Do you miss the good ol' days? I'm not talking about Kennedy's America or the prosperity of the Industrial Revolution. No sir, I'm referring to the really good ol' days, the ones where we lived in caves and evaded massive reptiles. The days where we wore pelts around our junk and communicated with grunts. Those were the golden years of man: the Paleolithic era. No insurance premiums to worry about, no chemical weapons (besides whatever was gurgling up from the swamp). Heck, we didn't even have a government to complain about — it was a glorious time. So glorious, in fact, that it makes you wonder why we ever bothered evolving at all. Luckily, a small subset of the population has decided that Paleolithic man had it all figured out and it's time to return to the way of eating that worked so well: the Paleo diet. On this edition of the Kessler Report, join me as we traverse the murky waters of America's latest fad diet obsession.
The Paleo Diet attempts to get you to eat how cavemen ate. Although it's pretty much COMPLETELY IMPOSSIBLE TO KNOW how cavemen ate, the diet asks you to cut out dairy. And flour. And sugar. And beans. And pretty much anything that wasn't around for Paleolithic man. That means you're stuck with meats, seafood, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. It's Atkins for the most hardcore amongst us. Like Atkins, cutting out all kinds of grains means you lose weight on the diet extremely quickly. It also means that you better like living as a caveman forever because once you go off Paleo, that weight will come back to haunt you before the first bite of bread hits your esophagus.
I tried the Paleo diet three summers ago. Within two weeks, I dropped 12 pounds. I also felt so constricted by the diet that I could barely breathe. For the amount of kale I was shoving in my Paleo hole, I should have turned green (I did not). For forty days, I continued the diet and continued to lose weight. One thing struck me though: this is a totally unsustainable way to eat. When the cavemen did it, it wasn't to lose weight. It was to survive. In our modern society, there's no need to eat this way. We've evolved. We developed new ways to eat because we got smarter. Sure, we got too smart for our own good and figured out how to hack our way to dopamine central with foods scientifically engineered to hit that sweet spot in the sugar, salt and fat departments, but that's no reason to throw all of culinary evolution out the window.
There are a few things you should know if you're about to embark on the Paleo Express:
- Good luck eating anywhere outside your own home. Mexican works if you can skip the chips (and tortillas) and Korean BBQ is actually great if the meats aren't marinated in six pounds of sugar (which they will be).
- Nobody wants to hear about your diet. Like crazy dreams and standardized test scores, talking about your diet is almost as self-indulgent as the diet itself. Keep your progress to yourself until people start noticing and then you can tell them how you're living your life as Ork or Bonk or whatever you decided on as your caveman name.
- By default, all of your friends will think you're a stuck-up asshole. That's because you can't help but insinuate that the food they're eating (most likely covered in buffalo sauce) is for chumps. “Oh, I don't eat dairy or anything fried.” See how popular that makes you during football season, pal.
The most ardent supporters of eating Paleo would tell you that it's not a diet, it's a lifestyle. Diets limit you to certain portion sizes. Paleo says to go nuts, as long as you're only eating nuts (and meat). I don't know about you, but I don't necessarily trust a diet – or a way of life – that tells you to go ahead and eat four pounds of turkey if you want to, but step away from the quinoa. It just doesn't add up.
So go ahead, become a caveman if you so choose. In the meantime, you might as well give up your house, computer, car and anything else that's been invented since the Paleo era. If you're going to eat like a caveman, you should probably live like one, too.
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