in the paleo world that perpetuate the view that paleo is a low carb diet. The Kitavan Islanders studied extensively by Lindeberg, ate a a high carb diet.
    Paleo has a disfuncional relationship with the low carb movement. Paleo is carb agnostic. You should eat the carbs you need to support your body’s needs. Paleo changed my health dramatically – I will never go back to eating some foods as they trigger auto-immune reactions for me.
    When you trash paleo – you do not acknowledge the profound effects it has on people like myself with auto-immune conditions and you ignore the growing amount on research supporting this dietary template for those with health conditions such as type 2 diabetes and auto-immune issues.
    I personally suscribe to the well researched work of Paul Jaminet “Perfect Health Diet”

    • HealthfulMama March 4, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

      Julianne, I’m sorry that you think I “trashed paleo;” I acknowledged that diet shifts can certainly open people to healthier ways of eating/living. I will check out “Perfect Health Diet,” but will admit that the title sounds, like so many of the Paleo tenets, unattainable.

    • James Hart March 4, 2013 at 4:19 pm #

      Haha. — “I’m sorry you think I trashed Paleo.”
      Page title – “5 Reasons Why Your Paleo Diet is Pathetic.”

      1. The vast majority of practitioners don’t suggest a ketogenic approach, rather, as Julianne suggests, the level of carbohydrate that matches your activity level.

      2. You won’t find any serious proponent of the lifestyle suggesting our bodies were ‘designed’ to eat certain types of food. Rather, the environment of evolutionary adaptedness (EEA) was one were certain types of foodstuffs didn’t exist in modern form, or at all, therefore, our bodies are more well adapted to certain foods. Many studies suggest this is the case.

      3. It’s expensive – What kind of argument is this?
      This is more an artefact of the way we produce and consume food and modern industrial agricultural process. Some Paleo foodstuffs are only more expensive because they are more scarce. More demand will result in more competition and lower prices for currently rare foods.

      4. Do what is right for you. Agreed. The argument is that the main tenets of the Paleo diet, followed by many people is probably going to be good for them. Better than too much high glycemic index carbohydrate, processed food, etc. There is no requirement for it to be high meat, high fat that seems to scare everyone else so much.

    • HealthfulMama March 4, 2013 at 4:52 pm #

      This post was in response to the idea that “everyone should be eating Paleo,” and in response to the seeming inability to escape the trend. So, #3: no Paleo denies it’s not more pricey to eat this way. My inclusion of this fact is not so much of an argument against the diet itself, but against the idea that it should be a goal for everyone. I like how you haven’t attacked what scientists and anthropologists have said on this–what are the “many studies” that suggest we’re more well-adapted to certain foods? And by “we,” you, of course, mean Anglo Americans, right? ;) Why isn’t this a global phenomenon? Why isn’t the WHO jumping to educate the masses: “Avoid Grains!” “No Seeds!” I’m just thinking out loud here, but really, why are privileged Americans so worthy of such a “revolutionary” theory?

    • cobalamin July 11, 2013 at 7:25 am #

      The “Perfect Health Diet” is flawed because supplementing with Vitamin K & C are required to prevent heart disease. Magnesium supplement is required because animal products contain very little of it.

    • Mother too April 20, 2014 at 9:04 pm #

      There are some things good about the palio diet but it is hardly the safest diet in fact it is very questionable. I look at the Mediterranean diet for type 2 diabetes a diet that’s been around for years with proven results. .
      http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/04/18/mediterranean-diet-more-effective-than-low-fat-diet-for-slowing-diabetes/
      I think a few years from now we will see the dangers of this diet and the increase of cancer from lack of healthy grains.

    • Annmarie Kostyk November 15, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

      I so agree with you. I have asthma, allergies, ulcerative colitis, general inflammation and migraines. When I eat paleo, which does include carbs, it all goes away. Vegetables, fruits and nuts have carbs people. Are you sure you don’t mean grains?

      People are mistaken about so many things regarding food. Like eating organic is expensive , you can’t get enough protein on a vegetarian diet, you have to drink milk, and paleo is expensive. It’s lack of education.

  3. Tiffany (NatureMom) March 4, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

    I have to STRONGLY disagree with your article and actually the first thing that popped into my head when I saw the title was “Oh boy here goes another grain lover on a tangent!” Even suggest that people eliminate grains and they get all kinds of cranky. Probably because they are ahem… addicted to all the sugar, but that is neither here nor there.

    1. I have tried many diets over the years (and at length) and nothing…not vegan, not vegetarian, not raw, not traditional WAPF, nothing changed my health for the better more so than paleo.

    2. Paleo is not low carb. Why perpetuate this flawed thinking?

    3. Paleo was not founded on a myth. You describe how humans adapted to eat different foods to survive. This is true but does it follow that the foods they adapted to be able to even stomach suddenly become optimal for health? What??? No way! Many humans have adapted to eat grains and gluten yet that does not mean they are or ever will be optimal for good health. It just means we have become better able to tolerate sub standard food and much of these tolerances “evolved” because they provided a survival advantage in times of shortage or when the best foods were not available. The nutrient profiles show us what the optimal foods are and eating other things just because we have built up a tolerance throughout the generations previous does not make those choices healthy or optimal.

    4. Yes, it is expensive. My health is worth it. I do the best I can with what I have. That is all anyone can do.

    5. We do need different foods at different times and paleo folks usually follow a 80/20 or 90/10 rule to make exceptions for those times. Though these exceptions are usually treats, not because bad food is actually NEEDED. This is one of the reasons I LOVE the paleo community, they are not militant like so many other diet dictocrats.

    • HealthfulMama March 4, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

      But Tiffany, how do you explain that the Paleo fad seems to be strictly an American trend? Is the rest of the world eating “wrong?” Is this diet a sustainable model over the long-term? The “myth” I refer to is the idea that there is one version of Paleolithic Man that seems to drive this theory of eating. As for the cost, are those who are unable to afford the high cost of Paleo diets not “worth it?”

    • Go Kaleo March 4, 2013 at 7:03 pm #

      Qualifying foods as ‘best’ or ‘sub standard’ based solely on nutrient density IS militant, and also smacks of disordered thought processes. Calories are a nutrient, and calorie dense foods (like grains) are extremely valuable both historically and contemporarily. I see far too many clients suffering with the symptoms of straight up starvation because of their ‘nutrient dense’ (but calorie deficient) diets. This line of thinking is way too easy to take to an unhealthy extreme.

    • Beth March 4, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

      I think Paleo is okay…as long as people aren’t eating very low calorie and very low carb. People need to eat what helps them the most.

      Many people tend to go low carb on Paleo; some for “health reasons”, some for weight loss reasons (Atkins Diet style), and…

      …some people go too low carb, because it can be a pain in the butt for them to have to bake and prepare foods with specialty flours and it takes time to cook/prepare all those veggies (so you don’t go too low carb).

      When I did Paleo, I tended to go too low carb for weight loss reasons and because it was a hassle to prepare the carb foods. It was much easier to eat veggies, meat and fat. I wasn’t eating enough calories or enough carbs. I got better when I started eating wheat again. And drinking whole milk. The generic statement (^^^^^^^) that wheat/grains/sugar are subpar or suboptimal is false.

      An interesting idea to ponder…

      A few weeks ago, I read a blog post about how cool carbs are (because they really are) and read about a group of tribal people going to great lengths to get some honey from a bee hive that was very high in a tree. They’ve been doing that for ages.
      http://healthyurbankitchen.com/blog/carbsandsugar/#more-1368 (picture of the honey hunters is in this blog post)

      Native Americans in my neck of the woods like to roast agave hearts. It tastes like a cross between pineapple, molasses and sweet potato. To roast one takes days and is very laborious AND there’s a chance you can get poked by one of its leaves (which hurts like crazy and could break the skin and lead to infection). It is also believed that this happened in Prehistoric times.
      http://www.crossingworlds.com/articles/agave.html

      Hunter gatherers and indigenous people seem to eat sugar and carbs whenever they can.

      So, along these lines… if a Hunter Gatherer hadn’t eaten for days and came across a bush with a few edible berries and a bunch of bananas, I’m sure that Hunter Gatherer WOULD eat the bananas first (as long as he or she knows that a banana is edible). And why? Because he or she KNOWS that those bananas are going to provide good fuel. The berries, with all those millions of healthy, miracle antioxidants won’t be first choice on that prehistoric person’s list.

      And…what if a hunter gatherer comes across some tuber vegetables verses some leafy vegetables? That hunter gatherer will most likely NOT stand around and ponder which veggies have the most nutrients, but will go for the tuber first. He’s going to dig that bad boy tuber out of the ground (and check to see if there are others close by), cook it and eat it.

      One thing I think that the Paleo movement fails to recognize is that they are emulating a very mythical and somewhat suboptimal diet (if you actually eat what the paleolithic people ate – no most didn’t have coconut oil, almond milk or bacon).

      Hunting and gathering evolved into a more agrarian society where crops became more widely used because these people KNEW that food crops like corn, wheat and rice could support and feed more people. So they went for it. For the most part, people didn’t balk at this idea of having more reliable forms of food that could be stored and used as a good calorie base for their diets.

      Many of us, on the other hand, are at liberty to eat what we want and we can eat Paleo, as long as we can afford it. Yes, it can get expensive and I think it’s okay for people to eat what they want if they can afford it. I usually only buy organic food and spend more on it than others do…but I think it’s the right thing to do for my health. We make this possible by going without cable TV and some other things.

      And yes, the Paleo crowd CAN get dogmatic and elitist (like when they write stuff about grains being bad and wheat being suboptimal)..just like any other fad diet.

      Wheat and grains are NOT subpar. And if you can’t eat them, did you ever think maybe your body is subpar for not being able to eat them in the first place? Just a thought, not an insult.

      The books by Taubes and Dr Davis are not logical, they DO have cherry picked scientific studies and have contributed to making people give up grains and carbs…when many of them probably didn’t need to.

      I think blog posts like this are a reaction to the dogmatic nature of the Paleo diet. It’s good to see dialogue like this.

    • HealthfulMama March 4, 2013 at 11:01 pm #

      Great points, Beth! Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences and insight. I’ll be checking those links out, too.

      You bring up so many good points, particularly those about how an agrarian culture evolved based on societal requirements and the fact that we’re not all built the same.

    • rosepickles June 18, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

      Im australian and i eat paleo, as well as quite a few of my australian friends in australia. My first response to this article was “i’m not pathetic :(” I started paleo as an experiment on myself (i too am a PT) and i suddenly realised how bloated i had been. Milk, bread and other grains had let to me feeling sluggish and well a little blocked up. Paleo is not about restricting food groups but putting in the healthiest things possible into your body. Meat, veg, fruit, fish, nuts and seeds. i eat red meat only a couple of times a week, less than my non-paleo family. I use expensive ingredients on occasion but that doesn’t surpass the amount of my money others spend on take out or alcohol each week. what frustrates me here is that everyone here is looking to better there health, if you have one belief or another but shouldn’t the message be spread to the people who aren’t trying to improve their health, not those trying to work out what works better for them?
      Im going to be terrible and not use any real stats and say this way of eating is seen mostly in america because if you haven’t noticed the rather high percentage of people who are obese or overweight due to the new processed and packaged things on the shops. whats wrong with cutting that stuff out? especially the amount of sugar that gets added to this stuff.
      The average cost of vegetables is what brings my shopping list up. if i were to just buy bread my shopping bill would be less expensive but i may end up with scurvey. Surely this just shows how shops are stuffing us around, paleo or no, it is expensive to try to do the right thing by your body. Chips and soft drink are less expensive but im not putting that in my body? not that im saying you’re encouraging that. Just don’t tell people they are pathetic for trying to eat well in an obese western world.

  4. Vegetarian March 4, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

    Thank you for this article. I’ve been a vegetarian for 20 years, but I am so tired of these fad diets and their proponents, that I could spit. One week, dairy is bad. The next week, it’s good. Same with carbs, gluten, eggs, take your pick. It’s pathetic. Secondly, the people on these diets tend to carry with them a certain self-righteousness that makes me want to utter obscenities. I’m THRILLED that you have the time/energy/money to carry out these diets, but here’s the reality: Not everyone does. It’s not as simple as saying “My health is worth it.” So is mine, but the bottom line is, if I want to keep a roof over my head, I cannot go around purchasing $7 or $8 bags of specialty flour, gluten-free foods, free range meat and the like. I cannot do it. Period. (And before you jump down my throat, I DON’T eat at McDonald’s, and I am not filling my shopping cart with Doritos and Ho-Hos. And I am neither obese nor overweight).

    • HealthfulMama March 4, 2013 at 4:25 pm #

      Thanks for your input, Vegetarian! :)

    • Shannon April 29, 2014 at 12:11 am #

      Wow that didn’t sound self righteous at all? Oh wait…. yeah it sort of did. For one who are you to decide when a diet is a fad? For two the ins outs ups downs of what is healthy and what isn’t changing from year to year or day to day can’t be laid at Paleo proponents feet.

      this has been going on for years. One thing that is a pretty safe bet though processed foods are not all that good for us. This is actually generally agreed upon in the health and fitness community.

      I do not follow any diet but I’m considering Paleo and I’m also just considering cutting out processed foods or as many as I can. I find this article to be heavily biased in it’s wordings. Paleo may not be the diet to end all diets but really??? pathetic??? Sounds like someone has a chip on their shoulder to me.

      Also with any diet you can only afford what you can afford. regular old ground beef is probably better for you than fruit loops though. and to the poster going off about nutrient dense calorie deficient diets… if this diet is followed properly it’s not calorie deficient at all. The calories just come through meats and fats rather than carbs for the most part.

      As for it” only being popular in america how do you explain that?” why should anyone have to? Freedom was only popular in america once as well… I missed when the US became a country full of followers that had to wait on someone else to decide something was worthwhile. I thought we were a country of innovators… just sayin.

  5. A March 4, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

    I’ve been paleo for almost 4 years and the improvements I have seen have been life changing. I was previously a healthy vegan but was suffering (and yes, I was consuming lots of fruits and veggies, healthy fats, little sugar, little bread, little soy).

    Paleo does not mean low carb! I don’t know why people continue to spout this. Yes, there are some people that do lower carb than others (especially those trying to lose weight or fight cancer) but the majority keep their carbohydrate level at between 50-150 grams per day.

    And your comment about too much red meat being harmful? Have you done any scientific research on that? Browsing a fellow blog doesn’t count.

    http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2010/01/13/ajcn.2009.27725.abstract

    http://content.onlinejacc.org/article.aspx?articleid=1132823

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16467234

    And why do you have a picture of a gross cheeseburger in a post about paleo? That is the exact opposite of paleo. Also, anyone with a history of disordered eating should be careful with any type of new eating to their body. That is not the average person.

    And I do have two children but there are ways to do paleo on a budget. Buying a CSA share for fruits and vegetables and buying 1/2 of a cow and storing in a freezer are one way to reduce costs. And yes, as Tiffany said, my health and my family’s health are worth it.

    With the new research out there on how bad sugar is for your body, especially the articles in the NY Times last week, you’d think you would do a post about that instead.

    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/27/its-the-sugar-folks/

    And I’m sure you are well aware that wheat raises your blood sugar more than sugar? Yes, cutting out food groups is not for everyone. But when those food groups are sugar, unhealthy oils/fats, grains (especially gluten) and legumes (especially soy), it’s worth it to feel not just physically but emotionally better.

    • HealthfulMama March 4, 2013 at 5:16 pm #

      So, why does it have to be Paleo? Cutting out sugar (not a whole food), processed oils, and junk soy is just good advice. You don’t have to be on a restrictive diet to do that. The cheeseburger pic accompanies the quote from Matt Stone, which if you read it, would explain the fast food photo.

      Low carb: are those who are jumping on the paleo bandwagon really understanding how to do it in a non-damaging way? Is everyone educated? And how would you explain to a single mom, living in a 2-bedroom apartment, living on one-income, how buying a 1/2 of a cow is do-able, let alone more healthy for her and her family? How to create simple, affordable meals that provide enough calories? Is this the answer to the so-called American health crisis? Buying cows?

  6. A March 4, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

    You also might want to check out Gary Taubes and his books as well as the book Fat Chance and Wheat Belly from doctors who are adamant against gluten and pro-higher fat diets.

    • HealthfulMama March 4, 2013 at 5:18 pm #

      Wheat Belly is on my to-read list. There is no denying that a diet overly-wrought with gluten or sugar is going to become a health issue, but I don’t think we need to go to extremes calling paleo the miracle.

    • Go Kaleo March 4, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

      People who’s argument is essentially ‘Go read an illogically conceived diet book based on cherry picked science taken out of context’ don’t really even deserve a response. Scientific studies are so easy to find that basing an argument on a diet book is lazy thinking at it’s finest.

      Good post, HealthfulMama!

    • deb March 4, 2013 at 6:44 pm #

      I agree with Amber, great post on a well intended but misguided fad diet that will soon be on the scarp heap of the Beverly Hills Diet, Atkins, 80/10/10 etc etc etc. LOW CARB is not PALEO KETO diets are SO not Paleo.

    • Melkor March 4, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

      “Wheat belly” is worse than “Good Calories, Bad Calories” when it comes to making an unpalatable mess of cherry-picked research and unsubstantiated claims combined with elementary errors about human biology.

    • A March 4, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

      Thanks but I actually linked 3 scientific studies and have more to link if you need them.

    • Go Kaleo March 5, 2013 at 12:04 am #

      Your links suggest saturated fat isn’t a driver of heart disease. I don’t have an issue with that, i actually agree with it. Your links do NOT show that carbs (Taubes), wheat (Davis) and sugar (Lustig) are toxic and the drivers of western disease (which is what each diet book author purports respectively.

  7. Alan Aragon March 4, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

    Good article. You’re being a little too nice though. Fad diets really deserve a bit more abuse ;)

    • HealthfulMama March 4, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

      Ha! Thanks, Alan. :)

    • deb March 4, 2013 at 6:44 pm #

      :-) Alan FTW !

  8. Brandee Kandle March 4, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

    One of the places the paleo diet has led me is to the notion of eating traditional foods. I am currently healing some major gut problems on the GAPS diet and paleo felt like basic training for this! I think paleo is pretty strongly American because we are so out of touch with real foods in this country that it takes a major shake up like the paleo/primal diets to catch our attention. Instead of being dismissive of people’s journey’s towards health, let’s be supportive and keep a lamp lit in case they make a move outside their current plan.

    • HealthfulMama March 4, 2013 at 7:35 pm #

      The only part of this post that is dismissive is the title, the rest of my claims are supported with expert analysis. I could have used the modifier “ridiculous,” “silly,” or “whack, yo,” and I suppose most would have focused on just the title, anyway. In my conclusion, I do note that paleo can open doors for people seeking knowledge about dietary health, but I’ll just assume you didn’t read that part, either.

      And are we (Americans) really so stupid that we don’t know what food is?

  9. Sarah - Mindfully Frugal Mom March 4, 2013 at 7:39 pm #

    Frankly, I don’t have a ton of science to back this up, but in my personal experience (as someone with ulcerative colitis), paleo doesn’t work for me. My body literally cannot handle protein+fat+ complex carbs (like veg) all the time.

    Which is why what you wrote about “listen to your body” resonates so much with me!

  10. Julie March 5, 2013 at 11:35 am #

    I normally don’t watch reality TV but have recently started watching “Biggest Loser” last night as I was blogging. Jackson (the 21 yr old) had a really great statement when he went home and was talking with his Mom. Something as simple as ‘Most of America doesn’t know what good nutrition is.’

    I do agree that ‘fad’ diets are appealing, but people should research foods and decide what’s best for them. Unfortunately, (youth) schools don’t teach you the truth about nutrition. I have a hard time understanding (after so many studies that vegetarian/low meat diets are good for your health) why people insist on eating lots of meat. Personally, I go for a plant& veggie, whole grains mostly diet. I do not think this is “perfect” and I definitely occasionally gorge on some brie, but I’m happy with my body and health.

    And as a fellow blogger & marketer, EXCELLENT choice for title. ;-) (I won’t say I haven’t picked an absurd title for clicks…)

    Keep it up Gretchen!

  11. Craig March 5, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    I am a personal trainer who decided it was time to learn more about nutrition and physiology to better help my clients. I have read all the books mentioned and a whole lot more on both sides of the arguments. I do follow a whole foods approach which I would say is closest to the paleo ‘fad’ to nutrition which helps everybody that does it including myself. Some things I’ve noticed.

    1) People get so emotionally attached to one diet or fired up against another that they don’t see the simlilarties that are providing the health benefits.

    2) EVERYONE cherry picks data to support their points. It’s important to look at the studies used to prove these points and see how honest they are.

    3) Too many people make very strong stances based on little to no actual knowledge or understanding of what they are promoting.ie Ancel Keys and the lipid hypothesis.

    4)I’m sorry to say it but the general population truly does NOT have any idea what is food, much less healthy food for consumption. A high percentage of what we eat has been made by us in the last 60 or so years which means until then it did not exist or what not edible in nature.

    5) We can survive off of a very wide range of foods but to thrive there are many we should not eat.

    6) I respect everyone’s interpretation of studies and such but you can tell when someone hasn’t educated themeselves on nutrition as much as they should before blogging about it.
    A) when you say sugar doesn’t cause Disease…type 2 diabetes IS a high sugar disease.
    B) if you say wheat is good… Plants have defenses, this one has a lot of good ones that affect humans. And all of it is processed and basically the same as eating straight sugar. Fruit and veg have fiber.
    C) I’ll end here. If someone says Vegetable oils and artificial sweeteners are good… Just walk away.

  12. Beth March 5, 2013 at 10:50 pm #

    Craig, vegetable oils and artificial sweeteners have no place in my kitchen or in my body…blech. ;)

    You have a good point about wheat having natural defenses. Wheat is notorious for having phytates, which can strip much-needed minerals out of the intestines before those minerals have had a chance to be absorbed by the body. One way to help break phytates down is to soak, sprout and ferment it. Other people avoid (as many) phytates as they can by eating white flour, instead of wheat flour. I have read that ancient people and past generations soaked and sprouted their wheat, whether on purpose or accidentally. It served them well. They were able to survive, thrive, and not ingest a lot of the phytates and anti nutrients in the process.

    And I use the word “thrive” because agrarian people and their predecessors were able to carry on with hard labor, a lot more physical activity and still produce offspring. Many of these people overcame illness and prospered. It’s very obvious that their grain-filled crops were giving them optimal health for what they needed to do.

    Many of us aren’t thriving, even though we’re surviving…and I have heard anecdotal stories about women being “infertile” and having hard pregnancies even while eating a nutrient-dense Paleo diet or a vegetarian (or even vegan) diet. When they got off and started eating more carbs (or meat) and dense calorie foods, they were able to get pregnant.

    Many traditional people also “prepared” other grains and nuts (like corn) before eating them…something that we modern day people don’t do enough of in our fast paced and ignorant lives.

    And lately, I have heard a few stories of white flour breads and foods helping to heal people with IBS problems…when nothing else would work (including nutrient dense, traditional foods).

    Eating wheat based foods helped me to get some dense calories into my body and overcome severe thyroid symptoms I was experiencing after being on a sometimes very low carb Paleo diet.

    Many other plants have natural defenses as well. Because I have thyroid issues now, I cannot eat raw broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, or any other Brassica-vegetable types because of the goitrogens that adversely affect my thyroid. I’ll eat them cooked sometimes, as cooking deactivates some of the goitrogens in them. I also don’t eat soy at all…I use a bit of miso paste every now and then to flavor my food.

    Fruits usually don’t have defenses, and I eat more of those. Cucumber, olive, and tomato salad is a yummy fruit mix that I like. I like tubers for dense carbs too. And I’m no longer afraid to eat bananas. :)

    I think it’s very important for people to eat what helps them to feel their best. And I think it would be helpful if more people ate homemade, whole foods, instead of dining constantly on fast foods and other yuck (but a little junk food every now and then is NOT going to hurt).

  13. Lisa @Retro Housewife Goes Green March 7, 2013 at 12:06 am #

    I truly don’t think that one diet is perfect for anyone. We have different needs. As long as it’s really food than I say do what works for you. Paleo wouldn’t work for me, i think my husband would do okay on it but not me.

  14. Craig March 7, 2013 at 11:08 am #

    Hey Beth. You make very good point about soaking and fermenting grains to eat them. That makes them much less toxic too our digestive system. The heavy grain diet that is recommended for health includes little to no preparation which keeps the phytates at full strength.

    I agree that growing our own food gave us the energy we needed to keep up with the amount of hard Labour it takes to produce them. However,hunting and gathering took much less time and energy overall to acquire foods that were higher in energy and nutrients like animals and tubers. Anthropologists can easily tell the difference between hunter gatherer remains (taller, stronger bones and muscles with good teeth) and agriculturalists (smaller, more disease and poor bone structure)

    Lisa, there is never way of eating that is good for everyone. We all have the same basic physiology. Animals and plants raised naturally and not processed. Everyone else will thrive eating this way.

    For what it’s worth i really like to discuss with people who don’t get defensive.

    • HealthfulMama March 7, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

      I’m loving the dialogue you two have started, Craig & Beth!

  15. Amy March 7, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

    Interesting article. I started to try paleo around the middle of last year, first doing the standard no dairy, no legumes, etc. I felt great, full of energy and my IBS symptoms were much more manageable. When I eat wheat, gluten and sometimes legumes I feel a little crappy. I feel like paleo was a good way for me to encourage myself to eat better (I’d been eating low calorie, low fat, and was low in iron and run down) and start feeding myself well, lots of calories, and lots of fresh food. I dont tend to buy ‘organic’ meat, etc, because its not viable in my budget. I buy the best I can, and I dont feel bad about that.
    Fast forward to now, could my diet be described as paleo….probably not by stict paleo followers….I eat dairy, I eat chickpeas in their various delicious forms and the occasional grain (rice or corn. My IBS is still not rearing its ugly head very often, I still feel pretty good, and Im happy with what I eat, which is a well balanced, good diet for me. I never went ‘low carb’ with paleo purposefuly, in terms of I made sure to eat sweet potatoes, lots of fruits (dried and fresh). I like that Mark (Sisson, marks daily apple) talks about eating ‘primal’ as something good to do, but not something to stress over and get bogged down in the detail of….want some soy sauce, some pasta…dont panic, just dont eat them ‘all’ the time.
    I agree its not for everyone, eat what’s best for you personally and enjoy food :)

    • HealthfulMama March 7, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

      Amy~ I think you hit the nail on the head exactly. Paleo can be a great starting point for making major change (as veganism was for me), and can introduce one to how the body feels without X, Y, or Z. Sort of like a modified elimination diet. I also agree with the idea that these hard and fast “rules” are not something to build a life around!

  16. Lisa D Liguori March 10, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

    Brave post Healthful Mama! I have nothing new and insightful to add to this list, however, I do want to thank you for courageously speaking your piece, and quite elegantly, I might add. You have spoken for so many of us.
    Kudos to you!

    • HealthfulMama March 10, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

      Thank you, Lisa!

  17. Amy March 11, 2013 at 4:48 pm #

    What I dislike very much about paleo is the ‘elitist’ attitude it can foster in people. Someone on a forum told me I couldnt be serious about fat loss if I was still eating fruit and not willing to ‘cut it out’. I will continue to eat and enjoy fruit. Some people become so indignant about their own journey that they cant accept that works for them isnt for everyone.

    • HealthfulMama March 11, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

      The elitist attitude is why I wrote this post! There is something a little cultish about the paleo followers. Not all, mind you, but many won’t.let.it.go. I agree–eat that damn fruit, girl!

    • Shannon April 29, 2014 at 12:31 am #

      That person was ill informed because Paleo doesn’t eliminate fruit to begin with. some plans eliminate all sugars for a week to get you off the sugar habbit.

      Most of the articles and I’ve read don’t stamp their feet and say to cut out anything altogether except processed sugars and preferably grains. Even at that most say you can cheat now and then after you get used to it.

      There will be proponents of any nutrition plan that get militant and elitist. I’ve seen some pretty militant vegans and vegetarians.

      A diet is what you make it. Follow it loosely or follow it religiously. Are the Paleo police going to arrest you for eating a piece of bread? Doubtful. Whatever diet you follow don’t let some stranger with little to no credentials make you feel like you’re not doing it good enough.

  18. Beth March 12, 2013 at 1:35 am #

    I’m baaaack! ;)

    I just came across an article that totally dashes and severely undermines the myth of “The Egyptian People Started Eating Grains and That’s Why They Had Clogged Arteries”.

    I’m posting a link here. It would be great material for an article. I think Melissa McEwen and Hunter.Gather.Love has already written about it – a fabulous article.

    http://news.yahoo.com/study-even-ancient-mummies-had-clogged-arteries-001655831.html

    So…I strongly disagree with Craig and others about grains being bad. This is not a defensive tactic (I wasn’t going to comment here again until I saw the recent mummy news). It’s new information for you and other no grain people to look at and consider. People started thriving when agriculture took place.

    If you want to discuss issues like this with people who don’t get defensive (aka counter your points, debate, possibly turn your theories upside down, cause you to question your diet, etc), the Paleo forums are full of people who share your same viewpoint.

    • HealthfulMama March 12, 2013 at 1:57 am #

      I’m am SO FASCINATED by this! Thanks for the share!

  19. Stephanie {Naturally Mindful} March 21, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

    When I read the title of this post I figured you’d be attacked by the Paleo followers, so kudos to you for speaking your mind. I really understand what you mean about the elitist attitude, to most Paleo is all or nothing and I disagree with that, because as you clearly stated that everybody is different. However, I think you failed to mention the serious negative effects that grains have on some people and might not even know they could benefit from avoiding them.
    I’m glad you mentioned that it includes an excessive amount of protein and the negative effects of this, however I disagree with your statement “consuming too much red meat can lead to health problems, namely, heart disease” you are misleading your readers because the truth is that conventional meet (hormones, antibiotics, unhealthy feed, etc) IS harmful, but grass-fed meat is healthy and essential, this is why:

    -Higher in antioxidants beta-carotene and vitamin E
    -Higher in the B-vitamins thiamin and riboflavin
    -Higher in the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium
    -Higher in total omega-3 fatty acids
    -A healthier omega-6 to omega-3 ratio (1.65 in grass-fed beef versus 4.84 in grain fed)
    -Higher in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a potential cancer fighter
    -Higher in vaccenic acid (which can be transformed into CLA)
    Meat also provides our body with essential saturated fats

    Once again, I commend you for this article, I am a regular follower therefore I value your opinion but I think this article fell a bit short.

    • HealthfulMama March 21, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

      Thanks for your comments, Stephanie! Grass fed meat is certainly more healthy, but, once again, everything in moderation. I encourage everyone to find what works best for them, but check-in with their bodies, and not feel like they have to be committed to one end-all, be-all diet “solution.”

  20. Stephanie {Naturally Mindful} March 21, 2013 at 5:47 pm #

    Absolutely right! Oh and my Pinterest feed is inundated with Paleo posts, too. So I’m pinning this one, if anything to create balance ;)

  21. Razwell May 6, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

    ONly paranoid Internet crackpots basj soy. The Okinawans are the longest lived people on the planet. Their diet is very rich in soy.

  22. Razwell May 6, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

    All of these Internet Blogshpere sites are utter nonsense.

  23. NerveSaw June 2, 2013 at 2:09 am #

    Too expensive??? Are you kidding me? I spend about $40 a week to buy my paleo groceries. Prior to that, I spent at least $25++ per DAY eating out at fast food places.

    • HealthfulMama June 2, 2013 at 8:53 am #

      Comparing any type of at-home cooking with eating out is going to show home cooking to be cheaper. $25/day?! Were you eating every meal at the fast food joint?

  24. Dr. Healthy $$$ Diet June 18, 2013 at 6:15 pm #

    Who cares about the cost factor in a health debate? (HealthfulMama seems to keep pushing this point) Seriously, the LARGEST issue with our food system is mega-corps adding cheap additives for filler while cutting corners on dangerous processing techniques in order to drive costs down. I am sorry if somebody thinks one way of eating is expensive or if they cannot provide for the entire family while doing it, but that is how our society got into this mess in the first place… McDonalds & WalMart mentality. I know MANY healthy people on Paleo, or their personalized version of it, who have regular blood tests, screenings, etc without amazing health gains over their old diets. The latter may be the actual “added” cost of properly following up with a nutritionist in order to monitor your own body and how it is adapting to any new diet. God knows just about every single American needs to wake the heck up in this regard! Regardless of your diet choice, you need to do what is best for your own body to the extent you are financially able. Save a few dollars now on what you put in it and expect to spend 1000x more later in medical bills. Can’t afford to eat healthy? You probably have areas you could cut, like those new shoes or the $180/mo cable TV service… especially if it actually means sustainable health for all in your household. Money should never be an excuse to eat right… if it is, you are living beyond your means and need a reality check, sister.

    • Dr. Healthy $$$ Diet June 18, 2013 at 6:16 pm #

      Typo: *with amazing health gains over their old diets

    • HealthfulMama June 18, 2013 at 9:33 pm #

      I, apparently, need a reality check but you’re not considering the fact that people have priorities other than what’s in their grocery cart. I agree that good food is a foundation for good health, but I don’t think paleo is the answer to an entire society’s ills and an entire food system’s errors.

    • Dr. Healthy $$$ Diet June 19, 2013 at 2:37 am #

      Interesting response upon your attitude being perceived as “people rightfully care more about other priorities, yet I -the author- write aimlessly about nutrition anyhow”. I would assume your stance would be making people understand how health should remain one of their absolute top priorities. At least that is taken from how passionately you make Paleos out to be “Pathetic”, and you must therefore care about healthy eating as a whole. So I guess have a good long life?.. albeit shorter as it will be with priorities other than the “health” you seem to spout on about.

      We live in one of the most spoiled & sick-minded societies in history… putting 100% material “success” before our own lives & vitality… cutting our spending on healthy, nutrient-rich, earth provided food & animals in order to buy designer labeled sweatpants with easily expanding elastic waistbands. This is also how we (as fat, entitled Americans) have become the laughing stock of the world.

      I also did not aim my comment specifically on Paleo, yet simply made a mention that I know a few extremely healthy people who have a trail of doctor & specialist data to prove that the diet works for them. Years worth actually, and yes they are well off society types so this part of the discussion is admittedly lost in regards to how much money can be spent by anyone. However, most people should still really find a way to speak & do testing through a nutritionist (they personally agree/align with) at least a few times in their lifetime.

      In your defense, and part of my point, there will always be those who do not know what is good for their own bodies all the while ignorantly pushing through any “fad” diet. Each person is unique and has slightly different nutritional needs as said by many in this discussion. Honestly, my belief is that Paleo eating is geared towards and best optimized by O blood types. (And that is with vegetables being the grand majority portion)

      Investing in your own health & diet (regardless of which one is right for you) is priceless! Not only does it mean longer energetic days, but remaining healthy & fit is ABSOLUTELY the fastest way to success (spiritually, monetarily, socially, family, etc etc etc)… you can not put a price tag on that. It is also a sad reality that individuals who skimp now, may actually miss the buss to their own successful bliss.

      Your choice…. yet still little to do with the immediate financial costs since not doing it the right way is always more expensive in the big picture. If financial worry is a concern in your world (as it unfortunately & understandably is for far too many), I think most people in our society who have become “successful” in the area of fortune will tell you they didn’t do it with low energy, crap food, or poor health. It pays to make it a priority!

  25. NerveSaw June 18, 2013 at 9:58 pm #

    Most people buy pre-processed foods, cereal, canned food, frozen food, Mac N Cheese, “hamburger helper” etc.. etc.. Not to mention how much they spend on pop, juice, etc. You really think it costs more to purchase a piece of raw chicken and some veggies? Get real. And the fact that people have other priorities other than their grocery cart is why we’re all eating DEADLY chemicals and stuff like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pink_slime What could possibly be a higher priority than eating healthy REAL food and not dying of cancer?!

  26. Nervesaw June 18, 2013 at 11:27 pm #

    Seriously, this “paleo is too expensive” myth is really a huge pet peeve of mine. You’re telling people it’s too expensive to eat healthy, and you’re not even being accurate. Sure, a soccer mom who is on a Paleo Diet Fad Kick might go into Whole Foods and buy everything that says “Organic” on the label and spend $300. But I literally spend between $20-$40 for an entire week’s worth of healthy groceries. Meat and veggies are not that expensive. Even organic meat, and not all veggies need to be organic. My organic beef cost me $1 more per pound than the non-organic (which contains nasty crap in it.) Paying $1 to not get sick? That’s a deal. But I also had a coupon, so it didn’t even cost me more to eat the real meat. If you like eating soylent green, be my guest and keep that extra dollar.

    • HealthfulMama June 19, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

      I would love to see a receipt of a $20 grocery bill for the week.

  27. NerveSsaw June 20, 2013 at 8:27 pm #

    Two pounds of organic beef with coupon = $10, and if you can’t buy $10 worth of vegetables you’re a really bad shopper or you shop at the most expensive store in the universe. You know what else is cheap? Eggs. Some paleo people eat legumes. A can costs 89 cents and is good for 4 meals. It’s not bloody rocket science.

    • Athena June 21, 2013 at 12:40 am #

      Ha ha– you attacked healthfulmama assuming that when she says paleo is expensive you assume (and you know what happens when you assume right?) she isn’t consuming a healthy diet; but I’m sorry to tell you my friend, that if all you eat for the week is 2 lbs of beef and some veggies you are not consuming a nutrient-dense diet.

      $20 for the week my tush!

    • HealthfulMama June 21, 2013 at 10:24 am #

      I *do* shop at The Most Expensive Store In The Universe! It’s amazing. They also sell The Most Expensive Family-Feeding Can of Beans in the Universe. I tell ya, I envy you for your cheap beef and tablespoons of beans meals. I only WISH I could eat like that and on a such a budget. Kudos, my friend. You should start your own website titled Hyperbolic Rants About Food and Other Stories.

  28. Athena June 21, 2013 at 11:32 am #

    Oh no! What happened to neversaw cooment? I copied and pasted from my email notificaion “Actually, I never assumed she wasn’t consuming a healthy diet, I said she was saying Paleo is expensive, when it isn’t. Get some reading comprehension skills. Secondly, vegetarians eat only vegetables. I eat primarily vegetables and small portions of meat. Have you never heard of a vegetarian? Have you ever heard of a raw food diet? Why is eating vegetables and small amounts of meat such a difficult thing to understand? I am done posting here. You people are raging idiots.”

    Well, no wonder he/she is so cranky! No, vegetarians, and raw foodies do not consume a nutrient dense diet; studies show that not one culture whose diet is plant base has thrived, and don’t get me started on vegans, although you didn’t mention it.

    Dear neversaw, you need some good ol animal saturated fat for your foggy brain. Eat some pastured butter, some pastured eggs, some raw milk…please! :)

    • HealthfulMama June 21, 2013 at 11:35 am #

      Oh, I deleted that one due to the “raging idiots” commentary. There are better ways of discourse than name-calling.

    • Athena June 21, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

      Oh, I should’ve thought of that, very true. You can delete mine if you want then, dice I copied and pasted his comment. Kudos to you!

  29. jessimom August 1, 2013 at 1:49 pm #

    Eating a paleo-based (not strict) diet has improved life immensely for my family… but not every family is the same and not every family is willing to make those sacrifices for the sake long-term health and wellness.

    Do what makes you and your family happiest and as long as you aren`t being rude to anyone else you`re good to go:)

  30. Grace August 3, 2013 at 11:36 am #

    Reading this made me sad. I have had great success for 18 months now with Paleo. The biggest online Paleo ‘celebrities’ are not dogmatic nor exclusive in their approaches – they respect and appreciate other ‘real food’ approaches to diet. The part I disagree with most here in your post is that you say Paleo is exclusive, which is simply not true. The main point of Paleo is to eat real, unprocessed food. If that’s not inclusive, what is?

    • HealthfulMama August 6, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

      Grace, because paleo isn’t just “eat real foods,” it’s “eat real, unprocessed foods–but only the ones on this list.” To get enough calories, you need to buy more and eat more of that list. Buying pounds of nuts and pounds of meat and veggies, even in bulk, costs A LOT. That’s exclusive. You won’t see lower-income families eating on the paleo philosophy.

  31. Teresa August 14, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    Eating a Paleo diet is just like everything else in life, you have to be educated about it and do what works for you. I have been Paleo for about 4 months and in that time have begun to heal from 25 years of fibromyalgia which at times controlled my life. I no longer take blood pressure or thyroid medications because I no longer need them. My IBS symptoms are all gone and I am gaining energy every day. I can’t remember the last time I felt this good and I believe it will get even better as I continue this way of eating. I do not see myself ever putting another cheeseburger in my mouth. As far as everyone who is Paleo restricting carbs that is totally wrong. I easily eat 125-150 grams of carbs per day in fruits and vegetables. I eat 3 meals and at least 2 snacks every day. To make a blanket statement that Paleo is bad because some people drastically restrict carbs is just wrong. And don’t even get me started on the grams of refined sugar in the average American diet…

  32. EmpiricusMaximus August 22, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

    Cuts out food groups? The paleo framework promotes eating the most diverse diet possible. It challenges you to all kinds of healthy traditional food sources shunned modern palates, from eating the whole animal head to tail, insects and as many different kinds of fruits, veggies and animals you can get your hands on. Can you please enlighten me as to which nutritional deficiencies that I will die from while eating grassfed organ meats, pastured duck eggs, fermented vegetables, home made konbu dashi, sashimi, and home grown fruits, veggies and herbs etc?

    The paleo framework is not a strict set of rules. It is based on making better choices about diet in an uncertain world. If you want to make decisions about a healthy diet with a high degree of confidence look to nature and evolution where the sample size is in the trillions of trillions.

    Statistically speaking, natural systems are more robust than human designed systems. When new foods enter the human diet they carry a higher risk of having unintended harmful consequences.THE BURDEN OF PROOF IS ON THE NOVEL. If something evolutionarily novel is introduced the job of science is to prove it is safe, not the other way around. Would you have taken up smoking in the 1920′s because at the time there was NO EVIDENCE it was harmful? What about when “heart healthy” trans-fat containing margarine was introduced?

    It’s ridiculous to assume most dietary guidelines have all been “proven”, most are based on epidemiological research that can only discover correlation. It is next to impossible to do a good double blinded randomized control study that “proves” all the effects of a certain nutrient or protein. The solution is try and reduce the foods that carry the highest risk, neolithic foods.

    For example, what is the risk of avoiding cereal grains? Zero, they are nutritionally poor.

    What are the benefits of avoiding cereal grains? They are potentially harmless, potentially quite harmful.

    This means the choice to eat cereal grains has a negative expected value. They is evolutionarily novel, and were not a major part of our diet for most of our evolutionary history. It has not been proven they is harmful for everyone but there is evidence there has been insufficient evolutionary time for humans to adopt grain consumption. If you want to claim neolithic foods are safe the burden of proof is on you. I’m sure many of them are, and many of them are not. Sadly many neolithic foods have not been proven safe by science.

    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

    • HealthfulMama August 22, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

      You’re clearly very passionate about this subject. Tell ya what; message me in about 50 years (I’ll be in my 80′s) and we can talk about whether I made a big farking mistake in not listening to the Wisdom Of The Paleo.

  33. EmpiricusMaximus August 29, 2013 at 6:59 pm #

    That’s like saying ask me in 50 years if buying health insurance was a big mistake. Just because you don’t have to use your insurance doesn’t mean buying it was stupid. Likewise, if I won a thousand dollars playing Russian roulette would you say that was a smart thing to have done?

  34. Elise September 6, 2013 at 9:32 pm #

    Very interesting post and discussion. I think your point 5 is the most valid -check in with your body. My partner has found that eating grains for the most part, and gluten in particular leads to ill feeling. That was discovered through many years of trial and error, something most people aren’t very interested in pursuing. I don’t have the same reaction, so don’t adhere to any strict guidelines.

    I think one reason why this is an “American” thing is because we don’t have a traditional food culture so we love to experiment with different ways of eating. This one is the latest. And it’s also a lot easier to follow a diet plan than to actually figure out how you are feeling. That goes along with our culture, probably NOT for the best, IMHO.

    Im not well versed on the particulars of the diet, but its probably hard to go wrong by eating more vegetables and fruits. Most Americans are pathetically deficient in this realm. And grass fed meat seems like a good idea from an animal welfare point of view. Maybe it’s a just me, but I believe an animal that is happy and healthy will be better able to nourish me, on many different levels.

    Thanks for the post

  35. Kris September 11, 2013 at 8:17 am #

    I couldn’t even finish your article; you haven’t read much about paleo or primal. Maybe you’re only basing your assumptions off of the elitists? Either way, this fails.

    It’s not expensive (I spend way less money on food now). It’s not low carb (I get around 100 grams a day). I have cheat meals (I’m 80/20). There are health benefits – I was prehypertensive, now I’m not. I lost weight. I’m no longer an insomniac. My blood work is now great. Same goes for the husband. I’ve eaten primally for 3+ years — and in a lazy cave woman. I haven’t worked out yet :p

  36. Gary October 11, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

    Adding processed flours to be non-grain is not a paleo concept, it’s just some industry trying to make money. Also, fad? As if the modern vegetarian is not hooked on the very unscientific concepts engendered by other vegetarians. If you are a vegetarian for ethical reasons, then good on you, otherwise please know that an evolutionary approach to dieting is the least fadlike notion ever: please see http://www.pnas.org/content/106/38/16034.full

  37. Dana October 13, 2013 at 8:10 pm #

    Way to not understand what Paleo is about. Even where you could point to specific bloggers to support your claim that this way of eating is elitist in some way, all you’re doing is buying into their narcissistic notion that they somehow represent the entire movement.

    If you want to be a grain junkie, just say so. Don’t tell fibs about what Paleo is, and then expect all of us to take that as a valid argument against this eating template. Oh sure, some of us will agree with you–other grain junkies, mostly. But some of us are actually wider-read than that, and willing to keep our minds just a little bit more open.

    • HealthfulMama October 13, 2013 at 11:31 pm #

      I have no idea what a “grain-junkie” is, but I guess all the crazy grain must be influencing my judgement in what constitutes a viable source. All this time, I thought experts in their field (so, anthropologists, health/nutrition professionals and scientists) were sources for reliable information. But I see I am confused. I should have been quoting “specific bloggers” instead. All this quinoa’s made me INSANE!

  38. Dana October 13, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

    I have had migraines off and on since I was 17. I will be 40 early next year. Most of my migraines were just really painful, accompanied by certain GI tract symptoms and maybe yawning, except for one in 2000 that was preceded by a visual aura. Until late 2011, when I started getting the visual symptoms regularly. It scared me.

    I got off wheat in the beginning of 2012 because I was doing an elimination diet of my own devising, starting with all-meat and then reintroducing vegetables and other food groups. I stayed off wheat for about three months, then had a plate of noodles for lunch one day. Within half an hour I was sleepy. I also realized that at other times I had gone to a Mongolian style restaurant and felt like a slug after eating and that that restaurant had gluten in most of its sauces. That swore me off wheat for good. I might still very seldom get traces in the soy sauce they provide in Asian restaurants but that’s been it.

    I still got headaches sometimes first thing in the morning after giving up wheat and I had one episode during my elimination re-intro in 2012 (after eating Parmesan cheese the night before–and there are connections between Parmesan and migraines), but other than that episode I have never again had a serious headache, and the visual symptoms are all gone.

    And it’s not placebo. Placebo effect lasts maybe a month. This has lasted over a year now. I have also noted I have GI problems when I eat legumes, so I mostly give those a miss now too.

    That’s a really odd fad if fad is all Paleo is.

    • HealthfulMama October 13, 2013 at 11:36 pm #

      Are you shitting me with this, Dana? I’m very glad that you have found something that works for you and that you are feeling better, but “an elimination diet of my own devising, starting with all-meat,” doesn’t seem like a good plan of attack for remediating a major health problem. Did you consult a doctor? I would urge you (and anyone, really) to seek medical advice. Health issues can sometimes lie dormant during a major diet change, making it seem like the diet is the cure.

      You are one example, and one person does not constitute a sample size large enough to make something fact.

  39. Dottie October 16, 2013 at 11:28 am #

    I’m just a few weeks in on the primal diet and am trying to read as much as I can from both sides of the equation, the lovers vs the haters. What continues to frustrate me with those criticising the paleo diet is that they ignore the fact that many who start down the paleo path often end up as primal eaters adding in dairy as well as tubers, nuts and rice on occassion. I also feel that they look at the strict tenants of the diet, but ignore the footnotes and adendums so that they can make their point about how wrong paleo is. Most of the the literature that I’ve read does not advocate that there was one paleo man from one region who’s diet we should be following. What they mean by paleo is simply that if it’s not natural if it’s not something that pre agricultural man could get his hands on we probably need to omit it, but I have often seen paleo gurus give us the caveat that just becuase something wasn’t available in paleo days doesn’t make it bad, and that we need to evaluate each food before we choose to include or omit it. Additionally, as many others here have said, paleo does not mean low carb, they want you to have carbs they just don’t want you to get them from processed sugars, or grains (which are often reifned) because of how these affect our blood sugar and energy levels AND because carbs from sugar and grains have a lot of calories that add up quickly which can be quite frustrating for someone on a diet or make it quite easy to pack the pounds on if you’re not super careful about what you’re eating. Getting your carbs from veggies is a way to give you some freedom from always having to count your calories, freedom allowing you to eat as much as you want and freedom because the food you eat doesn’t give you cravings that you have to stave off. I’ve even read paleo literature that supports eating dairy as long as you omit it for 30 days and then reintroduce it, if you have no advesrse effects during the reintroduction it’s an acceptable food source in the paleo world. As for Kaleo who says she often sees clients come in who are starving because they’ve not been getting enough calories on the paleo/primal diet that isn’t a flaw of the diet that is a flaw in the dieter. No where does paleo or primal advocate under eating. Furthermore, if some people are jumping onto the paleo/primal badwagon without learning how to properly execute these diets that again is not the fault of the diet that is the fault of the dieter. Paleo/primal says all meats are up for grabs, but they don’t speficy eating red meat, in fact Mark Sisson often says to stick to lean meats and he says bacon should not be a staple. With regards to the costliness of the diet I’d say that’s mostly bunk. While ideally these diets would have us eating the cleanest (organic, local, grass fed) meats and veggies they don’t require it. Mark Sisson repeatedly tells people to do the best that they can. There are a lot of affordable organic meats out there, they may not be grass fed, but they’re non hormone, non gmo – Kroger has a brand now called Simple Truth their chicken and bacon are really cost efficient. Even if I wasn’t onto the primal diet you can bet I’d still be picking up the hormone free chicken for my child. I don’t buy the organic produce, it’d be nice, but yes that is expensive, it is also not required, just suggested by the proponents of paleo/primal. There’s also a really cheap way to get organic produce, and I mean REALLY cheap, grow it yourself. Coconut oil and milk aren’t the cheapest things going either, but again there are ways around that, buy it on sale and use less expensive (but still primal) oils like olive oil to supplement in between times. The bottom line is from what I’ve found the paleo/primal diet just wants people to eat as cleanly and naturally as possible, they want you to keep an eye on your fat/saturated fat intake, they want you to have carbs they just want them to be carbs that are good for you, dairy is good (fermented is best) as long as you can tolerate it and yes you def. need to get an adequate amount of calories. Anyone who says otherwise is only looking at half of the picture so that they can prove an incorrect opinion. Since going primal all I’ve really cut out is processed food and I’m following all of the rules – I don’t think anyone can correctly say what we all need in our diet is more processed food.

    • HealthfulMama October 16, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

      So, Dottie, you’ve basically just described a whole-food diet, which doesn’t have any prescribed rules nor does it eliminate food groups.

      I find it interesting that when someone questions the paleo diet, many responses include, “Well, if you read this person’s take…” Or “Well, you can eat xyz if you want…” Or “It’s just about clean eating!” and everything sounds a lot less like paleo and a lot more like just eating whole foods without all the hype. No one wants to admit they bought into fake science and a fad diet.

    • Dottie October 16, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

      It’s not a matter of wanting or not wanting to admit as to whether or not I bought into a fad diet. Considering that the paleo diet has been around for a while and I’m just getting into it I wouldn’t be in a position to say I was fooled by the diet even if I wanted to. That being said my point was that you are ignoring whatever you need to ignore about the diet to prove your point. This is not a “this person says that” way around things, the fact is you harp on the no carbs thing, but that’s wrong. The paleo diet might have less carbs, but they still want you to eat carbs as I said they just don’t want you getting your carbs from sugar and grains. Again as I said they don’t talk about one specific paleo human from one geographical location they talk about eating foods that would have been available to a paleo person i.e. pre agriculture. Also as I stated Kaleo’s argument that the paleo diet is bad because she’s had clients come in who were undernourished from not eating enough calories is not an argument about a flaw in the diet, it’s what one might call user error. Same goes for your argument that the diet is bunk because a lot of people jump into it without properly learning about it that’s not the diet’s fault that’s the fault of people who choose not to educate themselves. Also, you argue that the diet is bad because it is not affordable, there is an ideal which is the grass fed, organic etc. however, you are still paleo if you buy non organic fruits and veggies etc and as I pointed out there are lots of affordable brands that are in fact organic etc. When you do your research to see what paleo is who or where are you looking? There must be one source of where we can look for what the paleo diet is and is not – that would put an end to the debate here between so many commenters who agree with me that you are ignoring or simply incorrect about some of the things you are claiming paleo to be. Finally, I looked at the two NPR articles you cite, I don’t really know what these are meant to prove. The first article is simply about some guy who may or may not be following the paleo diet to the best of it’s intentions and who may or may not be eating too much red meat, the second is an op-ed piece about whether we have or have not genetically morphed to eat new foods and whether or not there was one ideal diet, but that’s all it is an op-ed I don’t see any studies etc. to back up the speculations of the author.

    • HealthfulMama October 16, 2013 at 11:48 pm #

      What’s the debate? I’m saying Paleo is not the be-all, end-all, Holy Grail, Miracle Cure, Make The Blind See and the Angels Weep Diet that it’s being promoted as. The fact that you have spent PARAGRAPHS arguing WHY I SHOULD BELIEVE IN THIS points to a fanatical grasp on dietary dogma. I will repeat: my point in writing this post was to show that paleo is not something the average josephine should feel obligated to make into her lifestyle. Nor is it attainable for most. Nor is it EVEN BASED IN FACT. What I’m interested in is how the average person can make healthier decisions for her life. I’m not interested in eating styles which dictate laws, ask for lifestyle changes, require some kind of in-depth research… It’s food. It’s life. Eat the food. Live your life. Again, if paleo is working for you, great. I’m perfectly entitled to disagree that it’s the bees knees.

  40. sam1210silvia November 24, 2013 at 10:02 pm #

    I usually never leave messages, but I had to leave one on your post. I totally agree with you. This paleo trend is just a trend and very fashionable these days, it almost feels like a sect.
    I am a personal chef from France and living in the US for a while. I noticed so many people here have some sort of food disorder, health problems and they need to believe they have to follow a diet to feel better, treat their health problems, etc…so they find a book written by someone who found the way to make money, and here they go everyone believes it.
    I think nutrition it’s like religion, everyone one has an opinion based on a book they read, on someone’s opinion who was fat and lost weight, one whatever but not on science. It’s just beliefs. I think paleo can make you lose weight, like so many other diets. Starving makes you lose weight but is it healthy?Diets in general are not healthy, eating small portions is more important than to remove grains from the table unless you have a health issue with grains.
    I think assuming that cave men ate this over that is naive and the truth is we don’t really know exactly what those people ate. They ate what they found locally. Shall we live like them? Do we want a society that lived like them? no electricity, no medicine, go hunting, etc…? that is ridiculous. I think the main poisons in our society, is eating too much, eating processed food, and animal products. Now looking at the environment and looking at what we have done to the planet and the way we contribute to its pollution with animal farming is disturbing.
    That is just my opinion…every one has one, but I really dislike the way certain people make you feel when they talk about their beliefs and that their way of thinking or living or eating is the right way.
    Like any other diet, if you look at the popularity of all the different diets, it will calm down in a while, until someone else writes a new book on a new revolutionary diet, the best and true diet of all times, maybe the Renaissance diet and how it will improve your intelligence while losing weight.

  41. Ivan January 10, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

    Another blogger trashing the paleo diet without understanding the science involved.. and don’t say you didn’t trash it, look at the title of your article. Everyone on here that is against paleo hasn’t spent time to see what the diet does to your body, the actual, and real changes. I don’t care what you eat… but do some real research before you continue to sound stupid. There is research on the paleo lifestyle, and it is quite amazing. Enjoy your Dementia. Hope that slice of “Whole Wheat” bread makes it worth it.

    • HealthfulMama January 10, 2014 at 9:32 pm #

      Another Paleo elitist who is threatened by someone questioning his food religion…but I’ll bite today. First, pray tell, what is the “science involved” with the Paleo diet? As far as I can tell, there is no actual science behind this and ACTUAL SCIENTISTS will agree. (See: oh, every link I’ve put in the above post. Scientists are quoted in most of them.) Therefore, “real research” can’t be done because, 1. neither formal qualitative nor quantitative research exists, 2. we can’t go back in time to prove this “paleolithic eating” non-theory really worked any better than anything else, and 3. people haven’t been following this trend long enough to make substantial claims about its effectiveness. OF COURSE if you change your eating you’ll feel better. OF COURSE if you eliminate processed foods and sugars you’ll feel better. OF COURSE if you find a community doing the same thing you are, you’ll feel the fuck better. I was vegan for a good chunk of years and would have told you, at the time, that it was the be-all, end-all diet of diets. And I would have been able to show you books and theories and blogs and people who had success with it and “proved” it was the best thing since sliced *gasp!* bread. But, eventually, I stopped preaching, and chilled the fuck out, and stopped ranting about what I thought to be right, and worried about my own beliefs and what made *my* body feel better. Until the NIH or another formal research institution gets on board with this and definitively says, “BEST DIET EVARRRRRRRR!,” I’m calling it a fad and a ruse for the privileged. Lemme guess, you do Crossfit, too? *chomps on bread slathered in cheese*

  42. Ashley January 15, 2014 at 12:03 pm #

    So, this is the oldest reply ever probably, but Paleo doesn’t have to be expensive. While $20/wk is pretty impressive, I usually manage on keeping my bill at about $300-$400 a month eating mostly paleo. I do this by sticking to whats on sale and utilizing the farmer markets and CSA shares. I am hoping to save money in the future with my own garden. I came upon your article because I was looking for negative reviews from people that adhered to the paleo diet and it didn’t work out for them to find some cons or things to be on the look out for when following the diet. This article however just presented with either mis-information or a complete close-minded view of the diet. From my time reading about paleo, many people that advocate the diet suggest self experimentation to find what you will stick with and what makes you feel good. Paleo is not low carb. It seems to me that there are many sources that tell people the cut back on bread and sugar. If it makes you feel better to cut them out, you probably should. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Your article’s title is ridiculous, your article presumptive and while your conclusions I agree with, your credibility is lacking.

  43. Al January 28, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

    Its not more expensive… generally people on paleo are healthier and slimmer… hence they eat less food as they are not polluted with all the processed food. I have stopped using supermarkets nearly entirely and support local businesses which saves me about 44% on the cost of food. I have gained muscle and lost fat… how about you watch the truth about the propaganda that you must believe about grains and such ( the cash cow for the food industry)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7fsxgPjsiY&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    Also, not really a fad diet… encourage everybody to eat organically must be much worse for them and the planet… that was sarcasm.

    The reason why governments allow food companies to tell their lies is down to one thing… money.

  44. Jamie March 27, 2014 at 3:12 pm #

    Thank you for this. I particularly like the part about listening to your body to decide what is best. I am vegan because it is the diet that I feel best eating. But I know people who are Paleo who are constantly throwing articles and stats in my face and it drives me nutty. I believe in bio lindividuality and choosing the diet that is best for you at the moment based on how you feel when you eat certain foods. I don’t try to convince anyone to be vegan and expect the same respect but for some reason many people I know who eat the Paleo diet feel it’s ok to put down everyone else’s food choices because they think theirs are the best. I feel very sick when I eat meat and dairy period. I feel best when I eat tons of local produce and whole grains and other whole foods and no one can tell me I’m wrong.

    • HealthfulMama March 27, 2014 at 11:45 pm #

      Thanks for sharing your story, Jamie. You’re right–do what feels best for you.

  45. mamaof3 April 11, 2014 at 9:15 am #

    The only real issue I have with this article is calling people who are trying to better their health “pathetic”. I wouldn’t trust someone with my health if they expressed this opinion.

    Paleo is a good starting point for many people. Eating grains is a choice and you can be very healthy (and high carb!) Without them. You like grains and they don’t bother you? Good for you! They cause me terrible pain, bloating and exhaustion so I am better off without them. I am not pathetic and I’ll seek diet advice from someone less confrontational. I’m trying to get healthy, not have my blood pressure raised by someone insulting what works for me.

  46. Kelsey April 14, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

    I think you make some pretty harsh criticisms about the Paleo diet in your article. I can tell you I am a college student who pays no more than $100 a week on groceries for 2 adults. I think if you look at the money you are not spending from buying soda, convince foods and, eating out and applying it to your grocery bill it is about the same if not less.

    Secondly, I was always ill with sinus infections and chronic migraines and my doctor had me switch to an elimination diet starting with low histamine vegetables first and use the Paleo diet as a guide to reintroducing foods. I have learned that for me if I eat anything with processed oils a migraine will be triggered in less than 30 minutes and if I eat grains my stomach will be upset for several days. I don’t think you can just say the Paleo diet is just a fad diet, for me it is a way of life. It has changed my life. If I don’t follow this lifestyle I am literally in pain.

  47. Rachael April 29, 2014 at 2:42 am #

    I’ve tried different diets, including paleo. Paleo felt good for the first few days, but after a few weeks I began to feel very run down. I develo

  48. BC Rice May 13, 2014 at 10:55 am #

    Bah — I say *bah* to the concept that only rich people can eat healthy. I think what you meant to say is that lazy people eat unhealthy. I live on the northside of Chicago and there’s a place called Stanley’s right on North Avenue where rich and poor shop side by side. It’s all organic and uber cheap. You can ALWAYS afford to eat just fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables alongside low fat meats. Please. That is the biggest garbage excuse in the book.

    If you’re not eating healthy it’s because, by and large, you’re choosing to eat unheatlthy. I’m not talking about the homeless person eating at a soup kitchen — the *majority* of people eat unhealthy because they’re too lazy not to.

    • Sarah May 26, 2014 at 5:28 am #

      In large, urban areas, that may be the case but not every person in every small town has the same access to inexpensive healthy foods. In many areas choices are limited and cost is prohibitive.

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  50. Sarah May 26, 2014 at 5:23 am #

    I eat a basically Primal diet, which is Paleo plus dairy. I include organic, raw, grass fed cheese which contains vitamin K2, something that is vital for the absorption of vitamin D, in which I am deficient. I also have whole milk from the local dairy, and organic yogurt. Is this lifestyle for everyone? Absolutely not! It IS expensive, but being sick is more expensive. I have to pick and choose what I purchase as organic. My sister feels better when she has some grains, and my cousin does better as a vegan. I happen to have fibromyalgia and hypothyroid. This is the first “diet” I’ve tried that has me feeling better rather than worse. Healthy diet isn’t so much about “food groups” which are a rather antiquated notion, but rather about nutrients. Every body is different in what it needs and how it absorbs those nutrients. For me, wheat makes me feel awful, with almost instant flares. I can do gluten free to some extent, but even grains like rice are not great for me over the long term. However, almonds can also add to inflammation and are a huge part of many Paleo diets. It all just depends on what your body can handle. So, I wouldn’t call Paleo pathetic. I’d say that claiming any one diet or way of life is right for every person would be pathetic, which is much of the point of this article I think. Thanks for the interesting discourse.

  51. Sherry June 8, 2014 at 1:34 am #

    I’ve got to say I agree with the article. I think Paleo is fine if it’s working for you. But contrary to what many of you have argued (BC Rice and others) It is not affordable for many, many people. We are one of them. In most of the rural areas of this country, which there is a lot of people there, there aren’t any stores with grass-fed beef, and free range chickens, or even organic foods. Not everyone in rural areas are farmers they just live in the country. Most of the farms are not organic, nor do they raise grass fed cattle. And cattle farms only occupy certain areas of the country, many, most are dairy cattle. Good luck finding things like coconut flour? or almond flour. Sure they are online but again not affordable for most families. I don’t buy chicken leg 1/4s at .59/lb because we love it more than anything, I buy it because it is an affordable good quality protein for my family. Many more of us can’t afford organic, free range poultry, grass fed beef and coconut/almond flour than can. So if you can, great knock yourself out. But we just try not to go crazy with carbs, and eat what meat and fish we can afford. We eat seasonal and frozen vegetables (without sauces) and fruit. We stay away from prepackaged as much as possible. That’s what we, and most of America can afford.

    • HealthfulMama June 8, 2014 at 2:33 pm #

      ::applause::

  52. luxy June 10, 2014 at 1:06 am #

    Thanks for this great article. :-). I’m flexitarian, and frustrated by how people flip from fat phobe vegangelical to paleovangelical. I got big help by giving up cow milk, candy, juices, refined grains, vegetable oils, Doritos, potato chips, . Now I drink water, do vegetables, berries, nuts, seeds, fruits, virgin coconut oil, unsweetened fortified coconut milk, insisting all grains be whole grains, . I get organic eggs when I can afford them, which is seldom. I go days or weeks without meat.I don’t weigh or measure food. No more rigid meal schedules.

    Being flexitarian is about pragmatism, compassion, heal affordable food, and meeting your needs.

    The fat phobe vegangelical hurts vegetarians by insist that organic eggs laid by healthy happy hens is nutrition/moral equivalent of killing/eating cute bunny rabbits or cows and pigs.

    When I eat big bit of meat alone, my stomach hurts, feels like full of cement, and I lack energy efficiency, both physically and mentally.

    I read that insects like locusts can be farmed with very small amounts of crops soil water space, far less than cows chickens pigs. Also insects like crowded conditions, thus it’s not cruel. Since their lives short, wait till almost the end then quickly painlessly, ,

    Also the illogical corn ethanol program must end. Hunting is far less cruel dirty unnatural than factory farms currently operated.

    Also you can read : sugar shock

    Read : what I eat around the world in 80 diets

    Watch: food fight!

    Watch: fed up

    Remember we flexitarians welcome new members; we have no gurus.

    Again, thanks for this nice articles :-) :-) :-).

    Respectfully,

    L

  53. Amber July 29, 2014 at 12:09 am #

    How silly for bloggers to go on this way. We really are a spoiled lot of self satisfied, smug, ridiculous people at times. If going paleo helps people get to a more healthful diet focused on whole food then it can’t be bad. And if some people get militant and over bearing, should we be surprised? Look at your response here. Obnoxious, rude, condescending, smart allecky. Which side looks more ridiculous?

  54. wyatt August 14, 2014 at 11:35 pm #

    Amber,

    Without sounding too judgemental I was going to comment the same as you. Paleo is not an extreme diet unless you are talking to an extremist. Paleo is way of looking at what you are eating and asking, “is this working for me?”

    Paleo has brought into the forefront many things that might never have been looked at if people didn’t care enough about the crap they shove down their facehole.

    Depending on who you listen to, Paleo does not cut food groups. Hunter gatherers did not cut out food groups – neither does Paleo. Really, you should be listening to “you” for a change and not to someone else; about what you should eat… but if what you are eating is not bringing you optimum health then brush up on what is gong on here, otherwise you’ll be late for the bus.

  55. Lola August 24, 2014 at 4:42 pm #

    A good friend of mine follows the Paleo diet very strictly and likes it. I tried to follow it but realized she and her husband earn high wages; my husband and I do not, plus we have kids, while she and her husband do not.

    It’s easier for her to buy a week’s supply of coconut yogurt, grass-fed meats, etc., than for me, especially if my kids don’t like this food and I have to buy more foods to accommodate them and my husband.

    I’d still love to give it a shot, but it ain’t happening in my tax bracket.

  56. Paleopologist October 6, 2014 at 4:57 pm #

    I’m an anthropologist with food and nutrition training. Paleo is the only diet that actually doesn’t need to be labeled a diet because it’s just eating food. We humans have a diet of eating food. You don’t need science or any article to convince you one way or another. What the majority of Americans are eating isn’t classified as food. It’s manmade and often times formulated in a laboratory.

    All you need is some common sense. We all ate one way before 10,000 years ago and we ate what was available. If you put humans as a specimen in a zoo you wouldn’t hand them a pile of wheat. That stuff is inedible and was never meant to be eaten by anything. Wheat doesn’t want to be eaten because it needs to remain whole to reproduce. You wouldn’t hand the humans vegan approved Oreo cookies either. You would give them a diet of meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Do we feed the Gorillas animal crackers? No, we know what Gorillas eat in the wild and what they are supposed to eat.

    Sure it’s expensive now but that’s because it’s not subsidized by our government. Our government subsidies go to overproducing corn and Medicare instead. When considering the cost of this “diet” you have to take into consideration future medical care costs. You’ll be healthier and have better teeth so lower medical care costs. People make choices in life so if it means not having an iPhone, cable TV, and a car then that’s what it takes to eat healthier. You can even grow your own vegetables at a fraction of the cost of buying them.

  57. Zero Kazama October 13, 2014 at 10:42 pm #

    I’m showing up late to this party, but I gotta chime in – low carb? Yes if you want it, it’s highly adjustable. Sweet potatoes, and fruit – dried fruit for that matter; you’ll have to monitor yourself or you’ll get fat from the excess carbs. But why is lower carb, I’m not talking about zero carb going into ketosis bad? I eat carbs just not that much because I know having your insulin up all day is BAD. I think people overestimate how much carbs you actually need if you’re not an athlete. Expensive? Compared to what diet? Especially if you’re running a wellness site – is it more expensive than what you preach to eat? If you go totally organic/free range/grassfed, yeah. If you’re someone that eats conventionally that just wants to get healthier and clear up most of your diet-induced problems by incorporating the Paleo blueprint of just not eating any CRAP – NO, IT’S CHEAP AS HELL. I’ve got it down to anywhere from 2.50$-6$ a day. Chicken leg quarters, sweet potatoes and frozen veggies in bulk are cheap. Eat a pound of grassed liver a week as a “booster meal” – 4$. I got it down so my food bill is about $150/ a month. This took a tiny bit of experimentation but I’m trying to teach people to eat better while they’re in food-stamp level income. Like you said, adjust accordingly – main thing for people is usually $. Paleo principles and low income go perfectly if you’re not needing to make EVERYTHING organic, or can’t afford to. Eating organic/freerange is EXPENSIVE on ANY kind of diet, but I cycle around eating conventional chicken part of the week, free range organic ground beef I find cheap a couple times a week, throw in some free range eggs from trader joe’s here and there and still keep the total food bill WAAAAY less than compared to eating out for lunch ONCE a day, or buying two coffees at a starbucks. Paleo-style just seems to be the most nutrient dense, cleanest and simplest way to eat. Cut out all the processed crap and shop on the corners of the grocery store: meat, veggies and fruit, and frozen meat and veggies if it’s cheaper; it takes a little bit of shopping around and finding sources but it’s not that hard. Also happens to be: gluten free/safe for celiacs, lactose free (but I personally use lots of butter), free of all processed sugar and sugar substitutes, will get rid of all your food addictions and probably clear up allergies from a messed up gut, that will in turn make your immune system work optimally. All for less than a price of a jamba-juice smoothie a day. Do you have a diet you can think of that does all this for that price?

  58. Kat November 20, 2014 at 11:42 pm #

    I understand what you’re trying to say – that the paleo diet isn’t for everyone – and you’re very likely right about that one. Maybe a different title would’ve gotten your point across more effectively, though. I don’t think anyone who transitions to this way of eating is “pathetic” in any way. There are issues with our current food supply – foods that were likely ok at one point have been over-hybridized, or worse, genetically altered. This, along with hormones, food additives and overprocessing, result in major health issues. And because doctors receive such little training in nutrition (from the schools that are funded by drug corporations and the like), they are often at a loss, so pills are prescribed. To make atters worse, we live in a society of entitlement, and we’re regularly exposed to crap advertisements that try to dupe us into eating and living in ways that profit corporations while taxing our health.
    People are trying to take the driver’s seat again. Maybe more in the US because that’s where a lot of these current issues are concentrated. There are, however, a lot of people in other parts of the world doing a primal-type diet.
    Bottom line is that it’s great for a lot of people. Those who aren’t educated about food aren’t necessarily dumb – just mislead. But there’s no denying the fact that unprocessed foods are a good thing. Because grains and certain legumes are often the foods most tampered with, I think it’s not a bad idea to try eliminating them from the diet for a bit to see how things go. Paleo dieters are removing the foods that are often triggers for bad health. Nothing wrong with that.
    That said, some people do fine with grains & other foods that the paleo crowd avoid. Nothing wrong with that either.
    As a recent convert to the primal-type diet, both my husband and I are thriving. We have discovered issues with grains, dairy and soy that were previously masked by general malaise. Unfortunately these foods are commonly difficult to tolerate these days. I don’t think demonizing any food is right despite this fact. I think instead that we need to hold corps like Monsanto accountable for their effect on our food supply and health, and we need to look at our own priorities & realize that lifestyle changes need to be made, instead of blaming a group of health proponents who are trying to find a solution to this growing epidemic.

  59. Kat November 20, 2014 at 11:51 pm #

    Just to add, we never say we eat “paleo”. It sounds obnoxious. Instead, we quietly go about our business and if asked, we explain what we eat and why. We never push it on others.
    Eventually, we will try to reintroduce some dairy and possibly certain grains. For now, this is the way we want (and likely need) to eat.
    I don’t like putting a label on the way I eat. I also don’t believe in relying on what our ancestors may/may not have eaten. I just know that this way of eating works for us.

    • HealthfulMama November 23, 2014 at 11:20 am #

      Kat, you are one of the few rational commenters on this post. Thanks for your input, feedback, and for sharing your experience. :)

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