Since being slated as one of the hottest diets and food trends over the past few years, Paleo has earned more than its fair share of followers, bloggers, gripers and die hard converts. But as with any “diet” or perceived “trend”, there’s the reality of what it means to eat and live la vida Paleo, and what others THINK Paleo is and means. Today, I thought I’d have some fun and slay some of the most popular Paleo myths – the things that total strangers will blurt out to me, my coaching clients and anyone else when the term Paleo enters the conversation.
“You Must Eat A Ton Of Bacon!”
On any given week, I average about 4 slices of bacon total. A slice of uncured bacon has about 70 calories, 2 grams of protein and 135mg of sodium, and I tend to eat them two at a time AS A SIDE to the rest of a balanced breakfast or lunch meal. Sodium is important to keep in balance with the rest of your electrolytes, but eating more than two slices in a sitting would warrant keeping the rest of your sodium intake levels in check for the rest of the day, which often gets overlooked in the seductive, smoky, sweet and crispy gaze that bacon can give you when it’s fresh out of the oven. I get it, I’m only human myself BUT eating Paleo isn’t a bacon free for all people – there are plenty of other delicious foods that give you a lot of nutritional bang for your buck.
“Oh, that’s the caveman diet!”
While I definitely don’t speak for everyone in the blogosphere on this one, I have to realllllllly resist the urge to roll my eyes when I hear this one. The term Paleo is derived from the Paleolithic era and the original studies and research pointed out that our ancestors in that era were pre-agricultural and didn’t really consume grains, or cultivate livestock for dairy and had a very low, if not, non-incidence of cardiovascular disease. The modern Paleo diet does focus on food groups that would have been the bulk of a Paleo people’s hunter gatherer ways which is why vegetables, animal proteins/fats and nuts/seeds make up the bulk of it.
But of course, cavemen likely didn’t press avocado or walnut oil, or eat dates mashed up with nuts in the form of a Larabar! So, instead of talking about what cavemen specifically did and didn’t have access to, can we all just say that Paleo foods are foods that fit all three of these criteria? 1) Fight or Prevent Inflammation 2) Repair and Strengthen the Digestive System and 3) Elicit a healthy biochemical response when you eat them. If I see one more product, website, business card or blog with a hairy, loin cloth cave dude I’m gonna freak. Thanks!
“Paleo Is All About Eating a Lot of Meat”
I feel another eye roll coming on… Aside from being the most plentiful source of protein, meat is also stocked with tons of amino acid profiles (building blocks for your muscles and tons of other biochemical processes) that aren’t found in any other food source. That doesn’t necessarily mean all of us Paleo eaters are downing tons of chicken breasts in one sitting, or eating steaks the size of our head on the daily. Everyone’s protein consumption should be based on their activity levels and specific physical goals such as adding lean mass or bulking up.
Paleo is not about being carnivorous – it’s about consuming an appropriate amount of protein based on your individual needs from a responsibly raised, slaughtered and butchered source. Clients and friends are often surprised when I tell them that I often eat veggie only meals, especially if I had a good amount of protein for breakfast. Mindfulness over meat, kiddos.
“I could never do Paleo. I need carbs.”
Good, we need and eat carbs too. We just call them vegetables instead! Many people don’t realize that vegetables, roots and tubers are a great way to get carbs that won’t spike your blood sugar levels the way grains do, and provide a literal alphabet of other micronutrients at the same time. Whether or not you require a low, medium or high carb diet – there’s a way to do that and be Paleo. You just have to eat the right veggies to get your fill.
“Isn’t Paleo is Really Restrictive/Strict?”
Sure, when you tell people that you avoid grains/gluten, dairy, soy, legumes and processed junk it sounds like a lot of things are being avoided. But that minor list pales in comparison to what you CAN eat on a typical Paleo regimen. All proteins, all veggies with nuts, seeds, fruits, herbs, and spices to add countless flavor profiles. I can honestly say that my diet has more variety since going Paleo than it has at any other point in my life. Plus, there is no shortage of food porn inspiration out there if you don’t know what you to eat. Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are overflowing with pics, recipes and snack ideas to give you some inspiration – just pick your Paleo poison!
So, what myths have I missed that need busting? Any weird questions or comments you get when people find out your Paleo? Drop me a comment!