7 Reasons Why I Can’t Get on Board with The Paleo Diet

by Heather

The Paleo Diet. It’s everywhere. Blogs, Pinterest, Crossfit, Facebook, parties, and more. Paleo, Primal, Stone Age, Caveman… Frankly it’s driving me nuts. It’s like the low-fat and low-carb crazes all over again. Now, much of my gripe is with the general population’s interpretation of Paleo, but that’s what really matters anyways, right? Not what the exact facts are, but how people apply them. {Kind of like how being vegan doesn’t mean don’t gorge on junk food. Also, how come being vegan makes you a tree-hugging hippie weirdo, but being Paleo makes you cool?}

Paleo Diet cons

Here are a few reasons why the Paleo diet makes me want to crawl out of my skin:

1. Plants are Best

The Paleo Diet is not a “meat diet”, but most people are taking it that way. I’ll be the first one to tell you that views on nutrition & nutrition research change all the time. It’s one of the things that I both love and hate about my profession. That being said- are we supposed to toss decades and decades of research that shows plant-based diets are superior? Those that eat a vegetarian, vegan, or even just “plant friendly” diet have lower cancer rates, decreased autoimmune disease, less heart disease, and more. Meat-based diets can place stress on the kidneys and leach calcium from your bones; not to mention hormones, antibiotics, and fillers found in so many conventional meat products. Let’s not even talk about saturated fat…{And yes, you can follow a vegetarian paleo diet.}

2. It’s Expensive

Fruits and veggies may not seem cheap, but compare them to a cart full of animal products: you’re bank account will come out way ahead on the former. Let’s not even talk about the price of “grass fed” {etc.} meats- holy cow! {Pun intended.} Grass fed, organic, hormone & antibiotic free meats aren’t required on the Paleo diet, but they are preferred. Even if you can find a local source or farmer’s market that provides these options, you still need to cough up a bit of dough. Again, you don’t HAVE to eat a ton of meat, but look at the food diaries of most Paleo-ites: meat, meat, and more meat.

the paleo diet loren cordain

3. Beans Aren’t ALL Bad

I appreciate the Paleo advocates acknowledging that phytic acid and lectins interfere with nutrient absorption and can aggravate certain diseases, but beans aren’t all AWFUL- they’re a good source of fiber, iron, and folate. Lumping them into the “bad” category with dairy and sugar makes this a very confusing issue, especially for non-meat-eaters. Perhaps a distinction between beans and properly soaked & sprouted beans would be helpful. Ditto to the above on grains, but I have less hate against the no-grains thing since so many people have issues with gluten and go over board on grain-based carbs anyways. I wouldn’t mind a distinction between gluten and non-gluten grains, as well as the whole soaked and sprouted thing again.

 

4. Eliminating Entire Food Groups is the 1st Step Towards Disordered Eating

Categorizing foods as “good” and “bad” is one of the prime ways to head down the path towards an eating disorder. Saying you CAN’T have something is the best way to make sure you crave it and feel neglected. I agree we can live without certain food groups {cough, cough dairy}, but saying you can never have these things is just a way to create obstacles and struggles in when it comes to “lifestyle change” vs. “diet”. Which leads me to my next issue…

 

5. Lesser Evils Are Still Up to No Good

When you eliminate any food, you have to replace it with something. I’m not talking artificial substitutes here, I simply mean calories. I’m all in favor of the incredible, edible egg getting it’s rep back after a serious bashing a few years back, but “Paleo-fied” recipes tend to load up on the eggs in order to replace a whole laundry list of ingredients the Paleo Diet eliminates, like gluten and other grains. Is a loaf of bread with 15 eggs in it really doing your digestive system any favors?

Add to that, just because you Paleo-fy something doesn’t mean it’s “healthy”. A cookie made of almond flour, dates, and eggs is still a cookie.

paleo diet review

6. Natural vs Processed

While most processed foods will automatically be eliminated on the Paleo Diet due to other guidelines, there’s still not enough distinction to make me satisfied. I don’t really care what else you’re eating, if you have sodium-laden, nitrite-filled bacon every morning, you’re not better off than Sally No Name eating a bowl of oh-so-bad oats.

7. “It’s What the Cavemen Ate”

I don’t give a crap about the cave men. They lived til they were like 20*. How are we ever supposed to know what diseases they’d have in their 70s?

And cavemen didn’t sit around playing video games all day. Until we change our exercise problems, we can’t compare ourselves to them.

*I have no idea the actual lifespan of a tried and true caveman but it certainly wasn’t old.

Now, I know I’m hating on the Paleo Diet here, but there are actually a few {a FEW}things I like too. But just to tease you {and give you a chance to yell at me}, I’ll save that for another post.

So. What do you think about the Paleo craze?

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{ 88 comments… read them below or chime in }

JJ April 10, 2013 at 1:31 pm

This is the best diet i’ve ever did. I not only lost weight but i got my life back. I’ve never felt so healthy. I’m not tired, bloated, depressed anymore.

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rufiooooooooo June 16, 2013 at 10:28 am

personally, I don’t think the paleo diet is stupid but how people interpret it really is. Its like when people start crossfit they’re automatically gung-ho paleo because some coach of theirs with little to no credibility tells them to eat this way. I’ll use an example, I love sriracha sauce, another member of my box said “You can’t eat that its not paleo it has sugar in it!” Boo hoo Sriracha sauce has natural sugar in it from the peppers, from that perspective you might as well not eat any fruit either because that has natural sugar in it either. If I was to say I’m paleo, It’d be about 70% I really just eat quality foods, spending time measuring the amounts and what is and isn’t paleo is too time consuming. Key to eating healthy, don’t eat fast food.

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Pet June 27, 2013 at 9:54 am

I had no issue with diets as I don’t follow any, but each diet may benefit certain people who have no sense of a healthy balanced meal. I do follow a low processed food diet, and opt for a sensible meal (balance proportion). I had no issue with Heather’s article until the end, where she Male bashed men in the comment. “And cavemen didn’t sit around playing video games all day”…. she should have include “or sit around all day watching soap operas, and reality tv”. Because lets face you can’t stuff your face with chips, pizza and soya laced crap if you have a game controller in your hand, compared to a tv channel changer(one hand free). It’s about balance. I have 3 nephews. ALL play video games. One is skinny, one is a muscled jock, and the youngest one is obese. The youngest one was born large, and obese as my sister was hospitalized for a good portion of her pregnancy but ate, he was born with a strike against him. I sit here wondering how in the hell did I get here, and it was checking my email, seeing a article on good vs bad food and it led me here, sitting on my butt typing away thinking what distraction…. but my interest in good health got the best of me….. Then I look to the adds on the sides and think $$$$$$$$ its all about money.

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Jeff August 11, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Great article! I do agree that the cost of meat – especially grass fed can really add up. I think the important thing to take away from Paleo is to eat more natural foods and stay away from processed, sugary and deep fried foods. Unfortunately that seems to be the normal diet in today’s society.
Jeff Just blogged…Getting Healthy on the Paleo Diet updated Sat Aug 10 2013 5:25 pm EDT

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Deb December 18, 2013 at 9:49 am

I liked this article. Seems most people will gravitate toward a diet they are in alignment with. If they want an excuse to eat fat and lots of animal-protein, or a fast track to weight-loss, they may try Paleo. I know some do it for health reasons, which I take less issue with if it’s working for you. But I worry about alot about long-term ramifications for health, animals and our Earth.

Though I have no doubt that protein-focused diets contribute to weight loss or increased energy levels (which I attribute to the avoidance of refined flour products less than the prevalence of meat), having read “The China Study” (extensively researched book by T. Colin Campbell) I learned that populations heavy on animal proteins have highest rates of degenerative disease. Several esteemed docs are reversing degenerative diseases by putting their patients on plant-based diets. Dr. Fuhrman, Dr. Gabrielle Cousins, Dr. Neil Barnard among them. People don’t reverse cancer by eating beef or bacon daily, but by consuming vast quantities of plants. Dean Ornish reverses heart-disease in his patients with vegan diets and meditation. These are the true heroes we need to pay heed to, and diets that have shown over long periods of time, create lasting results.

Beyond health:
1) Care about our earth being destroyed?
Meat, esp. beef, requires vast amount of resources (land, water, grain) to produce a small amount of food and if you are eating out, or buying supermarket meat (which of course the majority of meat-eaters must do) you are contributing toward global warming.

2): Extreme, inhumane treatment of living beings:
Go visit a factory farm or read any book on the topic…it’s too horrible to imagine, what cows, pigs or chickens endure before slaughter. Any time an animal ends as food, it is at risk for ill treatment.

3) Antibiotics in your food? Meat is laced with antibiotics and/or growth hormones unless it is locally raised and organic. Shocking that 75% of antibiotics produced in USA go into livestock feed! This will contribute to large-scale health problems as people become resistant to antibiotics.

4) Our precious earth: Meat-production contributes more to global warming than pollution from automobiles. Going meat-based Paleo is adding to the problem, not working toward a solution. I eat healthy fats from avocado, coconut, hemp, etc and with avoiding most refined sugar, refined carbs, etc. I consider myself a “Paleo-vegetarian” which I pray solves most of the above problems. Lost 20 pounds avoiding refined carbs and adding nuts, etc!

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Becca January 31, 2014 at 11:09 pm

Personally, I’d say I’m maybe 75% paleo. I make exceptions in places where others don’t, but I feel like don’t go too crazy with stuff either. I still belief meat is meant to be more a side dish, and half the plate should generally consist of veggies. I have quite the sweet tooth (and I’m a pastry chef, yikes!) so I do like to experiment with paleo-friendly desserts, but of course, they’re still sweets so I have to remind myself not to overload. I’ve been at it for about 5 months now and lost 23 pounds, but ore importantly I FEEL GREAT! Since giving up dairy, my skin is clearer, and I don’t have issues with mucus as much. And I find that when I do slip up and have dairy, my digestive system gets REALLY mad at me. So at this point, I prefer to avoid it. And I prefer the taste of almond milk :D Also since giving up peanuts (because they’re legumes) I discovered upon cheating one day that I’ve been living with a slight allergy to them and now know that if I avoid them, I don’t itch all over the way I used to. I always assumed my skin dried out easily, but all along it was the peanuts. And after giving up wheat, I find I have more energy :D

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rio March 5, 2014 at 1:43 pm

i have been following Paleo for about 3 weeks. i feel amazing because ive given up dairy and gluten. ive replaced them with fruits and veggies. i love the fact that i can eat unlimted amounts of fruits and veggies. i use meat as a side dish. and i make sure its natural. my grocery bill has acutally went down
cause im not loading up on junk! im 62 and i love to cook. and bake. ive tryed every “diet” known. including weight watchers which is a joke. the one i had the most success with was the zone, but i could manage to sneak in processed carbs as long as i followed the general guidelines. since ive went strict paleo i have more energy and ive lost 5 lbs while never being hungry. i guess what our mamas told us was true, eat your veggies.

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Tom April 26, 2014 at 4:01 pm

The Paleo Diet is healthy, and pretty easy to follow. I do not believe in evolution, but it is basically the diet of Native Americans before we started them on processed foods.

I, personally, use a combination of the Paleo Diet and The Maker’s Diet (Jordan Rubin). From the Maker’s Diet I use dairy (milk from pastured, grass fed cows, whole and un-homogized), wholemilk yogart, and sprouted grain bread. Both, of course, recommend meat from wild or pastured animals, along with raw fruits, vegies,and seeds. Every day I drink a smoothie made with carrots, wild blueberries, mangos, pineapple, strawberries, yogart and honey. To this I add a raw, organic, mega3 egg, Raw Protein Powder (Garden of Life), and Perfect Food Raw (Garden of Life).

I cut out french fries, potato chips, plus other processed foods, cut way back on deserts (almost none), and went from 4 to 2 cups of coffee per day (and I love coffee). With this change over to the Paleo/Maker’s Diet I have lost 10 pounds, and ,at 72, I feel better than I have in years. A far cry from almost dying 2 years ago from a bladder infection, and kidney failure.

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Francie June 14, 2014 at 6:03 pm

I follow The Primal Blueprint which is a much more liberal version of Paleo while incorporating many raw fruits and veggies as well. I think the phrase “the paleo diet” is misleading because its not really a diet. It’s a lifestyle change. You can also get meat from smaller sustainable sources where the animals are pasture raised and grass fed. I’ve been eating this way for several months and use improved my health greatly after increasing my meat intake which is mostly pasture raised. We’ve made up for the cost of the meat by not buying any grain products. So that debunks the myth that grassfed isn’t affordable. It’s all about choice.

As for the studies, well, you can find a study to support any position regarding diet. Most studies are flawed and biased anyway.

As for me, I prefer quality of life over quantity any day. I never want to go back to eating grains ever again. Even gluten free products cause me issues. As for legumes, they cause me issues as well and I simply dont have to s of time to soak or sprout them. and do you know how much sprouted grain products cost at the store? or gluten free breads? Its astronomical. I don’t eat paleo breads or treats and I don’t crave grains at all. Sorry, but the claims you make here simply are untrue. For many many people, paleo/primal is a lifestyle change. Btw I have never read “the paleo diet”. I’ve winged this by reading a few websites and following some of the great paleo blogs out there that you mentioned here.

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