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I've been reading Loren Cordain's latest book 'The Paleo Answer', which reflects his current thinking on the paleo diet. Like his 'The Paleo Diet', he reads as a friendly and affable fellow and in no way closed-minded.
The book opens with some history, some basics and then gets straight into it ... it's a "Diet" book with a capital D, the focus being a 7 day weight loss introduction. I picked it up primarily to re-read Cordain and garner his current thinking.
The book finishes with some recipe plans, but in the middle are three very focussed sections: grain, milk and potatoes.
Grain, he's preaching to the converted here, although I do eat rice very occasionally.
Potatoes, I remain unconvinced. Other paleo authors are finding them to be okay in controlled amounts, relative to the eater's ability to use the energy. I eat potatoes more frequently than rice (rice is occasional for me), but it's still only two or three meals a week on average.
Milk. This section disappointed me. No, not because I am happy eating dairy, which I choose fermented and fatty, but because he focusses on milk ... just milk ... just American milk ... just factory produced milk ... just factory produced American milk ... only ... and damns the whole of dairy because of how poorly it performs.
Furthermore, while he shows how the majority of the world is intolerant to milk, people of Northern European descent have almost no incidence of intolerance. We produce lactase, necessary for digesting dairy. Surely that in itself is worthy of an avenue of investigation rather than saying all humans should avoid it. Yes, avoid factory produced milk, but if you can digest dairy ... why not? Surely this adaption is actually an evolution.
Could it be said that for Northern Europeans, dairy presented an evolutionary advantage and we evolved accordingly?
I did laugh, though, as he introduced the chapter by suggesting that paleo humans would not have had the chance to eat dairy and proposed a picture of a snorting, stamping, goring bison ... no chance you're getting any milk out of one of those! Except perhaps Northern Europeans who would find tackling a goat, sheep or reindeer substantially less dangerous.
It disappointed me that he ignored dairy from other species, too, goat particularly, which is almost devoid of any of the "issues" that paleo has with cow dairy.
Don't get me wrong - he never once read as preaching, and I do understand that the focus of the book was a short sharp slap round the face to conventional eaters, then get on with a clean and pure paleo diet to achieve your goals.
I wonder if he'll tackled any of this in more depth in the next revision of 'The Paleo Diet'.
In all, I enjoyed reading the book. His revised stance on saturated fat in light of new research is well presented and duly considered. Reading the detail is interesting, and it's something I've some to on my own in my paleo journey. Once you're over that initial "fat, fat, more fat and bacon" thing than we all go through, most meat and fish has enough fat for our requirements. Where we do eat lean meats and fish, wetting up veggies with some good fat works out well.
My other big "take home" was about meal frequency and timing, and this is something I've been experimenting with over the last week ...
Our paleo ancestors would have eaten leftovers when they woke, then go about their day hunting and gathering, eating their main meal in the evening, earlier on and it lasting a good while.
I reckon eggs also played a large part in their "breakfast" diet, freshly laid eggs happened upon, cracked and eaten down before other predators got their jaws into them.
So, this last week, I've been having leftovers and eggs in the morning, no lunches and earlier dinners, taking in a few courses - a simple starter, a soup course and a smaller main, even dessert, ensuring that the meal time is enjoyed for a good while and as well as eating, we get to talk, de-stress and generally kick back - that, actually, provides for a more productive evening and smoother wind-down to bed time.
Whatever your paleo proclivities, Cordain's 'The Paleo Answer' is worth a read - there's a lot in the detail, which may just click you into perfect place.