Friday, April 26, 2013

This Diet Could Only Have Come From the Stoned Age

It's safe to say that we're a weight-obsessed nation.  So much of our energy is devoted to dieting, cardio workouts, and various weight loss pills, and for some, it's a combination of all three.  In my case, none of the above, instead, I'm praying for a weight loss miracle, and God has answered my prayers.  So far, his answer has been "No." 

Still, in my endless quest to be (un)reasonably thin, I have encountered such gems as The Grapefruit Diet, The Rice Diet, and others spanning the United States from Scarsdale to South Beach.  They will all work in the short term, but since no one can live on just rice or grapefruit or ice cubes and sunflower seeds, the pounds inevitably come back and they bring friends, at least in my experience.

Today I read about a 'new' diet that I have to add to the list of stupid shit that we do in the name of skinniness.  It's called The Paleo Diet.  Yes, Paleo as in cavemen and the Stone Age.  According to registered dietitian Chrissy Carroll, the basic precept of this plan is "based on the theory that our core genetic makeup hasn’t changed since the paleolithic era, and in that era people didn’t experience as much chronic disease. And so comes the conclusion that the diet cavemen ate is best for preventing chronic disease…"

This is just wrong on SO many levels.  Our knowledge of cave dwellers, also known as Troglodytes, is based on theory and assumption.  In large part, the term refers to Neanderthal, an extinct (yep, dead and gone) species of man who lived 350,000 to 600,000 years ago.  Based on this, I have to rely on conjecture here.  Neanderthal lived in a world wherein he was required to hunt and kill his food.  There was no refrigeration so they probably had to cook and eat their catch pretty quickly, but that's okay since there was also no birth control so they probably had many mouths to feed.  I also assume that herds of mammoths or other paleolithic animals didn't come lumbering by on a set schedule, so there probably wasn't much surplus food.  (Kind of like having teenagers at home.)  Finally, there was a real risk of dinner killing you first, either by trampling you to death or by slowly poisoning you.  (Kind of like when I cook.)

Face it, cavemen would have eaten more if food had been more readily available and was less dangerous to obtain.  The life expectancy of Neanderthal and his ilk was about 20 years.  And while I truly believe that the fast food and junk that we eat is more dangerous than a herd of hemorrhoidal Mastodons, I'm also convinced that the cavemen would not have willingly followed the Troglo-diet if given a choice.  ("Ooga booga....this mammoth would be divine with some rice pilaf and a nice Merlot!")  And being that I have NO desire to hunt and kill my own food, nor do I ever have a craving for Paleolithic Buffalo Burgers, my core genetic makeup has indeed changed.  I'm assuming, again, that yours probably has, too.

I have to accept that in order to lose weight, I need to control portion size, get some exercise, and not criticize...myself or others.  I'm good with that.  We should enjoy all of the food groups and use food as fuel.  And when tempted by sweets and junk food, it's okay to cave in every once in awhile!