Embracing Your Inner Cave Man. Paleo Diet.
Eating like your prehistoric ancestors is big news at the moment. You must have been living in a cave if you haven’t heard about it. Different versions of it exist, including the paleo diet and the primal blueprint, but the basic premise is that we should be eating the kinds of foods our loin cloth wearing ancestors enjoyed.
This isn’t to to say we have to chow down on brontosaurus steaks. More that we should be ditching processed foods and focussing on basic food groups such as meat, vegetables, fruit and nuts, with grain, legumes and dairy verboten (although more on dairy later). A barbecue lovers delight (there is no calorie counting or restrictions on quantity), this way of eating allows you to pile your plate high, although if you rely on a mocha choca whipped cream latte to get you through the day you’re going to struggle. Protein is in, carbohydrates (except those found in fruit and veg) is out. Also out is sugar and alcohol, and salt is far more restricted. Interestingly, this way of eating encourages the consumption of more fat than has hitherto been recommended, with even saturated fat back on the menu.
But what’s the rationale for this radical departure from conventional nutritional wisdom? The basic idea is that our bodies are built to digest the kind of foods we ate just after we waved goodbye to our ape cousins. In the absence of Tesco we relied upon what we could kill or gather ourselves, so Dairy Milk chocolate was out but nuts, berries and meat was in. We are biologically designed to process these products effectively and have done so for over 200,000 years (whereas agriculture and the production of baddies such as grains has been going on for less than 10,000 years, which in evolutionary terms isn’t very long).
Eating in a prehistoric way is therefore believed to put much less stress on our bodies, and could address a whole range of medical complaints, from obesity and diabetes through to cardiovascular disease and disorders of the immune system. Whilst some proponents of the prehistoric way of eating avoid dairy entirely, a large number of people do include dairy into their diet due to it’s health benefits, with the proviso it needs to be unpasteurised and from organic, grass fed cows.
So what does this mean for you? If you think the lure of unlimited steaks is difficult to resist, there’s a multitude of websites on the net that can give you more information and help you decide. If, however, you’re not quite ready to give up your spaghetti carbonara, there’s still food for thought. A huge part of this way of eating focuses on the quality of the produce you are consuming. Prehistoric man was not familiar with battery chickens and neither should you be. A factory farmed cow doesn’t cut the mustard; the emphasis is strongly on organic, happy meat, veg and dairy (if you choose to eat it). The benefits of this are clear – as well as not containing traces of pesticides, hormones and antibiotics, organic produce such as that from gazegill comes from producers who care about the product and the welfare of their animals, rather than focussing on the maximum profit and yield model favoured by large scale producers. So even if the closest you get to eating like your prehistoric ancestors is choosing an organic sausage (complete with bread bun and ketchup), you can be proud that somewhere, deep inside, your inner caveman is alive and well…