The TSL Soapbox: The One About the Media, Eating Paleo, and Simon Sinek…

TSL Simon Sinek
(Simon Sinek image from here)

Recently, there has been quite the hullabaloo in the press – both here in Australia and in the UK – about the Paleo diet.

In fact, in its annual ‘Top Celebrity Diets To Avoid in the New Year’ list, the British Dietetic Association (BDA) ranked the Paleo Diet as the second worst regime (after ‘Urine Therapy’, which advocates drinking your own urine for apparently supposed health benefits). Incidentally, Sarah Wilson’s ‘I Quit Sugar’, came in at number three (which blows my mind).

Now I’m not a massive fan of labelling the way I choose to eat, but you will know that for the past year I have been following the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). This can loosely be described as ‘Paleo on Crack’! And, it is true that AIP is a restrictive diet.

BUT! The WHOLE point of both Paleo and AIP is that they are healthy and nutrient dense ways of eating

From where I sit, there are many (cynical) reasons organisations like the BDA and the Australian equivalent, the Dietitians’ Association of Australia are not fans of the new wave of lower-carbohydrate style eating. Despite increasing evidence that for many of us it is a more healthful approach to eating. Not least of these reasons is the question of where they get their funding.

What I do find fascinating – in a car crash kind of way – is the vitriol behind their extreme anti-Paleo stance. Is it a case of protesting too much…?

Car Crash
(Image from here)

Sure, you can interpret a Paleo-esque approach as an unhealthy meat-fest. And, there are probably people who do just that.

Alternatively, you can see it as a whole-foods approach which eliminates unhealthy processed foods, refined carbohydrates, sugars and trans-fats while encouraging a more sustainable nose-to-tail way of eating – along with an increased variety of local, seasonal and pesticide-free fruits and vegetables. In my experience, eating like this has increased my vegetable intake by at least 200%. Whichever way you cut it, that has to be a good thing.

And, whether or not you choose to have dairy in your diet depends very much on your body’s ability to tolerate it.

Is this not a good thing?

There is a difference between giving directions and giving direction. (Simon Sinek)

Me – I’m a believer in personal choice. Especially when it comes to what you elect to eat. If you feel better with properly prepared whole grains in your diet, good for you. I really hope that eventually I will be able to indulge in some, too.

And, if you choose to have jam donuts for breakfast every day. That’s your choice, too. I won’t ever think its the best idea in the world, but I’ll defend your right to choose!

I do get that my extreme AIP caper is not for everyone. But, rather than focus on the excesses of a ‘Paleo approach’, can we not acknowledge a more moderate view on the benefits of cutting the crap, increasing veggies AND the other lifestyle aspects of this school of thought – improving sleep, more movement, introducing a mindfulness practice.

Paleo may not be for everyone, but it is equally clear that the average current lifestyle is not healthy, either.

What is Paleo
(Image from Dr Kate)

Did you know that according to the Australian Government, 3 in 5 Australians are either obese or overweight. Scarier still is that 1 in 4 children are obese or overweight.

Professor Alan Lopez, a researcher working in the area of health and weight, says Australia’s numbers should be of concern – “We are at the levels of overweight and obesity as the US is, three decades ago obesity levels in Australia were a half to a third of what they are now.”  And, if you live in New Zealand, the numbers are even worse.

The big picture doesn’t just come from distance; it also comes from time. (Simon Sinek)

I have personally experienced significant health improvements following an AIP approach. I hope to transition to a more moderate ‘Paleo-type’ way of eating eventually.

Along the way, I have come to believe that an holistic approach to my lifestyle, nutrition and exercise choices that are more compatible with my evolutionary past are key to my health. At the same time, it must also be said that I don’t believe that it is possible or even practical for me to exactly mimic life in the Paleolithic in today’s world.

Rather than maligning a style of eating that promotes overall health and well-being, would organisations advising the public on nutrition not be better served in advocating a reduction in the amount processed carbohydrates, sugars and trans-fats available in the majority of packaged food we consume?

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Comments (15)

Saw a quote from Mark Hyman the other day that went something like this: When eating healthful, unprocessed food is considered dangerous and extreme, we’re in trouble.

Hi Georgie – There is a reason Dr Mark is such a success. He talks sense! 🙂

Your post title certainly caught my eye. I am currently on my own journey to wellness. Exploring new ways of eating is a big part of it. While I agree that each of the latest Hollywood diets comes and goes, I know we just need to exercise common sense, along with our bodies, and listen to our inner voice to find the path to better health. Having an open mind and doing our own research are good first steps.

Yep – agree with all of that! Here’s hoping you are experiencing some wins in your personal health journey…

Thanks. As you know it’s a slow road with lots of trial and error.

How interesting is everyone’s view?? It works and you are happy – I can only see benefits from all the diets you mentioned… Happy day, Kx

Kirsty – you can see benefits in drinking your own urine? NOW I’m intrigued, Possum! 🙂

Agree!

Sadly, you hit the nail on the head.

Said associations would be better served spending their time advocating an increase in fresh fruit and vegetables in the diet, good quality meat, nuts, seeds and even grains (for those who tolerate them). And maybe, just maybe, disassociating themsevles from large food manufacturing conglomerates so that their messaging can’t be perceived as biaised or promoting the interests of these conglomorates.

Alas, they seem intent on picking fights with the Paleo/wholefoods community who, when all is said and done, share the same goals as these associations themselves.

The good news for human health is that they are fighting a losing battle. There is a reason that Paleo was the most researched diet on Google in 2013 and is looking like doing so again in 2014…… wholefoods rock!!

PI – I think the thing I enjoy most about you is your positive energy. It’s contagious, my friend!

Don’t change. Please. 🙂

Ah yes, the “noise” from the political food industry lobby groups – it’s loud, boring and frankly, wrong. For anyone who wants to read the ACTUAL science behind the Paleo Diet and food in general, how it affects the body (eg. how gluten actually works, how soy actually works, how sugar actually works) then I can highly recommend “Primal Body, Primal Mind” by Nora Gedgaudas. She doesn’t swallow the industry “research” – in fact, she researches the research; she is legitimate, credible and has a very powerful message. So all I can say is get educated about food, your body and your health and prove the naysayers wrong and live a healthy life. They really don’t have a clue. Ahh, that feels better …

Hey S – I am a massive fan of Nora’s too. So much so, I have a post dedicated to her at The Nora Gedgaudas Files. “Primal Body, Primal Mind was one of the first books I read on this health caper and it changed the way I look at food. Literally.

Nora is a rock star!

I agree, it is a matter of choice and in five years time we’ll be told something completely different with regards to how and what we are eating. I’m a ‘everything in moderation’ type of eater after years of doing low fat and then abstaining from dairy and sugar. There is certainly far too much fat, sugar and processed foods in the average diet, for the time poor fast food often looks like the best option which is sad because good, healthy, tasty food doesn’t have to take a lot of effort to prepare. My little rant over TSL 🙂

It’s a contentious subject, isn’t it 2BD? Everyone has an opinion.

Rants are welcome here! 🙂

I like +++your post….
Eating healthy, such as the diet you followed for the passed 12 months, requires a huge strength….and willingness….not everybody is capable of that…even for recovering health and a happy life…..!!! Congratulations….
And about all the critics about extremes…they are coming from ignorant persons, or persons involved in the health business or the food industry….
I have a lot of Dr in my relatives and friends….in they very….extremely long years of studies….they never learned about eating healthy…..about prevention…..and only know one way….they sometimes forget….all they trainings and seminars they are attending to….are financed by pharmaceutical companies….no wonder why….they are not trained for prevention…..prevention is not a sustainable business for pharma companies….
But we are so lucky some very pro Dr are curious and are exploring by themselves….
What is sad is the fact these informations about paleo could effectively be so helpful for many of us….if these infos were available…than choice would be made with tolerance….
Thank you so much for this post!!!
France

Bless your cotton socks, F! What a lovely comment 🙂

For me, once I worked out that I could materially improve my health through changing my diet, it was worth it. Sure, it takes a little work, but the pain of staying the same was greater.

There is a great quote (by Tony Robbins, of all people!)…

Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.

― Tony Robbins

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