Paleo and Primal…Meat heavy? No.

Recently I have heard many references to the paleo and primal diets as being meat heavy…I’d like to take an opportunity to shed some light here.  Eating high quantities of meat is not the main philosophy behind these lifestyles.  That would be the carnivore diet.

As Mark Sisson expresses in www.marksdailyapple.com, “The paleo diet and Primal Blueprint way of eating (a.k.a. Primal) are both based on similar evolutionary science. The story goes something like this. Our modern Western diet bears little resemblance to the eating habits of early humans throughout several 100,000 years of evolutionary history. Instead, since the Agricultural Revolution some mere 10,000 years ago, we’ve adopted a nutritional regime to which our physiology is poorly adapted. When the basics of our diet return to the patterns of our pre-agricultural ancestors, we work with, instead of against, our physiology. More simply: eat as our ancestors ate, and we’ll be healthier for it.”

The distinction between the Paleo diet/Primal diets and the Standard American Diet, is that the former eliminates refined sugars, grains, and vegetable oils.  These highly inflammatory foods are catapulting our society towards epic proportions of metabolic disease, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and more.  Both Paleo and Primal recommend limiting carb intake (especially grains and sugar) to only as many as you require for performance (100-150 grams is a general maintenance zone), eating moderate protein and healthy fats.  By volume, vegetables will be the largest component of paleo/primal meals, as depicted in the Primal Blueprint Pyramid (see diagram). Veggies are celebrated as the foundational base, and largest component of primal/paleo eating!
**1FoodPyramidPHC-1489596711825 copy

While both paleo and primal lifestyles include moderate (.7-1.0 gram per pound of lean body weight depending upon activity levels), not heavy, protein consumption, they emphasize the importance of this coming from high quality, sustainable, ethically conscious sources.  This includes variations for vegetarians also.  In terms of animal products, this includes grass fed/pastured animals and eggs, wild caught fish from clean cold waters, and sustainable healthy seafood. Views differ on dairy consumption, with high fat, raw, fermented forms, from pastured animals being optimal.   Personally, I prefer to opt out of the dairy spectrum.

Dietary choices are only one aspect of primal/paleo lifestyles, alongside movement, rest/recovery, stress response, mindfulness, living in harmony with community and nature, and more.  Each person will pursue their own variations of these philosophies.  My understanding is that the true intentions behind the primal lifestyle is to live a conscientious life, with awareness for our personal ability to determine our health, the quality of our lives, and the information we present to our genes.  This determines the way our genes will be expressed, resulting in optimal health when we make optimal choices.  Our food choices, plant or animal, can either hurt or benefit the environment; can either cause inflammation and disease or abundant health; can lead to anxiety/depression or happiness and well being; can lead to vibrant, productive lives in our community or to being reliant on support from others.    The choice is within each of us to determine the quality of life we want to live,  and the impact we will have on the world around us.

Here’s to choosing vitality!
Best to all,
Jennifer

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