Since last week Peggy shared her story about healing PCOS (among other maladies) with a primal/paleo diet, I thought I’d pick up the diet investigation series we began last month and dissect this particular diet a bit.
I read The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson last summer and follow a number of “primal” bloggers. As a family we also went completely grain free and mostly primal for 3 months last fall. So I guess I can say I have a fair knowledge of what’s accepted in the diet and what’s not, but I’m going to be writing this based on what I remember and not research it to death. I just plain ‘ol don’t have time for that nonsense right now!
The basics of the primal diet are this:
- No grains in any way, shape, or form. No bread, no rice, no cereal, no muffins.
- No legumes: beans, lentils
- Very low in starchy root vegetables
- A small amount of nuts and fruit allowed
- Meat and veggies seem to make the base of this food pyramid
- More restricted versions have no dairy
The thought process behind this is that our ancestors that lived a million years ago (bear with me) were hunter/gatherer types and had plenty of energy, and slim/fit figures. They didn’t suffer the maladies of our modern lifestyle. They ate what they could find while walking around and hunted the meat they needed. These cavemen didn’t farm at all and they didn’t raise animals.
The Pros of the Primal Diet:
- It’s void of all modern and processed food, leaving us with fresher foods that provide much more nutrition.
- Sugar is consumed only in a natural form, mostly fruit, and limited at that
- Consumption of vegetables is high, making up the carbohydrates that one would eat.
- Organic and pesticide meats and produce are strongly recommended which lowers our toxic body burden.
- Only good fats like coconut oil and butter are allowed, keeping the diet free of any transfats and scary vegetable oils.
- Better health and lowered insulin resistance.
The Cons to the Primal Diet:
I have asked some of the ‘big-wig’ primal/paleo bloggers some questions regarding this diet, the problems I found while following the diet, and still have yet to get them answered. So the following are a few reasons that I personally have with following the diet 100%.
- Not everyone experiences weight loss! Most stories of healing with the primal diet also tell of significant weight loss. I was primal (still including some dairy) for 3 months last fall and more strictly paleo (no dairy) for a month this spring. I lost not one pound last fall and 2 pounds this spring. I think the people who lose weight, more often than not, are coming from a modern diet and not a whole foods diet.
- The earth is not a million years old and I was never an ape. So this one is personal and religious for me, but I don’t believe in evolution and I don’t believe the earth was created by accident. 🙂 I do believe we ate differently back in Genesis, but due to the fall of man, our dietary needs and habits changed. Then the flood changed things. And as we’ve begun civilizations in different areas of the world, our dietary needs have also had to change to compensate them.
- The biggest thing I have yet to have someone actually tackle and answer for me is this: living in Michigan HOW am I supposed to remain “primal” the entire year? I mean, summer is easy when produce is plentiful – but if we relied on the “hunter-gatherer” method for meat, only fish and small game like wild turkey is huntable then. In the fall, starchy root veggies are ripe and more easily preserved for winter than say….lettuce or cucumbers. And toward the beginning of winter large game also becomes available. Speaking of winter…….where I am supposed to find all of this produce I’m supposed to eat? The NT folks would recommend lacto-fermenting or drying everything – but if we’re looking at the primal diet, it doesn’t seem like they would be preserving much. Right? I could store nuts – but the primal diet is supposed to be low in nuts, not consisting entirely of it. I was thinking about this thought last March; we had just had our first thaw and it was still about 30 degrees. The growing season not to start for another 2 months. If I was only a hunter-gatherer the only things in our woods to eat would be: dead grass, tree bark, maybe some gross nuts from under 3 months of constant snow, and scrawny animals.
Everything is dormant and dead. And I’m hungry.
So I beg of you – if you are a primal blogger, please tell me how this is done without resorting to buying produce from California.
4. The other problem with this diet is the cost. Like most whole food diets, you’ll be spending more on organic and grassfed food products, but with the primal diet you won’t be using the more inexpensive fillers like beans, potatoes, rice, and breads. When we’ve gone completely primal, my grocery budget went from $300.00 to at least $400.00. And that was been I was being pretty stingy and buying less than desired meats so that we could stay away from grains. Going full force primal/organic/grassfed increased our budget to over $500.00 a month for our 2 adults and 2 small children.
We’re not finished with this whole diet investigation and my thoughts on each (have one you want my thoughts on?) so I won’t go into my final personal thoughts, but the primal diet is fabulous for some people. We went to this diet to help some of our families overcome some medical issues they were beginning to see – and it worked. But we’re not long time “paleo” people either.