All Right folks, hang on to your britches. It’s been a while since I’ve gone on an epic rant about a food related topic, but it’s about to go down. I’m not changing my overall philosophy and still believe that there are no EVIL foods, BUT there are a few things that need to be talked about – so brace yourself, this is may hurt.
In our happy little Paleo world we like to ridicule and point out the major flaws of the whole low-fat and fat-free craze that went down in the 90’s and early 2000’s – and there’s definitely merit to our arguments. Fat free cheese, muffins, ice cream, salad dressings, margarines; reduced fat peanut butter; Snackwell’s cookies (although the devil’s food ones were pretty damn tasty…); Lean Cuisine; pretzels and even fat free candies like jelly beans and licorice got the green light while nuts, avocado, olives and most meats were blacklisted. Food manufacturer’s made LOTS of money and America got fatter. While we ate up all these seemingly healthy processed foods we neglected NATURALLY low fat and fat free fare – you know- vegetables, fruit, lean meats… So, basically what we did was trade REAL FOOD for packaged, processed, sugar heavy, unsatisfying junk all because we were being told it was good for us AND we could eat as we wanted and not get fat. BONUS!!! Well, that ended up not working out real great in the end, right? We moved AWAY from real food to stuff that tasted good and that was quick and convenient (because grabbing a bag of frozen veggies and a can of tuna was WAY too much work…).
Fast forward to the mid-late 2000’s – we start figuring out that fat isn’t what’s hurting us, but it’s all the refined carbs and sugars. Enter Paleo champion’s Loren Cordain and the infamous Robb Wolf and we’ve got a new movement. We start eating REAL food again – like lean (or grassfed) meats, vegetables, fruit and natural fats and HOLY BUCKETS!!! – we start getting healthier again. CRAZINESS!!! BUT as Paleo’s popularity has exploded so has the ‘Paleofication’ (I’m so gonna patent that word) of foods that in a Stone Age world would not have been anywhere near the cave refrigerator or pantry. We’ve got paleo treats (cookies, candy, cakes…), paleo granola, paleo bars, paleo bread, paleo protein powder, paleo ketchup and BBQ sauce, recipes for paleo desserts/pancakes/ice cream, etc. Seriously, pretty much every mainstream food can be and has been ‘paleofied’ (patenting that one too…) and is available for sale at a grocery store or on a website near you.
Okay, here comes the rant. If you think for one minute that the fate of Paleo is any different than that of the fat free/low fat craze, I’m afraid that you’re gonna be very disappointed in a few years. We are doing EXACTLY what they did. We are engineering and making foods that fit our little rule list and buying/eating them like there’s no tomorrow. Well, newsflash folks – your body doesn’t know the damn difference between a teaspoon of freaking table sugar and organic, natural coconut sugar. After that sh!t crosses your lips – it’s all the same. The same goes for honey, maple syrup, coconut nectar and dates or other fruits used to make things taste sweet. The story is similar for smoothies and juices – just because you make them at home with your $1000+ juicer or blender, it doesn’t necessarily make it any better than a glass of Minute Maid. Yeah, giving something a ‘paleo friendly’ halo – doesn’t mean that when you eat/drink it your body takes it in and goes, “oh, this is paleo (or organic, homemade, etc.) so I’m going to use this to burn fat and/or convert it directly into muscle.” IT DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY!!! And I am SICK AND TIRED of folks telling me that they can’t eat a freaking potato, carrot or piece of fruit because there’s too much sugar – BUT at the same time are eating ‘paleo pancakes’ with 100% maple syrup for breakfast, a sandwich on ‘paleo bread’ for lunch, ‘paleo crackers’ and a cup of tea with honey for a snack, and ‘paleo cookies’ for dessert after dinner. Seriously?!?!? You’re gonna tell me a carrot is bad?!?!?
And, (no, I’m not done), there is a point at which CALORIES DO COUNT. NO you cannot have 2 cups of Bulletproof coffee (with 2-3 T each of grassfed butter and MCT oil), a pound of bacon, 3 cups of nuts and a 24 ounce ribeye as part of your daily diet (unless you are training like an animal or are a genetic freak) and expect to get lean. Yes, it’s all paleo – but there is a BREAKING POINT!!
As individuals and as a community we need to STOP THE INSANITY! We need to come back to basics – you know, REAL FOOD. Everyone goes on and on about how the cavemen weren’t cooking grains and beans and they likely weren’t – but they also weren’t making flour out of almonds (or coconuts), extracting sugar from coconuts, tapping trees for maple syrup or drying fruit so they could use it to bake or make ‘cave ketchup’. BASICS – lean or grassfed meats, lots of non-starchy veggies, moderate amounts of healthy fats and some fresh fruit and starchy roots and tubers. It’s not complicated and you don’t need another damn recipe for paleo muffins or cookies – these are not everyday foods!
Okay, rant over. Now, I’m not saying that you need to give up everything that tastes good forever – HELL NO!! I hold firmly to the belief that there is no ‘bad’ food – but excess of ANYTHING is not good either and if you want pizza or a cookie or a treat then by all means ENJOY IT and since it’s a treat and you don’t do it all the time, if it’s not 100% paleo friendly (and it doesn’t make you sick) that’s totally okay. Eat what satisfies your craving in a reasonable amount and again ENJOY EVERY DAMN BITE! But if you’re eating ‘paleofied’ foods regularly and not seeing the results you want or not feeling well – it’s not because paleo isn’t working. Go back and review what paleo really is and then tell me where the problem lies.
Here’s a few 2-second takeaways:
- Just because the label or a recipe says “Paleo” or a website tells you a certain food is paleo – it doesn’t mean it’s healthy to eat all the time or in large amounts.
- If you’re not seeing the results you’re looking for – go back to the basics. EAT REAL, WHOLE FOODS.
- Even if a food is paleo friendly it doesn’t give you a license to eat like an @sshole. (case in point: cups of nuts, massive steaks, pounds of bacon, etc.)
- Paleo is not a religion and there is room for treats and non-paleo fare – just not in excess.
- ENJOY EVERY SINGLE BITE of everything you eat and eat mindfully.
Don’t be a victim of ‘Paleofication’. Listen to your body. Do what works for YOU and keeps YOU healthy and happy. If you do that, it doesn’t matter what the label says.
Livi @ Eat, Pray, Work It Out says
This is a great post! I get so fed up about the label being used for everything now a days. Just eat real food people!
I know this was posted a while ago but what a relief !! I have been encouraged to go mainly paleo by my Dr because of autoimmune and gut issues and a big part of me was v resitant cos I HATE zeolots about food and thought all paleo “people” had no sense of humour (sorry) and thought all the paleo crappy foods I was seeing were ridiculous. This website and Amy’s article given me hope and a good laugh !
Absolutely, Karen! I will do everything in my power NOT to tell people that I prefer eating a paleolithic diet. I’ve further learned to pay no attention to how people choose to bastardize what I believe to be (and Amy alludes to above) the true ways of paleo-nutrition.
But I’m commenting because you bring up an important reason to try Paleo-nutrition – not just leaning out, but actually medically to relieve auto-immune and digestive issues. As background, I follow the paleo-rules outlined in Loren Cordain’s book and don’t eat like an a$$hole (per Amy) by portion controlling 5 days a week. On weekends I still stay Paleo, but I don’t portion control. This has not only helped me lean out, but more importantly, when I am consistent – I have proven time and time again to suffer from less malaise, depression and anxiety. My energy levels are usually higher and overall, I feel like I can conquer the world.
In all, I’m just better off when I stick with what works. I’ve tested it time and time again – the results are always the same. I’m personally better on Paleo.
I wish you the best of luck on your journey and hope your health improves!
Actually you should trademark, not patent those words. Trademarks can last long after you’re gone. Patents expire.
Amy Kubal says
Great tip!! Thank you! 🙂
With the word Paleofication unless you are using it to represent a company or product, which is what we call a “Trademark”… there’s no way you would patent the word paleofication unless its an actual invention LOL sorry just hope you understand the difference
Great article. :”Even if a food is paleo friendly it doesn’t give you a license to eat like an @sshole. (case in point: cups of nuts, massive steaks, pounds of bacon, etc.)” made me laugh and cringe a bit. I fell into the “great, I can eat muffins and cakes and cookies again” and then realized I wasn’t getting any healthier or losing any weight. Back to real food!
Thank you! I get such a laugh from Paleo ice cream, Paleo brownies, etc. These “cheats” drive me nuts. I prefer to have treats made with maple syrup/honey, almond flour/coconut flour, and dairy free because it makes my body and stomach feel better. But I would never in a million years call them “Paleo”. It’s terrible that so many cookbooks and blogs are out there pushing these things as viable everyday options. Let’s start calling them why they are!
I just call it “frankenfood”
Nicole Renner says
I’ve done a couple of the “Paleofied” (also love this word)treats, and I have seen where they are hindering, not helping. I spent a couple of days back with REAL FOOD, and saw another round of real weight loss. Thank you so much for this reminder!!!!
Guanaja Jim says
Awesome post – love it!
Great article..thank you so much for posting! I have never liked the “cheats” idea. Eat real food,
and if you can/want to enjoy anything else occasionally …just simply do that.
Oh and don’t make it ok to be obese/overweight/unhealthy just because you eat “paleo.
I really enjoy following these real food RDs too:
Thank you!! I follow a paleo lifestyle but that to me means eating clean healthy food that consists mostly of lean meats and veggies. I hate that when I search for new paleo recipes I come up with dishes like “paleo carbonara” and “paleo fudge.” I have a sweet tooth just as much as the next girl, but sugar is sugar. If I’m craving it, I’ll have it but also limit myself. The idea is not to trick my body, but to give it healthy food to fuel me.
Alex Tesla says
Me too I am sick of this trend. Just check any blog about paleo recipes, 9 out of 10 are desserts.
I have a very simple test to check whether or not a recipe is true paleo: offer it to a bushman or masai: if they decline the offer, it is just SAD with alternative ingredients.
Love this article, Amy!
I’ve being trying to stay away from lots of paleo podcasts and websites lately (except Robb’s, of course 🙂 ), because I got tired of all the recipes for treats and pancakes etc. – and the simultaneous whining and navel-gazing about health issues. Pretty much staying away from the “paleo circle-jerk” (I might trademark this one, haha), that seems to promote each other’s treat-cookbooks and products.
Anyway, great article and get-real-attitude! Thank you!
Kim Kline says
Probably your best post ever!
Keith Dorset says
I only have 1 paleo cookbook. I found it used. It has a bunch of paleo cheat recipes. You know what? I’m too lazy to go through the gyrations required to end up with something that mimics crap food. On the whole I cook what I like and like what I cook. Most of it is made from basic fruits, veg. meats and fat. It’s better, tastier and cheaper to just eat simply most of the time and every so often on special occasions have a piece of pizza or cheesecake with friends.
my husband likes a homemade egg McMuffin.
Whole wheat muffin: 118 calories/11 gms carb.
“Paleo” English muffin: >300 calories/35 gms of carbs
Comparing a tablespoon of tomato paste with spices to a cookie or a stack of pancakes is a little silly.
Dave Watson says
Thank you Amy. And you might want to add that creating a KETTLEBELL SHAPED chocolate cake our of Coconut flour and coconut sugar does not make it safe for folks at the CF Box with metabolic syndrome or diabetes!
Great article. Yay.
I don’t mind a certain amount of Paleofying, especially for an occasional treat or a special occasion. I’m not into obsessing over bacon, or stuffing myself, lol.
There’s a balance in these things, and you’re right – it seems skewed these days.
I’m tired of all the dessert and treat recipes posted regularly online. The way I see it, there are enough Paleo-style and grain-free style cookbooks out there that contain tons of dessert recipes. Why must so many blogposts, twitter posts, or instagram posts be about dessert/sweets or making Paleo breadstuffs?
If I ate all the desserts/sweets and huge amounts of foods that are discussed and obsessed over, I’d be in big trouble healthwise and weightwise. And let’s face it, we all know that sugar in any form can be addictive. Why go down that path so regularly? To sell books? To be popular? Hmm.
I read a lot of blogs, and I don’t care for daily recipes and discussions about Paleo cake and cookies. I’m not eating Paleo in order to replicate a caveman’s grub, but I’m not Paleofying my food to conform to the mainstream world’s diet either.
I once commented about this very issue on Facebook, and I was slammed by people who want to Paleo-fy everything – especially desserts, in order to conform to the mainstream and not be called a freak, or have their kids “miss out.” (See, we’re not freaks! We eat cake too! It’s just Paleo cake! Our kids can bring cookies to school! They’re just grain-free, but they’re cookies – just like yours!)
I’m not legalistic about the Paleo diet, but I try to maintain a balance between eating the basics and expanding out to the treats sparingly – usually for a birthday or something.
Once things get skewed in favor of “convenience foods,” and sweet treats, my diet begins to degenerate, much like the blog posts we’re seeing today.
Great post – what do you think about people who say they are eating paleo and eat cheese and butter?
I say, whatever. Call it Primal, call it “Kerrygold” is one tasty butter and I am going to put some on my cauliflower” because I am eating real food, which includes cheese and butter and so what if it doesn’t hew to the supposed strict Paleo line. I am magnificently healthy since I quit the SAD diet and butter and cheese don’t bother me. So I guess 30 lashes with a wet shiroki noodle for me:) GREAT POST.
Paleo won’t die off like another fad if we keep reminding ourselves of these things.
Well said Sometimes I believe that there should be some sort of control The word Paleo is being used as a selling ploy. I have been a type 2 diabetic for the last 15 years using injected as well as oral meds to nothing after following Paleo(with dairy) Thank you to all who are spreading the word its been life altering for me http://paleoliving.co.za/
Ronald Pottol says
You forgot paleowashing. 😉
Jeff Riegelnegg says
Guess I’m in the minority here, but I’m quite discouraged by this article. While not 100% paleo, we have made drastic, positive dietary changes in my house in the last year and are currently reaping the rewards in how we look and feel. We don’t buy paleo junk food. We do sometimes have pancakes. I do make a smoothie in the morning with real, organic fruit and veggies. However, after reading this I’m looking at my diet and not feeling so good about it. Apparently, because I’m not having a hunk of salmon with asparagus for breakfast I’m doing it wrong. I stopped eating chips and crackers and replaced them with nuts and dried fruit, but that is missing the mark, too. I know that isn’t what was intended, but that was my takeaway. Oh, Friday is donut day here at work. I haven’t eaten one in years, but I think I’ll go have one now…
Amy Kubal says
Don’t be discouraged! You’re doing great things! And pancakes and smoothies are fine sometimes. The problem lies when “paleo” starts being all “paleo” packaged foods and paleo treats. So many people forget vegetables and REAL FOOD all together and then wonder why they still feel shitty and/or aren’t losing weight. Keep real food the focus and ENJOY pancakes and donuts on occasion. You’re doing fine as long as you feel good and you’re healthy.
Jeff Riegelnegg says
I hadn’t noticed until now that my comment actually was posted. I had figured that my snarkiness didn’t get past the moderators. I appreciate the reply and the encouragement. We are still eating “real food” at home and enjoying the benefits. And I didn’t eat that donut!
I don’t agree that smoothies are unhealthy. Juices are indeed unhealthy (because they lack the fiber that helps fructose not run havoc in the body), but not smoothies (which retain all fiber).
Yes, smoothies have more carbs than some Paleo meals (usually up to 30 net carbs, in the versions I make them as), but if you eat 80-100 net carbs per day overall (as I do — I will never go Paleo-keto again, I did that mistake once and I lost my hair), this fits perfectly into that diet regiment. Smoothies are important in my diet for other reasons too: I get to add some powders that are not palatable otherwise (e.g. exotic berries that i can’t find in my grocery store, added fiber via psyllium husk, home-made goat kefir, goat whey, ginger & turmeric for extra health, ceylon cinnamon for extra blood glucose control), but most importantly, I pack it with GREENS and often, other veggies too (e.g. raw carrots, beets). If some fat is required for breakfast for satient/leptin/cortisol reasons, one can add a tablespoon of nut or seed butter in it too! AND have an egg on the side too (why only have a smoothie?)
So really, I fail to see how such smoothies, in such dieting situations, are unhealthy. I think you ought to best describe to the readers how to do smoothies that work for their health, rather than shooting down ALL smoothies (e.g. the ones that only have exotic fruits in them, packed with sugar, or the ones that are nothing but fiber-less juices).
Having said all that, I fully agree with the article about the Paleoification of baked goods. These are not Paleo, even if they might be using coconut/almond flour and honey. When these nuts are flour-ed they become acellular (which is not so good to consume them), when they’re baked they oxidize, and also, honey loses its medicinal properties too when heated. So, for desserts, I would suggest people make RAW desserts (with the exception of adding some warm-ish grass-fed gelatin if the recipe warrants it), and even then, only ONCE a week, as a treat.
With smoothies, it really depends on on the person, what their condition and goals are, what the smoothie is made of, etc. If someone has issues with satiety, sometimes chewing food can be important. It’s easier to tell people starting out or trying to lose weight to just ditch smoothies and liquid food and stick to real whole foods instead of going through all the details and intricacies. Now if someone doesn’t have any issues with smoothies, is fine with maintaining their weight, or even trying to gain weight, then smoothies could probably be good.
Great post Amy and so true! Unfortunately, I fell into this category. After reading Robb’s book, probably 5 years ago, I lost 23 lbs and kept it off. But, then last year I started gaining it all back with these “paleo modified foods!” I too became discouraged with a lot of the blogs, the desserts and for other reasons, that I have unsubscribed from them. But, not Robb’s. 🙂 So I thank you for this article/rant and hopefully it’ll help some other folks as well.
Really needed to hear this. I was getting a little carried away with nuts and bulletproof coffee.
I am actually confused by this article. I eat Paleo but never once have I included sugars into the mix as Paleo. I only eat whole foods, because that is the point of Paleo. Anyone that is eating things labeled as Paleo either doesn’t understand Paleo or isn’t reading the label. Paleo is ONLY whole foods. Simple, basic, real. Period.
Amy Kubal says
Agreed. You aren’t confused at all – but there are a lot of others that are!! 🙂
People became confused when the Paleo diet became commercialized. The entire concept became bastardized into crap with bizarre ingredients that only mimic healthfrul food. Further, people who dislike vegetables and love junk food began putting supposedly “healthy” dessert recipes online and labeling them as Paleo. Other people who dislike veggies and love sweets and junk food jumped right on this. They continued to get fatter and unhealthier and subsequently labeled Paleo as bogus. It just goes to show how really addicted we, as a society, are to desserts and grain products.
The truth is that Paleo junk food is still junk food. It’s no more healthful to stuff one’s self with almond flour, coconut flour, and alternative sweeteners–deluded into thinking they are good for you–than it is to overeat conventional sweets.
As others have stated, eat fresh whole foods and skip most of the processed, man-made stuff most of the time. If you just can’t live without a gooey, sugary dessert once in a while, then have it, just don’t do it every day. And don’t kid yourself into believing a gooey Paleo dessert is any better.
Refreshing! I’ve only begun my Paleo journey recently(just turned 50), but have cooked healthy meals for my family for over 20 years. Cooking is sadly becoming a lost art and we need to get back into chopping up veggies and buying cuts from the butcher. It’s not that difficult, expensive, or time-consuming, but it does require some planning, and is totally worth it!
Your recipes are amazing and your mindset is great. Keep it up and thank you!
Man did I need this today! Thanks!!
Is it Paleofying to call modern fruits and veges, that NEVER existed in prehistoric times, paleo? Or these same foods, all year round, regardless of seasons?
Pot calling kettle on this one, I think. it’s only a matter of degree.
I’m laughing my head off at this very thing. The caveman had neither PaleoBars, nor potato chips, nor huge ripe strawberries (organic or otherwise). He didn’t have the salmon, the beef, the chicken we have now, because unlike human evolution (apparently) the evolution of these animals did not end 10k years ago. The pot is calling the kettle not only black but fat!
Well said Amy! Agreed, we need to STOP THE INSANITY!! Keep up the Real Food message 🙂
There was a time I liked a lot of Paleo pages on Facebook, I disliked almost all of them again. Reason: the endless loads of recipes of cookies, muffins, cakes, candies, etc. packed full with honey, sweeteners and what more. I mean are you serious? You ditch the refined sugar and feel like you can stuff your face full with other sweet stuff instead? How raw is honey when it is baked in the oven? You can’t tell me it still have those healthy enzymes, etc. left!? *triple face-palm* I guess for most it is just a modern day hype, without even knowing what they are doing.
I’ve loved making these sorts of comparisons for quite some time now. People always ask me what the best balance is and I tell them to stop focusing on certain areas and focus on diversification. I believe that there most certainly is a breaking point when it comes to building a healthy diet that is also delicious.
Thanks Robb, you’ve always been a calibrating factor in what I write over at http://thepaleodiet.co.za.
Keep up the great work! Looking forward to the next episode of your podcast.
David Furnival says
Thanks for a fantastic post and I have also enjoyed/ been educated by the diverse comments.
I live in a country (Oman) where Paleo is not on the radar so I have never seen a food label with Paleo on it so that’s great. On the downside, I have no clue about the quality of the meat and fish I’m eating, but one step at a time. When I get back to UK I’ll find myself some quality sources and move to the next level.
Even before paleo eating (2 weeks now – newbie) I would never eat any pre prepared/packaged meals because I didn’t trust them and always preferred to cook from scratch. So it seems the food industry is catching up and trying to sell us more junk in disguise. I’m gonna stick to my old rule, just don’t buy packet stuff.
I started on a modified paleo (i eat some dairy) diet about 9 months ago due to diabetes and needing to cut grains and sugars out of my diet. I was recently looking up a sugar free bbq sauce recipe on google and found about 12 or more “paleo” recipes all including molasses, honey or maple syrup, yes indeed they are paleo, but they aren’t anything I can eat. They do not include “sugar”, true, but how can they be eaten truly on a paleo plan? I do not follow any of the paleo recipes online I eat plain normal meats/veggies/fats and low carb fruits that I can buy at the perimeter of the grocery store or at a farmers market. Maybe I’m missing something on paleo??? help me.
That’s what I eat like most of the time too. My meals are typically fairly basic (to me anyway). I usually eat some type of meat seasoned with herbs and salt and some types of non-starchy and starchy veggies. Every once in a while we’ll make something a bit fancier or a recipe we like, but most of the time it’s more simple stuff I just throw together.
That’s for sure, same thing with the whole “Trans Fat” labels. I’ve lost over 100lbs on paleo and low carb. I’ve been doing it for over 2 years. It was rough to get started, but I used a 21 day sugar detox program which helped a lot. Check out the reviews of it http://www.lowcarbreviewsite.com/21-day-sugar-detox/
YES!!!!!! Save the Paliofied cupcakes for your birthday, not every day! Thank you for the gentle reminder 😉
Outstanding article Amy! Straight to the point and right on target. Its so true how we look for the easy way when we need to actually be putting in a little effort and fix our foods with the basic ingredients.
Just into my second week of Paleo Solutions recipies and am grateful for this awareness as I have been craving sweets and carbs eg.pastas. Also bought another paleo book with deserts and purchased coconut flour and chestnut flour thinking they would be healthy treats to bake but realized that this was detrimental to the basic principles Rob has mentioned. Great article and will take head!
These kinds of recipes are great if you do a once-weekly calorie refeed like Tim Ferriss prescribes in his Four-Hour Body thing, which I don’t want to do because of the legumes, but some of his approach makes sense to me for someone in the process of losing fat. The recipes are also good for special occasions. But you’re right… not every day!
I have the same issue with WAPF-aligned blogs who think Dr. Price’s work was all about making grains and legumes safe to eat. Grains and legumes aren’t safe, period–you can just make them less unsafe, but they’ll still be a problem for diabetics, even rice. Price’s point was lost in all the brouhaha about birdseed: healthy populations he studied used either grass-fed dairy or animal organs and eggs or seafood, or a combination of all three. Guess what I see more of on WAPF blogs than anything. Not recipes for animal entrees, that’s for sure.
I’m doing a Whole30 and tried using Pinterest to find Whole30 recipes. I realize how many people just don’t get it. Most of the recipes are for pancakes, cookies, cakes and various other treats, which aren’t okay for the Whole30. I feel like I understand it as it was intended and feel grateful for that.
Yeah…what Amy said.
Thanks great article! I am glad I read it before buying a load of cookbooks! I live in Ireland and have recently noticed some paleo bars.
Great post. I am a beginner and just starting to understand the Paleo way of life, so this was very helpful to keep me from getting sidelined from the original idea of the plan.
Naturally many people are going to have a hard time shaking off their old SAD habits, that’s their issue to sort out. As you said, the more people hop on the bandwagon – the less health-conscious the general paleo crowd becomes.
P.S. – That “moderation” meme pic is a tad off putting…I highly doubt a male body builder would get that kind of objectifying body policing, but I digress…
David Sosna says
The fact that there is a “label” on your food at all is cause for a discriminating eye.
David Sosna says
I love this article and it certainly reflects my thoughts as well. I will say, however, that saying sugar is sugar is an oversimplification.
Elizabeth Martin says
Awesome informative article, starting to understand what Paleo actually is slowly. Thank you Amy!
Our family just started the Paleo diet about a month ago. I was so happy because I could still have pancakes, waffles, muffins, brownies, cookies, etc. My biggest problem was an addiction to sugar . . . this article is turning my world upside down and it’s really discouraging. My body treats maple syrup and honey the same way it treats refined white sugar??? Everything I’ve been doing is wrong . . . 🙁
Robb Wolf says
Well, how do you FEEL? Better? Same? Worse? The point here is if you are expecting results and not getting them, perhaps the paloeified versions of these foods are a problem.
The problem could be that you have the wrong idea of what a Paleo diet consists of. It isn’t what people actually ate during the Paleolithic period, and it isn’t a re-do of conventional foods using different ingredients. In reality, Paleo just means eating closer to nature; i.e. fresh whole fruits, vegetables, and animal protein. It means adhering to a fairly simple diet that does NOT include a lot of man-made desserts, whether Paleo or otherwise.
Adam Trainor says
A voice of reason. Thank you. I think the longer we try to shave the corners off this square peg and cram it thru the round hole, the sooner we will find the backlash for what is an otherwise rational philosophy. It’s the first thing opponents attack when they hear the paleo out of my mouth.
I agree with most of what is being said here, but I question whether you’re really meeting people who worry about the sugar content of carrots and not honey and coconut sugar. Those are two entirely different groups of people, just excessive in their own ways.
Mick Reade says
I agree with a lot of what you said, it seems to have started with labelling everything “gluten free” as some sort of marketing drive.
I’ve seen meats, fruits and vegetables labelled gluten free, which makes me laugh.
Adam Trainor says
I can understand why you had to have a rant over people saying this and that. But I agree with what you are saying, how can a carrot be bad for you when health experts encourage people to eat more fruit and vegetables. Even if the label says paleo calories are still taken into consideration. Paleo can help with health problems but why should you eat and eat steaks and bacon and not expect to put on some pounds.
Re Bacon and why it is not Paleo – Cordain says this about bacon: “Bacon is by no means a natural meat, but rather is selectively manufactured from the fat tissue butchered directly above a pig’s abdominal cavity. These slabs of tissue contain huge amounts of fat, little muscle (see table above) and are known in the industry as “pork bellies.”
After a pig’s slaughter, pork bellies (slabs) are typically injected with 1) salt, 2) nitrite or nitrate, 3) sodium erythorbate or sodium ascorbate and 4) phosphates.11 So, where once outside of a pig’s abdominal tissue you previously had natural fat and a miniscule amount of muscle, you now have a totally adulterated product containing salt, nitrites or nitrates, sodium erythrobate or ascorbate and phosphates – to say nothing about the selective butchering process which leaves the predominant muscle carcass behind. After pork bellies/slabs are injected, they are usually mechanically massaged, cooked/smoked and chilled and then sliced into the bacon strips we all recognize. You don’t have to be a food scientist to know that all of these manufacturing procedures yield a product far different from the animal’s natural meat and fat content.”
I’m new to Paleo and a friend lent me Robb’s book “The Paleo Solution”. I made myself (sorry Robb) read (glad I did!) what a meal looks like going through your body. Just finished what your body does when you fast (surprised and cleared up notions) or are obese. I am currently obese and it made my mouth drop open! I’m scared into action! I hesitated putting a piece of cantaloupe in my mouth for breakfast because of what my body looks like right now inside! I’m afraid to put anything in my mouth right now! Just want to say WHATEVER you put in your mouth visualize what is happening with each component in the food and you’ll know what’s good for you or not. Robb’s book should be a mandatory text book in our education system! Anyway, labeled Paleo, Low fat, Lite, WHATEVER! Read and visualize it in your body before you put it in your mouth!
Robb Wolf says
This is all good up to a point, but it needs to facilitate CHANGE. Then, this just needs to become “food.” That behavior change piece is challenging, different things will motivate different folks….but at the end of the day we just want to make good eating, movement and quality sleep a habit, NOT something we need to think about.
Robb, do you have any idea what it’s like to be obese and have huge eating problems? Your statement is a little too simplistic for someone like me! That “end of the day..NOT something we need to think about” is so far from where I’m at right now. A lifetime of eating for pleasure, pain, loneliness and parental neglect is a huge psychological issue. For the first time in my life your description of the food breakdown is a game-changer for me. I was just finishing my last Diet Pepsi (so I told myself – I can NEVER throw out anything) I read the label for the first time and looked up Phosphoric Acid. I looked at the rest of the pop and asked myself “Do I really want to finish THAT!?” I dumped it. Right now, I can’t even do 5 minutes of an exercise video warm-up. Maybe some day this will become a habit, but I do not have illusions of this happening overnight!
Terrie if I may interject. This is all a mindset. Like you said, what these foods have done and CAN do to your body it insane. But you also cant just tell yourself “Well I’ve been like this and eaten like this for so many years, i CANT change over night!”
You can do whatever you want Terrie, whatever you put your mind to. First of all, if I may say? Take the word “cant” out of your vocabulary. It is one of the most toxic words in the English language. Think if that word as the Pepsi and the Phosphoric Acid you were consuming.
You WILL do this you CAN do this. Kuddos to you for taking the first steps! It takes a strong person to recognize their mistakes and fix them 🙂
This is a great article, people tend to forget that even though those foods are on the “healthier” side of things, they are not what should drive your diet. Yes a blueberry Paleo muffin IS better that a deep fried (ew) bacon infused heavy on the icing doughnut. BUT it doesn’t mean that indulging regularly on this is a good choice. its still and INDULGENCE whether you’re using Almond flour or not. Its still a sweet. Same goes for ODing on anything. its just never a good idea. This is a great article. Thank you!
Star Nixon says
Belinda Belmonte says
I must agree. To be honest I am really scared when I see all these Paleofied foods. I have been Paleo now for almost a year and have lost 55 pounds without doing much exercise as I am still quite overweight. I only do yoga twice a week and some walking. I eat only real food with the occasional cheat which is mostly a little more fruit than I normally eat. The weight loss progress has been slow but constant but the other benefits were almost instant. I feel better than I have in years. I do use butter and have some double cream yogurt once in a while. Paleo is the best thing that has ever happened to me and I wish I found it sooner. I no longer have type 2 diabetes or high bloodpressure and all in all I feel like a million bucks. Thank you for just confirming what I have known all a long and that is that I am on the right track. Warm greetings from South Africa, Bel
Robb Wolf says
Keep it up Bel!!!
Amen Sister!!! Paleo is not only getting full of packaged junk foods, but now ‘Paleo’ only means what foods work for you—so if white potatoes, rice, beans and dairy ‘works’ for you, it’s ‘Paleo’! It drives me batty on the FB groups I belong to. If you CAN eat that stuff, fine—but QUIT CALLING IT PALEO!!! I love the simplicity of Real, Fresh Foods Paleo and I don’t trust a package of food whether it says Paleo or Gluten free on it—still made from ingredients that are no longer fresh and has been processed into a package.
Belinda Belmonte says
Nothing beats the taste of fresh for sure!!
I’m so glad I read this article. I am very new to the Paleo way of life (one week in today!). I’ve been looking for recipes online and have seen tons of things on “Paleo” breads, desserts, condiments, etc. I nearly fell into this trap, but something told me they were too good to be true! I’m happy to stick with the basics as this is easiest for me anyway. I hope others find your article before falling victim to immitators.
Thank you so much for this post. I am new to Paleo and made a comment on a post on facebook that I could not believe the obsession with desserts on an eating plan that is supposed to give up sugar and grain. Amazing. Thanks for clearing it all up.
John colavito says
Eating paleo can be just like any other diet, people are always trying to find more things to eat or ways to change the rules. I was guilty of this myself and I really started seeing results and I decided to just stick with the basics. Honestly it can be a little boring at times but what I had to do is quit looking at food as a recreation and start eating only because I was hungry and my body needed it. Once I started sticky with the basics and not looking for foods that I could call paleo, I lost 83 pounds fairly quick. If you have time check out my experience at http://www.paleodietbasics.org
I am brand new to Paleo – just started last week. Before the transition though, I did my “homework”. I read articles, blogs, you name it. Then I checked out 5 “PALEO” cookbooks from my library. Wow. Talk about mixed messages. Recipes for brownies? Crackers? Really? I completely agree with Amy’s “rant”. Making desserts and crackers and other indulgences seem to defeat the purpose and hide the true “Identity” of Paleo. Making up ways to get around the fact we cant have grains beans or processed foods with crap like modified corn starch and high fructose corn syrup doesn’t fit the ID of Paleo that I’ve researched. You either get it or you don’t. Amy does. Paleo is quite simple in terms of what you can or cannot eat/drink. The smart way to approach this, is take what you can and create as many different combinations and meals as possible. Once you totally get it out of your mind that muffins, cakes, cookes and easy mac are food, then you can simplify the choices you have.
Christine Lehmann says
Go Amy! I agree completely. I see the same mindset around “gluten-free” food. Just because it says gluten-free, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. In fact, there are lots of gluten-free snacks and desserts out there I don’t want my clients eating. I find that it’s a replacement mentality–I will just replace the pizza I was eating before with this Paleo pizza or chips or crackers with these Paleo versions. So, yes we do need to be mindful of what is truly Paleo meaning sourced from nature while still limiting the natural sugars and refined carbs even if they’re made out of almond or coconut flour.
I agree on the whole with your rant, but you missed a fact (as rants often do): Native Americans WERE tapping trees and producing maple syrup long before 1492.
Yeah, you’ve got to be careful of clever marketing. The Paleo term has pretty much been taken over by marketers.
Richard Nikoley says
How did I miss this post?
“”If you think for one minute that the fate of Paleo is any different than that of the fat free/low fat craze, I’m afraid that you’re gonna be very disappointed in a few years. We are doing EXACTLY what they did. We are engineering and making foods that fit our little rule list and buying/eating them like there’s no tomorrow. ” … “And I am SICK AND TIRED of folks telling me that they can’t eat a freaking potato, carrot or piece of fruit because there’s too much sugar – BUT at the same time are eating ‘paleo pancakes’ with 100% maple syrup for breakfast, a sandwich on ‘paleo bread’ for lunch, ‘paleo crackers’ and a cup of tea with honey for a snack, and ‘paleo cookies’ for dessert after dinner. Seriously?!?!? You’re gonna tell me a carrot is bad?!?!?” … “And, (no, I’m not done), there is a point at which CALORIES DO COUNT. NO you cannot have 2 cups of Bulletproof coffee (with 2-3 T each of grassfed butter and MCT oil), a pound of bacon, 3 cups of nuts and a 24 ounce ribeye as part of your daily diet (unless you are training like an animal or are a genetic freak) and expect to get lean. Yes, it’s all paleo – but there is a BREAKING POINT!! As individuals and as a community we need to STOP THE INSANITY! We need to come back to basics – you know, REAL FOOD.””
GOLD. Spot on. I promoted just this thing for years, and then got taken to task by my commenters, for some years, now.
Now I promote an actual whole foods approach that’s far more paleo than “Paleo.” And it’s working.
Commenter just dropped that quote at my place.
Great post, Amy.
Hilda Labrada Gore says
Such a good point! I roll my eyes at all of the “paleo” desserts out there. I’m all about REAL FOOD and glad you are encouraging people to get back to basics!
Nick Randall says
Great post, Amy
I love your article specially – Don’t be a victim of ‘Paleofication’. Listen to your body. Do what works for YOU and keeps YOU healthy and happy.