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TSL Simon Sinek

(Simon Sinek image from here)

Recently, there has been quite the hullabaloo in the press – both here in Australia and in the UK – about the Paleo diet.

In fact, in its annual ‘Top Celebrity Diets To Avoid in the New Year’ list, the British Dietetic Association (BDA) ranked the Paleo Diet as the second worst regime (after ‘Urine Therapy’, which advocates drinking your own urine for apparently supposed health benefits). Incidentally, Sarah Wilson’s ‘I Quit Sugar’, came in at number three (which blows my mind).

Now I’m not a massive fan of labelling the way I choose to eat, but you will know that for the past year I have been following the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). This can loosely be described as ‘Paleo on Crack’! And, it is true that AIP is a restrictive diet.

BUT! The WHOLE point of both Paleo and AIP is that they are healthy and nutrient dense ways of eating

From where I sit, there are many (cynical) reasons organisations like the BDA and the Australian equivalent, the Dietitians’ Association of Australia are not fans of the new wave of lower-carbohydrate style eating. Despite increasing evidence that for many of us it is a more healthful approach to eating. Not least of these reasons is the question of where they get their funding.

What I do find fascinating – in a car crash kind of way – is the vitriol behind their extreme anti-Paleo stance. Is it a case of protesting too much…?

Car Crash

(Image from here)

Sure, you can interpret a Paleo-esque approach as an unhealthy meat-fest. And, there are probably people who do just that.

Alternatively, you can see it as a whole-foods approach which eliminates unhealthy processed foods, refined carbohydrates, sugars and trans-fats while encouraging a more sustainable nose-to-tail way of eating – along with an increased variety of local, seasonal and pesticide-free fruits and vegetables. In my experience, eating like this has increased my vegetable intake by at least 200%. Whichever way you cut it, that has to be a good thing.

And, whether or not you choose to have dairy in your diet depends very much on your body’s ability to tolerate it.

Is this not a good thing?

There is a difference between giving directions and giving direction. (Simon Sinek)

Me – I’m a believer in personal choice. Especially when it comes to what you elect to eat. If you feel better with properly prepared whole grains in your diet, good for you. I really hope that eventually I will be able to indulge in some, too.

And, if you choose to have jam donuts for breakfast every day. That’s your choice, too. I won’t ever think its the best idea in the world, but I’ll defend your right to choose!

I do get that my extreme AIP caper is not for everyone. But, rather than focus on the excesses of a ‘Paleo approach’, can we not acknowledge a more moderate view on the benefits of cutting the crap, increasing veggies AND the other lifestyle aspects of this school of thought – improving sleep, more movement, introducing a mindfulness practice.

Paleo may not be for everyone, but it is equally clear that the average current lifestyle is not healthy, either.

What is Paleo

(Image from Dr Kate)

Did you know that according to the Australian Government, 3 in 5 Australians are either obese or overweight. Scarier still is that 1 in 4 children are obese or overweight.

Professor Alan Lopez, a researcher working in the area of health and weight, says Australia’s numbers should be of concern – “We are at the levels of overweight and obesity as the US is, three decades ago obesity levels in Australia were a half to a third of what they are now.”  And, if you live in New Zealand, the numbers are even worse.

The big picture doesn’t just come from distance; it also comes from time. (Simon Sinek)

I have personally experienced significant health improvements following an AIP approach. I hope to transition to a more moderate ‘Paleo-type’ way of eating eventually.

Along the way, I have come to believe that an holistic approach to my lifestyle, nutrition and exercise choices that are more compatible with my evolutionary past are key to my health. At the same time, it must also be said that I don’t believe that it is possible or even practical for me to exactly mimic life in the Paleolithic in today’s world.

Rather than maligning a style of eating that promotes overall health and well-being, would organisations advising the public on nutrition not be better served in advocating a reduction in the amount processed carbohydrates, sugars and trans-fats available in the majority of packaged food we consume?

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