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?