05/29/2017 12:10 EDT | Updated 05/29/2017 12:10 EDT

Is The Paleo Diet Still A Thing?

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The term diet is not very ideal as it makes you think of some monotony you need to follow that restricts you from too much. It's the same thing with fad diets as they come and go so quick that people jump on board only to move on to the next hot thing when it comes along.

The better approach is to focus on the lifestyle instead of a diet with healthy eating being at the cornerstone of it. A healthy eating lifestyle that has been popular for a little while now is the paleo diet or ancestral eating movement.

Paleo is definitely a lifestyle that has had enormous popularity and is also hard to call a fad since it's existed for eons. In the last few years however it escalated in popularity. You couldn't walk into a bookstore without seeing dozens of paleo based books including paleo for dogs. So since it peaked not long ago are people slowly moving away from it? Does it still have merit or have people moved on to something new?


A Recap On The Paleo Diet

If you're not familiar with it The paleolithic diet, or ancestral eating, is following a diet that our ancestors would have eaten in the paleolithic era. This was before the agriculture age that began around 10,000 years ago. The diet is based on animal proteins, vegetables and fruits, and nuts and seeds. This was before grains and rice as those things are a relatively modern invention.

Today, a paleo diet is still focused on those things while avoiding processed foods like refined flours, sugars, trans fats etc.

Why It May Be Impossible To Truly Follow A Paleo Diet.

There had been many that may have looked down on others who weren't following a paleo diet and those individuals probably haven't looked that deeply into the advancements of our modern fresh food. As much as they think they are following a paleo diet they may be missing the mark a little.

A majority of the foods that are associated as paleo today simply didn't exist in Paleolithic times. Here are a few examples:

  • The fruits and vegetables today we consume bare little resemblance to their paleolithic ancestors. Fruit would be smaller, more tart and bitter. Fruit also wouldn't have been available year round as it would only have a short window when it was ripe.

  • Root vegetables were extremely fibrous and almost inedible by our standards

  • Kale. It's been the staple of most people's greens but never existed in Paleolithic times. Neither did broccoli or cauliflower. These modern plants have been cultivated from the Brassica Oleracea where we also get cabbage and Brussel sprouts

  • Beef. Again another cornerstone of eating paleo but the modern cow is exactly that, modern. The cattle we consume is barely a few centuries old. Paleolithic people would have consumed, among many other animals, the cow's ancestor called the auroch. It was more of a bull-like animal, taller, leaner, more athletic and with large outfacing horns

  • Most people only consume the muscle meat on animals where our ancestors prized the organs along with the brains and even eyes of an animal. The organ meats were extremely nutrient dense and most people don't touch them today.

  • We eat food from around the world and when it shouldn't even be in season unlike those in the Paleolithic era. They would not have consumed anything outside of a 50-mile radius. Today we get foods from all corners of the globe in and out of season.

Here Is What Really Makes The Paleo Diet Benneficial

It's not as much about what paleo contains but what it does NOT contain. When you follow paleo you are avoiding all the processed and manufactured crap which has been at the root of many modern health problems. You're avoiding refined grains and sugar, trans fats and artificial sweeteners. You won't be consuming inflammatory refined vegetable oils. The core of your diet is lean proteins, vegetables, and fruits, and nuts and seeds.

You allow your body to thrive and run as it was meant to when you focus on real whole foods and cut out all the detrimental garbage or an overabundance of starchy carbohydrates from rice, grains, and pasta etc.

Are People Still Strictly Following Paleo Right Now?

I've noticed a lot of people who aren't as stringent on following paleo as they once were. I wouldn't say it's fallen off the map, far from it, but it doesn't seem as prominent as a few years ago. I believe it's a very ideal way to eat but by no fault of its own has kind of fallen into that fad diet category. Whenever a hot "diet" hits the market floods of books are released, and the kiss of death, celebrities tend to get behind it. "Diets" like these tend to fall by the wayside after not too long and people get on the lookout for the next hot new trend, Or whatever Beyonce says she's doing...

What Approach Are People Now Taking When It Comes To Paleo?

I'm starting to see many people say they are eating paleo "ish". They are taking the fundamentals of paleo eating but adding in some rice, grains or sweet potatoes here or there. As you can see this isn't a paleo diet then by definition. What they are following here is a whole foods diet but that is still a very good thing.

A real foods movement has become the focus with the avoidance of packaged and manufactured garbage. The paleo diet has been extremely helpful and made a big impact as more people have come to the understanding that they should be eating food that doesn't have ingredients. Real food IS the ingredients.

There are many still following a strict paleo diet but overall it's adapted, and ironically evolved, into an approach that is able to fit into more people's lifestyles. The main focus, in either case, is the attention to feeding your body the foods it was designed to eat and not foods that had to be designed.

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