Monday, September 30, 2013

What IS "paleo"? (No loincloth required...)

What IS paleo, anyway?... It's probably not what you think.
When it comes to "eating paleo" my first month of trying it out blew my mind!

As it gains momentum, and more people begin looking into it, I expect that many folks will attempt to define it in varying ways. As someone who has been exploring it for almost 4 years (a "newbie" by some standards) I feel a need to add my voice to the online conversation.

As with anything that threatens the current norms, "Paleo" (aka the Ancestral Health Movement, aka Primal, Real Food, Clean Eating, etc...) is quickly dismissed by many as a fad: "You know, that silly caveman diet."...

 Except that it's growing, and doing so quite rapidly. Thousands of people are finding vitality, energy, and health that they previously thought impossible. Of course, we will expect some backlash. Some people are already calling it a cult. Obviously, none of these people have actually looked into it much:

Paleo is the OPPOSITE of a cult.

A cult is a group of people who unquestioningly follow a leader. The members of a cult look to the leader for their answers. A cult worships a specific deity... A specific "truth" of how the world is.

Paleo is a COMMUNITY.

We question everything. Not just "DIET and EXERCISE" but all aspects of how we live our lives. There are some mothersfarmers, biologists, doctors, writers, coaches, playful movers acupuncturists, diabetics, and nutritionists who are major contributors to this community... and the list keeps growing! There is even a network of paleo physicians. However, since there are no "leaders", Paleo is completely decentralized. We (including you, if you're actually reading this) are a large, and rapidly growing worldwide community. We come from different religions, ethnicities, political alignments, etc. We are a diverse group of people who are willing to ask a simple question:

"What if we are wrong about this?"

This question leads us to seek real answers from a multitude of sources. Yes, we ARE learning from our grandparents, but also from much further back in time. We are looking at more than just how we eat. We are learning not just from our ancestors, but also from the latest scientific breakthroughs. We are also learning from looking at the remaining societies of "primitive" cultures today. We are trying these various ideas out, and seeing if they work (or not). We are taking control of our own health, with seemingly miraculous results. And, I might add... having a GREAT time doing it! There are huge, international Facebook groups, and small, local ones. In a matter of seconds, you could find one in your town. Those of us in Asheville, NC have a great resource in Synchronicity Wellness.

Many folks in what is now often referred to as the "Ancestral Health Community" give credit to Weston A. Price as being the father of this movement. He was a dentist who travelled the world and noticed that so-called "primitive" cultures had far greater health than the "civilized" folks. Anyone with rural farming roots knows this.  Many of us have very old relatives who had glowing health despite eating "all the wrong foods". And NO, we don't hate vegetarians... many of us used to be vegetarians!

For many people, they find paleo through crossfit. (Which, by the way, is also NOT a cult, but a community of people who love what they do and constantly question the details of their beliefs and methods in regards to exercise.)

My introduction to this shifting, formless community was through vibram five fingers and the barefoot movement people. (also not a cult.)

My introduction to the nutrition aspect was from Robb Wolf's book "The Paleo Solution." Robb Wolf presented a very appealing challenge to me. It was roughly this:

"Don't believe anything I say... God love people who think! Prove me wrong... Try it for a month, and see what happens!"

So... There you have it.
Make caveman jokes if you want to, (we think they're funny too).
But, seriously... Don't knock it 'till you try it.

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