Coming in From the Cold
Warning! Metaphors ahead!
Metaphors, not innuendo - if you like innuendo, check out Modern Paleo Warfare.
As ancestral eaters, we've been living in the ice age, some may have considered leaving the ice age and I've wondered whether we're even entering the mesolithic.
Metaphors aside, paleo is moving along with the times and being moved along by the people.
Is it time to come in from the cold?
What began as the paleo diet has inspired and sparked much debate, research and reasoning to become a paleo template - using the paleo diet as a starting point and building it up into a framework, or set of principles.
Chris Kresser calls it a paleo template in Beyond Paleo and this is very much at the forefront of Kurt Harris' and Richard Nikoley's mind in their responses to the recent debunking paleo articles.
Paleo is not a religion!
J Stanton noticed that paleo had reached the ominous third stage but who would have thought that the fight would come from vegans? Yes, vegans of all people!
Sadly, these people are missing the point when it comes to paleo. Some would say they're missing more than a couple of points, but that aside, they're looking at the paleo diet not the paleo template; the minutia, not the big picture. The arguments and positions simply don't stand up against a template - the paleo template being made up a set of principles drawn from individual manifestos.
Taking Chris Kresser's trinity of principles:
... veganism, vegetarianism, pescetarianism, whatever other dietary isms there are would consider that they fit into that and would all agree that is a sensible set of principles. Explaining what exactly is behind those principles is where the template is drawn up, where the die is cast.
- Don't eat toxins
- Nourish your body
- Eat real food
Call it The Primal Blueprint, Functional Paleo, Archevore, the Perfect Health Diet or Paleo+ what we have is a gentler, more playful paleo but with no less teeth and no less justified. Paleo, evolved.
We are animals, not machines!
Optimal is not necessarily advantageous or desirable.
We are not machines - we are not here to engage in optimal exercise, re-feeding with optimal meals to maintain our optimal bodies. What's the point in all that?
Ancestrally, we would have fattened up in advance of months where food was scarce and enjoyed gorging when food was plenty. We do not go through the whole year as one body shape - our environments change and so should our bodies. We are adaptive creatures.
We are here to live! We are here to work, to play, to toil and to sleep ... to be alive in the freedom that the wide and varied environments that we live in as highly adaptive organisms capable of living way off trail, way off a specific diet, yet continuing to survive.
This is why a template for paleo works in the long term, once the paleo diet has been understood and used as a means to starting out on a fresh journey through life, resetting the damage and founding a healthy and fulfilling life - this is where the template starts and where The Primal Blueprint, Functional Paleo, Archevore, the Perfect Health Diet and Paleo+ become the joys of life. Chris Kresser sums it up perfectly in Is Paleo even Paleo? And Does it Matter?
As J Stanton says, "Live in freedom, live in beauty".
The die has been cast, the template struck, and many paleo eaters are moving beyond the savannah of the paleo diet into the varied global ecosystems and local takes on the principles within the paleo template.
Further to the likes of Mark Sissons, J Stanton, Kurt Harris, Paul & Shou Ching Jaminet, Chris Kresser, a couple of manifestos which have struck me as sound come from:
Having developed my own take on the paleo pyramid in language like "enjoy, eat, include, use, ensure, limit, avoid and supplement" I wonder if I might have been better to distil the salient points into a manifesto. I may yet do that, although it is unlikely to be much different from Full Fat Nutrition or Prague Stepchild, but here's the pyramid ...
Prior to paleo, I ate real food and held a simple set of principles: balance, fresh, local and pure.
Paleo opened my eyes and helped me refine my diet of real food; my digression from that purist stance was simply because I understood it and was happy to eat a little further away from the main hunting grounds, having found the likes of J Stanton and Kurt Harris online, and been most impressed with Mark Sissons from the initial bushel of books that I bought.
Paleo+ feels right. Go with what feels right, but know why it is right!
Principles become second nature, unlike the lengthy tomes heavy in scientific dogma that make up a diet book, and three principles which I have held most useful in determining whether food is good to eat since taking my first steps onto the savannah are:
I have one further principle to add which has helped me when re-engaging with supermarkets and picking up food that comes in packaging:
- The Hunter/Gatherer Principle - can the food be hunted and gathered in the wild? This links into the local and organic principles I have always held. This guides us towards nutritious food.
- The Raw Principle - can the food be eaten raw? This is not to say that it should be, although something more like can it kill you even when it is dead? is perhaps a more useful a way of putting it. I think that's one from Kurt Harris. Anyway, this guards us against toxins.
- The Predator Principle - is the food for grazing prey? J Stanton's 'Eat Like a Predator' shows us how to eat food which will form meals, and to fast in between. Prey graze their way through the day while predators hunt, eat and fast. This protects us from snacking.
The ingredients for butter should read as "butter"; for salted butter, "butter, sea salt" - there should be no stabilisers, no emulsifiers, no preservatives. That, and any ingredient that has the letter X in it cannot be good! X is not natural; X is laboratory!
- The Ingredient/Description Principle - does the ingredients list more than the description of the food?
Put another way, the Hunter/Gatherer Principle leads us to food. The Raw Principle tells us if it is fit to eat, while the Predator Principle shows us whether is it ideal. Those three are then fully modernised by the Ingredient/Description Principle which helps us to make a decision about food which comes in unnatural packaging.
Maybe that manifesto is burgeoning ... maybe not ... I've always said that paleo is a way of life, and just as it is not a religion, it is not political. Let's leave dogma to the religious and the manifestos to the politicians.
Paleo is not an exclusive diet ...
I will say that paleo should be an inclusive diet - what we can eat.
Exclusive diets that prohibit, eschew, ban, whatever, are negative in their outlook and ultimately doomed to failure as a long term prospect. These diets are not a way of life and must be backed up by dogma, even fanaticism.
We have a world, abundant in excellent food sources despite "big farmer" trying to ruin the food chain. We can pick and choose from all manner of excellent sources, and we can lobby for better husbandry in areas which are lacking - this is our lives and we should ensure that our longevity, ours and our race, is ensured through bringing our diets and indeed our lifestyles back to a natural state for our genus.
There is sufficient in meat, eggs, fish, shellfish, vegetables and fruit to live on. That is the beauty, the simplicity and the joy of paleo.