Debunking debunkers

So, since I’ve started living Paleo, I’ve done a LOT of internet research about it.  Learned a lot about certain foods that I never suspected (e.g., who knew peanuts were legumes?!?) and come across many, many positive sites and stories.

However, I’ve also come across some really aggressive, angry anti-Paleo sites and I have to say, the claims made on some pages and in some articles beggar belief.

The most common theme I see in these ‘Paleo is bad’ arguments is the totally incorrect assertion that Paleo is a low carb diet.  It simply is not. So that invalidates their entire stance in my opinion.  It tells me that these people are failing to investigate correctly because if they did, they would see that the biggest part of the Paleo pyramid is vegetables, which contain carbohydrates. Some vegetables are absolutely FULL of them.  Squash, pumpkin, yams, sweet potato and parsnips are very rich in carbs… and funnily enough they are totally Paleo! Well, what do you know!

What Paleo isn’t, though, is a diet overloaded with carbohydrates.

I guess, compared to what most people see as ‘normal’ levels of carb consumption, Paleo is low – but I believe that’s because most people’s perception of ‘normal’ is skewed. Why, you ask?  Did you know that cows are fed loads of grain during the last 6 weeks of their lives purely to increase their weight [fat] because it a] makes the cow worth more to sell and b) increases the fat in the meat, making the meat more ‘tender’ – think marbled.  So………….. Animals who eat high carb [grain based] diets get fat, which is unhealthy, but humans should eat high carb diets, full of grains, because it’s….. healthy??

Another common theme of these rants is that the diet is high in fats. Ding dong! Incorrect again.  The Paleo diet says you should consume healthy fats, including animal fat, in moderation. You don’t have to cut the fat off your pork chop but neither should you throw out the roast pork and just eat the crackle! [Although that would be AWESOME].  In fact, orthodox Paleo, such as Loren Cordain’s diet, actually specify that you should only consume lean cuts of meat.

Paleo promotes healthy fats like olive, avocado and macadamia oils – all very good for your body; and it cuts out the supposedly healthy ‘vegetable’ oils.  Which, if you take the time to investigate, is incredibly deceptive and frighteningly unhealthy!  Firstly, this oil is not made from vegetables at all. It’s generally made from seeds – rapeseed [canola], soybean, corn, sunflower, safflower, etc. so it really should be known as ‘Seed Oil’. Secondly, it can’t be cold-pressed like olive or coconut oil, but is produced using a toxic petroleum solvent called ‘hexane’.  I will never, never use vegetable oil again and I think it, like cage eggs, should be totally banned.   As an addendum, Canola Oil has to be the worst of a very bad bunch… not only is it a seed oil, but the seed it is made from [rapeseed] contains a substance called Euric Acid which toxic to humans. But it’s easy to grow and cheap and makes oil that can be used for anything, right?  So some clever scientists got together and genetically modified rapeseed to lower the Euric Acid content and this seed, known as LEAR [Low Euric Acid Rapeseed] is what is used to produce the Canola oil millions of people are consuming every day.  Wow.  Ugh. Hand me the olive oil, please!

So they are the two biggest bits of codswallop that I’ve been seeing around the web, but I thought I’d share with you some other golden nuggets of web-warrior-wisdom:

From www.slate.com, ‘debunking’ the Paleo assertion that grains are a no-no because they’ve only featured in our diets prominently in the last 10,000 years and it takes longer than that for evolution to adapt our bodies:

There are plenty of examples of this [adapting faster than 10,000 years] in humans and other species.  In one astonishing case, a type of cricket Zuk studied, when transplanted from its original habitat to Hawaii, became almost entirely silent in the course of a mere five years.

Err… 1. That’s a behavioural change, not a physiological change. Almost silent means they still retain the ability to make sound but choose not to. 2. That’s a cricket…an insect – kind of like comparing a fish to a tree. 3. That’s a cricket.

From www.fitonraw.com debunking the theory that we should consume meat:

#3 – A Meat-Heavy diet causes cancer.

The research is clear.  If you want to avoid common cancers (e.g. colon cancer, rectum cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer) and other diseases of affluence (e.g. heart disease and diabetes), you have to limit your consumption of animal products.  Don’t believe me? Check out The China Study by Colin T. Campbell.

Hmmm. This one really bothers me because I’m pretty sure no-one definitively knows what causes cancer.  I think to make a statement like this is pretty much scare-mongering and sounds suspiciously like a vegan/vegetarian trying to push their cause.  A suspicion which was backed up when I read “Your flat teeth, flat nails, long digestive tract and inability to produce vitamin C practically scream that the foods which support you best are plant-based.”  Don’t know about you, fit on raw, but along with those flat teeth I have [molars] I also have some pretty sharp/not flat ones… must be just me though.

Oh and that study she quoted – “The China Study” – well, turns out it’s been studied itself and found to be severely flawed…. Just sayin’.

From www.drmcdougall.com, writing that the Paleo diet is “Uncivilised (and Unhealthy and Untrue):

The Hunter-Gather diet is repulsive… for most of us the thought of eating bone marrow and brains is repulsive. But it gets worse.  No mention is made by Paleo experts about the frequent and habitual practices of nutritional cannibalism by hunter-gatherer societies.  Archeologists have found bones of our ancestors with de-fleshing marks and evidence of bone smashing to get at the marrow inside…And we are supposed to eat the favourite meats of our uncivilized, pre-Agriculture Revolution, hunter-gather, ancestors?

and;

Widespread adoption of the Paleo Diet would soon become an ecological disaster…[the 2006 UN report Livestock’s Long Shadow] concludes animal agriculture produces 18% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions (CO2 equivalents)…Every person that Paleo gurus convince to follow an animal food-based diet brings us one more step closer to the end of the world, as we know it.

Wow. We need to embrace cannibalism to be Paleo and the world is going to end because of Paleo!  I didn’t see that coming!

Firstly – the idea behind the Paleo diet is to “emulate, as closely and as practically possible, the diet our ancestors would have eaten”. Not mimic it exactly because that is literally impossible and would be unrealistic. This is just an absolutely ludicrous point made by a person desperate to present a more wordy argument.

Secondly – one of the main reasons that I can see that ‘animal agriculture’ impacts so unfavourably upon the environment is due to the unnatural way animals are commonly farmed, such as feed lots, sow stalls, barn/shed hens.  Paleo does not support these methods but rather natural, sustainable animal rearing [read: grass fed beef].  Obviously, our ancestors didn’t farm, they hunted, but I’ll say again ‘as closely and as practically possible’.  I think that the more people who turn to Paleo, the less these environmentally damaging farming practices will thrive.  Maybe, we’ll see a shift in the way we think – and eat.  Plus, it will never be reality that the entire planet is Paleo so I think we’re in no danger of Paleo ending the world.

I hope that anyone who embraces Paleo keeps in touch with their own health, tests theories, pushes boundaries and finally does what it is that works best for them, whatever that is. And I definitely agree with healthy debate.

But there is a difference between discussing a subject objectively and just running something down because you don’t agree with it.

To all the haters – I say do your research before you post or blog because you just come across as bitter and ill-informed.   If you want to be a vegan: do it. If you want to consume foods loaded with chemicals, sugars and grains: go for your life. The answer to your aversion to Paleo is simple: don’t go Paleo. I sincerely doubt any Paleo people out there care whether you are or not!

Despite what all the people out there may say, for me, eating vegetables, meats, healthy oils and fats, fruit and nuts makes sense.  I feel better for doing it and judging by the comments I’ve received in the last couple of months, I look better for doing it.  So I’ma keep on doin’ it!

One site I absolutely have to mention in closing is peaktestosterone.com and their page “Paleo Diet – Just Bad” [peaktestosterone.com/Paleo_Diet_Bad.aspx].  Their top point for why this diet is ‘bad’ for you begins with: 1. Blood flow. What’s the one thing you need for good erections? Blood flow.

Oh. My. God.

I rest my case.

As always, take care out there, and thanks for reading x

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Falling Off the Wagon: How I did and why you SHOULD

I’ve recently been on a short holiday to the ‘big smoke’ with a side deviation to a beautiful piece of Australia known as the Margaret River Wine Region.  I was understandably excited to be heading off, but I have to say, thanks to Paleo, I was also a little daunted.  How was I going to manage to eat right whilst away?  I had family do’s, social gatherings and road travels to contend with but its not like I could expect the rest of the world to plan meals around my choices!

In the end, we made the decision that we’d take the ‘do the best you can’ approach for the 10 days [including travelling] that we were going to be away from home.   It turned out to be an interesting, gastronomically challenging and very insightful holiday; one which led me to realise why it is probably a good idea for everyone to fall off the wagon once in a while because it sure helps to remind you why you are on it in the first place.

I have to say, driving 13.5 hours with stops at roadhouses makes eating Paleo nigh on impossible – unless you pack your own lunch, which we did, sort of.  We also bought some chicken on the road figuring that was ok (it wasn’t ideal, but better than a burger?), but mostly we ate nuts, fruit, sweet potato and beetroot chips and drank loads of water.  Oh and I had my first coffee in nearly 6 weeks at 11:30pm … it was actually a pretty terrible coffee but it did the trick: I yabbered like a crazy person for the next few hours – it was actually quite amusing – the effects of the coffee and the sugar on my mind and body was unbelievably intense!  I was still wide eyed four hours later.  Meanwhile I’m pretty sure I would have looked like one of those pictures where the subject’s eyes are made huge and squarish – I was buzzing!
As luck would have it – our first family meal was seafood pasta – it was absolutely delicious and the lenient attitude we’d taken meant we felt we could enjoy it and not feel guilty.  I will say though that I ate way too much and I noticed that the “you’re full” voice I’ve gotten used to hearing [and listening to] was suspiciously silent.

Another day, we had a huge family lunch – and it proved simple enough to eat well: roast, with roasted sweet potato and pumpkin, garden salad… but I did veer a little: I ate half of one small white potato, which I found a little tasteless, there was fetta on the vegies which I quite enjoyed, and I ate some garlic bread which was AMAZING.   But, despite the hallpass we’d given ourselves, I had no hesitation in saying ‘no’ to the trifle and pavlova on offer for dessert.  And considering Pavlova was one of my top 3 desserts pre-Paleo, that’s saying something.  But it honestly held no appeal to me [Note: I watched my husband eat his pav and subsequently feel absolutely horrible within 10 minutes – have to say I felt pretty glad that I had said no].

We managed to keep our breakfast very paleo throughout the trip – eggs, bacon, sausages, fruit, etc.  Eating lunches was a little more tricky but I found a hamburger is still an amazing lunch when you just get it sans cheese and then remove the bun to the side.  The chips that inevitably came with it I ate but, like the white potato I had at the family lunch, found surprisingly tasteless and unappealing.   Any burger / sandwich lunch can be made Paleo fairly easily, if there’s nothing available on the menu to suit.

Our sojourn into wine country I thought would be hugely challenging: I used to LOVE cheese [despite being lactose intolerant – there’s tablets for that, you know], and pâté, and crackers and chocolate.  But – once again I surprised myself. Sure, I did have a couple of crackers with pâté but the cheese held no appeal for me.  I really felt no compulsion to eat it and certainly didn’t feel I was missing out on anything while those around me enjoyed it.  I bought chocolate deliberately [I’m off the wagon, may as well enjoy it!] for us all to share, a packet of my favourite red Lindt balls… and then ate one, which was divine, and put them away. I simply had no desire to have more than one.  The next day, I ate another one – and that was it.  I was shocking myself!  Unlike the hot chips, which I can say were mostly tasteless, the chocolate DID taste as amazing as I’d expected but that pre-Paleo compulsion to continue eating it was just … gone!  One ball was absolutely enough. What the?!

The two meals that I really have to mention though: fish and chips [the restaurant type, not from the local shop] and my favourite fast food meal, a ‘Rippa Sub’ combo from Red Rooster, both ordered for lunch. On different days, of course.
I scraped off most of the batter from the fish before I ate it and I did sort of enjoy the chips – more than previously, anyways. But again that ‘You’re full” notification somehow missed my inbox and within 10 minutes of finishing I sincerely had the urge to try ease the nauseous sensation I was feeling by making myself throw up. It was that bad.  The meal would have been probably a 5/10 and that is certainly not worth the way I felt afterwards.

As for the RR, well I just love the whole deal: the chicken strips, the herb mayo, the chips…yum!   I got water, not coke, for my drink [as I had always done] and then set about eating my meal with gusto – this was one of those moments when I was going to eat non Paleo and enjoy it, no guilt.  And I’ll admit, the sub was yummy.  Just as good as I remembered!  The chips were underseasoned but to be honest by this stage I’d kind of realised that hot chips will never really appeal to me again so I wasn’t too disappointed.  So I’d say that this meal I would have rated about 8/10 – really enjoyed it.  For ten minutes.  Then I was right back in the “Oh my god, I feel so sick, get me to a bathroom” zone once again and really consciously annoyed at myself for putting such trash into my body.

[To clarify: at no time did I actually go to the bathroom and make myself sick, it was just a very appealing thought.]

By the time it was hometime, I could not wait to be back to clean, Paleo eating.  Nothing processed, no grains, no dairy.   I didn’t eat a lot of those things but it was enough to make me realise I don’t want to eat them, any more.  To realise that what I’ve changed to – this new way of eating – is making me feel so much better, healthier, lighter.  It’s reset my internal workings so that my little “you’re full” voice is able to be heard; its flushed accumulated waste out of my body so I don’t feel heavy by 2pm; it’s given me back my taste buds so I can appreciate the taste of real food as opposed to only being able to taste overly strong, fake flavours; its corrected my appreciation of ‘sweet’ so I can enjoy a little and it’s enough; and most importantly I think it’s putting me more and more in touch with my own body every day, giving me such a strong sense of how much control I have over how I feel, dependant on what I fuel my body with – and I just don’t want to do it to myself anymore.

I also put weight on amazingly quickly; not a substantial amount, but my ‘fluffiness’ – that band of wibbly, wobbly, sponginess around my middle – reappeared within about 4 days, as did my feeling of heaviness.  I figure that the heaviness is the inefficient processing of crap food that I was forcing my body to digest; the ‘fluffiness’ I think may just be retained water, or waste, that my body would normally a] only deal with in minimal amounts and b] be able to dispose of quick smart.  By subjecting my system to such a huge load of rubbish to deal with – backlog got created. Boo.

I really am glad that I fell off the wagon.  I know going forward that I will be even more sure that what I’m doing is the right thing for me.  I will crave those banned foods a lot less because now I know how they’ll make me feel if I do eat them.  I will definitely still occasionally indulge in certain naughty foods [read: garlic bread & pasta] but I will probably do it a lot less often than I thought prior to this trip because, again, I’m aware of just how quickly I will feel it within myself.  Its given me a blunt snapshot of my body on a good diet and my body on a modern diet: they’re as different as night and day and I sure as eggs know which body I prefer.

So go on – fall off the wagon if you need a reminder why you’re there.  Don’t fall too hard or too long, your body doesn’t deserve that – but a little reminder now and then can go a long way towards keeping up your motivation to live, eat, exist the Paleo way.

Take care out there, and thanks for reading 🙂

S.