Paleo, paleo ….

When I first read about the paleo diet I was puzzled. In the extreme.

I’d never heard of it of course. Why would I in my sheltered vegetable patch?

I read these absolutely glowing evangelical reviews. This, apparently, was the only way to eat.

Fresh food, preferably not full of nasty chemicals, steroids and all the rest of it, lots of good old-fashioned meaty protein, and fish, and poultry etc etc. None of those fattening boring old carbs like rice, bread, pasta, potatoes.

Something was ringing a bell. Wait! I have it. Exactly the diet I was brought up on. I was paleo and Oh So Trendy before I even knew it.

Caveat: this is not a nutritional post at all. Just a minor observation on people’s desire to follow ‘diets’ instead of deciding for themselves what they want to eat.

I certainly don’t think my mother dished up our food every week, thinking ‘Gotta be Paleo, Paleo,’ every day.

But, from my paleo-ignorant perspective, it seems it was pretty paleo to me.

The main course was obviously always meat ie beef, lamb, pork (not so much pork), alternatively it was chicken, duckling, grouse, pheasant, hare, rabbit, venison. Occasionally we had fish for a main course – haddock, halibut, salmon, plaice or Dover sole. Sometimes we would have a fish course (one of the above) followed by a meat course.

Potatoes, bread and pasta were eschewed. Legumes? Ok, my dad did like broad beans, but there were certainly no dried ones, apart from the odd few peas cooked with the hugest piece of ham ever.

A meal was not a meal without a HUGE piece of meat.

Hell’s teeth, or even sabre-toothed tigers. We would have been the toughest cavepersons of all time.

Oh, and the dogs ate raw best mince. Just thought I would throw that one in too. Because dogs do primal/paleo except it is called RAW. Like photos.

So what gripes me about the whole paleo thing? Well, it is obvious really. If you want to eat dead animals – and that’s your choice – why would you want them to be full of junk?

Similarly what veg/salad/fruit you choose to eat. But you don’t need a trendy diet to tell you that eating food full of crap is bad for you. Or do you?

Back when I was a kid we didn’t use salt, sugar, refined oils or processed foods. Hmm, does John Lusty’s turtle soup count as processed?

When I first picked my puzzled path through paleo/primal, it was actually via a very savvy friend who has diabetes and is totally up on diet. She was somewhat ambivalent about the paleo thing.

Sometime later I mentioned it to another friend, who thought the main problem with it was the imagery, ie the ghastly macho cave-hunting stuff. She suggested I critique that aspect rather than the food.

But really, I can’t even be bothered with that. The naivety with which people embrace fashionable diets leaves me totally cold. This just sounds like a justification for a high-protein meat-based diet. I am sure it wasn’t the invention of the Meat and Livestock Commission after the UK BSE crisis, but someone revived it from somewhere given that it first gained publicity in the mid 1970s (according to wiki) and has suddenly become The. Diet. Of. Choice.

‘Darling, I eat Pilates and go to Paleo classes,’ or something like that. The two alliterate rather nicely together don’t they? Paleo and Pilates.

I don’t eat meat because I don’t want to eat dead animals. They don’t need to suffer and die for me to eat. I prefer fresh vegetables because I think they are better (and usually cheaper) than buying something frozen or tinned. I use pulses and soy/wheat products because they are cheap and full of protein.

I don’t like salt or sugar, I add minimum salt to food.

I cook my own food because I like it. I can make better and cheaper meals than buying prepared junk from the supermarket. Why on earth would I do that? I don’t want to eat expensive rubbish.

I also don’t need anyone to tell me how to eat. Or that Diet 1 is better than Diet 2 for whatever loopy reason.

However you look at it, this is an exclusive, expensive, snobbish diet. (A bit like my parents were). How on earth can people on limited incomes live on a free-range organic-based diet? Having recently looked at the price of even non-free-range non-organic meat I nearly had a non-paleo heart attack.

What more is there to say?

Oh, my meat-eating father on his paleo diet – that he had never even heard of – died of colo-rectal cancer in his mid 70s. Before that he had high blood pressure and was overweight. Symptoms of a paleo diet, and/or an affluent meat-eating western one (what’s the difference?)

And my mother developed type 2 diabetes, also had high blood pressure, had a minor stroke, and probably had depression for all I know. Also symptoms of a paleo diet.

My Spanish neighbours are now in their 80s, eat very little meat, lots of fresh veg, and loads of legumes, bread, rice and pasta.

My non-RAW food dogs have lived into their teens.

Wiki link here

Interesting vegetarian take on paleo here

A paleo eater’s perspective here

About roughseasinthemed

I write about my life as an English person living in Spain and Gibraltar, on Roughseas, subjects range from politics and current developments in Gib to book reviews, cooking and getting on with life. My views and thoughts on a variety of topics - depending on my mood of the day - can be found over on Clouds. A few pix are over on Everypic - although it is not a photoblog. And of course my dog had his own blog, but most of you knew that anyway. Pippadogblog etc
This entry was posted in animal rights, blogging, childhood, dogs, family, feminism, food, health, life, parents, shopping, vegetarian and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to Paleo, paleo ….

  1. Hmmm…interesting…. don’t think I’ve ever thought of the ‘primal’ way of eating we follow it as ‘snobbish’ or ‘exclusive’ – expensive yep.. (I find the ‘purer’ paleo form a step too far to be honest – I eat dairy for instance.) What we had before removing certain things from our diet though were a number of health problems that were directly related to eating wheat and rice, as well as dreadful blood sugar problems…. All of which are now in the past – only rearing their head when we occasionally slip’ and have some good bread… There’s an awful lot of information out there about the health benefits associated with this way of eating – quite a few of the things you’ve mentioned actually go away – type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol – for a sizeable number of people who have these before they change what they eat. We’re luck that neither of us had, or have either of those, but Mike’s entire family on his mother’s side were diabetic during their lives – type 1 and 2 – definite high risk. My blood pressure is lower than it’s been in the past – albeit within healthy range – and my cholesterol has not increased since eating ‘full fat’. My IBS – gone. Indigestion / acid reflux – gone. We both have lost a sizeable amount of weight as well – and kept it off…more to come off obviously if you see any photos. Most importantly – this isn’t a ‘diet’ – it truly is a way of eating for us – our normal, sustainable one.

    My dad died of his third cancer – he ate ‘clean’ – no processed food at all, fresh veggies, meat, bread etc – his cancers (mouth, bowel and finally lung) were more likely attributable to being on Navy ships that had exposed asbestos on board in the 50’s, or working down mines, or smoking – heavily than his diet. Same with my mother and father in law – both died from cancer, and both were heavy smokers – but both ate pretty ‘clean’ (thinking about it, I think their what they went through in their lives ie Second World War – rationing etc – had a part to play in how they ate – fast food – other than the occasional chinese takeaway on my in-laws side – were totally foreign) My father in law had scary blood pressure for many many years but that runs in his family – Mike had it in his 20’s but has been perfectly ‘normal’ for years now. Both sets of parents consumed a fair old amount of alcohol during their lives.

    At the end of the day, it just makes much more sense to us from the benefits we’ve directly experienced. We don’t force it on anyone else – we’ll talk about it to anyone who’s curious or interested, I’ll share my thoughts etc on my blog, but we don’t make anyone eat what we eat (or only what we eat) if they want something else – I often cook ‘wider’ when we have friends or family around to make sure their needs/wants are met.

    Yes, we eat a high protein, meat-based diet – along with a large amount of fresh vegetables and fruit – and dairy. I don’t want to be a vegetarian – I have incisors for a reason – I like meat – love it in fact. I even enjoy fish now and again! I do try and find a balance between wanting to eat meat and it going through as little horror as I can afford before landing in my fridge or freezer. It’s not easy – you’ve read my post – a completely organic approach is just outside our budget. We just know that a diet (the noun not the verb) in which potatoes, rice, pasta and pulses play a part does not settle well with us and we will continue to eat the way we know does settle well with us.

    By the way – I think it’s very sad that many people today DO need someone to tell them how to eat, or what NOT to eat because it really isn’t good for them. Processed, high-speed, convenience food is scarily available and CHEAP – very, VERY cheap. The eating ‘clean’ message is one that everyone can take something from – even if they can eat pasta, rice, pulses, potatoes etc. If you’re going to have pasta – don’t eat it out of a can covered in something called tomato sauce which is highly unlikely to have seen a fresh tomato and is totally laden with refined sugar. If you’re going to have potatoes, boil them, steam them, bake them – don’t only deep fry them and cover them in mayonnaise, or ketchup – oh and realise they’re NOT a vegetable. If you’re going to eat chicken – actually have something that still looks like the original thing – don’t have it minced and reshaped, covered in batter or crumb and fried within an inch of its life. And what’s becoming a more frequent comment (ok rant) from me – why is there so much refined sugar in everything? Why doe baking recipes have so MUCH of the dratted stuff in – can’t they taste it anymore?

    (Ooooops…sorry the comment’s so long…It’s certainly got me ‘discussing’ this one πŸ™‚



    • I think we can agree to agree on principles πŸ˜‰

      Junk food is not a good idea, eating fresh food without additives is similarly good, people need to decide on eating whatever food best suits them.

      The reason I initially thought about writing about the paleo/primal diet, was a rather stunned reaction from me when I read about it, on the lines of ‘but that’s how I grew up eating’ and naturally being quite contrary, changed in adult life.

      My parents gained their health problems in older age – who can say how diet-related it was? Or, qv your example, related to smoking? My father never smoked – until he joined the Navy in WWII. But then smoked heavily for many years.

      I think the rationing and the dietary changes over time is fascinating. There is no way that it doesn’t have an impact on health. But regarding money, my parents were more affluent than theirs – and yet, both died younger than their mothers. But older than their fathers. So perhaps we are back to the big bad cigarettes after all?? (The days when men smoked and women didn’t)

      Incidentally when your teeth start falling out, you may think differently about incisors πŸ˜€

      And this is from the woman who doesn’t eat sweets, biscuits, chocolate, desserts, and bought a book called Sugar Off, to make sure I could cook anything and everything without sugar. I looked at some vegetable stock cubes the other day, and they had sugar in. If I wanted sugar stock cubes I would buy those little white blocks of sugar by Tate and Lyle.

      Thanks for taking the time. Now you can go back and revise your post about not commenting on other blogs πŸ˜€


  2. Kyanite Blue says:

    As I’ve just blogged about Pancake Day and have a post about a cookery book looming for tomorrow felt I should put my penny worth in here.
    As sporting a splitting headache this may be more of a ramble than a constructive comment!

    Your childhood menu, could have been mine – my mother was a trained cook – only you will see the humour in that! We ate meat daily, fish on Friday and had a Sunday roast. Living in the countryside we also ate Hare, Pheasant & Rabbit and as we kept Hens, not Chickens as now politely called, ate them too. My Father was a keen vegitable gardener, for profit, not family, but by hook & by crook my mother & I had plenty of greens from his huge allotment.

    I now live very differently. Unlike you I still eat meat, fish, poultry but as a treat. I don’t do junk food, never have, convenience food to me is a ‘ready made’ pizza base, a favourite caeser commercial salad dressing.
    To me, most ‘diets’ are a gimic, one looses weight by eating less, more healthly, by doing more exercise aka walking everywhere etc.
    Surfing the supermarket shelves, one sees why many on a limited budget are over weight as the most calorific items are always the cheapest, if you can’t/don’t cook.


    • I had a headache today, thought it was the beginning of a cold, may well be. Hence my rambles …

      We did have veg from the garden too at one point, but then my dad got sick of it 😦 Shame. A came from a real small-holding family, so came from that culture too.

      Diets aren’t just about losing weight though are they? We eat what we eat because it suits our preferences, as both you and Jackie above have said.

      But I do cringe when I see some trolleys in the SM. They probably gape at my basket too. Wondering why it only has organic veg/tofu/salad etc.

      Must dash, pasta stuffed cabbage leaves and tom sauce to cook πŸ™‚


      • Kyanite Blue says:

        My SM basket is usually filled with ‘reduced’ produce. I’ve learnt the ‘Mark down time’ and as only a few minutes walk away, head there for ‘bargins’ like my basket of Lemons for an amazing 50p. I can, will use them, like everything I choose to buy.


        • Wish we had that here. Morrisons in Gib is notorious for charging higher prices than the UK, allegedly for the extra fuel costs. Yeah. My fave are my free goodies from my Spanish neighbours. Amazing how being short of money focuses the mind πŸ˜€ and the pennies too πŸ™‚


  3. You are right, paleo is rather trendy! I haven’t really looked into it, but definitely noticed how preachy people are about it.

    What I don’t understand, how do they know that the diet of this specific period(caveman) is the best diet there is for human beings? As you said, it sounds like a nice justification to eat meat.

    “Meat eating animal lovers” are just fucking hypocrites! Meat eaters in general, but I know some paleos who are fussing over some insects and then happily eat a pig or whatever.. wtf??!
    And yeah, that sugar gets added to all sorts of foods enrages me.


  4. I only looked it up because I didn’t know what it was. I clicked on a commenter on a friend’s blog and she was blathering on about how brilliant paleo/primal diets were, so I thought I better check it out. So I read around a bit and came back to my initial conclusion.

    I don’t claim a perfect diet by any stretch of the imagination. There are people who eat more healthily and more conscientiously than I do, but I don’t dress it up to be something it isn’t. I’m not vegan cos we eat eggs and butter so I don’t claim I am. I don’t eat junk ‘cos I think it is bad for my health, tastes crap, and is over-priced so someone can make a profit. I don’t think a degree in nutrition is needed to work any of that out though.

    Incidentally, there are people who really rant on about the need to include sugars in your diet. As if you don’t get them anyway through fructose etc without adding refined sugars.


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  6. andyisaj says:

    This is a great perspective, and for me, as a curious reader on paleo eating, a much-needed perspective. Very enlightening!



    • Thanks. Plenty of points of view from people who eat differently to me, so an interesting discussion section I think.

      As for my original post, I was just surprised that such an ostensibly trendy diet mirrored the one of my childhood. I think it was called cramming as much protein down your neck as possible, probably due to war and post-war year deprivation.


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  8. lowerarchy says:

    Great writing as usual. I was lucky on the vegetable front as my parents grew stuff in our garden and then they had an allotment for some years. For non-UK readers, an allotment was a piece of ground leased very cheaply from the local authority for the purpose of growing fruit, flowers and vegetables. I’m not exactly sure, but would guess the plot, as dad called it, was about 30 m x 40m.
    So we had lots of brilliant vegs and fruit like strawberries, raspberries, pears and apples and a wide variety of winter and summer veg.
    As a kid I ate quite a lot of meat but less variety than you list. I remember mum cooked liver every Thursday – did you eat that as well?
    As for diets – my mum was always dieting, and my dad was always trying to get her to eat sensibly. He’s now 86 and still physically very strong but mum has had several serious skeletal problems and osteo-arthritis for a couple of decades. I’m not sure whether she would have been healthier eating better but it’s quite likely.
    The ‘diet industry’ is certainly one of the worst examples of human endeavour and must damage millions each year to achieve billions in profits…


    • Gosh! Your parents are still alive and you are a whole year and one month older than me!

      My mother would have been 87 by now and my father 86. Neither made 80.

      It was great when my dad grew the veg (we had a huge garden) – brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, lettuce, toms, cuc, can’t remember what else, he never did potatoes which are so easy. No fruit although we had pear and plum trees….

      I forgot liver. Yes, but only ever lambs liver as it was deemed more snobbish tasty and tender. I loved kidneys too of which we also had lots. I became an expert at ripping apart the fat, and slicing them down the middle to part them perfectly.

      We didn’t have liver and bacon mind. I think my dad was sick of bacon as he spent half the week slicing it up to flog it. I don’t actually remember him eating it!

      I think I saw some crazy diet tablets in a cupboard once, some sort of appetite suppressant I suspect. No idea why. They probably got thrown out anyway because later they had gone.

      My parents’ problems were probably – too much meat-based protein, not enough veg, lack of exercise, – and oddly, thinking they were eating the right foods. To be fair, it was fresh, so in that instance they were. But they grew up years ago and were told they need to shovel in protein and then they would be healthy.

      As for getting people to lose weight (ie the other meaning of diet) – if they are fit, I don’t have an issue with it. Not that it is any of my business. But there are too many blanket rules. Dieting just because is stupid. Should be made illegal. Everything else seems to be.

      Thanks for the comment. I was quite captivated by this paleo stuff that seemed to be nothing new at all and yet so embraced by people as the best thing yet. Ever!
      Anyway, I’m having peas and pasta, salad, and some olive pate and wholemeal toast. Will no doubt bore the socks off loads of people but I am looking forward to it πŸ™‚

      PS I wish they would introduce organic allotments in Gib!


      • I forgot corned beef hash and shepherds pie. CBH on Thursday and SP on Tues or Thurs.


      • lowerarchy says:

        Sorry to hear about your folks. Sue’s gran died a couple of weeks ago aged 98. She was more bored than ill and refused food and drink and quietly passed away at a time of her choosing, which I think is rather amazing
        I agree with your proper definition of ‘diet’ but we both know that isn’t what makes the money.
        For tea I’m making some soya non-meatballs πŸ™‚ and will steam a medley of vegs – spring greens, a spud, couple of carrots, a courgette, a bit of broccoli and some sweet potato – it’s easy to cook for two.
        Killing animals is much more boring…


        • Thanks, after many years, I’m over grieving although the impact will never be lost.

          My partner’s gran was ninety something too. Very strong. As are most of the women in his family.. of which no more for now.

          Food sounds good. Why don’t you do what I do and add a recipe page? Doesn’t bore the socks of the non-veggies, but is there for people who want to read it πŸ™‚ A good meatball recipe would be ace.

          There is a certain amount of creativity involved in being vegetarian, and thinking – sorry, used a naughty word there.


          • lowerarchy says:

            You used the ‘T’ word…
            I might do, but like you, I have so many things to say. I’m trying to promote the idea that if women don’t manage human affairs we’re all doomed…
            I’ve got a book to promote, another being written (I said I’d fill you in on details later) classes to teach and I’ve got a rare incurable, as yet, disease I haven’t really explained to anyone. My wife wants me to stop messing about with diverse posts and get on saving the planet, but I like the eclectic approach πŸ˜‰
            I might have to leave recipes to others…


          • LOL, which is not my favourite “word” but I had to laugh.

            Women won’t manage anything because too few of us believe we can manage better than men. Don’t start me off! *refuses to go there*.

            I should really pull my finger out regarding books. Instead of applying for useless jobs here when I would rather write full-time. I did mention your book on my new blogroll πŸ™‚ (nice me).

            Do tell about the disease, somewhere. My time in the NHS can’t resist anything remotely clinical sadly. Cursed me for life πŸ˜€

            Oh well, no meat balls just yet I guess….


          • lowerarchy says:

            Palindromic arthritis – there – comments?
            Thanks for the mention – where is it?
            We can talk about the women and men at length, but I’m cooking now πŸ˜‰
            I’ll pass my recipes to you?
            But am rather busy for an hour or two…
            I’m looking forward to discussing my new book πŸ™‚


          • Ah, will check out your arthritis. My dog has arthritis and my MIL. Will look it up. I’m good on drugs. So to speak.
            On my – new – blogroll on roughseas.
            I’m going to eat supper too πŸ™‚ (and go to bed probably/read/or generally do nothing)


          • lowerarchy says:

            I’ll reply later – are you in front of UK time?
            Wow – just had massive deja vu when I wrote that…
            Am seeing rheumatologist next Friday again – might be offered sulfasalazine – what do you think?
            Am in lots of pain πŸ˜‰


          • an hour in front – and slowing down right now – I’m an early person

            I’ve already looked up your arthritis, will look up drugs tomorrow

            NB I have no clinical quals. Just a nosy mind.


          • lowerarchy says:

            Same here – okay, look forward to speaking tomorrow if I get up early…


          • No worries. I’ll close down my screens on arthritis, check out drugs tomorrow and go to bed with John le Carre.


          • lowerarchy says:

            Soldering iron…


          • With my little eye?
            Gotta catch up with my book now.zzzz


  9. gipsika says:

    AKA the “South African” diet. Lots of braaivleis (even primally cooked over open fire) with the fat dripping into the coals, and the only “vegetables” that are deemed acceptable are beer. πŸ˜€


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