Why Paleo Is Not Perfect

There are people who eat healthy and enjoy helping others eat healthy, and then there are the paleo police. The paleo police seem ready to jump at any opportunity to throw you into paleo prison if every aspect of your life isn’t like a caveman’s. No other “diet” is as strictly scrutinized and patrolled as paleo. But paleo is not perfect – here’s why.

The Paleo Perspective

I don’t see the paleo diet as many adherents see it: cavemen dancing around fires, eating what they killed and foraged that day, end of story. Instead, I see paleo through a different lens. My cells. My cells don’t know whether I personally killed the animal on my dinner plate. My cells don’t know if I cooked it on a gas, charcoal or wood burning grill. All they know is that they can either process something, or they can’t. History and evolution certainly play a role. But when I eat, my body simply knows whether what I’m ingesting produces a negative or a positive impact on my cells and hormones.

Modern Paleo

I understand that the vegetation and crops we have now don’t resemble what was grown 10,000 years ago. I understand that mineral depletion is a problem. I understand that modern humans use different cooking techniques than those used in paleolithic times. And I don’t care. Here is what I DO care about: being the healthiest, optimal version of myself possible. No, there was no whey protein or white rice in the paleolithic era, but who cares? If it helps me live – not just survive, but thrive – I’m taking that route.

“Paleo” for me and the way I see it is about providing information to guide you to health, using what is available in this modern age. It is not a historical reenactment. See your nutrition through your  cells’ eyes. If it has a package, don’t eat it. If it was made in a lab, don’t eat it. If there is clear biochemical evidence that it will cause damage to your cells, don’t eat it. Food is meant to spoil. If it doesn’t, don’t eat it. If you feel like crap after eating it… don’t eat it. Not because some dude couldn’t/wouldn’t have eaten it ages ago, but because it will wreak havoc on your body now.

Paleo Personalization

While it would be much easier if everyone could follow a strict template of some theoretical diet that existed 10,000+ years ago, that’s just not feasible or even ideal. “Paleo” will and should be different for different people. Strict paleo is not perfect for everyone. Different people have different cells, as well as different genes telling those cells to do different things. Some people can use raw milk dairy due to their lineage, and some people can’t. This is why you should try some self experimentation. Determine what works for you.

There’s no debating that your cells are not meant to process large amounts of refined sugars, most refined grains and beans, and artificial coloring and additives. Don’t beat yourself up if a vegetable may or may not have existed X years ago. Use general guidelines to achieve the health you want. Test and retest. Instead of thinking about what a generic caveman would eat, think about what works for you, what you enjoy, what helps to make you the best version of yourself.

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