paleo

Is Paleo a Cult?

The other day, I was asked whether I thought Paleo was a cult. I thought about my answer carefully, before replying that the Paleo community are very passionate about their beliefs.

Cult: A misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular thing

For those who have been living in a cave and have missed the whole Paleo brouhaha, it is a diet that is based on the premise that over many millions of years, the types of foods we eat have evolved but yet our internal digestive system remains much the same. As a result of changes in our diets, there has been a rapid increase in just about every ill-health condition known to man – obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression and infertility. The Paleo solution is to return to the ways of our paleolithical ancestors.

Now, my area of specialty is not in nutrition or dietetics, but clearly our declining health is attributable to more than just changes in our diet. We are moving less and stressing more, sleeping less and diagnosing more. Any diet that encourages the complete removal of food groups (dairy, legumes, some vegetables, and grains) and a one-size-fits-all approach is never going to be successful and sustainable.

However, don’t let its cult-like status or activated almond extremists deter you. For Paleo does hold some great principles based on solid science, which often leaves me perplexed as to why it is regularly rated as one of the worst diets in the market, alongside the cabbage diet and ridiculous weight-loss shakes.

In an effort to overcome any misconceptions caused by ‘fad diets’ like Paleo, Nutrition Australia recently launched an updated version of the ‘Healthy Eating Pyramid’. Now I remember back at school learning about the original Food Pyramid as the guide for healthy eating. Fast forward nearly 50 years and we now know the original food pyramid was commissioned by Kellogg’s, a company that sells grain-based products… no wonder they wanted us to eat 9-11 servings a day!

However, the new Healthy Eating Pyramid is definitely a step in the right direction and a sensational visual adaptation of the original. It has a much greater emphasis on vegetable consumption and restriction on processed food. Now, if the Paleo powerhouses and narcissist nutritionists put their egos aside for a minute, they will essentially see they are saying the same thing.

Healthy eating does not have to be any more complicated than your old ‘meat and three veg’ with a glass of water. You can call it whatever you want – ‘Paleo’, ‘Quit Sugar’, ‘Just Eat Real Food’ or, one of my favourites, ‘Banting’.

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