Eat Like a Caveman

16 Jan Eat Like a Caveman

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Wednesday, 16 January 2013 02:00 Shannon Linden
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The Paleo, or Caveman diet currently tops the list of trends in do-it-yourself weight loss programs.

I’m grateful to live in modern times, when I don’t have to send my husband out to track and take down a wild animal for our next meal.
I’m glad I don’t have to be his assistant, braving whatever lurks out there as I go about my business, gathering berries and digging up roots to go with our wild boar.
While it’s true I occasionally send my husband out for food, the only tracking he does is on his iPhone in search of take-out.
I gather, for sure. A list of ingredients in hand, I cruise the store’s various aisles, popping everything from packages to fresh produce into my cart.
Yes, we’ve come a long way from prehistoric days, but if the latest craze in dieting is any indication, a bunch of us are headed back to the cave.
It’s called the Paleo diet or Caveman diet, and according to the most recent Consumer Reports, it tops the list of trends in do-it-yourself weight loss programs.
No doubt they burned plenty of fuel just running around trying to find their next meal, but what is it about prehistoric peoples’ diets that has modern man (and woman) apparently losing weight?
Simply put, proponents of the Paleo diet say if we ate like they did before the advent of agriculture, we’d be healthier – and thinner, too.
To eat like a cave man, you can have grass-fed meats, fruits, vegetables, wild fish and unprocessed oils like olive and avocado. There’ll be no grains, dairy, legumes, salts and sugars. May as well close down the bar, too. Cave people (as near as we know) didn’t have the neighbours over for drinks.
Naturally low in calories, it’s no wonder people lose weight on the plan, but is it really better for them? That depends upon whose fire you’re gathered round.
Advocates of the Paleo diet say it’s clean eating and you’re encouraged to eat when you’re hungry. By consuming more fruit and vegetables, you’re increasing fibre, vitamins, and minerals while decreasing total caloric consumption.
They argue it’s clear what to eat and that modern diseases like obesity, diabetes and heart disease are a result of a modern diet. Those with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease already eat largely this way.
But not every nutritionist is a fan of the cave man.
Joy Dubost, a registered dietician who commented in the Huffington Post said, “Although in theory this may seem like a sensible diet, particularly when removing sugar and salt, it has eliminated several food groups like dairy and grains, which provide essential nutrients like calcium, Vitamin D, magnesium and phosphorus in dairy, and B vitamins, fibre, and antioxidants in grains.”
Additionally, Dubost points out legumes are a great source of protein, fibre, and essential nutrients, with little fat or calories.
Certainly we could all pull processed carbohydrates like chips, packaged cookies, crackers, bread and pasta from the cupboard. For those who can’t control junk food cravings, the Paleo diet is a step in the right direction, but should we really eat all that meat?
Environmentalists argue it’s not sustainable to feed the world big stuff like beef, while nutritionists argue too many cuts are high in artery-clogging LDL cholesterol and saturated fat. Surely, they say, the person who sits down to low-fat yogurt, fresh fruit, and nuts for breakfast is better off than the guy who fries up bacon and eggs?
Most of all, it may be too difficult to stick to, especially when dining out or gathering with friends in something other than a cave.
Common sense prevailing, it’s a good idea to cut out sugary, fatty and processed foods, but maybe not eliminate (if we can tolerate them) foods like low-fat dairy, beans and legumes.
Where ever they are, I’m sure the cavemen are shaking their heads. We’re lucky to have the choices we do, what with the nearest grocery store a car ride away. Maybe part of the
reason they weren’t fat is because our pre-agrarian ancestors often went hungry.