Before you roll your eyes or throw things at the screen yelling "what the fuck!” please allow me to make a few things clear.
I certainly don’t agree with everything the Paleo movement states, some of it is just plain nut job stuff (insert activated almond joke).
Here are a few things I disagree with, then I’ll explain what I do agree on with Pete.
1. Dairy. Nothing wrong with a little dairy, all the ‘science’ and logic behind removing it from our diets is just dumb. A little dairy is fine, humans have been quite happily consuming a little bit for centuries, yes this is one of those situations to apply ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. If (as an individual) your body doesn’t agree with dairy, then don’t consume it. But blanket banning it from everyones diet defies logic. It’s like saying alcohol is really bad for humans so lets ban it. Alcohol is bad, when consumed in excess, in moderation it's totally fine. In some western cultures we consume too many dairy products, if a healthy balance of good quality milk products can be embraced, then consuming dairy is totally fine (that’s of if you can stomach the ethical reality of milk production - google veal). And finally, Pecorino, Manchego, Gorgonzola, Roquefort, melty Mozzarella, Hello. Need I say more?
2. Processed Paleo Pete meals at the supermarket. I have a really big issue with this. I don’t care how healthy they claim to be, they represent two critical flaws. The first, packaging, processing and storage (refirigeration) lot’s of energy and waste required in this approach to feed the masses when compared to a vegetable from a garden, farmers market or as whole food item purchased off a supermarket shelf. Secondly, it’s processed food, no matter how awesome it’s health credentials may be, the important word ‘process’ is removed from the consumers eating habits. The process in focus being COOKING. If you don’t learn to cook or make the time to cook you’ll never have long term healthy living. Cooking and food preparation is THE critical process for life long healthy living, I can’t stress this reality enough. Even basic cooking, you don’t need to cook at Chef level but you need to know this basic skill just like you know how to urinate, breathe, make love and tie your shoe laces. If you rely on somebody else to do it for you, chances are you’ll be eating sub standard food and missing out on one of life’s most amazing joys. Processed ready meals encourages laziness. If you want to be healthy but are too busy with life and work commitments, then make a change (if it’s important to you). Or just eat take away and work long hours and live in an unhealthy body which will bite you on the bum in later years (free advice from someone who did exactly this, and paid the price). It’s always your choice, but if you want to live healthy you often need to make serious lifestyle changes. Happy to share this free advice based on my life experience of seriously fucking up. Its much easier to eat well and exercise to maintain a healthy body than it is to repair and obese body. And before the hate comments come, think on this, most of us do actually have a choice, even if we argue that we don’t. Excuse’s are just easier to make than discipline and action.
3. Legumes. Plenty of cultures around the world have lived on legumes for millennia. Prepared correctly, cooked correctly they are perfectly fine as part of a balanced diet. Again, if they don’t agree with your body, then don’t eat them. But blanket banning them as part of a promoted diet regime defies logic. I don't eat Jerusalem Artichokes because they don't agree with me. Use common sense.
Ok so there are the three main gripes I have with the Paleo message, particularly the one promoted by Pete. So what do I agree with?
Recently Pete posted something online about how the AMA (Australian Medical Association) was tweeting that he was giving bad advice that contradicted their medical establishments stand, partially the AMA suggested that Pete was giving bad advice by promoting the idea that by improving ones diet, one might reduce a reliance on medication and relieve, if not remove some medical ailments. I agree 100% with Pete on this one (in a broad sense). I don’t believe this is applicable to every individual, but for most of the population, eating healthier and exercising would make an obvious huge improvement to personal health.
I am one of many humans that are living, breathing proof that altering diet (removing the unhealthy processed foods) and embracing exercise can bring about an amazing health transformation. Pete Evens is a healthy specimen, he doesn’t eat processed foods, and he exercises, it’s not rocket surgery folks. He eats whole foods and gets out and moves, he surfs, swims, runs and probably does yoga on a beach. Now not everyone can do that, but we can all move in our own way. I live in the rocky hills with no street lights and gravel roads, so I work out in a garage at an ungodly morning hour before I head off to work. We can all find the thing that works for us. But lets get back to processed foods. Pete doesn’t eat them, he is subsequently healthy because of this choice.
If you look at older cook books by Pete before he embraced ‘healthy’ living, you can see the physical change. It’s impressive. It’s also not about weight loss, it’s about feeding your guts with fuel that helps the human machine operate at it’s best ability. And sure, Pete doesn’t eat dairy, legumes etc but he’s basically eating whole foods and exercising. The message couldn’t be clearer.
Now as far as I’m aware, Pete Evens wasn’t ever obese and a living wreck like I was 5-10 years ago. I have changed though, I am now a fairly healthy specimen. Sure I don’t have perfect facial structure, toned abs and defined muscle structure like Pete does, but I’m significantly healthier than I used to be after embracing a lifestyle of eating whole foods and doing a little bit of exercise. I eat mostly plants, some meat, I also drink a bit of booze, coffee, dairy and legumes. And according to my GP I’ve vastly improved my health compared to the previous version of me. I am no longer medicated for Hyper Tension (high blood pressure) and I only recently went back on a low dose of Anti-Depressents as part of my mental health management approach. Sorry folks, I did try to live with out them but I’m afraid I am officially a bit broken in the brain.
Pete and I, in our own way follow the similar principles
1. Remove/reduce process foods
2. Consume less sugar/salt/bad fats (do your research)
3. Eat mostly plants, fruits, vegetables, grains, fungi (all organic)
4. Eat ethical meat, and less of it than plants.
5. Move the body any way you can (interpretive Jazz Ballet is my thing)
6. Drink plenty of water
7. Eat the right amount of food at the right time of day (i.e. not massive pasta dinners)
Here’s the rub.
- The western world is full of really crap food that is wreaking havoc on the populations.
- Processed foods high in sugar, salt and bad fats are not doing us any favours.
- Low fat processed foods are a load of shit.
- We eat too much food (large serving sizes).
- We eat more energy rich foods than our bodies can burn up.
- Not enough of us eat the recommended amount of vegetables (only 7% of Australians do).
- We don’t exercise enough.
- We drink too much booze.
- The amount of sugar we’re consuming is mega unhealthy.
As a result: Common and growing health issues in the community.
1. Cancers, yes many are impacted by diet.
2. Type 2 Diabetes is on the rise, and is diet influenced.
3. Mental Health - gut health influences brain function.
4. Heart Disease
5. Fatty Liver, Kidney disease, generally vital organs failure - influenced by diet
6. Poor gut health = many auto immune issues
Want to get healthy? Don’t be fooled that you NEED to consume certain products to get healthy. Here is list of things I have NEVER embraced as part of my approach to get healthy.
1. Coconut health products. Sucked in so many people. No one seems to care where the coconuts are coming from….think about it.
2. Eating ancient grains just because they are a healthy option. They also just taste good. But you could also just eat rice, couscous or pasta in moderation and still be healthy.
3. Fermented foods (yes they taste great and might be good for your stomach but you can also eat real foods and be perfectly healthy with out them, don’t rely on magic healthy food products to make up for you naughty food choices). Yes I do eat fermented cabbage, it tastes good, especially with chilis. But not for health reasons, we have a million cabbages at the moment.
4. Powdered meal replacement shakes (load of shit) THIS IS NOT FOOD!
5. Supplements (load of shit, unless you are advised by a really good nutrition expert to take them because of a medical condition)
6. Smoothies of any healthy variety (not a necessary item to achieve health. Grilled zucchini, apples and fresh tomatoes are also healthy and easy)
7. Powdered Whey. Fuck me.
8. Turmeric health products. Seriously?
9. Fish oil tablets. Blah.
10. Chain take away juices. Full of sugar.
11. Anything called a superfood.
12. I’ve also never done Yoga on a beach in Byron Bay or meditated at a retreat in Daylesford. Perfectly fine things to do, but again. not necessarily the only path to wellbeing and health. Walking the dog can be meditative. Working on an old motorbike can be mediative. Making love is also fun and good for the heart.
We are in crazy times, and the situation doesn’t look like it’s changing any time soon, although some people believe it’s changing, but really they're probably just living in a bubble (A Daylesford, Byron Bay, State of mind ;-)). But for anyone that has read this post, you now have an idea of whats going on. Well my interpretation anyway.
Go make your own choices. Beware the internet wellness gurus. Do whatever gets you through the night. It’s alright.